Virtuoso Piano does exactly what you would expect it to. It’s a polyphonic piano app for iOS which allows you to display and fiddle around with a virtual piano on your iPad or iPhone. Owing to the nature of touchscreen technology, neither Virtuosa Piano or any other keyboard app can ever replace the feel of the real instrument, and the amount of keys which can be displayed on screen at once tends to inhibit the use of this program as anything other than a novelty music app.
If you’ve never played a piano before, Virtuoso Piano is gimmick product which probably won’t fire up any desire to learn how to become a concert pianist, although it might bring out some hitherto latent musical ability. It sounds like the real deal, and that’s pretty much all that you can ask for from a keyboard app. It’s also playable enough to provide some entertainment.
One of the interesting features with Virtuoso Piano is being able to stack two keyboards on top of each other on the screen to play different octaves at once. Making the keyboards smaller will display more keys, but the trade-off is that human adult fingers will then find it more difficult to play. Add to this the ergonomic problems of attempting to play with both hands, and the whole experience increasingly frustrating and uncomfortable. Playing a musical instrument such a piano is hard enough anyway without the contortions involved in trying to play on a touchscreen tablet.
Scrolling left to right exposes more keys but can make everything ten times more irksome than it needs to be, especially since playing with one hand and scrolling with the other isn’t a natural way of playing a piano.
Something innovative is that hard taps make the notes louder and softer taps make them quieter, and with practice it is possible to produce something worth recording. There is a built-in record feature which adds a further dimension in that you can play accompany yourself, but the time involved in learning this very alien way of playing a piano detracts from its usefulness.
As a teaching aid, the metronome is good for keeping time, and the ability to rotate one of the keyboards on screen allows two people to play at the same time. Possibly teaching a student to play a simple musical phrase can be done this way as they can mimic the actions of the teacher, but they’d still be seeing everything upside down. Playing duets of some kind seems to be the primary function of this feature, or it could be used for a hear-and-repeat musical game.
Playing anything more complex than simple one-handed tunes is practically impossible. It’s not completely impossible, however, but is simply too awkward to achieve with Virtuoso Piano unless you really want to set yourself a challenge.Download