By Paisal Chuenprasaeng
The Nation Weekend
YOUR KIDS can get a head start learning to play the piano with the One Light Keyboard, a smart electronic piano that has won a lot of awards.
The keyboard from the One Music Group uses synchronised LED lights to help quickly teach children (and adults too) how to play.
It runs on just six AA batteries, so you can take it with you anywhere, getting lessons via an app on a connected mobile device, so the learning never has to pause.
This is a full-sized 61-key keyboard with illuminated keys to guide you. You could be banging out Beethoven in minutes.
The smart design has one this learning tool several prizes, including a CES Innovation Award, an Edison Award and a Mom’s Choice Award.
You’ll learn about 128-note polyphony as you explore the sounds of more than 100 different instruments available from the app, which is free to download for both Android and iOS devices. At a click you’ll be mimicking the sound of an organ, a flute or a guitar.
There’s also MIDI compatibility for apps like Yousician, Piano Maestro and Garage Band, all very useful when you’re ready to compose your own tunes and arias.
The keyboard is 36 inches long, 13 wide and four deep, and weighs 5.44 kilograms. It comes with a music stand on which you can park your sheet music, an iPad or a smartphone – whatever holds the notes you’re following.
In the back are ports for USB, DC, Mic-in, Aux-in and Aux-out and one for connecting an optional piano pedal device.
Out front are two speakers, a master volume control and the power button.
You get a DC power adapter with four types of male plugs. Plug your phone or tablet USB in to use the lighting-guide features on the app.
In the package that I had my hands on, there are three USB cables – one for older iPads, one for the lightning connector and another micro-USB connector. But a PR official at the company insisted that future shipments would include a new USB Type-C port. If not, you need to buy an adapter, such as female micro-USB to USB-C adapter.
Getting set up for your first lesson is a breeze, just a matter of connecting the DC adapter to the keyboard, downloading the app (to a tablet preferably so you can read the instructions more easily), and hooking up the keyboard and your mobile gadget.
The app requires registering for a free account with the One Music Group. Do that, because there are more than 4,000 music charts and 100 video tutorials and even games waiting.
Go to the setting icon in the top left corner of the app to choose an instrumental sound and adjust the other settings.
You can select among Sheet Music, Crash Course, Videos and Games. If you’re a beginner, check out the videos (instructions in English). If you know your piano, there’s plenty to keep you busy in the other categories.
The video tutorials go from sitting position and finger placement (thumb is No 1, pinkie is No 5, etc) to playing “Hot Cross Buns” with the right hand alone – it’s just C, D and E. Every lesson features a demonstration, a rhythm exercise and a run through some sheet music.
When following the sheet music in a video, the notes are highlighted as they’re to be played and the corresponding keys glow red. It all becomes second nature soon enough.
In the Crash Course section are a bunch of familiar tunes to practise, such as “Auld Lang Syne”, Pachelbel’s “Canon”, “Moonlight Sonata” and that Beethoven guy’s “Fur Elise”.
Under Sheet Music are the scores for which the keys will again light up to guide your fingers. Most of these songs are free, but copyrights on some of the pop songs mean you have to chip in anything from 99 US cents to $3.99.
Leave Katy Perry for later and load up “Jingle Bells” or “Happy Birthday” instead. Now, tap the “Play” arrow-icon on the left of the screen to listen to the full demo or tap “Both” at the top to enable keyboard illumination.
Under Games you have a large selection of songs that make learning fun, such as by having to hit the right key at exactly the right time. You see an onscreen piano keyboard with blocks falling on the correct keys. Hit that note, maestro!
Your playlist for gaming includes “Mary had a Little Lamb”, “Yankee Doodle” and, for the right hand only, “Canon” and “Ode to Joy”.
When you’ve earned a break, have your phone connected to the keyboard and dial up Spotify, Pandora or YouTube so you can listen to real musicians playing through the One Light’s speakers. The speakers sound pretty good, but there’s also a place to plug in headphones in case you or your music choices are annoying the neighbours.
Get the One Light Keyboard for Bt26,500 from www.Lazada.co.th.
Weight: 11 pounds
Keyboard: 61 keys
Sounds: 417 timbres, 16 folk instruments, nine percussion sets, 603 drum sounds, 256 GM2 tones (used alone, the piano has 20 pre-set instruments)
LED: 61 red lights
Pedals: Note-sustain function
Device, connection: iOS 9.0+, iPad 2/4, New Pad, iPad mini1/2/3/4, iPad Air1/2, iPad Pro, iPhone 5s/6/6 plus/6s/6s plus/7/7 plus/8/X, Android 4.4+ with USB Host/OTG
Audio socket: One headphone socket
Mic socket: One external socket
Auxiliary input: One socket
Auxiliary output: One socket
Dimensions: 36x13x4 inches