Version Reviewed: 2.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2
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Being able to play a musical instrument is pretty cool. Learning how to do so, however, is usually a little tedious and frustrating. Piano Mania aims to counteract that issue by making it much more fun, all via this colorful app.
Players work through the app chapter by chapter, learning things step by step via the use of well known classical and popular tracks. Using familiar pieces of music is an ideal step, as it immediately makes things that touch easier to understand.
There's the choice of playing along via an acoustic piano or using the app's inbuilt piano. It's a handy choice, ensuring that one can accomplish something whether they're near their traditional piano or not. The track then plays along the screen with the relevant notes popping up, waiting for players to get their timing right. It's much like Guitar Hero, but more educational given that it demonstrates the relevant musical notes.
Unfortunately, Piano Mania doesn't teach its users what each note represents, so instead one will learn through practice. That's arguably a better way of learning in the long run, but short term it would have been handy to have had a guide to what to look for in each note. Things gradually progress with experience gained as one works their way through new pieces. That effect ensures that one always feels as if they're achieving something which is a nice move in adding motivation for the user.
Besides following the 'journey' part of the app with designated lessons, there's also the option of switching to exercises with warm-up methods particularly prominent here. The library also contains a selection of musical pieces that one can dive into, including classical pieces, popular music, and even game or TV theme songs. Many of these, however, are only available to premium members. Subscriptions cost between $4.99 and $11.99 a month depending on how long one commits for, but I can see it being worthwhile for the regular user.
The most important thing about Piano Mania is that it makes playing and learning the piano great fun. When something is fun, one is much more likely to keep doing it. For free, Piano Mania offers plenty as it is so it really is a very useful tool for those keen to improve their piano skills, whether they happen to be young or old.