What makes Hear and Play’s “Song Tutor” software interesting is that it can load any midi file and deconstruct the song for you to learn.  Midi is a format popular with musicians who use keyboards/create music using composition/production software.

What Song Tutor is not:

Song tutor is not the type of learning program that enables you to teach yourself piano. It’s also not comprehensive enough to cover everything you need to know about playing the piano. It’s a tool to help you learn the keys and chords along with new songs without getting deeply involved in music theory.

Also, if you’re looking to learn how to play piano by ear, there are better programs out there that fulfil this need, such as playing by ear another program by hear and play.

As for fingering (i.e. how and where to position your fingers and hands for playing the keys you see flash up on the virtual keyboard) and technique e.g. spreading the hands to play a wider range of note vs playing arpeggios/keeping fingers close together etc), Song Tutor will not teach you these elements of piano playing (you’re better off with a good old-fashioned book like (more traditional) Charles Hanon’s ‘The Virtuoso Pianist or other scale book to improve your fundamentals).

Essentially, Song tutor is software for helping you learn how to play songs; this is done by you copying (i.e.playing along) with the chords and keys you see (indicated by flashing colors on the virtual keyboard). Doing some reading on beginners music theory, along with listening to different songs and even ear training exercises will all help you to understand the elements of songs and learn to play them better.

Following on from the above point, there is no course on how to play piano that accompanies the software. Although Hear and Play have various videos, blog posts and email tips on learning the piano, you can find a more comprehensive beginners piano programme on Piano for all.

What Song Tutor can do:

  1. It will teach you how to learn to play new songs on the piano /keyboard
  2. It will help you to learn what chords, chord progression and keys are with its colored keys that help with identification. This helps beginners understand how songs are constructed.
  3. It has built in tutorial videos
  4. It will give you virtual piano lessons by allowing you to mimic the keys and chords you see being played on the midi piano virtual keyboard.
  5. There is easy built-in browser access to top popular midi file sites.
  6. Will help to improve playing speed with continued use and practice.
  7. You can slow the music down to any speed when practicing, learning new songs.
  8. Works on Mac or Windows.
  9. It can load any midi file and deconstruct the song for you to learn. 
  10. You’re able to find and download many songs and piano tunes, some of which you might have wanted to learn and play.
  11. There are 64 bonus midi files you can get started with right away.

How to use it

Upon installing the software you’ll need to enter your license key to enable software updates.

With song tutor, you can simply find and download a midi file and start playing it, seeing exactly how it’s done, the individual notes and chords used etc. The built in browser allows you to do this by searching for the song online. Simply type in the search bar the name of the music midi file and watch the search results. When you see a relevant link, click on it and scan each song on the website, moving your mouse over the song title. At some point as you do this, you’ll get a confirmation at the top of the page stating the song is a ‘Verified MIDI file’. Click on the verified MIDI song and it will be imported into SongTutor ready to play.

Make sure to press the ‘play’ button check your MIDI file has imported correctly. From a logistic viewpoint, you can position your keyboard in front of your computer/iPad (or have the latter stood up and resting on a music stand) and join in when the keys start playing.

There are also some advanced settings in the software such as the setting “turtle speed technology” (press the play button and the left tempo arrow to slow the speed down) and the ability to play in single-step mode, a feature that breaks up chords enabling you to play individual notes.

Turtle Speed feature (circled)

Afterwards, you can isolate each and every instrument that was used to create the final midi track via its “16 track controls” function. Other features include “split-hand lighting”, “key transporter”, “virtual piano zoom” etc. You can even manipulate that MIDI file, highlighting the notes, and looping certain sections of it.

To access the video tutorials, click on the Midi folder icon, on the top far right, then double click the video tutorial videos link to view them. To access the 64 bonus midi files, click on the Midi folder icon (which will present a drop-down menu). You should then see the 64 midi files link, which when double clicked, will open an internal browser. Finally, double click any link there to start playing the file in song tutor.

Summary

 It may be for you if:

  • You’re new to learning the piano
  • You’re an experienced pianist but want to learn new piano music (especially songs) and the best ways to achieve this
  • You’re comfortable with music composition/production software and want a simple reference to what instruments are being used in MIDIs files.

Pros:

  • Accessible video tutorials.
  • Accessible midi file site locations within a user-friendly browser
  • 64 bonus midi files you can get started using straight away.
  • Helps concentrate the mind with the dual activities of watching what’s played on-screen and your own playing
  • Will help you understand keys and chord progression with its visual color keys.
  • Will help to improve playing speed with continued use and practice.
  • You can slow the music down to any speed when practicing, learning new songs.
  • Works on Windows and Mac

Cons:

  • Other than keys and chord progression, don’t expect any in-depth music theory. You’re better off purchasing a book along with watching various videos on YouTube to reinforce your understanding.
  • There is no built-in short piano course to help if you’re a complete beginner to the instrument.
  • You can only play midi files.
  • This software is aimed at musicians who are willing to commit some time and practice to understanding the key features of a song, break it down and practice the various sections until they are comfortable and can play faster up to its full speed. Dabblers need not go for this.
  • Similar to the point above, if you’re into passive learning and just want to listen to a classroom lecture on songs, you’re better off watching a video on YouTube. SongTutor requires you ‘roll your sleeves up’ and (after some initial listening) get stuck in.

Conclusion:

SongTutor is a useful tool that enables you to learn songs in a fun way. A big plus is that you’re able to find virtually any song online and then play it directly onto this software application.

The software is easy to install and comes with a clear user interface with various features found across the top bar and on the virtual keyboard. It doesn’t appear memory intensive too, being able to run while other software are also open.

If you aren’t comfortable reading sheet music, that’s no longer an issue as you can easily learn solos, chords, tricks, licks etc by playing your chosen song using this system.

If you teach music, then this software application can help spice up your lessons. After using this application, you would be able to become more creative, adding variety to the type of music you teach your students/pupils (pop/gospel/blues/ classical etc) You can encourage your students to explore SongTutor’s various features as it’s only through this and practice that they’ll learn. By extension, your students can also analyze their own recorded MIDI songs and develop a greater understanding for song structure and piano playing.

Regardless of whether you are a beginner or an advanced level musician, the Song Tutor can help you in learning melodies, songs, the music theory and licks. This application runs on both Mac as well as Windows operating systems and it is backed by a 100% full refund guarantee.

If you have some basic piano skill and want additional help in learning to play a variety of songs, while also understanding key elements of songs, then SongTutor is definitely an option with a reasonable one-time cost of $47.00 you can get your own song tutor here.