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  • P.I.A.N.O.: Enhancing InstrumentLearning via Interactive ProjectedAugmentation

    Matthias WeingInstitute of Media InformaticsUlm University89081 Ulm, Germanymatthias.weing@uni-ulm.de

    Florian SchaubInstitute of Media InformaticsUlm University89081 Ulm, Germanyflorian.schaub@uni-ulm.de

    Amrei RohligInstitute of Media InformaticsUlm University89081 Ulm, Germanyamrei.roehlig@uni-ulm.de

    Bastian KoningsInstitute of Media InformaticsUlm University89081 Ulm, Germanybastian.koenings@uni-ulm.de

    Katja RogersInstitute of Media InformaticsUlm University89081 Ulm, Germanykatja.rogers@uni-ulm.de

    Enrico RukzioInstitute of Media InformaticsUlm University89081 Ulm, Germanyenrico.rukzio@uni-ulm.de

    Jan GugenheimerInstitute of Media InformaticsUlm University89081 Ulm, Germanyjan.gugenheimer@uni-ulm.de

    Michael WeberInstitute of Media InformaticsUlm University89081 Ulm, Germanymichael.weber@uni-ulm.de

    Permission to make digital or hard copies of part or all of this work forpersonal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are notmade or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bearthis notice and the full citation on the first page. Copyrights for third-partycomponents of this work must be honored. For all other uses, contact theowner/author(s). Copyright is held by the author/owner(s).UbiComp13 Adjunct, September 812, 2013, Zurich, Switzerland.ACM 978-1-4503-2215-7/13/09.


    AbstractP.I.A.N.O. aims to support learning to play piano with asteep learning curve. In order to achieve this, traditional,hard-to-learn music notation is substituted for analternative representation of a composition, which isprojected directly onto the piano. Furthermore, wepropose three different learning modes which support thenatural learning process, incorporate live feedback andperformance evaluation, as well as the augmentation ofthe system with aspects of gamification to achieve earlyexperiences of success and prolonged motivation.

    Author Keywordsaugmented reality; piano; instrument learning.

    ACM Classification KeywordsH.5.5 [Information Interfaces and Presentation]: Soundand Music Computing; K.3.1 [Computers And Education]:Computer Uses in EducationComputer-assistedinstruction (CAI).

    IntroductionThe basis for playing piano is learning the music notation,and mapping it onto the keys. Hence, the time that mustbe spent practicing in order to achieve an adequate levelof skill is tremendous, regardless of the musicians age.Therefore alternative ways to achieve playing skill, such asvideo tutorials or music games, enjoy increasing popularity.

    Session: Poster, Demo, & Video Presentations UbiComp13, September 812, 2013, Zurich, Switzerland


  • In the popular guitarHero game [1] users have to presscolored buttons on a guitar-shaped controller to hit notesscrolling down the screen. Synthesia [6] is a similar systemfor learning to play the piano. Unfortunately, the offeredinformation is quite simplistic and offers only the verybasic information that is encoded in music sheets, i.e.which note and its duration. Therefore it is not helpful inpracticing piano above a certain level. In the field of

    Figure 1: The alternativerepresentation of sheet music isprojected directly onto the piano.

    computer-assisted musical instrument tutoring (CAMIT),a recent project is MirrorFugue [8]. A monitor is placeddirectly in front of the keys of the piano, and shows thehands of a player (e.g. a teacher). Therefore, the user isable to see in detail how a certain song is to be played.Unfortunately it is necessary for someone to play the songcorrectly for the recording, and no feedback is provided forthe user. Other projects use augmented reality to showthe music sheet directly on the instrument. guitAR [2]projects the correct finger positions and the usersmistakes directly onto the guitar and thereby offers analternative note representation on the guitar, but loses thedepth and overview of a traditional music sheet in termsof upcoming notes. Takegawa et al. [7] use a video

    Figure 2: The current and nextkeys are highlighted on thepianos keyboard while theadditional area also shows severalupcoming notes.

    projector mounted above a pianos keyboard to display thetraditional music notation on a projection surface, as wellas additional information and mapping onto the keys;however this approach upholds the teaching of traditionalmusic notation, instead of reducing the inherentcomplexity of this notation.

    In all these related works, the necessity of learningtraditional music notation and its mapping to thekeyboard remains, and most systems provide little or nofeedback. Therefore we propose the P.I.A.N.O. system,which offers an alternative sheet representation to easethe introduction to piano playing, without losing theinformation detail level found in traditional music sheets.

    To further facilitate the learning process, the systemprovides different learnings modes, feedback, and aspectsof gamification.

    The P.I.A.N.O. SystemWe developed the P.I.A.N.O. system and created arespective prototype. In order to reduce the complexity forthe prototype, we decided to teach users to play onlyright-handed music pieces, since this is an appropriatestart for beginners. Our alternative note representationallows us to show not only basic elements of musicalnotation, but also information regarding dynamics, as wellas different ornaments and playing techniques. Instead ofdisplaying our note representation on a monitor in front ofthe user, we project playing cues directly onto theinstrument, including the piano keys and an adjacent areaabove (see Fig. 1). Furthermore, our system enableslearning to play piano without pre-knowledge of musicsheet notations.

    Projected Note RepresentationAs it is difficult to map symbolic notations to analogousactions [4], we used pictorial analogies instead of symbolsor speech to represent notes and their features in order toreduce the extraneous cognitive load for the user [5]. Wefurther refined our visualizations through iterative usertests, as described later on.

    On the keyboard itself, we highlight the current keys tosignal the user what to play. Moreover, upcoming keys arehighlighted with a thin line to indicate where the usersfingers should move next (see Fig. 2). The area behindthe keyboard provides a projection area to display anoverview of more upcoming notes. Each upcoming note isrepresented by a rectangle which moves downwardstoward the user. The horizontal position of the rectangles

    Session: Poster, Demo, & Video Presentations UbiComp13, September 812, 2013, Zurich, Switzerland


  • correlates with the corresponding keys that have to beplayed on the piano, while their length represents theduration of the note. A rectangles shape and color offeradditional information about the key, e.g. rectangles withrounded corners represent legato i.e. the first key is helduntil the second key is pressed. Furthermore, while mostnotes are gray, the intended fingering for important fingerswitches is encoded by different colors.

    Figure 3: Detailed result screenfeedback.

    Supporting the Learning ProcessThe system offers three modes which support the userslearning process. The Listen mode plays the song for the

    Figure 4: P.I.A.N.O.s mainmenu.

    user, allowing them to become acquainted with themelody, as well as the systems song visualization. ThePractice mode provides users with an environment topractice playing, by visualizing the song and forcing theuser to play correctly, i.e., the system will not continue tothe next note unless the correct key has been pressed forthe correct duration. To support the user in doing so, thesystem brightly highlights the correct keys, while at thesame time, wrongfully pressed keys are highlighted in red.Finally, the Play mode visualizes the song at an adjustable

    Figure 5: Pressing one of thefoot pedals activates a secondarymenu while in Listen, Practice orPlay Mode.

    specific tempo, which the user should match in order tolearn to play at a consistent speed. While playing, theuser is provided with feedback within the notevisualization in the form of colored borders around thenotes which have to be played at the moment. A greenborder indicates a correctly pressed key, while a red borderindicates an incorrectly pressed key. Additionally, anote-by-note progress bar at the top of the projection iscolored accordingly.

    After each session with the Play mode, the systemdisplays a detailed feedback screen (see Fig. 3) whichallows for self-assessment by visualizing deviationsbetween expected and played notes. Passages requiring

    further training can then be selected and practicedindividually at a freely adjustable speed, to enable practiceat a comfortable pace.

    The piano keys are not solely used to play music, but alsofor interaction with the P.I.A.N.O. system, as shown inFigure 4. During play, pressing any of the foot pedalspauses the current mode and activates a second menu,which is displayed on the keys (see Fig. 5) and providesvarious options, such as returning to the main menu,adjusting speed settings, or scrolling back and forth in thesong visualization.

    P.I.A.N.O. PrototypeOur prototype, shown in Figure 6, consists of an electricstage piano with a MIDI interface connected to acomputer via USB. A DLP projector is mounted on atripod at a height of 1.75 meters above the piano, allowingfor a projection of about 75x120 cm (1280x800 px),despite the relatively short distance. A wooden boardmounted behind the piano provides a large projection areato facilitate a more extensive preview of upcoming notes.

    Our prototype was implemented in C#. It uses themidi.NET library [3] to interpret incoming MIDI signalswhenever key or pedal events occur. Songs are loaded intothe system as MusicXML files and converted into aninternal note representation data structure for processing.

    Preliminary EvaluationIn order to gain first insights into how users interact withthe system, and to evaluate the systems songvisualization design, we conducted semi-structuredinterviews and practice sessions with 4 participants. Ourparticipants were male computer science students, aged24-27. Two of them played an instrument (not piano) formore than 10 years, and considered their ability to read

    Session: Poster, Demo, & Video Presentations UbiComp13, September 812, 2013, Zurich, Switzerland


  • music sheet notation high. The other two played noinstrument and could not read music sheets.

    First, participants were presented with our prototypesvisualization, and asked to identify what they thoughtvarious visual features indicated. Subsequently, they wereallowed to explore the prototypes modes one by one;participants were asked to practice a specific song untilthey felt comfortable enough to attempt the Play modewith a set speed. Finally, they were asked to fill out aquestionnaire.

    Figure 6: Prototype architecture.

    We were most interested in whether the provided fingeringinformation was sufficient, and what scope of visualattention was adopted by the users. Regarding the former,the amount of finger information was deemed satisfactoryby all participants; none felt overwhelmed by the amountof colours. Visual attention areas differed betweenparticipants. Half of them looked mostly at the pianokeys, and indicated their visual scope to reach only510 cm (approx. 2 notes) above the keyboard. The otherhalf declared their visual scope to include the piano keysand about half of the extended projection area. Allparticipants considered the preview to be adequate andnot too overwhelming. While three out of fourparticipants did feel overwhelmed during their attempt atthe Play mode, they were also certain that they would dobetter given more time to practice.

    ConclusionThe P.I.A.N.O. system offers assistance in learning to playpiano without requiring any experience with traditionalmusic notation. By circumventing the time necessary tolearn the mapping from the sheet notation to thecorresponding keys, users can concentrate on learning toplay specific songs immediately, and soon begin to learn

    advanced techniques. Our proposed note representationencodes a notes key and duration, as well as indicates avariety of advanced playing techniques. We are currentlyinvestigating how to extend our notation further in orderto match the complexity and expressiveness of traditionalsheet music notation. Furthermore, we are planning twomore extensive user studies to assess the learning supportof our prototype and compare it to related systems.

    References[1] Activision. Guitar hero. http://guitarhero.com/,

    2013.[2] Lochtefeld, M., Gehring, S., Jung, R., and Kruger, A.

    Using Mobile Projection to Support Guitar Learning.In Proc. SG 11, ACM (2011).

    [3] Lokovic, T. midi.net library.http://code.google.com/p/midi-dot-net/, 2013.

    [4] Schnotz, W., and Kurschner, C. External and internalrepresentations in the acquisition and use ofknowledge: visualization effects on mental modelconstruction. Instructional Science 36 (2008),175190.

    [5] Sweller, J., van Merrienboer, J. J. G., and Paas, F. G.W. C. Cognitive Architecture and Instructional Design.Educational Psychology Review 10 (1998), 251296.

    [6] Synthesia LLC. Synthesia.http://www.synthesiagame.com/, 2013.

    [7] Takegawa, Y., Terada, T., and Tsukamoto, M. Designand Implementation of a Piano Practice SupportSystem using a real-time Fingering RecognitionTechnique. In Proc. ICMC 11 (2011).

    [8] Xiao, X., and Ishii, H. Duet for Solo Piano:MirrorFugue for Single User Playing with RecordedPerformances. In CHI EA 11, ACM (2011).

    Session: Poster, Demo, & Video Presentations UbiComp13, September 812, 2013, Zurich, Switzerland



    IntroductionThe P.I.A.N.O. SystemProjected Note RepresentationSupporting the Learning ProcessP.I.A.N.O. Prototype

    Preliminary EvaluationConclusionReferences


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