Indiegogo staffers are putting crowdfunded products to the test in our new series of honest reviews. In this review, our very own Global Campaign Strategist Amy Chiu provides a review of POPUPIANO, a new smart, portable piano that’s getting a lot of buzz among musicians and creators. Does it live up to the hype? Read on!
For a lot of first timers and newbies, playing the piano has always been perceived as “difficult”. Childhood friends of mine who took piano lessons and spent many hours diligently practicing with private tutors are able to play the piano well. As someone who has no classical training or skills, I found it hard to start.
When PopuMusic Inc launched their fourth campaign on Indiegogo, I jumped at the opportunity to be the voice of piano-playing beginners, being on the Indiegogo Campaign Strategy team myself. I was curious how this smart, portable instrument could help a novice player like me develop a fresh, new approach to learning piano. So I set out to put it to the test and see what all the buzz is about!
PopuMusic Inc has deepened their footprint in the digital instrument space to innovate the learning experience through technology. With gamified user experience, the team is dedicated to making learning instruments fun and easy. Over the years, they’ve already launched smart ukuleles (Populele and Populele 2 Pro), smart guitar (Poputar), and smart piano (PopuPiano) and amassed 11K backers and counting! The buzz and excitement that they’ve received so far in their community tells me that PopuMusic is dedicated to solving all the right problems that beginners like me have come across while learning to play a new instrument!
For this review, I will be looking at PopuPiano from a beginner’s perspective. As someone who was never classically trained to build fundamental piano-playing skills, I wanted to see how it can help me boost my confidence as a first-time musician.
Setting up the PopuPiano is fairly simple and easy enough for people of all ages. PopuPiano comes with an acrylic carrying case. The case itself is a bit soft, so I’d still have to be very mindful when I’m carrying it around with this case and make sure to avoid placingg heavy items on top of the case.
Inside the package, I unboxed a LED Keyboard, a Chord Pad, and a Type-C Charging Cable. As the product is still in funding, I have received a sample prototype product, so I didn’t get a manual. But I have confirmed that a manual should also be included in the final package for their backers. First things first, I charged the keyboard for a while, waiting and watching as all the colors populated on the LED Keyboard.
Upon unboxing, here is the PopuBag with its own acrylic carrying case.
The keyboard was carefully wrapped in a plastic cover — one of the first things I saw when I opened up the case.
What’s in the box? You’ll get a LED Keyboard, a Chord Pad, a Type-C Charging Cable, and a manual (which was not included in my package).
Place the Chord Pad on the left side of the LED Keyboard to configure the keyboards.
There’s a handle designed for you to take PopuPiano on the go!
I was able to monitor the charging progress based on the green light on the LED Keyboard. What a cool product design! The charging status can be easily detected by just looking at the number of keys that turned green. Next, to connect the keyboard and chord pad, I simply placed them side by side with the Chord Pad on the left. Then, the magnetic helped stick them together. And that completes the instrument set up!
As an iPhone user, I downloaded the free PopuMusic app from AppStore (also available on Google Play for Android users), and created a user account to unlock the free app features. As I logged in, the app started searching for the devices through Bluetooth to be connected. Make sure PopuPiano’s status is on and let Bluetooth do its job. After the Bluetooth connection step, I’ve completed all the necessary configuration.
Now, it’s time to get onto the show!
Using PopuPiano and the PopuMusic app
As a beginner, I enjoyed my initial practice time with PopuPiano, and have gained more confidence from the entire experience. The in-app experiences have made learning, practicing, and tracking easier for me.
During my trial, I practiced a few classic childhood songs under the “Pop Hits” menu, such as “Mary Had A Little Lamb”, “London Bridge”, “SpongeBod”, and “Tom and Jerry”. For first-time users, I definitely recommend starting with the “practice” mode or “demonstrate” mode to warm yourself up before actually playing the song. Even with childhood songs, I didn’t underestimate the pace as some of those may throw you a curveball – the “London Bridge” song is an example.
What I like the most about my “practice mode” experience is how seamlessly the PopuMusic app and PopuPiano work together. It gave me clear visual instructions to follow. I didn’t even need to read musical notation at all, which used to be a nightmare for me as a kid! I simply looked at the color changes on the LED Keyboard and hit the right key. This gamification approach helps my muscle memory find the keys easily. I was able to gradually keep up with the pace as the app ran the song a few times.
And of course like many other e-learning applications, I also love how this music learning app has created a community for music learners to feel inclusive and motivated. After each play, users can reference top players’ accomplishments recorded in the leaderboard, or share their replay with connections.
Fun fact: my first try with the “Mary Had A Little Lamb” song landed a score of 30. Not too bad for a newbie!
There are many more learning modules within the app beyond “Just Play”. To me, the other modules seem to be for advanced players. It may be more interesting once beginners are ready to move on to a more curated type of courses to improve their music knowledge. There are also features designed for advanced users to create, compose, and record their own songs and vocals.
That said, PopuPiano is a real digital instrument and mobile studio for professional musicians and performers to make studio-quality songs!
Lastly, PopuPiano can also be extended! For those who are more advanced players, a single PopuPiano keyboard may limit your creativity. With a unique magnetic design, you could simply sync another keyboard to PopuPiano. Double the keyboards, double your creativity!
Who is this for?
I am satisfied with my first time trying out the PopuPiano and the PopuMusic app. The gamification for learning was pleasant and user friendly. Every time the LED keys light up, it sparks joy in my heart like a child!
PopuPiano and the PopuMusic app can be fun and useful to both beginners and pro musicians with its intuitive design and studio-level features. For beginners, I can also see this boosts their confidence in practicing piano playing more often.
If you are more advanced, there are advanced courses and tutorials for producing and composing music. It’s designed to move users from level to level, from beginner to pro, while having fun with learning music.
I had not played piano for over 20 years. Within minutes, I was able to understand how to use PopuPiano and the PopuMusic app with simple, visually appealing instructions, and felt confident to keep going during my free time.
Overall, I recommend this especially to parents who may want to help their children develop their music skills. PopuPiano and the PopuMusic app are a great starting point, if you’re considering sending your children to a piano class, or buying the traditional piano or digital keyboard. Getting them started with PopuPiano and the PopuMusic app can be a more enjoyable experience that will keep them interested. It’s also more affordable before investing long-term in a private tutor. I am personally going to share PopuPiano with my little nephew and niece, and hopefully this inspires them to build their music skills.
Here I am with the PopuPiano!
According to the PopuMusic team, PopuPiano’s estimated shipping time starts in June 2022, so support their crowdfunding campaign as soon as possible before the special crowdfunding perks are gone.
See you on the PopuMusic Leaderboard soon!
To learn more, check out the campaign for PopuPiano Smart Portable Piano.