Got game? The folks at AlphaWeb Plus
do, with their new music app, PlayItYourself 4 HD. This is a game that helps users learn to play the piano. Using the on-screen keyboard, learners simply follow the scrolling musical notes and press the highlighted keys on the piano. Simple as that. Budding piano men and women can even choose parts of a score they wish to practice and allow the app to play the rest of the score for them - useful for mastering that tricky phrase in a particular piece of music. Or, choose one hand to practice, and allow the app to play the other hand. Nifty!
PlayItYourself can even add, edit and export scores via the MuseScore desktop app, a free, cross platform music notation program. Scores can then be synced through iTunes. Other features include high quality sound samples, automatic tempo matching (for when one of your hands plays slower or faster than the hand the app may be playing), and authentically scored sheet music, formatted for the iPad.
The sheet music that comes with the app includes Fur Elise and Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven, Air on the G string by Bach, The Entertainer by Joplin, and about 15 more. The screenshots below show Game Center and OpenFeint integration, so players can show off their serious skills to all their jealous friends.
While the app may or may not actually help all users learn how to play a true keyboard or piano, the pedagogy here seems sound. Much of instrument playing consists of training our hands and our eyes to work in concert as well as independently of each other. Watching true musical notation while learning where those notes are on the piano keyboard seems like a grand way to start learning one of western music's most representative instrument. Time will only tell if the virtual keyboard learning can transfer to a true "real life" keyboard.
PlayItYourself 4 HD is available now on the App Store, and won't cost a thin dime for the price of entry.