Now, there’s a ‘smart’ way to play the piano: The One Smart Piano can teach you to play your first song in five minutes, its creators claim. The musical instrument hooks up to a digital device app, which boasts a keyboard integrated with LED lights so that you can follow along on screen. The gadget also allows the musician to play games and download sheet music. The intelligent instrument has the look and feel of a traditional piano and is equipped with 88 hammer-weighted keys, three-foot pedals and a wooden body. According to Matthew Layne, partner relations manager of The One, the company behind the device, the cost now under its Indiegogo campaign is $799 and after the campaign the price will be $1,499. Metro talks to Layne about playing smart.
Playing a piano is something really traditional. Are you trying to refashion it somehow?
– Yes, we noticed that traditional piano instruction hadn't changed for generations and we wanted to utilize modern technology to create a new, fun, and cost-effective way to learn the piano. Research says that 50% of people from the U.S. took piano lessons when they were kids, but only 12% play as adults, so we realized that most people are interested in playing music, but couldn't get over the first couple obstacles. Our intention is to make learning the piano accessible to everyone.
What makes your product so different?
– Ours is the only piano that is Apple Certified MFi. It has a full 88 weighted key keyboard and is manufactured by one of the largest piano manufacturers in the world. It has a bi-directional midi connection through your smartphone or tablet that syncs games, sheet music breakdowns and video tutorials with a series of LED lights to guide you through the lessons and songs.
I can think it's kind of playing Guitar Hero...
– The idea here is to offer real time on an instrument while having fun. Gamification is a really wonderful tool to inspire people to learn, but so many of the products that use it don't offer experience playing a real instrument, like Guitar Hero. Instead, you can take the lessons you've learned on our piano, and sit down at a grand piano and not miss a beat!
Even people who don't play can try your piano?
– Definitely. The idea is once you feel confident enough to play a song without the guidance of our free app, you can unplug your device and use it just like any other piano. We've spoke with so many people who said they were intimidated by the piano, embarrassed by taking lessons, feel they are "too old", etc...and we believe anybody can learn to play. So, we've created several partnerships to help make sure everyone is included in our efforts.
And what are these partnerships?
– The first two are with Special Needs schools based in Northern California - Open Mind School and Creative Learning Center. Our third partnership was created with OATS (Older Adults Technology Services) and their new program "Senior Planet" - This is a community center that teaches senior citizens how to use new technology (computers, social media, digital photography, etc.) and they currently use our product to teach music! Now, anyone can learn to play.