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Topic Options
#1278143 - 09/30/09 06:06 PM Learning with Synthesia ?
Phixit Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/29/09
Posts: 2
Loc: Quebec, Canada

I played piano for 3 years in my childhood. I also played tenor saxophone for 2 years at high school. I'm now 23 and I'm looking to learn piano again.

A friend that is playing guitar told me to check on the web for a program called "Synthesia". Is anyone using this for their learning/practice ?

I might take some invidual courses as well, I'm just not set yet.

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#1278676 - 10/01/09 01:16 PM Re: Learning with Synthesia ? [Re: Phixit]
Serge88 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/27/06
Posts: 775
Loc: Canada
The game seems interesting and fun. I think you need to know the song because it's hard to figure out the rhythm.


“Being able to hear recorded music freed up loads of musicians that couldn't necessarily afford to learn to read or write music. With recording, it was emancipation for the people.”
-Keith Richards

#1279091 - 10/02/09 01:39 AM Re: Learning with Synthesia ? [Re: Serge88]
bobjr Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 99
The program seems highly complex, it may work for some people but I think its actually a lot harder than looking at the sheet music. It is similar to "guitar hero", where the notes coming scrolling down and you have to hit them.. you use midi files and it will show you how to play them, but you will end up rewinding and fast forwarding a million times just to learn a song.

#1279319 - 10/02/09 12:03 PM Re: Learning with Synthesia ? [Re: bobjr]
Stephen Hazel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 749
Loc: Seattle-ish, WA
The pay-for-it version has some simpler standard notation.

I've got a similar app I'm workin' on.
It has lines marking off the measure/beat/subbeat so you can make out note durations a little better.

It's a good way to check your playing against a score.
(My app shows your notes on top of the score in piano roll format
- see the video page in link below)
Unfortunately, many good scores aren't available in midi format.

My little app just yesterday helped me figure out a tricky rhythm in Five For Fighting's "100 years" (the "lose yourself within a morning star" part)

I clicked in the notes, and used my "wait for me" mode until I truly "got" how
the rhythm worked in those 6 bars or so.

So these types of apps definitely help you when a piano teacher ain't there to.
(I only get a half hour a WEEK with my piano teacher - NOT ENOUGH time)

You definitely should get a teacher if you're serious, though.
I thought I was serious back when I got out of college and started my first job.
But it took me forEVERrrrr to learn a song on my own.
And there are things you just don't think to ask yourself when YOU're
the teacher.

So my advice is just get a teacher.
If you can't afford one, well, goof around all you want, but don't mislead
yourself into thinking you're serious about this (like i did).
15 years later, I get a teacher and have learned about 30x as many songs
in the last 2 years as I have in the previous 15 smirk

Piano playing is a sport. You have to do it every day.
And you need a coach to point out the dumb stuff you're doing.
(Because, obviously, if you're doing it, you don't think it's dumb)
http://PianoCheetah.com - my weird piano practice program

#1279325 - 10/02/09 12:17 PM Re: Learning with Synthesia ? [Re: Stephen Hazel]
Oblacone Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 347
Loc: Norway :D
I use synthesia to learn pieces, however it isn't smart, or it is smart if you want to play some spesific pieces if you can't read sheet music. I cant read sheet music but have skipped that part and now i am working on harder pieces, and by doing that i miss a lot of the basics, also somethings just cant be expressed by midi, thinks that can be expressed in sheet music e.g. pedaling and dynamics
So do use it you need to know your piece. But it is great if you find the right midi file which http://www.kunstderfuge.com does often supply if you want to play classical pieces. because it has two tracks for left and right hand, also many of their midi files are live performances which then means that if you have something like e.g. Akoustik Piano you can hear how the piece is played properly or get a slight idea of the interpretation. Still sheet music is best, but synthesia has worked well for me.

#1279503 - 10/02/09 04:39 PM Re: Learning with Synthesia ? [Re: Oblacone]
Stephen Hazel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 749
Loc: Seattle-ish, WA
midi files do store hold pedal control.
and show exactly when the pedal should come up.

midi files can also hold dynamics text labels.

your particular sequencer may not show them, but it should.
http://PianoCheetah.com - my weird piano practice program

#1939970 - 08/09/12 05:16 PM Re: Learning with Synthesia ? [Re: Stephen Hazel]
Oongawa Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/14/12
Posts: 348
Is it possible to use synthesia with an acoustic piano? I do have a keyboard but it is too old to have the proper connection.

I do have a nice USB mike for my laptop, though. I also have an iPad, but it doesn't have a usb port.

I guess if all synthesia does is scroll by, it doesn't matter what the instrument is. But if it compares what you play with what scrolls by, then that's different. Is it interactive or just display?

any thoughts on that?

'63 Mason & Hamlin Model A

Working on: Chopin - Waltz in A Minor / Einaudi - I Giorni / Mozart - Sonata in C / Bach - Two Part Invention No. 1

#1940030 - 08/09/12 07:33 PM Re: Learning with Synthesia ? [Re: Phixit]
TheodorN Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/16/10
Posts: 1364
Loc: Sweden
The learning pack has interactivity, a mode where the sheet music progression and bars stop until you hit the right keys.
My YouTube channel:


Casio PX-5S

#1940406 - 08/10/12 03:56 PM Re: Learning with Synthesia ? [Re: Phixit]
Artur Gajewski Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 336
Loc: Helsinki, Finland
Synthesia has a feature where it will wait until you press the correct key/keys. If you couple this with, say, scales, Synthesia can be a powerful learning tool. Ofcourse it will never substitute a live teacher, but more often it does help more than not.

There is also an iPad version under constructin, and coupled with iRig Midi interface it will be really nice to be able to use Synthesia with a digital piano.
- Artur Gajewski

Author of Piano Lessons Package & Child's Piano Play
Facebook page

#1940407 - 08/10/12 03:59 PM Re: Learning with Synthesia ? [Re: Oongawa]
Artur Gajewski Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 336
Loc: Helsinki, Finland
Originally Posted By: Oongawa
Is it possible to use synthesia with an acoustic piano? I do have a keyboard but it is too old to have the proper connection.

Unfortunately no. If you really want to use Synthesia or any software that is with a piano, you might want to upgrade your gear to digital.
- Artur Gajewski

Author of Piano Lessons Package & Child's Piano Play
Facebook page

#1940408 - 08/10/12 04:05 PM Re: Learning with Synthesia ? [Re: Phixit]
TheodorN Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/16/10
Posts: 1364
Loc: Sweden
Well you can use it without the interactivity, just by placing a laptop on top of the acoustic piano and use the display of Synthesia (with or without the sheet music option) instead of sheet music paper.
My YouTube channel:


Casio PX-5S

#1940422 - 08/10/12 04:26 PM Re: Learning with Synthesia ? [Re: Phixit]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014

Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1389
Loc: Cameron Park, California
When I first started learning to play, I picked up most of my songs off of synthesia, actually; I knew what they all were ahead of time, mind you, but they were popular enough video game themes that people had created midi/synthesia videos for them on youtube.

Having then proceeded to learn to read music and build a proper pianist foundation, I much now prefer using music sheets, as it's incomparably more efficient. Think of it this way: you could repeatedly start/pause a synthesia video for days/weeks to find patterns and memorize music and hand positions or you could look over music sheets of the same pieces and note the same things, once proficient, in a matter of minutes/hours.

My advice would be to spend a few months/years learning basic playing skills and music theory knowledge and you'll find yourself able to go so much further than you'd have ever gotten with Synthesia.

Example of what can be accomplished in similar time:
I learned this pretty little tune with synthesia

I learned this beast with similar effort with music sheets (after several, several months of building a strong foundation)

disclaimer: I'm not the woman playing ever so wonderfully

edit: 2009!? You turd, why'd you revive this... bah well my advice still stands for anyone trying to learn this way

Edited by Bobpickle (08/10/12 04:31 PM)
Bernhard - Always Have a Plan

#2012618 - 01/11/13 05:33 AM Re: Learning with Synthesia ? [Re: Phixit]
Artur Gajewski Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 336
Loc: Helsinki, Finland
Piano Lesson Package for Synthesia features piano lesson -like content for beginning pianists along with scales for major and minor keys, chord inversion practices and some music theory, totalling 60+ lessons.

Now that Synthesia is available for iPad, one can connect iPad to iRig Midi and again to a digital piano. This way, iPad lays on the music rest and Synthesia can be used quite comfortably.

In the Piano Lesson Package for Synthesia kids have their own package which enables them to learn piano while consumed in multiple fun games.
- Artur Gajewski

Author of Piano Lessons Package & Child's Piano Play
Facebook page

#2012685 - 01/11/13 09:46 AM Re: Learning with Synthesia ? [Re: Phixit]
justpin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 504
Loc: Holmes Chapel
I used to be a big fan of it. Bought the learning pack. Learnt a few pieces.

I then gave it up and learned the traditional way and felt my abilities improved massively.

I feel synthesia has its uses, its sort of like a fake book.

#2165893 - 10/14/13 03:34 AM Re: Learning with Synthesia ? [Re: justpin]
evamar Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/02/12
Posts: 578
Loc: Spanish living in UK
I know it's been a while, but just to keep everything together...

I'm dyslexic, and there is simply and absolutely no way that I can manage to read traditional music sheets, as I cannot put 2 clefs together. I have tried for months now, I have a 5 years background in music and I always found the same problem. My dyslexic mind simply cannot understand 2 clefs at the same time.

As you can imagine, this means that I will never get to be able to read traditional music sheets. Of course I would like to, but it's just as realistic as for me to win the Nobel Prize in Maths or an Olympic gold medal in the 100m race sprint.

It's still even hard for me to make the keys on the keybed. Without Synthesia I simply wouldn't be able to play anything. Period. Yes, it's also quite a lot of work as one needs to be able to completely memorise the piece and learn where to put the expressions and silences to avoid a completely flat robotic sound. It takes ages to learn each piece, and I agree that being able to read a music sheet is far better and much less effort in the medium term. I actually cannot really understand it being used by people who could easily learn to sight read music. You have absolutely all the information in a page and just need to get the basics right and apply them to every piece to get very quick progress. I need to start from absolutely scratch for every piece I want to learn.

Synthesia might not be great for all of you lucky enough to have a "normal" brain, but for people like me it's the only way we can play at all.
Serious since Dec 2013. March 2014, Kawai CA95!

Time you enjoy wasting was not wasted

#2165910 - 10/14/13 05:03 AM Re: Learning with Synthesia ? [Re: Phixit]
Mken Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/09/13
Posts: 96
TBH it kind of reminds me of lighting keyboards, looking it has this functionality with lighting keyboards.

Kinda rote teaching tbh.
I want to be so good at Piano like VK, that Roland gives me a free piano too!

#2363247 - 12/18/14 08:48 PM Re: Learning with Synthesia ? [Re: Phixit]
kcoul058 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/04
Posts: 977
Not to revive a dead thread or anything, but I stumbled across this thread and wanted to add my two cents.

What I am realizing after a quick review of Synthesia 10, is that there is a fundamental flaw they would be hard pressed to fix - by only working with MIDI files as input, there is no way to get the thing to show the correct accidentals for pieces with black notes.

If you'd like to see what I mean, download it and try Greensleeves from the "Harder" category. Not only is the beaming/rhythm messed up for 6/8, but what should be rendered in the scale of E minor (melodic) winds up having all these flats that don't belong there.

It would be pretty damaging for an advancing student to read that and not understand why it's wrong.

At the end of the day - I worry for the Synthesia devs that they have creating a ceiling for how far the software can go due to evolving from something that really was a clone of Guitar Hero from the beginning. It would be a pretty big undertaking to overcome that design flaw.

#2364042 - 12/20/14 09:50 PM Re: Learning with Synthesia ? [Re: kcoul058]
Nicholas Piegdon Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/27/12
Posts: 3
You are right: only supporting MIDI files leaves a big gap in how much musical information we can wring out and show in the notation.

To start moving in the right direction, our focus for the Synthesia 11 release cycle is to add support for loading MusicXML songs.

At that point all the musical information will be available. It's still going to take a lot of work to add the rest of the things you mentioned (better beaming, etc.) but having richer song data to work from up front should go a long way toward improving the situation.

Our long-term goal is to make a practice tool that intermediate and advanced players can benefit from as much (or more) as beginners do today. This starts by taking a more serious approach with traditional notation.

Thanks for your feedback!
- Nicholas from Synthesia LLC

#2409701 - 04/13/15 04:47 AM Re: Learning with Synthesia ? [Re: Phixit]
Dave Androos Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/18/15
Posts: 67
I know this thread is ancient but I'm sure someone would berate me if I started a new one!

I bought Synthesia a couple of days ago. Here's my take...

I can read music, but my sight reading isn't fantastic. Synthesia is a useful tool to me for getting acquainted with something I've never played before. I don't actually use the test mode. It's very good for me to see those falling notes as it's easier for me to work out (and more importantly mark out) the fingering. I can do this with standard notation but it's not as efficient as the falling graphical representation. Of course, I then refer back to the sheet music once I have it established in my head for dynamics and mood markings. I'll then ween myself away from it once it's fixed in the memory.

If I can't find a decent midi file for what I need, I'll manually enter a phrase that I want to learn into my notation software (Notion 5 ) and export the midi from that. This I've found is part of the getting acquainted process for me so will probably start doing this more often than not.

I have no ambition to be a sight reading pianist for hire, although I do practice sight reading exercises separately to keep my general 'fitness levels' up!. Ultimately I want to play music I love with the expression I want to give it.

So in summary, Synthesia is brilliant for picking up something new when used in conjunction with other methods. People respond to different things and while I agree that being able to read music and a good foundation in music theory are a strong part of a pianist's armoury, as long as I'm getting the hand positions and fingering nailed before going back over it more thoroughly I'm happy! Look forward to future versions! smile
Korg LP-180
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2007 24” iMac (2GB RAM)

Play for fun
Special interest in Romantic Era solo piano music

#2409727 - 04/13/15 07:08 AM Re: Learning with Synthesia ? [Re: Phixit]
MossySF Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 04/07/14
Posts: 141
I have not used Synthesia much but at the 3-6 month period, I did use PianoBooster quite extensively. At that time, I had zero coordination using both hands so the "wait" mode helped quite a lot in training the brain in the alternating/simultaneous patterns necessary to get the LH down.

After that period though, I have not found it very useful as not only is it faster learning from the score but there's so many markings that are hard to extract out of a MIDI file.

It is fun though to link it up to Fluidsynth w/ a GM soundfont where you play the melody track from a MIDI file and PianoBooster does all the other tracks. It's like having a band at your disposal to jam with.

#2409735 - 04/13/15 07:45 AM Re: Learning with Synthesia ? [Re: Phixit]
fizikisto Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/13/12
Posts: 1184
Loc: Hernando, MS
I find that interesting. I can't imagine Synthesia being at all useful. Trying to follow the falling notes would just give me a headache I think. I guess I'm old school, just preferring a score or a chord chart. It's interesting to me in that people have such different learning styles. I'm glad that it's a tool available for those who find it useful. It's kind of a cool technology, and I could really see it being useful for little kids as they seem to often really respond to gamification in instruction. Definitely not my bag though. smile
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Roland RD800


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