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Byword: A blog by and for the TW community

Do musicians make better transcribers?

Whenever I begin to transcribe, I always feel a surge of energy that goes from fingertips to brain, and the words flow from the instructor's speech into the transcript. I also get this feeling when I press my fingers down on the violin, pull the strings with my bow and create music.

Many transcribers have used music to help them learn TypeWell. According to Kate Ervin, the Director of Operations for TypeWell (who studied piano for 14 years), around 80% of the students in the TypeWell Basic Skills Course have been a musician at some point in their lives, whether just for fun or even professionally.

"It does seem that people who studied a musical instrument—especially one that requires manual dexterity—have an easier time learning the TypeWell abbreviations," Kate observes.

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Photo credit: katiesw1 via photopin cc

Steve Colwell, the tech guru for TypeWell and one of its founders, also notices a faster typing speed in transcribers who have a musical background: "You'd think someone typing 100 wpm would have very finely honed skills and perhaps learning TypeWell would throw off their game—but in fact they pick it up faster and come roaring back with even faster typing speeds."

Steve reminds us that while it's not a lost cause for non-musicians, it's quite a head start if you spent hours every day for years playing scales on the piano. "We might learn something from the way that musicians are taught that could help with typing. Perhaps there's some aspect of playing scales, or focusing on rhythm, that is particularly effective in carrying over musical skills to typing."

As a transcriber and violinist since ten years old, I agree that having a musical background provides a foothold for doing TypeWell. I would also say the answer to becoming a good transcriber is the same answer to the joke about getting to Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice.

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Carly Gerard

Carly is a TypeWell transcriber and 2013 graduate of Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA. When she's not blogging and tweeting for TypeWell, Carly enjoys being with her family and pets, or getting her coffee fix with friends.

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