This AR Drum Kit Makes a Compelling Case for the Future of Music Lessons


There’s a million things you could do to enhance your life if you had the power to seamlessly augment the world around you with digital and interactive information. And while we’re far from the “seamless” part of that reality, we’re getting early glimpses of how the world could be better with this power.

Take, for example, this project which uses augmented reality to turn a regular electronic drum set into a fully functional rhythm ‘game’ that provides real practice for drum players.

This isn’t a concept—it’s a live demo running on a Quest Pro headset, powered by the VR drumming app Paradiddle. While the app already allows players to play a fully virtual drum set of their dreams, or align virtual drums with their real ones, in the future this AR mode will be added to the app to give drummers a view of their real drums while retaining all the benefits of the digital overlay.

And what benefits are those? Well practicing existing techniques is obvious, but imagine learning entirely new songs in this interactive way, complete with gamified metrics for how well you’re doing and how quickly you’re improving. And how about turning down a song’s speed until you get the fundamentals, and then slowly cranking it up until you’re hitting every note?

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While we might think of drum lessons as a fairly niche use-case for AR, it’s easy to imagine how similar systems could apply to almost any instrument. And what do you know—there’s already a similar project for piano players! Somebody give me one for the sax because I’ve been saying I’d pick it up for years!

There’s still a lot of work to be done to make experiences like these easy enough that anyone can use them, but there’s a real possibility that the future of ‘rhythm games’ could actually teach players how to play real instruments at a high level.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Guest

    gamified metrics is the last thing that is going to help learning!

    • Andrew Jakobs

      Last thing? It is the best way. Personally I learn more from doing it, copying it. Not every learningmethod works for everybody. For me ‘gamification’ seems to make me learn things much faster.

      • Michael Jones

        It certainly encourages practicing until you nail it. Gamification ALWAYS works for those it speaks to.

    • Michael Jones

      Yeah, gonna hard disagree here. Suzuki method for learning instruments is one of the most successful ways to learn (ear training) and this feels like the next level of that. The only thing that made Rock Band not as successful at teaching the instruments was they weren’t teaching on the actual instruments.

      But if you look at Rocksmith, it 100% teaches well.

  • david vincent

    Now that’s more interesting than virtual drum which lack feedback.

  • Jonathan Winters III

    Just the headline for this makes it abundantly clear that Ben is NOT a drummer and is completely unaware of the realities of learning drumming necessitating doing it on a – wait for it – REAL DRUM KIT!

    • Nepenthe

      By “real” do you mean acoustic as opposed to electronic? If so, I disagree. Or by “real” do you mean physical as opposed to only existing in the headset? If so, did you watch the attached video? This augments real (albeit electronic) drums. You’re still hitting physical drum and cymbal pads and operating pedals.

    • I love how you’re not only completely wrong, but you lean into it so hard. Like you adamantly believe that and you’re gonna shout it from the rooftops. You go, gurl.