iOS: Learning to play the piano can be difficult, and even moreso if you don’t have someone there to help you fix your errors and learn good tempo. Simply Piano can do both of those things, and all it takes is your iPhone or iPad. Best of all, it’s free.
Like many “piano-learning” apps, Simply Piano teaches you various pieces of music by essentially displaying sheet music in front of you to play, guiding you to the right keys on your piano or keyboard, and showing you the right order in which to press them and when — that’s all great, and not terribly unique, even if it works well. Where the app shines however is its listening feature. Simply put the phone down near the keyboard, and Simply Piano will “listen” to you play.
As you play, the app identifies what you’re playing and gives you feedback on how to improve. Maybe you need to pick up the tempo, or maybe you missed a few notes here or there — whatever it is, the app can give you a few tips, and encourages you to try again, all while it listens and tries to help.
Simply Piano is free, and available now. It comes bundled with a ton of songs to learn (including classical and pop songs you’ll probably recognise), and is geared to all skill levels — and keyboard types, so you don’t need a fancy piano just to use the app, any keyboard will do. Hit the link below to try it out.
• 1812 ~ Fanny Perisiani, Italian coloratura soprano
• 1881 ~ The player piano was invented by Edward Leveaux of Sussex, England, who received a patent for it this day. There were many player piano inventions going on throughout the world during this time. Leveaux happened to be the lucky chap who received the patent England was handing out.
• 1929 ~ Leroy Van Dyke, Singer
• 1939 ~ A barber from Canonsburg (near Pittsburgh), PA, who had quite a singing voice, recorded That Old Gang of Mine with the Ted Weems Orchestra. That singer was the feature of the Weems band for many years before going solo as a radio, TV and stage star. You know him as ‘The Incomparable Mr. C.’, Perry Como. His string of hits for RCA Victor spans four decades. He was an NBC mainstay for years and years.
• 1943 ~ Is You is or is You Ain’t My Baby? was the musical question by Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five on this day on Decca Records.
• 1947 ~ James Fielder, Bass with these groups: Buffalo Springfield, Mothers of Invention and Blood, Sweat & Tears
• 1948 ~ Gordon MacRae hosted the premiere of a radio classic. The Railroad Hour debuted on ABC radio. The theme song was I’ve Been Working on the Railroad and the show was sponsored by….America’s Railroads.
• 1949 ~ John Aler, American tenor
• 1959 – Chris Lowe, Keyboards with Pet Shop Boys
• 1966 ~ It was, indeed, a Sunny Day for singer Bobby Hebb, who received a shiny gold record award for his song.
• 1970 ~ Janis Joplin died from a drug overdose. She was 27. Joplin, known for her passionate, bluesy, vocal style, was the lead singer of Big Brother and the Holding Company. She became a superstar with hits like, Down on Me, Pearl (her nickname) and Every Little Piece of My Heart; but Me and Bobby McGee was her only certified top 40 hit. The Bette Midler movie, The Rose, was based on Joplin’s life.
• 1999 ~ Art Farmer passed away
• 2000 ~ International diplomat and Newport Music Festival director David Meredith Evans died at the age of 64.
• 2001 ~ Irmgard Farden Aluli, considered the most prolific female Hawaiian composer since Queen Liliuokalani, died after suffering complications from colon cancer surgery. She was 89. Aluli, affectionately nicknamed “Aunty”, became the first living member to be inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame in 1998. In August, the Prince Kuhio Hawaiian Civic Club honored her as a cultural living treasure. She wrote more than 200 songs, including Boy from Laupahoehoe and E maliu Mai. Aluli began performing publicly after graduating from St. Andrew’s Priory in 1929. She was a member of the Annie Kerr Trio in the 1930s. In the late 1960s, Aluli, her daughters and a niece formed the group Puamana.
• 2001 ~ Jazz guitarist John Collins, who played with Nat King Cole for over a decade, died at the age of 83. Collins was born in Montgomery, Ala., and grew up in Chicago. His mother, Georgia Gorham, was a pianist and bandleader. Collins briefly played clarinet before switching to guitar and moving to New York, where he played with prominent jazzmen such as pianist Art Tatum. Collins accompanied singer Billie Holiday and saxophonist Lester Young in the 1940s and played in bands led by Benny Carter and Fletcher Henderson. He served in the Army during World War II, and played in Army bands. Esquire magazine gave Collins its New Star award as best guitarist of 1947, his lone jazz poll honor. Collins’ 14-year association with Cole began in 1951, when he replaced guitarist Oscar Moore. Collins played with Cole until the latter’s death in 1965. Collins went on to tour Europe with his own group. He played occasionally around Southern California in the 1990s but worked mainly as a private teacher.