How to Learn More from Your Piano Lessons

If rockers like Eddie Van Halen can choose an electric guitar and all the 80s revivalists have brought back e-music such as the keytar, why wouldn’t it make fine music to your ears to electrify and automate your piano lessons?

It’s kind of become a cliche that “there’s an app for that!” but in this case, it’s true. With just your existing mobile device, you can learn how to play the piano or work on advanced skills, no teacher required.

Piano Lessons Have Changed

We don’t have many records of how piano lessons went when this massive musical instrument first made its way into the world back in 1700, but we’re guessing that the very expensive, ivory-built piano didn’t make it to too many Italians’ homes.

Since then though, pianos have become as commonplace as coffee tables in homes across the country.

Families bought upright pianos for their kids to begin the (dreaded) daily practicing, hoping to germinate their own little Mozarts and Bachs (OK, and perhaps some tiny Eddie Van Halens, too).

We’re not even past the era of children who grew up having to come inside from playing to take a visit from their piano teachers, but the times really are changing.

In 2008, the Mises Institute predicted “the end of the piano industry.” To this, we say no way, no play.

Instead, it seems unlikely, but the piano industry has changed and adjusted along with society’s tendency to go everything electronic.

Let’s Get Smart

It’s called a Smart Piano, and this is what you need to get your smart started:

  • An Apple device such as an iPad, mini, Air, or iPhone, OR
  • An Android device with an onboard USB outlet, OR
  • A USB MIDI computer
  • A free app

Going Our Way?

Think the whole “electrifying everything” business is only recent, with the past decade or so of mobile devices automating the world?

Think again.

Creative musicians have been tinkering around with sound and electronics since way back in the 1960s when one of the first synthesizers was created.

This resulted in The Harmonic Tone Generator, and things have been going, going, going since then. (The original device now lives on forever in a museum devoted to musical instrument history.)

The point is, due to their size and heft alone, pianos are at risk of being thought of as stagnant, but developers and piano enthusiasts won’t let that happen. And they’re partnering with very smart people who want to keep the practice of piano lessons alive going forward, even with so much competition from pocket-sized, automated devices.

It’s All Black and White

Worried your Smart Piano might actually outsmart you? Don’t be.

Let’s break down how it all works:

  • Different colored LED lights appear above the keys you’re supposed to touch (bonus: the Smart Piano is a great option for lefties who sometimes have trouble following along right-handed-skewed lessons)
  • Three different foot pedals (soft, sostenuto, sustaining)
  • Weighted keys and professional sound
  • Built-in metronome and volume control
  • Follow along with digital sheet music (access our 2000+ options!), mp3 files, and more

Plus, when you want to take a break from playing, the Smart Piano’s speakers work with your device’s music collection and streaming audio.

Think this is breaking pretty big? Join the club!

At the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, the Smart Piano was a Smart Home Innovation Award honoree! (Check the blog article to find out what else won awards. We’re just gonna leave you with “Girl Scout Smart Cookies” and “laundry-folding robot,” OK?)

Learn Some Lessons

We aren’t trying to replace the majestic piano with an electronic duplicate. We are just trying to avoid some of the following reasons why people don’t get pianos in the first place:

  • The cost of a standard piano is much, much more expensive than a Smart Piano (not so smart, we say)
  • Standard pianos are extremely heavy (compared to the combined weight of one Smart Piano and keyboard, 126 pounds)
  • It can be extremely difficult to find a piano teacher to fit your schedule (or the kids she/he will be teaching)
  • When something comes up, you usually can’t cancel a lesson at the last minute without being charged for it
  • If your kids suddenly have free time (freak snowstorm, school closing), it’s difficult to find a teacher to accommodate a last minute lesson

We do understand parents’ desires to get their kids to unplug, and the worry that this is yet another electronic device and screen their faces will be staring at for even more parts of the day.

We like to say that the electronic aspects of the Smart Piano are really just there as a guide. Consider them the actual teacher. In fact, the LED lights don’t encourage reliance, they just help build up muscle memory in the hands and fingers. And, you can turn off the LEDs!

No Need for Teachers

It really is way more of a stereotype than a reality, but piano teachers often get a bad rap.

It does go both ways, with piano readers posting horror stories of their own all over the internet, calling students to the carpet for poor and nasty behaviour during their piano lessons.

But your main concern is you or the prospective piano player in your household.

And we’re going to tell you that a Smart Piano just eliminates all of that middleman area.

Whenever you add another person (in this case, the piano teacher) into the mix, you have to consider:

  • Will I (or my child) get along with the teacher? (We can promise you 100% that the Smart Piano never gets angry, frustrated, bored, hungry, tired, or stressed! It never has car trouble on the way, a fight with a spouse, or the need to cancel on you at the last minute.)
  • Can the teacher teach the music my child wants to learn? (Kids may be more interested in a specific genre, such as country or EDM, so having access to 2,000+ pages of sheet music and songs could be a real bonus)
  • Do I feel safe having a possible stranger come to my home?
  • Am I willing to cater to the teacher as well as my child or myself? (Think about things like setting out food and drinks, adjusting the temperature, providing a parking space.)

The Smart Piano becomes your piano lessons teacher but there’s a lot less you have to worry about. OK, yes, you need to plug in your devices, make sure everything is charged, and dust things once in a while.

But we think that’s quite a lot less than what it takes to keep an actual piano teacher happy!

See for Yourself

You can still get some education from others about playing the piano, and in fact, we recommend it!

Check out impartial online reviews about the Smart Piano, like this one on the tech website, The Verge. (The key is to find nonpartisan sites, not ones sponsored by resellers, etc, who may skew their videos and reviews to get you to buy!)

On review sites and videos, you can actually see people of all ages using the Smart Piano, selecting music, view the LED lights guiding the way. And of course, hear how the piano sounds (though beware, several factors including noise around where the video was recorded, the device doing the recording, and your own device/headphones will probably skew the sound quality some).

YouTube is also an excellent resource for smart piano videos. Just keep in mind that you’ll want to input as much search term specification as you can. For example, if you simply type in “piano lessons,” you’ll get so much unrelated information, it can be overwhelming.

Try something specific like “The One Piano Lessons” or “Smart Piano Lessons.” If you come up empty or with too few results, you can always broaden the search back up.

Videos and online tutorials are a great way to see your preferred piano in action before you get your hands on it, as well as see what others – both experts and piano enthusiasts like yourself – have to say.

The Keys to the Kingdom

Can’t wait to get your hands on a Smart Piano? Great. Click here to register for all the latest and greatest information, read our blog, and get a newsletter about new piano models, music added to our online database, and more.

Or come in and take a Smart Piano for a test drive! Visit one of these shops around the country where you can try out a Smart Piano for yourself, take some virtual piano lessons, swipe through our sheet music collection, and see those lovely LEDs for yourself.

We’re slowly working our way around the country (and the world!), but we’ve got our pianos waiting for you in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Jose, and Atlanta.

We’d also love to hear from you about how you’ve saved money using a smart musical device. Lessons can cost anywhere from $60-$200 an hour or more, yet a one-time investment in a Smart Piano lets you put money back into other things. (Like a great, sparkly jacket and blinged out glasses when you give a performance!)

Comment below and let us know how you prefer to play!