Many of us aren’t blessed with innate musical talent, and so learning to play an instrument takes dedication, self-discipline, practice and a certain amount of fine motor skills. But it can also require a certain financial investment in the sense that instrumentalists have to invest a bit of cash in lessons and partitions, as well as the instrument itself.
That’s why music apps that allow users to practice on the go can make a welcome change. Piano Master is an app that can supposedly help music lovers as they learn to play piano. Does it deliver? Find out in our review.
Features & Use
Tested on: Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4.2.2
Once the app has started up you will find yourself on the main landing screen where you’ll find the following three buttons:
- Start playing: Make your song choice here (more details below)
- Settings: Settings options for display options
- Load songs: Links towards other apps by the same developers where you’ll find more songs
Start a “game” and you will find 30 popular songs ranging from classics – Beethoven, Chopin and co. – to newer compositions.
Each track lists details regarding the degree of difficulty, length and who the composer is. There are three levels of difficulty to choose from:
- Beginner: The piece is played back slowly and stopped when the key is pressed too late. Playback resumes as soon as you’ve found the correct note
- Apprentice: Pieces are played back at the standard tempo but there are pauses for when you hit the wrong note
- Expert: The piece no longer stops for you but keeps playing, so it feels more like when you’re actually playing the piano
There are two further modes: one serves as a playback meaning you can listen to pieces, the other allows you to make you own changes to the piece (tempo, transposition, etc.).
The keyboard appears at the bottom of the display, notes are shown at the top. Hit the right key at the right time in order to produce the sound.
The app calculates how precisely and correctly you’ve played and scores you using a letter grading system. You can check out your best scores for each piece in accordance with the difficulty level.
Piano Master boasts 30 pieces that most of you will be familiar with, thus making it relatively easy to choose a piece. Altering pieces and playing it according to the various degrees of difficulty is quite fun, though it feels more like playing around than actually playing music.
That said, I could imagine that this game will sit especially well with kids, both as a fun pastime and means to introduce them to playing music at an early age.
Screen & Controls
As mentioned, Piano Master is more of a pastime than legitimate means of learning to play the piano. The medium itself does not lend itself all too well to the actual instrument, meaning you have to scroll along the keyboard to access certain keys, and forcibly hitting the wrong notes as a result thereof.
Seeing as you’re playing on a smartphone display, the keys are very small, and so especially the faster tracks can be tricky to play correctly. Playing might pan out better on a tablet, but we unfortunately were not able to test this.
Aside from these glitches, the app app’s design is nifty and well thought out. Controls are also good and feel fairly intuitive.
Speed & Stability
We were happy with Piano Master’s speed and stability throughout our test runs. The app can alg a bit every now and then, but the sounds themselves are fluid and timely.
Piano Master usually goes for €2.37 but as our app of the week (until 24 March) it’s available for only €1.19 from the AndroidPIT App Center.
A free version with ten pieces is also available.