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REVIEW: The ONE Light Keyboard

Laura  Barnes
REVIEW: The ONE Light Keyboard

There are plenty of keyboards out there aimed at beginners, as well as a vast array of resources, books and apps designed to help new musicians get to grips with the techniques, music theory and guidance needed to master the piano.

Instrument maker The ONE has created two new products that combine all of this together, along with some of the latest app technology, to make the whole ordeal a little less stressful for aspiring pianist, keyboardist and synth wizards.

Headquartered in San Francisco, California, The ONE’s flagship instrument is the world’s first Apple MFi-certified Smart Piano.

For those looking for something a little more portable, the firm has also released The ONE Light – an instrument that uses the same jam-packed learning app and technology as the Smart Piano, but presents it in a portable keyboard format. And that’s the product that this wannabe pianist got her hands of for this review.
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Before I even downloaded the free accompanying app, I looked at the quality of the keyboard and played around with its settings.

With 61 keys and built-in speakers, it’s not the most lightweight keyboard on the market, but is certainly portable enough to carry around in its box without much of an issue, and its design feels sturdy enough to tough it out on stage and withstand the inevitable bumps and scrapes that instruments pick up throughout their gigging life.

The ONE Light Keyboard features a DC socket with a reasonable length power adapter, a USB port with a cable for connecting up a tablet or smartphone, a mic in, aux in and aux out sockets, and lastly, a pedal socket, meaning users can further enhance the 20 preset tones that come built in to the keyboard.

The keyboard has a built-in music stand sturdy enough to hold books, sheet music and a smartphone of tablet. The USB cable easily reaches from behind the keyboard to a position where you can comfortably place your mobile device while using the accompanying app. When not in use, the stand folds down flush to the top of the keyboard to keep it out of the way while storing and transporting it.

The keys themselves feel long lasting and weighty enough to let you really bash about on the instrument when the moment takes you. They keys are touch responsive and also have red backlighting for when you’re learning pieces from the app.

The iOS and Android app, and how the keyboard responds to it, is really where we start to see just what The ONE is trying to achieve with this instrument.

The sheer volume of content on this app is certainly impressive. There’s a ‘crash courses’ section which breaks down the structure of a piece of music and makes use of the red backlighting of the keys to ensure you learn to play the music using the correct fingers and hand positions.

I strongly recommend these tutorials for complete beginners. They offer the ability to continue in the same spot until you get a 100% mark and offer just the right amount of tough love to ensure you don’t get ahead of yourself before you’ve fully understood each section.

There are virtual hands on a virtual keyboard at the bottom of the screen, with coloured bars steaming down (Magic Piano-style) to help nail those notes at the right pace. You can also toggle between the coloured bars and sheet music, so those wanting to add sight reading to their musical training can do so.

The crash courses also ensure you don’t end up just relying on the right keys lighting up, as they force you to perfect each part of the song without the aid of the lights and the virtual keyboard to complete each round.

App users are also able to sift through sheet music – ranging from classical, tradition and jazz, to exercises – to help you become more nimble on the keys. You have to pay for some of the sheet music – mostly the pop and movie music – but there are plenty of classical and festive pieces for free to keep you occupied.

The are two more main sections of the app, one is the video section, which already features a fair amount of tutorials to watch through, with content ranging from videos explaining music theory, to those showing you how to play popular chart hits.

Finally, there is a games section to help keep beginner players engaged and enjoying the learning process. These work in a similar way to the tutorials but with less emphasis on going over each section until you get it right, and fun stuff like performing a duet piece with the app.

The only niggle I have with the app is that I was thrown off by the metronome count in on certain songs. As a drummer, I’m used to having a count in of four clicks for any piece of music in a 4/4 time signature where the music starts at the beginning of a bar, which I believe is the most common way to do it. On the app, certain songs appear to start on the third count, some on the second, and others at the point I expect them too. While this isn’t the worst thing in the world – and in fact may be a benefit musicians like me who are perhaps too stuck in their ways – I think it would be handy if there was an option to select how long you’d like your count in to be.

Putting the keyboard to one side for a moment, The ONE app is a really impressive teaching tool on its own, with plenty of resources to keep new players engaged in the learning process. Couple it with a good-quality keyboard like the ONE Light, and you’ve got yourself a great educational hub for any beginner, at a reasonable price point of $299.99 (around £230).

For more information about The ONE Light Keyboard visit https://www.smartpiano.com/

Tags: keyboard , Reviews , The ONE , smart piano , the one light

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