By Malia Durbano
Music composer, James Bowers came up with a great idea a few years ago and formulated it more – in of all places- Trimble Hot Springs! James and his wife Lily Weisbecker had attended a string quartet concert through Music in the Mountains, which they thoroughly enjoyed. The next night, while they were at Trimble, the cello player from the ensemble also happened to be there.
They began discussing how to make Chamber music more relevant and accessible and how they could strengthen the classical music community. James’ idea was coalescing.
James plays guitar and composes background music for Global National News in Canada. Both he and Lily love classical music and “never tire of listening to it,” she explains. Lily conveniently, has a background in software development.
sitins1Their idea, which is now their new company, is called Sit-Ins. It’s an app that can be downloaded onto a Mac or PC that allows musicians to play with experts. The audio and video allow practicing musicians to play along with professionals. They can play with the whole ensemble or block out which ever parts they want to, and fill in with their own music –similar to karaoke, where the lyrics are filled in by the live singer.
The visual and auditory communication makes learning to play a musical instrument easier and more fun. As Lily explains, “Practicing alone is no fun. Music is a language. People who come from musical families and have somebody to play with really thrive.”
James and Lily recorded 180 songs with professional musicians in Budapest last summer. Each instrument was recorded in isolation, so it can be eliminated, slowed down or speeded up. Currently, they just have string quartets and piano duos, but will branch out into other genres.
They just debuted their product at the Chamber Music America Trade Show in New York City. Lily explains, “It was so exciting! It was very well received as a quality, high-end product. We got the interest of lots of musicians.”
The couple agrees that, “Participating in the SCAPE program made sitins3all the difference in the world. It was an intense four months, but we learned so much.” Lily credits advisors Jim Mackay, Barbara Heinrich, Mark Epstein, John Wolgamott and Jasper Welch for their mentorship, generous consulting time and for being amazing resources.
The most valuable help they got was in carefully defining their target market and then “learning how to reach them as quickly as possible for the least amount of money. This prevented us from making some of the most common mistakes new start-ups make.