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Woodbury native is key player in new piano app

Woodbury native and musician Phil Thompson will be featured in an iPhone and iPad application that teaches viewers the basics of how to play the piano. Submitted photo

Do you want to learn how to play piano? There's an app for that.

Or at least there will be.

Woodbury native Phil Thompson is helping develop a "how to play piano" application for iPhones and iPads with the Los Angeles-based company

"The app is pretty revolutionary," Thompson said."This is a way that makes it very easy to get the basics so they can play music on their own."

Thompson, a professional musician, will be featured in videos that teach viewers the basics of how to play piano.

The application "Beginner Learn to Play Piano" costs $1.99 to download.

Users will be able to place their devices on pianos - where sheet music would go - and follow along as the video plays.

Thompson, who currently lives in Los Angeles, became involved with a couple months ago when he heard of the organization through various performances.'s list of investors includes entrepreneur Mark Cuban.

"Their whole platform is learn how to do anything," Thompson. already had various "how to" videos on its website but the company is hoping to branch out into the application world, Thompson said.

Since the piano videos were the most popular, Thompson said, they decided to start with that.

"Their hope was to get a well-known piano player teacher and take their platform and really make it better," he said.

Thompson auditioned with for the video spot and soon went to work filming.

A 'holistic' approach to piano

"Beginner Learn to Play Piano" takes a unique approach to teaching piano, Thompson said, since the application includes more than 30 videos that teach the viewer musical history, theory, learning musical notes, time signatures, dynamics , being able to read sheet music and ultimately how to play.

Thompson will be seen teaching the lessons.

The second part of the application has actual piano lessons where the video is divided into three components - sheet music, seeing Thompson's hands play, and Thompson speaking about how to play.

"It's really taking piano into a holistic way of learning," Thompson said. "The ability to see your hands on the keys and moving sheet music is revolutionary - putting those two together has never happened before."

Since the application is titled "Beginner Learn to Play Piano," Thompson said the lessons are geared specifically to those who have zero experience playing piano.

Some of the songs viewers will learn include "London Bridge is Falling Down," "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and "Mary Had a Little Lamb."

"We show you how to put both hands together," Thompson said. "We're really instilling the foundation.

"Beginner Learn to Play Piano" will automatically be installed in 250,000 devices when it is released - perhaps as soon as this month - as an update to those who already have the application.

Eventually, Thompson said, is hoping to release both intermediate and advanced piano applications.

A new way to learn

Thompson said he is excited about the "Beginner Learn to Play Piano" app since it will hopefully get more people interested in piano.

"It's so hard to try and teach yourself music," he said, "and a lot of people, financially, can't go to a piano teacher.

"This app is an amazing way to teach more people the basics of music - once you learn music you can enjoy it in the comfort of your home for the rest of your life."

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Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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