I learned to play piano when I was young, and it has been a gift I've enjoyed ever since. I think it's important for everyone to learn to play music (especially young people). Learning an instrument changes how you think about things, and works out your mind in fun and positive ways.
I was inspired to introduce an Alexa skill to help people learn how to play guitar. It's a great instrument, because it's portable, and relatively inexpensive. If you're just starting out, you don't know where to begin. It can be very intimidating. I thought this would be a great opportunity to create something that would help people on their journey.
What it does
Guitar Teacher is an assistant for anyone learning or playing guitar. If you already play, you can practice with a metronome, search video lessons of your favorite songs and artist, and use the hands-free tuner. For players just learning, there are step by step guided lessons that start from the very beginning.
How I built it
I spent a couple months creating all the visual and audio content. I did this on nights and weekends this summer. Much of the audio and visual content was created by me playing guitar into my laptop, and setting up my phone in front of a green screen for some of the more dynamic effects. It was a LOT of hours, but a labor of love for sure.
Challenges I ran into
It was difficult to debug some issues when I introduced the Alexa Conversations features. There was great support from the community though, the Alexa Conversations Slack group was a life saver.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
I spent a lot of time on the visual experience. I wanted it to feel very natural when being interviewed, and I think it works well. I wanted to mirror the experience that happens when you take your first lesson. Generally, the instructor will ask a series of questions to determine an approach for you to learn best.
What I learned
I learned that writing a goal oriented dialog is hard. Things like placing and order, or getting recommendations based on your preferences are tasks that would be difficult for a developer to create alone. Using Alexa Conversation, I was able to let Alexa manage the complex interactions and just provide responses to the information collected.
What's next for Guitar Teacher
My dream for Guitar Teacher is that it becomes a popular option for guitar players everywhere. I plan to continue to improve it this year, and provide the best experience possible for users.