I’ve always had a mental block against learning to play music on any instrument. It may go back to when I was in grade school, and spent two Indiana winters carrying a cello 5 blocks to school twice a week. Can I ever get over this mental block, and at least learn to play a simple tune? Perhaps ION Audio’s Piano Apprentice can help me.
The Piano Apprentice uses a 25-key lighted keyboard in conjunction with an app running on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. With an app you download from the App Store, the system guides you through lessons with an on-screen instructor, who conducts the lessons, which interacts with the keyboard, lighting the keys to show you which notes to play.
It’s an interesting system, and actually works quite well. Setup is simple. Download the free Piano Apprentice app from the App Store, Connect your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch to the keyboard using the supplied connector, make sure the included batteries are installed in the unit, press the power switch, start the app, and you’re ready to begin learning how to play the keyboard.
Scott Houston (“The Piano Guy”) acts as you instructor, showing you the finger placements, giving you hints and tips on how best to position your hands and fingers on the keyboard. He’s very personable, and the lessons go at a speed which is not too hard to follow.
I decided to learn how to play one of my favorites, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” After selecting “Lessons”, and selecting my song, I was presented with options to “Preview Song,” (a video pays showing Scott paying the song), “Right Hand,” (you learn to play the melody), “Left Hand,” (the chords), and finally “Hands Together,” (playing the parts for both hands.)
I selected “Right Hand”. The ever affable Houston first showed me the song, then began to show me where to place my fingers on the keyboard, and the order to play them in. The great thing about the Piano Apprentice is that as he plays the notes, the keys on the Apprentice light up as he hits them on screen. I don’t know about you, but I played the heck out of Simon as a child, so I can follow me some lights dancing around!
The app also includes a “Sheet Music” option, this shows the sheet music for any song included in the lessons, and allows you to play along on the keyboard as the notes in the sheet light up. You can adjust the speed of the playing to make it easier to follow along.
I found that the Piano Apprentice made it easier to learn to play the keyboard. I’m still not a pro, I need to work on the left hand chords, and I need a miracle to make me coordinated enough to be able to play both hands at once. Maybe I’ll do that just as soon as I tackle walking and chewing gum at the same time.
If you want to learn how to play a musical keyboard instrument, but don’t have the time and budget for professional lessons, the Piano Apprentice could be for you. Using video and controlling a keyboard at the same time via your iOS device makes learning simple melodies a snap. You won’t become a professional overnight, so don’t run and get your tip jar quite yet, but you’ll have fun while you’re learning.
Price: $99.99 from the ION website. Also available thru local retailers and through Amazon.com for just $48.99.
- Fun to use.
- Easy to follow lessons take some of the frustration out of learning music.
- The instructor is personable.
- Love the lighted keyboard!
- Would love the ability to slow the lessons down, similar to how the sheet music can be slowed.