11/11 — Generative Research & Early Prototyping

Interview with Dr.Natalie Ozeas

After confirming our topic as ‘improving public education by music’, we visited Dr. Natalie Ozeas, the founder of Art Greenhouse program and had in-depth interview with her. Our goal was to define the exact problem space and delve into possible solutions that solve the problem.

Natalie told us that students who learn keyboard at the early age tend to be excel at math, because their brain reinforces the learning ability by understanding the logic behind the location of keys and sounds. Drumming also worked well on students too. While training, they tend to focus deeply on learning process and their attendance rate was improved significantly.

To encourage more student to have interest in music education, she made a hip hop music creation program at CMU School of Music. Anyone who are interested in hip hop can apply for the program, but there is one condition — students must attend the weekend class and take training sessions. They learn creative writing and basic theory of composition. The result was fascinating; students’ school attendance rate was raised and they have a chance to express their emotion through music.

However, during the interview we found that students rarely perform their songs in public. Natalie mentioned that they’ve only performed music twice so far. Besides, the lounge they used to play is now closed. We felt that that’s a one major problem space we can tackle. Also, we heard that it is hard to find a place where students can play musical instruments outside, mostly because they are expensive. Despite the fact that School of Music has decent facility and instruments to train students, Natalie pointed out that not many people know where CMU campus is. We definitely take a stab at bridging students to Art Greenhouse program.

From the interview, we defined our problem space as:

“How might we provide a open place to introduce students’ music and bring more students to Art Greenhouse program?”

Early Prototyping

From our defined problem, we decided to make a simple prototype of an interactive public broadcast system that introduces both students’ creations and Art Greenhouse program. We went to Code Lab and created simple prototypes to test people’s reaction on music speakers. Using paperboard and Littlebits, we made two types of speakers and played students’ music on campus.

We put speakers on the road and on the lamp and watched how people interact with them. Turned out, they didn’t work well at some extent. People did listen to the music, but they didn’t interact with our prototype. From there, we found that

  1. To induce more interaction, the form should be more noticeable. While people took a look on the pod-type speaker, they didn’t pay attention enough on the wall-mount type speaker.
  2. People wearing earphones/headphones did not recognized the music/speakers at all.
  3. We need to add a trigger to play music. Passive exposure of music didn’t work well on drawing attention from people.

After the second brainstorming, we decided to add big buttons on our speakers and install on crossroads. Instead of pushing cross signal buttons, people will push the buttons on our prototypes and listen to music.