The Trala Method
Founded in 2017, Trala’s mission is to make world-class music education accessible to every single person on Earth. To-date we have served over 400,000 students from 193 countries.
The Trala Method seeks to improve your life and your community by teaching you musical skills, technique, theory, and appreciation of the arts.
Who is the Trala Method for?
Trala is best for absolute beginners and people who used to play and are now picking back up their instrument again. If you’re excited about the violin and are ready to start learning, Trala is for you.
We welcome people of all ages and backgrounds. While existing methods are almost exclusively geared towards children, the majority of Trala students are adults. At the time of writing, the oldest known Trala student is in her 80s (hey Linda!) We are here to serve our students. We welcome everyone.
What's different about the Trala Method?
Four main differences:
We built the Trala Method because we saw that traditional methods of music education leave millions of people out. You’ve probably experienced this if you’re one of the following:
- An adult
- Someone who used to play an instrument but took a few years off
- A busy parent who can’t sit in on your child’s violin lessons
- A parent who doesn’t want to force their child to become a professional musician
One final thing that we’re proud of: the Trala Method is a living method of music education, with revision and iteration built into our approach. As the world changes, we change with it.
Here’s the structure of a typical Trala lesson:
If it’s your first lesson, you and your teacher will spend a little time getting to know each other. Your teacher will ask you about why you’re learning the violin and what you’d like to accomplish. No worries, though: you don’t need to prepare anything!
Then you’ll get tuned, have any of your questions answered, and catch up on the last week (or however long it’s been since your last lesson).
You will be playing music for the majority of the lesson! You’ll spend plenty of time working through material that helps you towards your main goals. We’ll use songs that build on each other to learn new techniques and develop your sound. Then we’ll isolate a skill to work on in detail, always in the context of a real piece of music.
If it’s your first lesson, we’ll ask you to name some songs that you love and might want to play. This does not have to be music that’s written for the violin. Your teacher will analyze the list and look for things to teach. Then they’ll write down the sheet music for you and add it to the Trala app so you can practice on your own.
If it’s not your first lesson, we’ll ask for your thoughts on how you’re doing and give you clear steps on what you can do until the next lesson to keep making progress.
Trala has the best teachers on the planet, and they embody our vision. They come from amazing backgrounds of many genres and locations, and they were carefully chosen by one another to be part of this movement.
Trala teachers are here to understand your goals and figure out how to get you there. Trala teachers are innovators who think on their feet and adapt to any situation. Every student is unique and every student should not be marched down the same path. The same sequence doesn’t always work for everyone. Trala teachers are creators and performers and will cultivate the same in you.
Trala teachers are up front with you about the challenges of learning an instrument, and they are always as dedicated as you are to your success.
Trala’s founders invented signal processing technology that works through the Trala app. When you practice in Trala, the technology listens to you play your instrument and gives you instant feedback on how you’re doing.
Each time you play, you get a score on your pitch and tempo as well as real-time suggestions on how to improve. It’s not just “red note, green note”—if you play the wrong sound, our technology is advanced enough to tell you where your finger is and where it should be.
You can send practice information to your teacher so that every time you enter a lesson, both of you know what you should be working on and improving.
Our video content
In between lessons, you can use these tutorials to solidify your skills and build a greater appreciation for the instrument. We also have tons of content around the psychological aspect of playing. Learning the violin might be one of the most difficult things you do as a hobby, and we talk about every aspect of being a musician including the psychological aspect. Learning violin can positively change you as a person!
We are here to learn music together. We are thoughtful and supportive. Our teachers and Trala team members cheer on each other and our students. Trala students uplift each other and share their advice and stories in group classes, recitals, and student forums.
At Trala, we share our ideas freely and welcome feedback. We foster a caring environment where our students feel confident to perform, make mistakes, and ask questions. Our community events include concerts, group classes, recitals, social gatherings, and charity events.
Elements of a Trala education
We focus on teaching our students that music is an essential part of life. Music is not reserved for the select few. Music is something that everyone should be able to participate in and enjoy. Our intent is not to create the most proficient musicians, but rather to have our students be able to share a bit of themselves and connect with people in their circle and beyond. You can be the best of the best in the world and not be able to make an emotional connection. Some of the world’s most beloved musical artists don't necessarily have a wide technical background. Our goal is to challenge and lift our students to higher levels of proficiency, but not so far that it’s without joy.
We don’t dumb it down. Students learn the most when they stretch to meet their goals. Let the student reach for music that motivates them. As teachers, we explore a variety of genres and cultures with our students. We teach the history and significance of each piece of music. We don’t limit our repertoire to European classical music. We don’t ignore this great music, but it isn’t our focus. We challenge our students to explore more of what the world has to offer. Our goal is to be culturally responsive and to teach students many genres of music from all over the world.
Learning to read
We teach our students how to read sheet music, we make it fun, and we start early. Note reading is an essential skill for the musician, but this skill does not make an excellent musician. It can, and should, be fun to play music you’ve never heard before just by reading it. If we can make note reading a game then we can take away the “work”. Our instruction needs to activate the student’s sense of rhythm and explain rhythm in clear simple terms. Many students have an aversion to note reading because rhythm can be hard to understand. If we are clear and logical in our rhythmic instruction students will become successful readers.
Being able to read sheet music doesn’t ensure you can play music in a room with people. To be good at playing in new situations, with any random assortment of musicians, requires a honed pair of ears. Our students need to be able to recognize intervals and chords. They need to have a working knowledge of theory. This means that students can and should implement and demonstrate theory. Their knowledge of theory doesn’t live in the abstract. They can find the right notes using a combination of ears and theory. We teach more than just melody. We teach students to understand how to blend and support if they’re not the lead voice. Our students know when to be in the background and when to step into the spotlight. We help our students understand their place in the musical world.
We never really know a piece of music unless it lives in our memory. Students should be expected to perform at recitals without the help of sheet music. Teachers should begin to lay the seeds of memorization early by using techniques like call and response, singing, discussion of musical form and phrase work. Students should always have a handful of tunes “in their pocket” - songs they know well enough to perform at a moment’s notice and are happy to do so.
Students can have true ownership of anything they play if they learn how to improvise. To play something spontaneously is real freedom in music. Improvisation is taught in stages. First we start by the “mad libs” method by filling in the gaps. The practical application of the student’s ear training and theory is improvisation. By learning a few patterns the student is able to improvise around the melody and eventually improvise new melodies. Yet another way Trala students can feel like they’re part of the music.
The next logical step from improvisation is composition. Let’s say the student improvised something they really like. Now, we tie-in note reading skills and record these “keeper” ideas. Students can also record their compositions into a DAW and layer onto them - creating even greater works through collage. This is another avenue for students to take ownership of their music.
One of our first goals is to teach students how to practice. We stress the power of effective practice. Students will learn to start slowly and be patient - that getting better is a process. Our teachers help students learn the skills needed to break down a difficult piece so they can master it themselves. We set expectations of how much time is required and that it’s going to take a lot of hard work to achieve the proficiency the student envisions. We encourage our students to stay the course.
As teachers, it is our responsibility to educate our students on different types of music and different genres. Oftentimes, the student’s motivation stems from a very specific genre or song, but we need to teach them to have open minds and open ears. It's up to us as educators to help our students explore important music. We also need to explain why it’s important. We believe in sharing music, being curious, and discovering music. We need to teach this to our students. There’s always more good music you haven’t heard yet that’s going to blow your mind. We need to teach our students how to “get into” music.
Students need to meet a certain level of proficiency in order to play with other musicians. The sooner we make that happen, the richer the student experience. It’s better to play one note of a song and play it with others than to have complete technical mastery and never feel the excitement of ensemble playing. There’s electricity in the air when we create music together - live in real time. Performing with others is the most exciting aspect of music. The earlier we make that happen for our students, the more engaged in the musical process they will be.
Performing should be part of everyday life. Music should not be classist - only to be enjoyed by the 1%. Music is a celebration of life. Performing music is important for our culture and it needs to be more commonplace. Performing shouldn’t be limited to formal attire in the concert hall. It can and should happen any day of the week. It could be busking in the street or sitting in your living room playing a tune with a family member. A performance could be in a small club playing original music. The path to performance is not the narrow channel of classical music. Trala students are encouraged to perform and record videos of themselves performing. We give students constant opportunities to perform, and a supportive environment that makes them feel great about sharing their music.