Category Archives: topics in music technology

James Bowers explains what Sit-ins is all about

What is Sit-ins all about?  Founder James Bowers answers my questions.


What is Sit-ins? 

Sit-ins is a revolutionary play-along platform that is changing the way string musicians practice. The idea was sparked from a simple thought: everyone wants to be a musician, but no one wants to practice. This is for many reasons, but they all fall under one big reason- and we’re just going to come out and say it- practice is boring.

But with Sit-ins, practice is transformed into an exciting experience- anything but humdrum. Our tools make it possible to note your own specific challenges and then solve them in a comfortable environment- an area where private lessons and sheet music fall flat. You can play along with real, expert musicians, and have the most personal, exciting practice of your life.

What prompted the development of Sit-ins? 

 I have a long background in composition and producing. So, during a discussion with members of a prominent string quartet, I conceived the idea of a multi-facetted music player for chamber musicians to experience playing with expert musicians, making it possible to not only hit the right notes, but tap into the expressive qualities of their playing. As a musician and electronic music technologist, my thoughts bore Sit-ins, with its many integrated features, all of which make learning and playing chamber music immediately gratifying.

Who are the expert musicians?

We recorded members of the National Orchestra of Hungary in Budapest who also perform in award winning quartets. In recent years, all major motion pictures head to Budapest to record their scores. This is for two reasons: expertise and passion. So, when deciding where to go to record our Sit-ins tracks, Budapest just made sense.

 Who can Sit-ins benefit? 

We have three groups who could really benefit from Sit-ins. First, the obvious, which is string players, whether they’re beginners or have been playing for years; secondly, parents, who wish their kids would practice more; and finally teachers, who can use Sit-ins in the classroom as the ultimate hands-on tool.

How much does it cost to download? 

Sit-ins is free to download. And we want everyone to experience the product first-hand, so we even offer a code for one free song.

How much does an piece of music cost on average? 

We start off at $8 for a single movement, and then move onto $28 for a complete work.

 What are the advantages of Sit-ins’ method of teaching? 

There are three main benefits. One is the mirror effect. By playing along with masters of music, you can echo the emotion of each note. You can listen to how the players shape their phrasing and work together- and then join them.

Second, Sit-ins offers a level of comfort that you cannot get anywhere else. With our platform, you can identify your strengths and weaknesses and then build upon those in a safe, stress-free environment.

And lastly, hearing music while you play encourages recognition of patterns and music notation. Sit-ins is the ultimate practice tool because it combines expert musicians with the comfort of home, and all the tools you need to master your instrument.

What has feedback on Sit-ins been like? 

People are excited for a variety of reasons. One, they are excited that Sit-ins has renewed their passion for playing their instrument. And two, they are seeing their practices enhanced ten-fold by playing alongside experts of classical music.

What’s next for Sit-ins? 

We have two priorities moving forward: tablet compatibility and adding more instruments to our repertoire, including piano and wind instruments. We are excited to see where Sit-ins goes- because we know it’s only up.

James Bowers and Lily Weisbecker, founders of Sit-ins, with their innovative software running on a laptop in the background, August 2015.

James Bowers and Lily Weisbecker, founders of Sit-ins, with their innovative software running on a laptop in the background, August 2015.

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Barry Mitchell