Learning to play piano is the ultimate video game. Think about it for a moment. You are the main character. You start at the beginning of an epic journey, with limited skills and resources. Your character is not very agile and does not know very much of the possibilities of the world.
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As you practice, and encounter more of the world of music, your skills develop more and more. Then you come to the first boss of the first level. Maybe that means a challenging piece, a difficult scale, or your first performance. You win the level and you walk away feeling confident and empowered in your new abilities and excited to continue your journey through music.
Taking this game-like approach to learning music will make your practice time much more exciting and relatable. If you are a parent, you can impress this sort of mythological aspect of the journey-game onto your kids and it will empower them to see the connections between the games they enjoy and their own lives!
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Fun digital games for piano learning
Functional ear trainer
Digital technology is great for learning music. The simplicity of a phone app has opened doors to practice many specific aspects of music in a convenient setting. One example of this is the app Function Ear Trainer available from Google and Apple. The Functional Ear Trainer is a fun game that helps build ear training skills. By starting small, the app progressively builds your skills until you can identify almost any note. The skill of functional ear training means that you will learn how to hear pitches as they relate to functional situations, which is extremely beneficial if you actually wish to use your skills for anything! This is a great tool to use in conjunction with beginner piano lessons and is an effective way to incorporate a little taste of gameplay into your piano practice.
Have you heard of synesthesia before? Synesthesia is the experience of seeing particular colors in association with sounds. Many great composers have experienced synesthesia as well as regular people with no particular interest in composing. However, there is a great game on YouTube now called Synesthesia. These games have taken a cue from the popular video game “Guitar Hero” and turned piano practice into a fun and interactive activity that is simultaneously extremely beneficial for learning to play piano! Essentially you watch the notes descend from the top of the screen to where they hit the piano keys and you match those notes with your fingers. Easy and fun!
Chrome music lab
Chrome Music Lab is a free and openly accessible project from Google that “makes learning music more accessible through fun, hands-on experiments.” Chrome Music Lab currently contains 14 games, or experiments as they are called, designed to unleash creativity in various regions of the musical universe. For example, there are games on composing chord progressions and melodies, learning to identify rhythms, examining and understanding different sound waves and oscillators, and understanding how a MIDI piano roll works. Sounds like a lot of fun!
Analog games for learning piano
Certainly, you don’t always have access to digital devices when you are practicing piano. Or, maybe having your phone nearby is too much of a distraction and you end up scrolling through the internet instead of practicing. So here are a few ideas for piano games you can play without a digital device.
Play the name game
How many letters are in the musical alphabet? There are seven letters in the musical alphabet: A – B – C – D – E – F – G. How many words can you spell with those letters? Start brainstorming!
Eddie Bond is a multi-instrumentalist performer, composer, and music instructor currently based in Seattle, Washington USA. He has performed extensively in the US, Canada, Argentina, and China, released over 40 albums, and has over a decade experience working with music students of all ages and ability levels.