Experienced players read music in a way that overcomes some of the limitations that form the assumptions that are behind these alternative notation systems. Instead of looking at a measure as a collection of individual notes that must be perceived, interpreted and executed in sequence, they take it in as a chunk. (I imagine reading code must be similar.) This is why the density of traditional notation isn’t intimidating - after a while it can be read as a whole.
Whether a system like this could be a pedagogical bridge to formal notation remains to be seen. I’ve encountered such bridging systems before. I’m an admitted skeptic because my orientation to this is that if you want to learn a thing, just start learning the thing. The struggle, within limits, is known to enhance learning.
The main point is that the design of the piano has held beginners back for centuries, and likewise has hindered the development of music notation.
Unfortunately the design of the piano keyboard requires that fingering change when you change key. The guitar doesn't do this, neither does the button accordion.
Whatever, a number of keyboards have been developed where the fingering does not change as you change key.
Start here https://www.le-nouveau-clavier.fr/english/
Particularly the https://musicnotation.org/wiki/instruments/wicki-hayden-note...
But please start searching and reading on the following topics:
Isomorphic Instruments, the Xenharmonic Keyboard, the Janko Keyboard, Linnstrument, Lumatone, Dodeka, Chromatone, Balanced keyboard.
And for just a glimpse of an alternative music presentation:
There are many comments to the effect that this is a crutch that will inhibit future learning. I agree with that assessment.
I also agree that such a tradeoff is probably fine for many people, depending on their goals.
I studied music composition in college and then worked in adult world language curriculum. Perhaps a useful analogy is the use of Romanization to teach world languages to native English speakers (romaji, pinyin, etc.)
For languages like Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese, etc.) where there is (virtually) no phonetic information in the writing system, it’s just too dang hard for a lot of people to make the leap to pronouncing characters as they are reas by natives. Pinyin or its equivalents are an “inauthentic” but valuable tool, but eventually you have to discard it to progress.
With straightforward phonetic languages like Korean, it’s actually counterproductive to try to bridge people to familiar symbols, because there’s very few resources for the learner until they start mapping sounds to Hangul.
That’d be my argument—-if you find you can’t easily make the leap to reading music and just want to get playing, sure, use this. But know that there’s a whole world of communication out there that you’ll be missing until you abandon this simplified representation and cross the full chasm.
However over time it becomes easier and easier - and then you wonder is sheet music somehow optimal or is it 'good enough' and has withstood the test of time (also accounting for the fact that there is an enormous corpus of existing sheet music).
The question regarding this app (which looks awesome) is, is this format for reading music better than sheet music at the expert level (for professional musicians). And if not, how can we get that 10x improvement to make the switch from sheet music to something better.
If the whole concept of this confuses me, and it does, it may confuse people who are eager to learn and get playing (without doing endless scales) and don't read sheet music.
I have no idea what tabs means in this context, though I am vaguely familiar, I think, with it as a guitar term (which you or a commenter came from).
Looking at the graphics on the site (I don't use Apple) gives me no clue how the notes for each hand are displayed "according to how they look on a keyboard."
What am I missing? Will someone who uses Apple, can't read sheet music, has never played any instrument and wants to learn how to play piano be able to figure it out within app tutorials?
The problem that sheet music solves is providing a static notation that can be read non-linearly for a dynamic piece of art that must be played linearly.
There's also no way to represent dynamics, as far as I can tell? The MIDI file won't give you that information.
Similarly unless you support MIDI 2 clip files (to my knowledge, no one does yet) you're also missing the key signature information, which is kind of important (otherwise the notes have no meaning - you need to infer their function from context, which is ambiguous)
Reminds me of Synthesia, with a better UX but less features!
How do you handle the displaying all notes on a portrait phone per your homepage screenshot? Especially on songs with a large gap between both hands, seems like it would be pretty cramped so a tablet might be the better option.
So I can definitely see a market for this and will probably try learning another song on piano with it. That said, I do wish I had just learned to read music up front, as I learned my first instrument. I think it would have opened up doors for me, particularly for playing with other musicians (like an orchestra or a jazz band). But who knows how much longer that will be the case - tomorrow's great musicians may learn on an app like this!
Yours is a very nice presentation! I like the annotations feature, and the comprehensiveness of the features, even for the stated goal of such simple functionality. A lot of people might leave out percussion loops, or be a bit more stingy with the free tracks.
This may be a stupid question, but I'll ask anyway: does it recognize Midi controller input? In my practice, I've found value in having the notes I play represented digitally, so that I can keep my eyes on the screen (and, let's face it, Rock Band/Guitar Hero is fun). But I didn't see that specifically advertised anywhere, so I was curious!
Although the upfront cost of learning sheet music is a few weeks of study, it quickly becomes worth it due to gains in speed of learning and sightreading skills.
Maybe this can introduce people to piano and get them playing quickly, but it'll ultimately stunt their development.
Then I attempted to install it and got this: - "This application requires iOS 15.0 or later". This is a deal breaker on so many apps. I don't trust apple enough to change my iOS version. Note: this happened on a pretty recent iphone 7+
This doesn’t surprise me. I abhor all subscriptions. I’ll pay for things once, upfront, but I’d rather do without than have continuous payments.
At least this sort of display eliminates the "akshually C𝄫 and A♯ are different"-type cranks.
I am getting a little off-track here, and I'm probably doing my suggestion few favours by burying it here where few will ever see it, but on a similar track, I envisage music tuition being a huge potential application for augmented reality. The possibilities there are mindblowing.
And if that's in there, what about a mode - like typing instructors - where the page only advances if you hit the right keys? I think that would be an ideal way to learn the notes, followed by a mode like Guitar Hero where you have to hit the right notes at the right time.
Finally, given that the app is aimed at teaching, I'd add a progression path, have the user start with simple music and gradually progress. Finding rights-free midi files and assessing difficulty might be difficult though.
What makes piano difficult isn't reading music notation. You can learn to read music notation in a week. What makes it difficult is the physical challanges.
Skipping music notation may save you a few weeks at the very beginning, but you'll quickly hit a wall and need to learn the physical skills. And if you can't read music, you won't be able to make music with other people.
This is a very, very bad idea.
Definitely some alternative solutions may be good for beginners, but I wonder how they would perform with the Kreisleriana.
Check the Flowkey app for reference, their piano representation is more sophisticated, but note that it takes half the screen (landscape mode) and there is no wasted space on the ending left and write.
Either way, cool project!
I put a piano in my apartment in 2020, the year the app appears to have been first released. Several people in my household were looking for something exactly like this to practice and never came across it, though we did get suckered into a few $10/month or $75/year subscriptions for other things that ended up barely getting used. If the pricing stays the same but is much clearer to people I believe you could get decent conversion from a little bit of targeted advertising.
- Put the pricing either on a splash window after opening for the first time OR in a message tile on the library screen - Include certain (full) songs in the free version and give them a badge of some sort ("free", "included", etc.) - Put a badge in the toolbar indicating whether you are in a free or paid mode - Make it clear if a subscription is valid for iOS *and* macOS or if they are separate (2x the cost) (edit: downloaded on iOS and it's not limiting anything so it must be a universal subscription. Put that early in the description for sure.)
Besides that, the import dialog could be less spartan. It is not indicated in the app itself that it takes MIDI files only. Normal users may not know what a MIDI file is at first but you might be surprised at how many would learn and go seek those if given a tiny bit of guidance. Tons of non-technical people have learned to get their hands on playable guitar tabs the same way.
As for the playing interface, I like it quite a bit. Plenty of people will comment about how anything getting in the way of becoming an expert in sight reading is somehow evil (hyperbole) but this is silly. I could easily recommend this app to friends who played Guitar Hero as kids and now want to play along to stuff on the piano or keyboard– hey, we all got older and maybe acquired more "mature" instruments with black and white keys. I used to read standard sheet music for chamber/orchestra but it's been years and frankly it's the least important skill for the type of music that I play. However I do have a piano and once in a while want to play something without getting into a lesson on sheet music especially since what I used to read had far less range than a piano.
App Store note: searching for "piano tabs" the app doesn't show up even after a lot of scrolling. "piano tabs learning & practice" finds it as the top result. I am a fan of the plain name; it's short and self-explanatory to the point that I imagine people do randomly search those terms without knowing about your app. That should be a good thing but in practice it seems the discoverability isn't there which is worth looking into.
This looks super cool and would make me basically immediately able to roughly play quite a few pieces. Need to setup my keyboard and try it out.
This is gamifying an actual skill without teaching the actual skill. Good for a few parlor tricks but actually learning piano, requires, well, actually learning how to read the sheet music.