The piano is one of those timeless musical instruments, that if played properly can invoke such a wide breath of emotion. Of course like any instrument, it takes plenty of patience and practice to truly master it, so it can be a bit intimidating trying to figure out how or where you should begin.
That’s where The ONE Light Keyboard comes in. It aims to take the mystery out of learning to play the piano, and instead replaces it with easy to follow instructions powered by a fairly adept app. The only downside is that while you certainly will be able to play a few tunes by the end of a few weeks, you won’t be any closer to playing like a true pianist.
Price and availability
The ONE Light Keyboard is available exclusively at Sharaf DG for AED 1,099. At that price point you could also consider models from the likes of Casio such as the LK-280, which retails for around AED 859 and also offers light-up keys to learn songs, though lacks app support.
Design and Features
The ONE Light Keyboard is a 61-key instrument that features LED lights under all of the keys. When paired with the accompanying app, these keys light up to teach you how to play various songs. It’s something we’ve seen before from other keyboard manufacturers, but this is probably the first time we’ve seen it being paired with an app.
The keyboard itself is quite lightweight, though the keys have a very delicate feel to them. You’re not going to get weighted piano keys here, so you’ll have to make do with these. The keys respond well to the touch, and overall are adequate for beginners to get to grips with learning to play for the first time.
A flip stand in the middle opens up to support your connected tablet or smartphone, and below that are the keyboard’s only controls. There’s a volume knob, a button for sustain, tones, and finally one for power. The sustain button when active automatically adds sustain to any note you play, while the tone button can be repeatedly pressed to cycle through the onboard instruments.
There’s also a 3.5mm headphone jack on the lower left of the keyboard, so that you can practice in peace wherever you like. It’s worth noting that the ONE Light Keyboard can also run on 6 AA batteries, which makes it quite portable for taking around to someone’s house for a quick jam session.
At the back you’ll find a number of ports, the first (and most important) one being a USB port, which lets you plug in any of the supplied cables to connect the keyboard to a tablet or smartphone. You get a micro-USB, Lightning, and even a classic 40-pin Apple connector, but no USB-C cable for newer Android smartphones, which is a shame. There’s also a cable that lets you connect the ONE Light Keyboard to a computer to allow you to use it as a MIDI controller with compatible software.
There’s also an input jack to plug in a microphone if you’d like to sing along while you play, as well as an Aux In and Out for adding additional music or outputting to an amp. Finally there’s a pedal input which lets you add a foot pedal if you’d like to control notes that way as well.
App & Performance
The accompanying app is free to download for both iOS and Android, and once you connect a device with the supplied cable, it detects it immediately and lets you start playing. You can of course use the ONE Light Keyboard as a standard instrument without connecting a phone or tablet, and use the Tone button to cycle through different instrument types.
The app itself is divided into four main sections. The Sheet Music section lets you quickly select a song and follow along on the sheet music note by note, with each key lighting up to teach you as you play. There are a number of songs that are available from the start, however more popular modern tracks can only be unlocked by paying for them, coming in at a little under $4.00 per song.
That’s a little steep to be paying per track, and you’ll find that it quickly adds up if you want to buy multiple songs to practice. The Crash Course section is similar, which lets you select a song and then breaks it down into several sections for you to play through, so by the end you’ll be able to confidently play the song on your own.
The Videos section offers tutorials across a number of different songs, and mixes things up by breaking each song into a mixture of a demo video, rhythm game, and sheet music. There are also videos provided by the Hoffman Academy, but these are video-only and can be a bit more challenging to follow along.
Finally, the games section breaks each song into a simple note game, where you tap the correct key in order to score points. It’s certainly simple for easier songs, but for songs that are level 2 and above it can pose quite a healthy challenge.
With all of these modes available, how does the ONE Light Keyboard actually fare when it comes to learning music? The answer is a slightly mixed bag, depending on what you want to get out of this keyboard. The ONE Light Keyboard certainly will teach you things like tempo and following along with an accompanying track, but will certainly not show you things such as proper finger placement, how to actually read sheet music, or even basics like playing in time to the backing track.
Those things the ONE Light Keyboard wasn’t designed to do in the first place. It acts merely as a more approachable way to learn music and piano, specifically by following the visual cues on the keyboard, rather than sight-reading music which takes months and years to perfect. The goal of the ONE Light Keyboard is to have you playing a few basic songs within a few hours, and to that end it does achieve this.
If you’ve ever fancied learning how to play the piano but didn’t think you could, then the ONE Light Keyboard is a light introduction to it. It will teach you a few basic piano skills and encourages you to explore your musical tastes, but it’s not meant to be a complete piano tutorial. It’s perfect for all ages, and its portability means that you can practice almost anywhere you choose.