“You have to understand that though we have carefully examined many of the standard traditional piano method books, what we’re creating in the new media platform with all its additional options is something totally new. There isn’t a single method book that enables instant feedback on every note you play, nor is there one that includes integrated, hassle-free orchestral/band accompaniment for every single song and exercise.”

No risk, no reward
At higher levels, some music education apps are focused only on content, not interaction. New Orleans-based Tutti Music Player comes out of the jazz tradition and offers customizable video insight into how each player in an ensemble creates a given groove, be it jazz, salsa, funk or second line.

Most music teaching apps, however, are designed to help students and music teachers make practicing fun. But is there such thing as too much fun?After all, any parent knows that these days most children would gladly play video games for eight hours at a stretch.

“As for possible risks in getting music beginners hooked and possibly losing interest in physical instruments — to be honest, though gamification in education in general is already a well-established trend, gamification (in the sense of video-game-like mechanics) in music education is still a very new field, so we can’t state the exact effect,” said Kaminka. “However, all the evidence clearly points to the opposite. If you take Guitar Hero, for instance, their great success lead to a burst of people that ‘converted’ to go study guitar for real, because the minute you can actually make music on your own, you don’t need the video game anymore.”

“Our bigger concern as music educators should be about what’s happening today, as the traditional music education world is fighting for the hearts of music beginners—and losing,” said Stansfield.“The fact is, 85% of all people who start to learn a musical instrument quit in their first year or two.

“I think the idea of interactive instruments that input information back to you, that’s a new concept. We’re seeing that people want more and more stuff like that. There have been instruments with light up keyboards, but not till iPhone could you go both ways.”

In other words, the piano of the future will tell you what you did right—and wrong. Just what the music world needed: more critics!