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AutoMatters & More: Kids (and Grownups Too) Learn How to Play the Piano With ‘Keys & Kingdoms’

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For most of my adult life I’ve longed to play a musical instrument. Now I would like to be able to compose simple, royalty-free music tracks for my edited videos.

In my youth I had taken classical guitar lessons, but I did not particularly enjoy playing classical music. However, once I learned enough to read individual notes on sheet music, I could play the melody lines of popular songs, which I did enjoy. Chords were pretty much beyond my limited ability though, and I did not stick with the lessons long enough to get proficient.

Child playing Keys & Kingdoms
Child playing Keys & Kingdoms

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My experience is far from unique. Many kids drop out of private and often expensive music lessons, which require a great deal of repetitious practice of the basics.

Recently, while covering an online press event, I learned about “Keys & Kingdoms.” It uses the fun of game play to help teach people how to play the piano. Its main intended audience is children aged approximately 6 to 15, but I figured that if it could teach young children to play the piano, perhaps it would be easy and entertaining enough to teach me how to play too. I asked for a review copy and they sent me one.

Game play
Game play
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The “Keys & Kingdoms” Sight Reduction Method is not like typical piano lessons. Rather than teaching notes and music notation, fingers are assigned numbers, the students are shown where to place their hands on the keyboard, and the numbers scroll along on the screen. “Keys & Kingdoms” adds the fun of a role-playing, whimsical, ever-changing and evolving fantasy game to challenge and reward students, as they practice the piano and develop their skills.

As I experienced over several days of playing “Keys & Kingdoms,” it was fun for this adult, too, and it is hard to stop playing. Its underlying adaptive learning engine determines your skill level and provides appropriately challenging exercises, as your journey takes you on adventures through the mythical, musical world of Harmonia. That makes it well suited for students to learn at their own pace, no matter what their initial level of musical proficiency may be.

Fingers’ & keys’ numbering
Fingers’ & keys’ numbering
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Even after only a few days of playing the game, my dexterity on the keyboard is improving noticeably, as is my ability to recognize and play sounds, rhythms and beats that I hear. The game is also designed to encourage the development of students’ musical creativity and individuality, as they build their skills, play songs and create music that is uniquely their own, while reducing their visual dependency. The company will even email you weekly Progress Reports (profiles) that show Total Practice, Ear Training, Sight Training and Creative Training.

Graeme Winder is the CEO and founder of MeloQuest, the company behind “Keys & Kingdoms.” He has over 20 years of experience “as a music teacher, film composer, music producer and innovator in new music learning methods and techniques.” He explained that “Keys & Kingdoms is not a one-size-fits-all game. Leviathan built an adaptive learning engine (ALE) that matches the player’s musical skill level. If they are struggling a bit, the game backs off and will help bring them down to where they were having success. Our teaching philosophy is that you can’t have just one style or skill level. So, we had to create something for all of these different levels of music learners that are coming to us. We want the game to be a big bucket for everyone to enjoy, regardless of skill level. We also think positive reinforcement is very important. So, for example, when you’re playing a fragment back, the more notes you get right, everything just starts glowing with POWER! And when you are defending against an enemy, the more notes you “block,” the less damage you take. It’s a cool, subtle reinforcement that tells you you’re making great progress!”

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Setup is easy. You will need a midi keyboard that can be connected to Mac or PC computers, or to iOS mobile devices (iPhones and iPads). Access a free 30-day trial version on their website: game.keysandkingdoms.com. If you need a keyboard, they and Best Buy sell a very reasonably priced package that includes a 25-key midi keyboard like they sent me, connecting cables, and a three-month subscription to get you started.

To see additional photos, visit www.drivetribe.com, click on the magnifying glass, select “POSTS” and enter “AutoMatters & More #671” in their search bar. Please send your comments to AutoMatters@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2020 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #671r1


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