MacMost Now 36: Piano Wizard

Eve Park takes a look at Piano Wizard, a program that teaches you how to play songs on the piano using a MIDI keyboard and game-like interface.

Video Transcript
Hi, this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now. Late last year Guitar Hero 3 came out for the Mac. We were all finally able to play that great game on Mac computers. But it is just a game; it's not a real guitar. A lot of people look at it and say, could you learn how to play a real instrument this way? Well it turns out you can, sort of. There's another program called Music Wizard, and we got a chance to talk with them at MacWorld Expo. It's basically a Guitar Hero-like game but you play with a real keyboard and learn how to play real songs, for real. Let's take a look.
This is Eve with MacMost and I'm here with Chris Selter with Music Wizard and he's going to teach me how to play the piano today, right? Isn't that right?
Yes, I'm actually going to teach you how to read music.
Wow. Because I actually have no idea, so this is going to be interesting. So what do we do?
Basically what we've got is a video game, okay, and I'm going to just start you off here. What we've got is a color coded keyboard up top, and we color code the keyboard down here, okay, with washable, removable stickers, let me put that way down here, and you've got a red line with a red game object going up to the red key, alright and you've got a black game object with a black line going up to the black key. So put your right hand here, okay, and I'm gonna start you off with two hands, so put your left hand here. So our goal is to get you doing that first, and you see how successful you are. That's the first phrase of the song. I'm gonna jump all the way to step two very quickly here, okay, so I'm gonna turn the keyboard sideways. Now you've got the keyboard up here, okay, can you see that? Maybe you want to step back here, you can let go you can come back to this, and the game objects gonna come across here, and High means you move to your right, Low means you move to your left. So what you're seeing now is how musical notation orientates pitch vertically and how the piano relates to that vertical thing, okay. So the game [items] will come across, when they hit the green line you hit the right time. So let's just go ahead, so right hand here again, left hand there, and go. Okay, so that's your right hand, and red black. Left hand. Now we thought this would be a tough phase but in fact the kids just tilted their heads and they got it instantly. I'm gonna jump you to step three where we change the background. You've got a nice Hollywood Bowl kind of concert look and we're gonna put these weird lines on there and we're gonna change the game objects, pretty sneaky huh? Okay, so now you're recognizing how music notation represents a song you already know how to play, the same way we learn a language by speaking, and then we learn to read words we already know. When you do it in that sequence it's very natural. that's why this is happening very quickly. Plus, you're doing it, and you're hearing it, and you're seeing it all simultaneously. You're learning it very holistically.