Simply Piano is an Editor’s Choice app for learning to play the piano. Backing tracks are heavily used to allow the player to start with very few notes, and progressively add more as they complete more lessons.
First, here’s a little info about my setup. My primary piano is a Casio CDP-220R. It’s a great digital piano with hefty keys, and it’s what I like to sit down to most of the time to play. For this guide, I’m actually hooking up a Yamaha PSR-240 that I got for $30 on Craigslist ($30!). I like this particular setup, because I can easily move it around and run it completely wirelessly. To accomplish that, I use EBL Rechargeable D batteries and an EBL Smart Charger. I’ve been using it wirelessly off and on for OVER A YEAR and have yet to recharge the batteries. Amazing.
Getting Things Set Up
There are two options for sound input in Simply Piano: microphone and MIDI. The microphone is okay to test out the software, but after a number of missed notes or having to turn the volume up higher and higher gets old fast. Getting off the microphone setup is one of the top posts I see in the Simply Piano Community Facebook group. Hardwired MIDI works fairly seamlessly, but you can’t charge the iPad while you’re practicing. Fortunately, you can pick up a wireless bluetooth MIDI adapter (BM-A01) and be up and running wirelessly in just a few minutes!
To connect the wireless MIDI adapter, just plug the BM-A01 MIDI “OUT” connector into the MIDI “OUT” port on your digital piano. In some cases, the IN/OUT is reversed, so you may need to plug “OUT” (BM-A01) into “IN” (piano). You can also plug the BM-A01 MIDI “IN” connector to the MIDI “IN” port on your digital piano, but it’s actually not necessary since we’re only concerned with sending MIDI notes from the piano to the iPad. I prefer to just plug the one adapter in.
There’s one more step to link your digital piano with Simply Piano: Garage Band. This bluetooth device isn’t connected like most bluetooth devices to an iPad. Here are the steps to use the wireless MIDI connector with Simply Piano:
- Open Garage Band on the iPad
- Create a new song, or open an existing song
- Tap the gear icon in the top-right corner
- Tap Advanced
- Tap Bluetooth MIDI Devices
- Tap the BM-A01 device
Once it’s connected, there’s nothing left to do in Garage Band. Now, load up Simply Piano, and it should automatically detect your MIDI keyboard, and you’ll be able to hear notes played through the iPad!
If the BM-A01 device is not present or appears disabled, there are three common scenarios.
- Bluetooth MIDI is initialized when the digital piano/keyboard is first turned on. Simply turn off the piano, and turn it on again. No need to reload Garage Band, it refreshes automatically.
- If that didn’t work, you may need to try the alternate port configurations or plugging both IN and OUT in on your keyboard. If they don’t work one way, try the other as well.
- Finally, if that didn’t work, it’s possible your keyboard does not support power over pin 4 on MIDI. This is pretty rare, but it’s possible.
You need to go through Garage Band every time you connect the digital piano, but after the first couple of times, it goes so quickly you don’t really think about it.
Feel free to share your setup (or desired setup) or if you have questions about connecting your keyboard/digital piano to Simply Piano.