One of the truly exciting parts of my job is showing people how much fun they can have with a digital piano. Not only do most digital pianos have many different sounds and rhythms – as well as a built-in recorder – but some models can also make use of third-party apps that can make learning so much easier and more enjoyable. Some help you play your favorite songs even if you can’t read music! So – if you’re looking for something fun and relaxing to do at home – here are some things you and your family can enjoy on your home digital piano:

Follow Lights.Yamaha follow lights guide lamps

What if you don’t play the piano (or don’t play well?)  No problem!  With the right digital piano, you can begin having the time of your life from Day 1!  For example, Yamaha has a feature on some of their pianos called “follow lights.” Follow lights is a combination of hardware (including a LED guide lamp above each piano key) and software (that allows you to engage a “Guide Mode”  that waits for you to play the correct notes before continuing with the backing track).  All you have to do, is engage the “Follow Lights” system and the piano will show you which keys to play!  It will also play an incredible backing track with you to make you feel like you’re part of a professional band even if you’ve never had a lesson!  There has never been an easier way to learn and play your favorite songs!  Yamaha also has models that feature “stream lights” (where the lights cascade down to the note you need to play).  It’s essentially the same concept, but it gives you a bit more warning before your note comes up. The neat thing is – you are in complete control! You can play as slowly as you like and the music follows YOU. The song doesn’t advance until you play the correct note. …and – unlike some midi files that sound “weird” at slower speeds, Yamaha’s MusicSoft files have been created to smooth out your performance and make it sound great at any speed!  Play with headphones or let your music ring out!  You’ll be stunned at how much fun this is!

Exploring the Orchestra.Playing a Digital Piano

Just about all digital pianos have more than one sound. Basic pianos may have a few dozen sounds while more advanced models can have several hundred – even more than a thousand – instruments onboard! What can you do with all those sounds (besides drive yourself crazy looking for the “perfect” spooky organ tone)?  Well, let’s say you’re playing a Mozart minuet.  The piano was in its infancy during Mozart’s life and he primarily wrote for the more established harpsichord.  So – if you want to add authenticity to your favorite Mozart minuet – you can use a harpsichord or “pianoforte” sound.  Now you’ll experience the same kinds of sounds Mozart intended!  Bach is another great example.  His famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor (the Phantom of the Opera song) was written for pipe organ.  Why not frighten your entire family and play it with a powerful pipe organ sound? This not only makes it a more authentic musical experience – but it’s also more fun!

Playing Duets With Yourself.

Maybe you want to play a piano duet but there’s no one around to play the second part. No problem! Just use the built-in recorder to record the first part and, when you play it back, you can play the second part LIVE along with it. You can even slow down the recording while you’re learning the piece or record both parts and make your classical music debut!  Are you starting to realize the fun you can have with a good quality digital piano?

KaraokeYamaha Clavinova karaoke

From “Shake a Tail Feather” to a “…little ole place where we can get together,” I love to sing karaoke. Luckily, whether I am using an app or a built-in vocalizer, I can sing karaoke until my heart’s content on a home digital piano.  The songs are incredibly versatile too.  Each instrument is on a separate track and I can change not only volumes, but also the instrument that is playing!  I can even mute whole tracks!  Of course, with the right piano or app, I can also change the tempo (speed) and the key the song is in. I can even grab a microphone and add vocal harmony or pitch correction!  Watch out, Barry White!  Even better – I can purchase karaoke files online, download them to a flash drive, and play them in my piano without ever leaving home.  It’s hours of fun for me and anyone else I can convince to sing with me!

Playing with a Professional Band

But what if you, like me, are a professional musician who reads music and wants to play along with professional backing tracks? Well, just download Sheet Music Direct Play-along to your iPad and you can not only download sheet music, but you can also play with professionally-recorded background tracks made by a REAL studio orchestra! …and thanks to new resampling technology, you can change the tempo (speed) and transpose the song into any key – and your AUDIO file will adjust with you! I like to use my Roland digital piano for this one because it comes with Bluetooth AUDIO built-in and I can pipe all of this incredible sound right through my piano, balance my volume levels, and play with a professional band anytime I want!  I can even pipe the whole mix through headphones and lose myself in the music.  It’s one of the most satisfying things I do in a day.  You’ll love it!

Billy Joel and Pink play a Roland digital pianoThink of digital pianos like you do most cameras today. You can have a “real” camera that produces one static image and you have to become an expert at adjusting film type, F-stops, shutter speed, exposure time, and then the many ways to develop the film. Sure, that works if you have YEARS to practice! However, most people today use digital cameras because they can get GREAT photos without having to spend years practicing – or hours studying a manual.  Digital pianos – like digital cameras – allow you to be more creative and to have more fun doing something you love to do – make music.  …and right now while we’re all stuck in our homes, what better way can you think of to keep your family relaxed, alert, and entertained?  Look into it for yourself – online or in person – and see how today’s digital pianos can enrich your home life!