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Online piano tutoring platform hits the right note

By Cheng Yu | China Daily | Updated: 2018-12-21 10:57


Every time 8-year-old piano student Zhang Yiting starts to play, the online music education sector gets richer.

These days, although Zhang practices alone in her room in Qingdao, Shandong province, she has found good company via an online music tutoring app called Xiongmao Peilian, which translates as "panda tutoring".

Thanks to the app, there is always a teacher on hand to offer Zhang professional instruction.

"As a parent with no knowledge of music, it has been a huge relief, as I no longer have to drive her 11 kilometers away to practice," said her mother, Li Xing.

Online music tutoring is the latest trend in the country's burgeoning online education business. The platforms are looking to inject fresh enthusiasm into kids who are learning musical instruments, as well as their parents, who often devote much time and energy in accompanying their children to lessons.

Ye Bin, founder and CEO of The ONE Music Group, Xiongmao Peilian's parent company, said in an interview with China Daily that its online piano tutoring business gained momentum within just one year.

He said revenue from its online business is expected to hit 100 million yuan ($14.5 million) by the end of this year.

The company also counts world-renowned pianist Lang Lang and artificial intelligence expert Kaifu Lee its investors.

The startup is enabling students to have one-on-one piano lessons with teachers online. They can guide the students remotely on aspects such as finger movement and position, rhythm and intonation.

"Unlike after-school tutoring, which focuses on compulsory lessons including English and mathematics, the piano education market is still in the early stages," Ye said, adding that there is huge room for growth as the sector has not yet become standardized.

"To tap into such demand, we hope to leverage up-to-date technologies, including artificial intelligence, to make piano lessons easy, interesting and efficient."

The 5-year-old startup is also developing hardware, such as the smart piano, which is able to offer AI-based guidance for its users.

"The reason we are integrating cutting-edge technologies into the business is to leverage many different technologies to offer a rich diversity of piano-playing options," Ye explained.

The company estimates its total revenue will hit 500 million yuan this year, with users exceeding 250,000.

Zhu Tianyu, a founding partner of early-stage investor Bluerun Ventures, said in an analysis report that online music tutoring is promising, as it is an industry that aims to nurture kids' all-round abilities, not just help them achieve high grades.

However, it remains to be seen whether the business model is sustainable, judging by whether users will purchase more lessons, he added.

"On the other hand, such companies should also provide their teachers with advanced tools and technologies to better the quality of online classes," Zhu noted.

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