MIDI (pronounced "middy" with emphasis on the short "i") songs are pre-recorded digital accompaniments in the form of note data, (not traditional audio recordings) which play "live" music (without the vocals) on certain types of digital keyboards, digital pianos, and computers. MIDI stands for "musical instrument digital interface" and it is a standardized technology using a USB cable from a digital piano with a USB output (preferred) or the more standard MIDI inputs & outputs to connect computers or sound modules with a MIDI cable (pictured above left) to the back of a MIDI digital instrument (left). Actually, MIDI connections are fading away in favor of better USB connections because of the new USB iPad connectivity becoming so popular.
Just about any song, composer, or band you can think of has their music in a General MIDI format. Thousands upon thousands of songs in every style and era are available including Classical Beethoven & Bach, Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Carrie Underwood, Duke Ellington, Ray Charles, Michael Buble, Kelly Clarkson, Celine, Big Band, Swing, R&B, Latin, Rock, Christian, Broadway, Waltz, Movie themes, Disney, Children's music, current pop, jazz, blues, Latin, you name it and you can probably get it!
The MIDI songs can be downloaded from on-line MIDI song web sites for about $1-$5 each, and there are also web sites that provide free MIDI songs although they may not sound as good. The more authentic & professional sounding the song is, the more money it typically will cost. Piano students can purchase entire lesson book MIDI song accompaniments as well.
What makes MIDI songs unique (as opposed to CD's & MP3 files), is that they can be played directly on a home (or pro) digital piano designed with that GM function giving the player the ability to adjust song speed for slower or faster playback, which is important for proper learning. The digital piano also allows for adjustment in volume and balance between the accompaniment and the live piano part being played by the student or player. The most exciting use for General MIDI songs is to enable the piano student to have a more satisfying piano practice experience in their home while learning to play piano in ways that can make them a much better player with a greater understanding of music & rhythm. A few of the major piano curriculum & lesson books published these days are available with MIDI songs including Faber Adventure series and Alfred. The top piano instruction publishers have jumped into this format because they know how motivating and useful it is.
If you are not currently using General MIDI songs in your lessons and/or at home for lessons or just playing along with your favorite songs, then you should consider it and ask me more about them including getting you info on the variety of digital pianos that have this feature. If you are a piano teacher and haven't used the General MIDI song format before, then you should definitely try it like so many other piano teachers have and now use it in their studios to enhance their lesson program. As far as a proper digital piano that will have realistic piano tone, key touch, and great General MIDI device input for a low price, one of the newer pianos in a lower price range I would recommend you consider is the Casio PX780 Privia furniture cabinet piano. It is internet priced at $999 (incl stand & 3 pedals) and is an amazing instrument in its lower price range with a realistic acoustic piano tone and a surprisingly piano graded hammer key touch movement.
Casio PX780 Review. You would have the best of both worlds with an excellent piano that would enable you to play your practice pieces to full accompaniments using your General MIDI songs. The Casio PX780 piano uses a regular USB flash drive for song storage and playback and the system is easy to use. There are other good General MIDI furniture cabinet pianos from brands such as Yamaha, Kawai, & Roland at over $2000 up well above $5000 as well.
So do yourself a favor; if you're a piano student and/or a pianist, and you don't already have a General MIDI multi-instrument digital piano with full song playback and/or recording capabilities, then consider getting one, even if you already have a regular acoustic piano. It can be worth the investment in your musical future, and there's nothing more exciting to me than to see a piano student or recreational player excel at their playing while being motivated to play often:).
For more info on General MIDI song lesson practice & play-along and how it all works, or if you want to purchase one of these new General MIDI capable digital pianos for less then internet pricing, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call direct at 602-571-1864