by Brian Nelson
I mean, who needs those silly piano lessons anyway when you have the Concert Hands Piano System.
Over the years, there have been any number of gimmicks to facilitate or quick-start the learning curve that is music and the piano. I remember I used a felt marker on the keyboard. The whole keyboard. My father was not so thrilled about that.
Usually, it’s masking tape or Post-it Notes on the keys. One company has eliminated that step and sells the stickers ready-made. Then there’s the cardboard behind the keys, taped to the fallboard. And let’s not forget the keyboards with the keys that light up at the right time.
I’m sure there are any number of pianists that got their indoctrination this way. Not to be outdone inventing the better mousetrap, we now have the Concert Hands Piano System.
At first glance, it appears to be an elaborate lie detector system. I confess that I bought my first Real Book in a dark alley, from a man in a yellow hat, surreptitiously xeroxed countless musical scores and stolen countless pens and pencils.
Concert Hands takes this idea to the next level. Each finger is attached to an actuator that signals which finger presses the key, while your wrists rest on a movable rail (the pilot rail) that positions your hand in the right spot.
Everyone I’ve explained this to reacts with a puzzled look, like they’re waiting for the punchline. It’s hard not describe it without bringing up Rube Goldberg inventions or a permanent wave machine from “I Love Lucy”.
While this may be a successful method in theory, the execution is as far fetched as one can imagine. You may think you’re learning how to play piano and learn music, but all you’ll get out of this contraption will be the hours of laughter. And get this: in order for this device to help you, you still have to learn to read music. For a beginner, that’s half the battle, and you don’t need a machine to learn. A simple stack of flash cards will do fine. Works every time.
I could go on…one more: Having a machine dictate when and where you move your fingers, hands and arms is an impossible, unnatural way to learn and play. Some golfers acquiesce to purchasing the latest, greatest club or putter in order to improve their game, but what’s really necessary is that they get out there and hit some balls…every day.
It’s easy to see that this machine was designed to circumvent having a real, human piano teacher. I mean, can’t a machine do it better?
Maybe it can in some instances, but a piano teacher constantly evaluates a students every move, every sound, every connection to the music, along with facilitating an understanding of what a student needs to know at any particular moment. Maybe we’ll approach that as we continue to develop artificial intelligence, but right now, a living, breathing piano teacher is you’re best option.
Did I mention that the Concert Hands system is $10,000 and you have to pay for every song you want to learn. Yeah, the old razor and blade model. But $10,000 will also get you almost 6 years of private lessons. By far, it’s the best deal going. And you’ll learn more about music on the way.
The irony is that this device is made by Rubato Productions. Rubato is a musical term encompassing expressive playing, which includes playing in and out of tempo. Learning to play with rubato is not something you learn at the onset of learning piano. And certainly not while your hands are wired up.
The other irony is that the word “rubato” comes from the Italian word “
It’s your call on that one.