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Finnish iPad app aims to help guitarist wannabes keep at it

(Reuters) - Finnish startup Ovelin is launching a game in the United States and Britain that is designed to help people stick with their music lessons, with the first version of the game playable on Apple's iPad.

The game, called WildChords, helps people learn to play the guitar, and went straight to the No. 1 spot in its home country of Finland when it was launched there this month. Other instruments and other platforms are likely to follow Thursday's international launch.

"What we are going for is to bring the joy of music to the whole world," says co-founder Christoph Thuer.

"How many of you have dropped learning to play an instrument?" Thuer asked an audience at a recent startup conference. "Put your hand up." He raised his own hand and a majority of the audience followed.

Pilvi Pursiheimo, who teaches music in the town of Lempaala in southern Finland, says she has seen the game motivate children to learn more in the classroom and at home.

"It seems to boost children's motivation. Everybody wants to play," Pursiheimo said.

WildChords, which won an award as the best European learning game even before its launch, uses iPad's microphone to determine whether the player hits the right chords on his or her guitar, and awards stars for passing each level.

Thuer says there are 150 million potential customers in Europe and the United States, with even bigger potential in emerging markets.

First exercises are free for anyone to download, with additional packages, roughly one per week of practice, costing 2.99 euros (about $4) each.

(Reporting By Tarmo Virki; Editing by Gary Hill)

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