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Apps to Help You Learn to Play Keyboard At Home

Your smart device can serve as both your teacher and musical partner.

If you’ve always wanted to learn to play keyboards, or hoped to get back to practicing and improving your skills, there’s no time like the present. And, thanks to these two cool apps from Yamaha, your smart device can serve as both a helpful teacher and a musical partner in these endeavors.

Chord Tracker

I wish this app existed when I was starting to learn to play! I had a terrible ear and had to buy sheet music or songbooks to learn a song. With the free Yamaha Chord Tracker app (available for iOS® 15.2 or higher and Android™ smart devices), those days are gone forever. This brilliant piece of software “listens” to your favorite song (as long as it’s in your device’s music library and not part of a streaming or subscription service) and quickly brings up a chart with the chords.

Screenshot of Chord Tracker app on tablet.

There are options to show the notes of the chords either in music notation, on the keys of a keyboard, or as guitar chord symbols. You have control over the volume of the song playback as well as the tempo (tip: slow it down while you’re first learning it), and you can also transpose it if the key is too hard for you to play or sing to. Loop start and end points can be set, making it easy to learn and practice each section of the song separately. You can even edit the chords to make your own arrangement of the song by choosing from two recommended chords or selecting the chord root and chord type.

Chord Tracker can be used with any kind of instrument, but if you’re playing a compatible Yamaha keyboard (such as PSR-670, PSR-SX700, PSR-SX900 or PSR-A3000 portable keyboards, a DGX-660 portable grand piano, a Genos digital workstation or a Clavinova CVP-700 or CVP-800 Series model), you can listen to the song through your keyboard’s internal speakers. What’s more, if you’re using a model that has accompaniment features, the chord information can be sent to the keyboard to trigger onboard Styles. Many instruments even allow you to record yourself playing along with the song, saving it as a standard audio file that can be shared with family and friends.

For more information about Chord Tracker, read this blog article or check out the three videos posted here.

Smart Pianist

Available for both iOS and Android devices, Smart Pianist is a free app designed for use with selected Yamaha keyboards, including P-121, P-125 and P-515 digital pianos; YDP-144, YDP-164, YDP-184, YDP-S34 and YDP-S54 Arius pianos; CSP-150, CSP-170 and CLP Series Clavinova models; and NU1X and N3X AvantGrand pianos. It’s a great tool for personal study that not only adds a graphic touchscreen interface to these instruments (yes, it knows which model it’s connected to and automatically adjusts its features accordingly) but adds lesson songs, some of which are well-known technique exercises from Hanon, Beyer, Czerny and Burgmüller, displayed in standard notation. With the ability to isolate one hand or the other, control tempo and change keys, this is a terrific tool for practice and self-learning.

Screenshot of Smart Pianist app on tablet device.

Smart Pianist uses Chord Tracker technology to display the chords of the tune you want to learn, but when connected to a CVP800 Series or CSP Series Clavinova, it’s even more advanced, thanks to a feature called “Audio to Score.” This displays the chords in your choice of notation, from simple block chords to complex arpeggiated patterns.

You can find a number of articles about Smart Pianist here on the Yamaha blog, and informational videos can be found here and here.


For more ideas on learning keyboards at home, check out Jerry Kovarsky’s blog series “The Well-Rounded Keyboardist.”

Click here for more information about Yamaha keyboard instruments.

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