Hand Sign Videoconference Assistant Utility

This is one item in a series of tools aimed at promoting computer assisted videoconference (VC) distance learning. The primary aim of this pedagogical computer aid is to enhance the videoconference to be suited for ear training over a distance. Particular emphasis is on the use of hand signs as a synesthetic aid.


The utility shows so called Kodaly hand signs which can be triggered with a MIDI keyboard. Even the PC keyboard can be useful in this context, as it emulates a miniature piano in the range of the human voice. The tool is designed for videoconference systems which are capable of presenting computer graphics and the auxiliary synthesizer sound. Naturally, a sound card with MIDI ports and a synthesizer are required in addition to the graphical output. The setting would typically involve use of a dualhead video controller or a video splitter connected to the VC unit.

Hand Sign VC Assistant: Hand sign view

Enhanced usability

The virtual keyboard is enlarged to suit the graphical demands of videoconference communication. Keyboard and hand signs are duplicated when the application window is shown in the maximized mode. In this state the cursor is also enlarged. To simulate display system behavior the pointing device is, moreover, automatically hidden after an inactive period of a few seconds.

Keyboard emulation map

The highest character row and relevant number keys of the PC keyboard emulate one and a half octaves of the singing voice. The toolbar allows selection between female and male registers. This toggling selection applies both to hand sign output and the virtual keyboard.

Additional options

Synthesizer volume, mute and peek intensity are presented together with the keyboard view, whenever they are available in system audio mixer. By muting the synthesizer or reducing the volume to zero, hand signs may be displayed without audible output. A primitive metronome with adjustable tempo and meter may be helpful in the ear training class.

Hand Sign VC Assistant: Keyboard view

The utility allows selection of MIDI input and output devices. The output dialog offers methods of overriding and filtering MIDI messages. The keyboard can also be utilized with mouse input on the graphical user interface. MIDI messages can be viewed as text, which helps as a diagnostic aid.