TheONE Smart Piano could make learning to play much more fun

TheONE Smart Piano could make learning to play much more fun

When I was six years old, one of the ways I amused myself was to sit down at the baby grand piano in the living room and tap out tunes I heard on the radio. In response, my parents embarked on a six-year run of piano lessons.

While I eventually warmed to the disciplined practice required, once the lessons ended, I never touched the piano again. Research indicates that, like me, some 50 percent of American kids took piano lessons, but only 12 percent play as adults.

That is the impetus behind today’s North American launch of TheONE Smart Piano and Smart Keyboard, alongside a crowdfunding campaign for $50,000 that kicks off simultaneously on Indiegogo. The piano is already available in China.

This electronic instrument, combined with a free mobile apps for iOS and Android, seeks to make playing the piano more fun and less structured, both for newcomers and people who may have abandoned it in the past.

“We wanted to create a fun way not to push the instruments on you but to let you play your favorite pop songs,” said Matthew Layne, TheONE Music Group’s partner relations manager.

TheONE Smart Piano PLAY is a genuine piano — a traditional digital upright with a wooden body that’s MFi certified to work with Apple mobile devices. It features 88 hammer-action, simulated ivory, full sized weighted keys and three foot pedals in a simple, Bauhaus-inspired frame. At 121 pounds, it is one-fourth the weight of traditional uprights and measures 54 x 18 x 33 inches.

The instrument comes in two models, a handsome upright in Matte black or Classic white, which would look lovely in any home. There’s also a portable TheONE Smart Piano TOK, with 61 keys and weighing 11 pounds, powered by six AA batteries. It features a microphone plug-in and comes in Onyx Black and Milk White. Both have built-in stands so you can plug in a smartphone or tablet.

You do not need to run any apps on the piano while you play: You can sit down and play by ear — just as I used to. But if you want to learn songs and enhance your skills, the companion app can get you started.

It lets you learn at your own pace and choose the songs you want to play, while providing lighting hints on the keys to assist in getting the right notes. You can also record the songs you learn and share them with others. Included sheet music covers a variety of music genres, and even teaches you to read music at your own pace. Because it’s electronic, the piano never needs tuning.

The app is designed to deliver an integrated experience. “We are a tech company, and when we upgrade the app, we incorporate teacher suggestions, and other updates. You never have to buy a new piano,” Layne said.

Both pianos also work with third-party music apps including Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube, and others to play music directly from the instrument’s built-in MP3 speakers. And, as MIDI input systems, they can be used with music creation tools like GarageBand.

While TheONE Smart Piano is a consumer product strictly for entertainment, you can easily transfer the skills you learn from it to a regular piano if you want to further advance your musical expertise.

The Indiegogo campaign, which accompanies the company’s North American launch, is designed to raise awareness of the company and its mission to update musical instruction. The funds will be used to offset shipping costs to help keep prices reasonable.

The campaign also has a strong community component. Funders can choose to help advance classroom music for nonprofits with a ‘Buy The ONE, give one’ program. Current partners include Open Mind School for special needs children and Senior Planet, which both use the smart pianos for education and recreation.

The Next Web

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