Friday, June 06, 2008

Wii Piano

I have done Wii Fit for a couple of weeks now. I really think Nintendo should expand this genre. Specifically, I think the engine could be expanded to practicing the piano fairly easily. I am not talking about Wii Music. I am talking about really practicing the piano.

There are two difficulties with bringing this game to reality. First, the player needs a piano. Second, the player needs to be able to see the screen while playing the piano.

My lack of creativity sees three basic ways to introduce a piano to the Wii. The first option is to sell a piano accessory. This option could not work because the piano would either be too flimsy or too expensive or (probably) both. Another option would be to have an accessory that plugs into digital pianos. This drastically reduces the audience, as not everybody has a digital piano. The final solution is the one I would suggest, which is to introduce a speaker accessory that can listen to whatever piano the players have. This actually seems like a realistic solution.

Dealing with the screen issue is more difficult. The easiest solution is to just make the screen unnecessary. Have instructions given through the accessory and teach piano via the Suzuki method. This basically eliminates a huge portion of the Wii experience, plus Suzuki is not as popular here in the US. This leaves two other options. Either force the piano to face the screen/TV (not always possible) or use a portable screen on the piano. The portable screen could be Wii specific or just a video transmission and receiving system.

I think something like this would have helped me be more excited about practicing the piano, at least for a couple of weeks.


suvachi said...

I thought the exact same thing, and I don't think it would be as hard as you might think. Sure, the Wii Piano would probably be a bit expensive, but people will be willing to shell out the dollars to own the lessons instead of paying someone 20 dollars an hour for them. I'd guess somewhere between 120 - 170 for the price. But as far as facing the television, no problem. The Piano could be on none other than a keyboard stand, which can face the TV. Solved. The only draw back (besides the price, which i don't think would be unreasonable at all) would be the keyboard sized box, which once you get it home, who cares? I might suggest using keys that light up red on the keyboard to show you where you should be going as well as translucent hands on the screen infront of a keyboard.

Anonymous said...

MIDI interfaces are pretty common -- even on low-end keyboards these days. All the Wii would really need is a USB-MIDI adapter. It would not be all that hard to position a portable keyboard (hopefully with full-size keys) facing the TV. As mentioned in one of the other comments, the whole outfit would be a bargain compared to conventional piano lessons.

Keith Williamson said...

Perhaps the on-screen presentation is of a keyboard and a scrolling indicator (much like guitar hero)that shows which keys should be struck when and for how long. The scrolling indicator would essentially be an electronic form (with pretty different coloured lights) of the old pianola paper scrolls (you know the ones with holes in them)

Then obviously a "real" keyboard (as real as the guitar hero guitar but with moving keys) plugged in upon which you bang away in concert with the screen in front.

Beginner level need only have a small portion of the full keyboard presented.

Anonymous said...

This technology already exists and I have a working copy! Konami, the same company that originally developed guitar hero, first developed "Keyboard Mania."

It was packaged with Yamaha light up keyboards. It is VERY similar to guitar hero in that the notes and chords appear on the screen and fall onto the notes you have to play on your keyboard. It is an awesome teaching tool and a great game.

They really should port it over to Wii, PS, and XBox. Its way more realistic than guitar hero because you actually play a REAL instrument. Digital pianos are very cheap.

You just need a midi keyboard. In this case, the keyboard interfaces with your USB port on the computer and you have the computer monitor in front of your digital piano.

Bob said...

They already got guitars and drums for Rockband. Compared to the cost of traditional piano lessons and pianos the cost must be cheaper. Sounds like a good and less expensive way to introduce a kid to music.

Anonymous said...

These are all fabulous ideas! I have worked at learning to play piano for a few years and it's always been tedious. This weekend, I was keeping my 10-yr-old nephew who LOVES guitar hero. He showed me how to play and within a few minutes, I was playing songs on guitar hero. I noticed how much more focused I was using that technology than just sitting at a piano. I found it a lot of fun and even addicting. And I was surprised at how quickly I got the hang of it! Now I can't stop thinking how powerful this technology could be applied to learning piano/keyboard.

I believe the technology already exists - electronic keyboards are fairly inexpensive and can sit on a stand in front of your TV. They could be plugged into the Wii unit or connect wirelessly through a Wi-Fi adaptor. I like the idea of having keys that light up and translucent hands on the screen. It would also be great if the software showed (or allowed the user to set it to show) the chord, symbols/names of each chord as it was being played. And possibly show what is being played as music notation as well as the light up keys/translucent hands. This could help with learning to read music and chord symbols.

Jaimee said...

Several years ago, they had Nintendo piano. It came with an electronic keyboard that plugged into the Nintendo console. It actually taught you how to play the piano. It was awesome. The only problem was that I was using it more than my kids. I wish they would come out with one for Wii so I could buy it for my grandkids.

Nathan said...

Have you checked out Rock Band 3? It has a limited keyboard and the option for a more serious guitar. It looks like the music games are headed in the right direction! Now I just hope it comes to the Wii. . .