50in1 Piano: More than just a piano


You don’t have to be Chopin to like this app for iPhone and iPod Touch: 50in1 Piano offers plenty of fun even for previous instrument refuseniks.

Even those who have so far always shied away from learning a decent instrument can carry an entire orchestra with them in their pocket with the 1.59 euro app from developer Alexander Gross. First of all, however, we recommend downloading the app via iTunes in your own Wi-Fi network due to its size: at 171 MB, 50in1 Piano is no lightweight among app downloads. There is also an iPad version available, which also costs 1.59 Euros.

The app itself starts quickly on an iPhone 4 and comes with high-resolution, pin-sharp graphics. To get you started right away, you’ll immediately find an excerpt (one octave, to be exact) of a keyboard that can be used to control all the instruments. A view at the top of the screen lets you switch back and forth between different octaves, so that you ultimately have an entire keyboard to play. The keyboard can also be enlarged and reduced with the fingers, although you can hardly hit anything with smaller keys.

Via various icons at the top of the screen, you can then also access a menu, among other things, in which a wealth of instruments can be selected to play. Here you’ll find not only classics like a piano, electric and acoustic guitars, a violin, a saxophone or a harp, but also more exotic treats like a banjo, an ocarina or a xylophone. My favorite here, the really real sounding church organ or the sitar, can all be played via the keyboard and challenge the tolerance of the people listening along, especially at high volume. Unfortunately, I was not able to connect the iPhone via headphone jack to high-quality monitor speakers – I would be very curious to see the result, especially with the church organ.

Help for piano beginners

For those who don’t think they’re Mozart or Beethoven, there are a lot of exercises for rehearsing some classics, separated into left and right hand. So you can learn pieces like the “Air” by J.S. Bach, Schubert’s “Ave Maria”, “Danny Boy” or even “Für Elise” by Beethoven in no time. Those who hit the indicated keys perfectly even get a small trophy at the end.

Those who have perfected their technique can also record their performances with the built-in recorder tool. In addition, there are some switchable patterns with which you can underlay your song. And if you move your iPhone while playing, you can even adjust the tones a bit manually – as if you were stepping on a pedal.

One criticism of this otherwise compelling and fun app: trying to operate an entire keyboard on a small iPhone screen is certainly a challenge, even for those with motor skills. Since an entire keyboard with an average of eight octaves will never fit on the iPhone, you have to make do with the playable section and sliding the keyboard back and forth. A German-language implementation would also have been desirable…

However, anyone who has always wanted to learn at least a few well-known classics on the piano should take a look at 50in1 Piano. There is hardly a cheaper music teacher including a recording device. Unfortunately, the pocket piano is not available as a universal app, but we will provide a video demonstration of the iPad version soon.