learn to play keyboard software for Windows PC


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Hello everyone! I am on the brink of buying a keyboard (I'm leaning toward the Casio CTK-7000) and I am interested in learning about software that I can run on my PC (with my new keyboard connected via USB I guess) that will teach me to play. A really long time ago (decades) I saw a demo of a software program program running on a Radio Shack computer that provided lessons to learn simple songs and would provide feedback to let the player know when the wrong key was played. I remember this demo for all these years because the program was very well done and was more like a video game than a music lessons program. Fast forward to the current time. I'm sure there must be software like this still available. Anybody got some recommendations? Thanks
 
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No I haven't, I learnt music reading and playing the hard way MANY years ago but if you have a look at the Yamaha website and look at the models they have, I am sure you will get the answer on the models that have tutorials are available. (I don't know about other brands)
A son of a friend had one some years ago and you see the 'dots' on the display and you have to follow a little light that jumps to the next dot when you hit the correct key. That way you learn reading music and the melody at the same time. I think, but not sure it was the PSR 295 (a cheap model) and it came with quite a lot of melodies on board the keyboard.
 
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BluesMatt:

Today I pulled the trigger and ordered a Casio WK7500. It will arrive early next week. In the meantime I've been researching interactive learning software. Several good recommendations have already been made, some of which I followed up on. Here are some observations that might be helpful:

Here is a review of eMedia Piano and Keyboard method from the Amazon web site. By the way, the price on Amazon is $10 less than from the eMedia site:

Amazon Verified Purchase
I'm a musician but not a piano player, and I've had 4 piano lessons with 3 different people. It turned out to be very hard for these piano teachers, who learned as little kids and mostly teach kids, to understand the needs of a musician adult who is learning piano as an additional instrument. They don't have the appropriate method books, they don't know how to assess what I don't know, they don't know how to make appropriate assignments. I learned very little in those lessons.

This method is just fantastic for me because I can skip over all the things I already know, and I can take the same lesson over and over and over again if I'm having trouble with it, never trying the patience of the computer (unlike the humans!) I've been using it maybe two weeks? and I'm amazed at all the things I've learned, and all the songs I can play. The teacher's videos add just the right touch, the singing on the songs is lovely. There's an accompaniment track for the songs so you can get up to tempo and have fun playing with them. Guitar chords are provided (!) which means I can add the chords I know on selected simple songs to make the lesson more challenging. It's a heavily song-based curriculum, lots of Baroque music, but I'm also working on Piano Man by Billy Joel.

My feeling is once I finish this disk, I will be ready for piano lessons with a human. And I will be playing piano pretty darn well by then, too. I just can't recommend this highly enough.

Being an adult who reads music, having had a few piano lessens several decades ago, not having played any keyboards for that same several decades, and now having the time and inclination, this review hit home. I did learn that this eMedia program does NOT enable download of other song files. To overcome the lack of that feature, Piano Booster (free) seems to be a great companion program because it DOES feature functions to enable download of the thousands of keyboard midis available for free. I doubt that there are many songs anyone can thing of that haven't been midi-ized

So far this combination of learning programs will be my initial core learning tools. I have an inquiry into the eMedia folks asking them to confirm I don't need a midi adapter to link the USB port of the 7500 to my computer. I probably need to ask the Piano Booster folks the same question. Does anyone have any "latency" issues with these programs?
 
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happyrat1

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happyrat1

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BluesMatt:


So far this combination of learning programs will be my initial core learning tools. I have an inquiry into the eMedia folks asking them to confirm I don't need a midi adapter to link the USB port of the 7500 to my computer. I probably need to ask the Piano Booster folks the same question. Does anyone have any "latency" issues with these programs?

You won't require any additional MIDI cable other than a regular USB A to B Printer Cable and the computer will see the 7500 as a class compliant USB MIDI Device automatically without any additional drivers. I'd advise picking up at least a 10 foot cable to allow for easy positioning of your rig.

http://www.amazon.com/Mediabridge-H...id=1364343375&sr=8-1&keywords=usb+ab+ten+foot

If you plan to record MP3's of your work to your computer, you'll also require an audio cable with a stereo 3.5 mm plug at one end that connects to the blue jack on your soundcard and two 1/4" mono plugs on the other end that connect to the Line Outs on the back of the keyboard. Again I'd recommend picking up at least a 10 foot cable.

http://www.amazon.com/Hosa-CMP159-S...4343453&sr=8-1&keywords=3.5+mm+to+1/4+10+foot

Latency can be a bitch to overcome and I'd advise googling "troubleshooting midi latency in windows XXX" if and only if you encounter any problems. With a million possible configurations out there, it's impossible to predict how your or any other system will react until you actually run it.
 
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You won't require any additional MIDI cable other than a regular USB A to B Printer Cable and the computer will see the 7500 as a class compliant USB MIDI Device automatically without any additional drivers. I'd advise picking up at least a 10 foot cable to allow for easy positioning of your rig.

http://www.amazon.com/Mediabridge-Hi-Speed-USB-2-0-Cable/dp/B001MSU1HG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364343375&sr=8-1&keywords=usb ab ten foot

If you plan to record MP3's of your work to your computer, you'll also require an audio cable with a stereo 3.5 mm plug at one end that connects to the blue jack on your soundcard and two 1/4" mono plugs on the other end that connect to the Line Outs on the back of the keyboard. Again I'd recommend picking up at least a 10 foot cable.

http://www.amazon.com/Hosa-CMP159-Stereo-Breakout-10-Feet/dp/B005HGM1D6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364343453&sr=8-1&keywords=3.5 mm to 1/4 10 foot

Latency can be a bitch to overcome and I'd advise googling "troubleshooting midi latency in windows XXX" if and only if you encounter any problems. With a million possible configurations out there, it's impossible to predict how your or any other system will react until you actually run it.

Thank you for the info and your understanding that I won't need a $$$ converter. And fortunately I have a few of those cables laying around from previous techie purchases.

After actually downloading and using the Piano Booster program, I am having second thoughts about it because it does not display the actual time value of notes. I suppose it is good for note identification practice, and it does keep time, but it does not show actual note values. Are there similar programs that scroll midi information that show actual music notation and not just dots on a staff?
 

happyrat1

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Well there's Notation Musician and Notation Composer.

http://www.notation.com/

But they're commercial programs that you pay for. I haven't used any of their products in over a decade so I can't speak as to how good or bad they might be.
 
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http://www.notation.com/NotationProductsFeatureComparison.php

Wow, that's what I'm looking for. Thanks. The above link shows a table comparing the two products you mentioned. The Notation Composer function is a midi recorder that creates midi-generated sheet music This brings up a question concerning the 7500. Can the 7500, or an external program you are aware of, transform WAV files (produced by the 7500's mike input) to midi? It would be neat to transform what I play on my acoustic instrument to midi and transcribe it!
 
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There are actually quite a few WAV to MIDI converter programs out there.

https://www.google.ca/search?client=ubuntu&channel=fs&q=wav to midi converter&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&redir_esc=&ei=-RJTUZ6SCPCGyQHhxIHwBg

Again I can't speak of how well they work or not as I've never used one.

The 7500 definitely cannot perform this function on its own though.


Well, I just found one, too - freeware, and there is a polyphonic demo on the page: http://www.pluto.dti.ne.jp/araki/amazingmidi/
For single tones like a wind instrument it will probably do better.
 

happyrat1

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BTW, when it comes to time signatures and note values, any program you use would only be guessing at these values in a MIDI file anyway because MIDI doesn't contain this data in a file. Notes are expressed in duration of MIDI clock ticks and any notation software either has to guess at these values or manually input them when composing in a proprietary DAW/Sequencer format like Cakewalk WRK files.

Tempo and duration are recorded, but most software simply defaults to 4/4 time and formats accordingly.
 
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BTW, when it comes to time signatures and note values, any program you use would only be guessing at these values in a MIDI file anyway because MIDI doesn't contain this data in a file. Notes are expressed in duration of MIDI clock ticks and any notation software either has to guess at these values or manually input them when composing in a proprietary DAW/Sequencer format like Cakewalk WRK files.

Tempo and duration are recorded, but most software simply defaults to 4/4 time and formats accordingly.

Yes, I see. One demo for a conversion program I viewed requires you to tap in the rhythm as its recording the analog file. The program processed/converted the file and guessed 3/4. The user needed to correct that meter to 4/4.
 

happyrat1

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Actually it pretty much depends on your intended use for the program.

If it's strictly a learn as you go kind of thing then Pianobooster should be more than adequate.

If you are looking to print out scores of your own music, then I'd suggest getting a good DAW Sequencer program like Cakewalk Music Creator or Anvil Studio or Rosegarden or Cubase or Reaper and simply recording and formatting your keystrokes in the sequencer. Pretty much all the good DAW programs can output and print music notation for your creations or imported MIDI files.
 
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Actually it pretty much depends on your intended use for the program.

If it's strictly a learn as you go kind of thing then Pianobooster should be more than adequate.

If you are looking to print out scores of your own music, then I'd suggest getting a good DAW Sequencer program like Cakewalk Music Creator or Anvil Studio or Rosegarden or Cubase or Reaper and simply recording and formatting your keystrokes in the sequencer. Pretty much all the good DAW programs can output and print music notation for your creations or imported MIDI files.

I'm not there yet to take advantage of the higher dollar programs. The functions I'm after in priority order are the following, along with the name of the programs that I expect will accomplish these objectives:

- Scrolled practice snippets and songs interacting with the keyboard (Piano Booster [free] and eMedia for Keyboards v.3 [$50-many more capabilities] do this)
- Ability to download MIDI files and play sections of them interactively on the keyboard (Piano Booster and eMedia for Keyboards (eMedia does not read externally downloaded midi files as far as I know, but its built-in library has great feedback and practice options.
- Ability to do minor edits to midi files to improve the ones I downloaded. (Notation that you suggested looks good for this)
- Ability to record wav files and play back in sync with the keyboard accompaniment. (not sure if 7500 can do this)
- Ability to transcribe wav files into midi and sheet music. (the technology available to do this still requires a lot of user intervention; one product claims that it saves about 35% of the time compared to listening and notating from scratch.)

If I'm not able to do the last couple tasks without spending a lot of $$ or lot if time, that is ok for now.
 

happyrat1

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Cakewalk Music Creator 6 can do everything you just mentioned except convert WAV to MIDI and it sells for under $50. It's actually more useful and less expensive than the Notation Software I originally linked.

Take a look at their product pages and demo videos and decide for yourself.

http://www.cakewalk.com/CakeTV/Music-Creator.aspx
 
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Gentlemen,
I think there is another point worth making. Making music is about self-expression (even when playing someone else's song). I have found that it is very easy to get carried away with the tools and learning resources available. So much so that the music making part can sometimes get forgotten about.

And sometimes I think it is better to learn some things the "hard" way. Like being able to hear a song and figure out how to play it all by ear. Then be able to notate it by hand. In my experince, any time spent on these kinds of activities is time well spent because you learn more.

BTW, years ago, I spent some time with Music Creator and had a blast. The learning curve was steep but not impossible (as I recall) and the creative possibilities are basically endless. I aiming to get back to that soon. (And yes, latency was an issue and a pain to deal with. I honestly don't remember how I resolved it.)
 
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Gentlemen,
I think there is another point worth making. Making music is about self-expression (even when playing someone else's song). I have found that it is very easy to get carried away with the tools and learning resources available. So much so that the music making part can sometimes get forgotten about.

And sometimes I think it is better to learn some things the "hard" way. Like being able to hear a song and figure out how to play it all by ear. Then be able to notate it by hand. In my experince, any time spent on these kinds of activities is time well spent because you learn more.

BTW, years ago, I spent some time with Music Creator and had a blast. The learning curve was steep but not impossible (as I recall) and the creative possibilities are basically endless. I aiming to get back to that soon. (And yes, latency was an issue and a pain to deal with. I honestly don't remember how I resolved it.)

I agree. I had an enlightening bit of advice given to me when I walked into a practice session for a 60's band today. I had a short discussion with the keyboardist. I mentioned to him I was getting a keyboard and just learning. His sage advice was this: If you want to get up and running quickly, especially with chords and progressions and develop your ability to improvise, play The Lords Prayer and, on your own, figure out the chords and progressions that go with the melody. I didn't get a chance to explore his reasons, but I take it that that melody line invokes a number of basic chords and progressions that naturally flow and would be instructive.

That certainly is the opposite approach to all this software technobabble. I think the lesson is: Don't focus on just one method or tool for learning and creating. Use both sides of our brain.
 

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