I had played with Play- Along CD sometime and I had even sold CDs of Minus One Company in my sheet music shop before I started to develop AdMaeestro. Generally speaking, the satisfaction from Play Along CDs is much less than that of Karaoke. I think the reason is simple that the performance of classical music is based on a long tradition and soloists are not get used to follow orchestra. On the contrary, Karaoke is a new field of music and its preposition is to make singers follow CDs.
The best way to use Play-Along CDs is to use them as a source of AdMaetro’s conducting data. As AdMaestro can change the tempo of CDs freely, so the essential problem of soloists disappears. I have already rehearsed piano concerts of Mozart, Chopin and Schumann. But it was not easy to satisfy pianists for various reasons. First, we needed good speakers with 50-100W output to balance out the volume of pianists. It is because they tend to play louder when they play concerts.
Next problem was the pianissimo of orchestra, its volume came down so low and pianists could not hear well. So, I put a set of monitor speaker besides the pianist. There were more problems.
By the sound of speakers, we can acknowledge the first violins on the left and cellos on the right, but cannot tell exactly where they are. As we experience daily, we can distinguish the voice of a certain person much better if we know where he is. The same happens during the ensemble, It is a great help for the soloist to know exactly where other players are located. I put small string orchestra, one pult each, in front of speakers. Things are greatly improved.
I am going to join a concert of elementary school girls on this March 3. One of them will play 3rd movement of Mendelssohn’s Violin concerto with a small string orchestra and AdMaestro accompanied. She is not specially trained to become a professional violinist, so her tempo is slow and volume is small. This will be the first stage experience for AdMaestro. Will keep you informed.