When I was little, I had a yamaha keyboard that had lights above each key. The great things was you could learn to play songs by hitting the keys when those lights glowed. I thought that was the most awesome keyboard ever. Decades later, the roll up piano came along and reinvented the idea of ‘portable learning’ where you could take a flimsy version of a famous instrument, open it up and start learning tunes. Now a new keyboard has surfaced called the Piano Apprentice from ION Audio and it reminds me a lot of that keyboard from back in the day. The Piano Apprentice is a 25-key offering that interfaces with iOS devices.
You can plug in your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch to follow along with lessons on an app from instructor Scott Houston. The keys the instructor on the app is hitting will glow on the ION as he presses them. The app will also teach you how to read music. The keyboard is powered by four AA batteries or an optional AC adapter.
I wonder how much the Piano Apprentice can actually teach you since the little keyboard only has 25-keys. That is only a small fraction of keys on a real piano. The keyboard is also MIDI compliant. Pricing and availability aren’t offered.
The keys are far too small and the software is very limited. The target market is meant to be beginners, but I’m not sure how the software could help and the songs are too complicated for beginners. However, the video instruction from appstore is good.
Its a great activity for your family and if you view it in the same way as these dance-along videogames, then it is a very good investment. Its worth noting that this also works with any midi music app on the app store. So when you have learned all you can from the included app you can use it as a controller for your favorite music apps. All this for such a cheap price I think this is a great gift.
ION Audio won’t turn you into a concert pianist, and it may not excite a non-musician. But if you really want to add piano to your repertoire, it’s an excellent way to start. Rather than spending hours learning some piece you never had a chance of playing, why not learn some chords, and learn to navigate your way around a keyboard? It sounds good and is portable. Good for kids (not too much money invested) as well as adults.
I first tried it out to see how I would like learning this way. After a couple weeks it’s really helping me get the basics down and is a great teaching tool. Best of all I can do it on my schedule and even when I’m on the go like on the bus. I sometimes work odd hours so this is very important for me. Oh, and it’s actually FUN to use too. I am going to get an ION Audio for my cousin too…he came over last week and loved it.