I love keyboard music and practicing on the piano for all levels is always a good thing. For the visually challenged (or not) – in terms of music – sight reading that is, this software does the best hand holding till date. Playing by ear is another complementary and essential skill, however, you can’t just not use music reading to be an all round musician.
Installation is really easy, double click and follow the buttons. The software asks you to register and create an online account for 30 days free use. In that time the software connects online and presents pieces and levels you can work through.
Once connected you can see a set of trophies to be won as in game levels. You complete an exercise and if the percentage is above 90% you get a gold trophy, else silver and bronze the least. But you still have to pass. A low score wont get you anything but a rerun of the exercise.
Using a midi keyboard is mandatory for this software. In my case I can use any one of my midi keys but as I am always travelling I use the M-audio Oxygen 25 3rd Generation. To use it with Piano Marvel, plugin the keyboard via USB and go to the ‘MIDI Instrument Settings’ dialog box via the ‘Edit’ menu. Choose your midi device from the dropdown combobox and press some keys. If the blue icon towards the right side lights up you got it working. It pretty much plug and play. Latency is admirably non-existent. Thereafter you set the ranges of your keyboard to play with , in my case I have to press the lowest and the highest keys on my keyboard. Keeping it on middle C and not transposing anything up or down the octaves I get to play with 2 octaves worth of key range. Which is good enough for daily practice and elementary pieces from the repertoire section.
The benefits of this whole system are evident after one use. Good programming of the midi interfacing, no latency. Simple to use interface largely blue and white , so its pleasing to the eyes. Graded levels of sight reading exercises. Excellent repertoire library (I love impressionist pieces by Satie – Gymnopedie I, Ravel , Debussy) with constant updates through the server. Intellectual property control by keeping it all online (Can be subverted, but who would not pay for this..).The main exercise screen is large and easy to navigate. Simple transport controls make it a no brainer even for kids.
You get a letter from Piano Marvel saying that all the scores are kept online for future recall and the account can be activated and deactivated at will, without the data being erased. Its a choose to pay along scheme as long as you are using it, you pay. There seems to be a 500 min prize for users who log in that amount of practice time in Piano Marvel.