Midi Piano Instructor


The MIDI piano instructor is a tool aimed at those who wish to learn to play piano, but don’t want to take lessons. The LED bar mounted above the keys lights up to show you exactly what key to press and when. We’ve seen this available in some electronic keyboards for some time, but this unit would be able to fit any standard sized keyboard.  Check the page for schematics and pictures.

[via Flickr]

18 thoughts on “Midi Piano Instructor

  1. @jamieriddles

    you beat me to the point for the exact reason @andar_b stated. with just about any instrument, mechanics are everything.

    its still a pretty awesome idea though

  2. I like this project. But I don’t like its complicated interface.

    Since the device generating MIDI is more likely a PC than anything else, one could make a simpler solution with the use of custom driver. It will be OS dependent but much easier to produce. No need to get a USB to MIDI interface either.

  3. Several manufacturers have made all sorts of keyboards very similar to this, and they all fail in achieving what they purport to do, except for teaching the simplest of pieces.

    Not to be too disparaging, but this implementation is completely *yawn*.

    However, the schematics and source could be very useful for a player piano project… >:3

  4. @alex

    I’m running into the same problem @andar_b stated as well. I’m using synhtesia that KayDat pointed out. Personally, I think that “game” works better than how this would work. There are some stand alone midi keyboard/piano that does something similar to this but with the LED integrated into the keys. I tried those before and it was much more frustrating than synthesia.

    I usually just search youtube and watch how other people play for fingering tips. It is pretty hard to find some of the beginner pieces and sometimes the camera pans out right where I had the most problem. =(

  5. @packrat: I disagree, I think they can be used for complex pieces too. Since I’ve learnt several complex pieces following lights like this on my own piano :P

    Sure I learnt them as an experienced pianist rather than a beginner, but still… :P

  6. Well im all for learning an instrument. I found this method to be quite difficult as a learning tool, synthesia was good for some stuff but im limited to 4 octaves on my midi beyboard/controller so I cant really play what id like to play.

  7. @packrat
    When I was about 12 my family got a Yamaha Clavinova CVP-94. It had this feature, and could read .mid files off a floppy and teach you whatever you programmed. One or two MIDI channels could be indicated on different ranges at the same time.

    While I never learned anything terribly difficult or classical from this system, I did use it to learn all sorts of pop riffs and melodies(easy to download). To this day, 15 years later, I can still play Enjoy the Silence by Depeche Mode :P

  8. How cool! I made something like this a while back with a MAX6955 LED controller. Mine however leveraged very bright blue LEDs to actually light the top of the key itself. As discussed, this is really just display, and as proof of concept I succeeded, but as far as a teaching system, it requires intelligent software to back it up, and for complex pieces where fingering is far from obvious, it completely breaks down. Not to mention there’s zero indication of note timing.

    My system took midi similar instructions from a piece of software on a host machine that split up a given midi file into left and right hand portions. It could play back a section of the piece, then acted as a filter for the midi controller, blocking the sound of any note that wasn’t the one meant to be played (a feature of some Yamaha pianos). A young student would then only hear a note if they touched the correct key. Reasonably simple staccato pieces worked great, but fat chance learning “like spinning plates”.

    With real RGB output for each note LED, variable blink and well written software, this could be a reasonable teaching tool, alerting the user of notes to come with a different color, notes meant to be played at the same time as chords etc, with an on screen display of what the fingering should be. Though really, no replacement for real instruction.

    I wrote it open just in case it failed miserably (which it did) so for now it works as a major/minor scale and chord display teacher.

  9. @Timo

    Have to love the versatility of a projector! A bit more fiddly to set up but wow! Considerably less portable, but very clear and could be used in the exactly the same way as the others. Resolution could be a bit of an issue, and alignment, height, power use, etc. Still, a very cool way to do it.

    With a webcam or other sensor you could probably detect if the key was pressed (maybe).

  10. I’d rather have something that lit up the valid keys for a particular mode/key – This would teach you to play a song. I’m much more interested in quickly fiddling around with my OWN song.

  11. Of course this thing cannot replace a real teacher : I just intended to bridge a gap between software like synthesia or eMedia and a real instrument, even not electronic like a real piano or pipe organ. No real virtuoso will come out with it, nonetheless I can assure you that it is quite addictive (hypnotic, fun, amazing, …) looking at the LEDs while the notes are being played : after a few session myself, which is not a player though not totally declined, could recognize the patterns on the keys and identify a few chords. My son could play small parts of Satie, Faure, Bach, Robin Williams (!) and a number of “adagio”s after a few loops of the pieces.
    Even there’s no chance to learn Goldberg Variations with this tool, it is still amazing to “look” at how large a hand must be to cover all of the notes played at the same time !

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