Yamaha launched an updated version of the Harmony Director, a band room staple for more than a decade, in January 2021. The re-release expanded the HD-300’s capabilities and simplified the user experience while retaining its core functions for ear training and rhythmic training.
“We took the previous HD-200 interface, which had more than 50 buttons, knobs and sliders, and reduced that down to 32,” says Jonathan Goldman, Yamaha wind instrument product manager. “You don’t have to work as hard to find what you’re looking for on the keyboard.”
After researching music education technology, Yamaha decided to add an onboard stereo microphone with gain control to the HD-300. Band directors can record their students, then play it back from the Harmony Director or save it to an external drive.
Yamaha also added a “sound back” function that can aurally correct students’ playing. For example, if three trombonists are playing a B-flat major chord, the student on the third might be struggling to bring the pitch down. A band director can put the HD-300 in the key of B-flat, turn on the sound back function, and have the student play. Instantly, the Harmony Director will play back the correct, lowered pitch that matches the timbre and octave it heard.
“It’s a really good way to teach using a combination of auditory training and physical training to show a student where a correct pitch lies within the chord,” Goldman says.
A new mobile app can also act as a hardware controller for the Harmony Director or as a stand-alone tuner.
To help teachers take advantage of the HD-300’s full potential, Yamaha also curated quick-start content hosted on its website and added built-in training functions to the device. “We found that band directors have so much on their plate that if you present them with a technology that will make their job easier, you actually have to show them,” Goldman says.
Find out more about the new Harmony Director HD-300 here.