I’ve Been Searchin’
Music educators are always looking for new techniques to help their students become better musicians, and then figuring out how to incorporate the best of these techniques into their lessons. These days, great solutions are all around, and many of them can be found in one digital piano–the Roland RM-700.
When you first look at the RM-700, you’ll see that it’s a beautiful instrument. It’s well-built, with a traditional style, and available in either mahogany wood grain or satin ebony. You might even initially mistake it for an acoustic piano, but one thing will quickly catch your eye–it has a color LCD screen built into the middle of the panel right above the keys. However, this is no ordinary screen. It’s actually a touch-screen display, and this screen, along with the buttons around it, are the gateway to the powerful features of the RM-700.
The best looking instrument isn’t worth anything if it doesn’t feel “right.” When you play the RM-700, you’ll notice immediately that it feels like a high-end acoustic grand piano. One reason for this is Roland’s Ivory Feel keyboard, which not only looks like real ivory and ebony, but feels like it, too–your fingers won’t slip like they can with plastic keys. Another reason is Roland’s acclaimed Progressive Hammer Action keyboard, which simply means that it’s designed like the mechanism in a grand piano (with no springs). It even replicates the “escapement” feel on an acoustic grand that occurs when the hammer releases. In other words, you can achieve all the nuances you’re used to without having to adjust your playing style.
The real test of the RM-700 comes down to how it sounds, and being a Roland piano, you already know that it’s going to sound great. The piano sound does not disappoint, as it multi-samples all 88 notes of a nine-foot concert grand; and of course it’s touch sensitive, so it responds like an acoustic piano. It even varies in tone color depending on how hard or soft its played.
But the RM-700 is much more than a great piano. In fact, it contains over 800 high-quality tones built-in, as well as a number of different drum sets, and many different types of effects, including reverb, chorus and rotary effects. On top of all of this, it contains almost 400 built-in rhythm and music styles that can take your teaching, as well as your student performances, to a whole new level. And don’t forget that because it’s a digital instrument, it’s always in tune!
Don’t Look Down
Regardless of your teaching situation, from private studio to piano lab, you will find many features in the RM-700 that will help you to take your teaching, and your students’ playing, to new heights. Of course, Roland will provide you with the tools and support that you need, but the real fun will begin when you start discovering how many ways you can utilize the RM-700 in your lessons. In fact, you may find yourself moving in directions you never considered before (and if you do, we want to hear about it).
A Whole New World
Once you’ve played the instrument and started to get a sense of how powerful it is, you will want to figure out how to make it work for you as an educator. Built into the RM-700 are a variety of teaching tools that will open up a whole new world of opportunities for you and your students.
Explore And Engage
Inside the RM-700, you’ll find “Wonderland,” which is home to games and applications that will engage your students in a variety of ways. Here, they can learn how a piano is constructed, how different instruments (and sound effects) sound, and also listen to built-in songs. While these are fun and interesting, there are learning games as well. One of the games is called “Flash Card,” and with it your students will identify notes shown on the screen by playing them on the piano keyboard. Another game, “Alphabet,” is great for reinforcing note names for beginning students–saying the note name when the student presses a piano key. Both of these games will get used a lot with your students who are new to the piano.
Do You Hear What I Hear?
As you well know, if you tell a student it’s time for ear training, you will probably hear groans more than anything else. However, if you say “It’s time to play a game,” you will find nothing but enthusiasm! With the RM-700, you have the resources available to make ear training a part of any lesson. In Wonderland, if you touch the “Game” icon (which you will appreciate it being called that when you’re working with your students), you will find ear training games for identifying pitches and chords, as well as rhythm games.
I Can See Clearly Now
In addition to the Wonderland section, there is a powerful feature called “Visual Lesson,” which is a built-in practice application. There are songs and exercises that come with the RM-700 that are specifically designed to practice with Visual Lesson. In addition, other internal songs can be used, as well as any other songs (including original compositions by you or your students), which have been saved on USB memory.
There are many ways that a student can utilize Visual Lesson to help them be more productive when practicing. They can change the tempo of the song, or they can practice with just the right or left hand (while the piano plays the other part). They can also mark-off difficult sections and have them repeat over and over again as the student perfects the part, at whatever tempo you desire. In addition, the Visual Lesson function can provide an assessment of any performance, letting you know what was played correctly and what was played incorrectly.
A Piano Built For Two
Another great educational feature of the RM-700 is “Twin Piano” mode. When Twin Piano is selected on the menu screen, the keyboard is divided into two halves, with the same pitches for each half, so that two people can play the piano at the same time. This is a great way to work with students, and also a great way to have students work with each other. There are even two headphones jacks, and with the onscreen menu, the players can select if they want to hear both players at once, or just themselves. There are even built-in games utilizing the Twin Piano mode. One of the games has the person on the left section play a note, and then the player on the right attempting to play the same note just by hearing it. Another game has the person on the left play a note on the keyboard. When they do, the note will appear on the screen and the person on the right is to play that same note on their half.
What’s The Score?
Another feature in the RM-700 is called “DigiScore.” As its name implies, DigiScore provides real-time display of notation on the LCD screen, which at its simplest means that it can scroll along as you or your student plays. But, DigiScore can do much more than that. Here are some of the important display options you might use in an educational setting (and they work with any MIDI file, even one created by the student!):
There is also an option which allows you to choose which parts of a MIDI file are shown as notation on the screen. This is great, for example, if you have an arrangement of a piece of music with a number of different parts using different instruments of the orchestra and you want your student to play the violin part on the keyboard. You can choose to show the violin part on the screen, and they can play along with the arrangement. You can even change the sound to match the violin.
While DigiScore looks great on the built-in screen, you can always connect an external monitor, a television, or even a projector up to your RM-700 for a bigger display, which comes in handy if you are in a group lesson environment.
Last, but by no means least, you can save any notation and a Visual Lesson Performance Results, as a bitmap (.bmp) image to print out from you printer with no additional software needed. Imagine the excitement when your student records an original piece of music and then you print out the notation for them to share with their friends and family.
How Low Can You Go?
One of the great things about digital instruments is that transposing is usually as simple as pressing a button or two. The RM-700 is no different, and takes it even further than many instruments, which can come in handy in a variety of situations.
The first (and most obvious) use is being able to transpose the piece you’re playing into a different key. What if you found yourself in a situation, such as with a vocalist, where you quickly need to have a piece sound in a different key? With the RM-700, it’s not a problem–simply touch the screen a few times and you’re good to go. This is also a helpful feature if you’re a choir director and you find yourself wanting (or needing) a student to help with vocal warm-ups. Instead of your student having to know how to play the exercises in all keys, they only have to know them in one; then with a touch or two, they can transpose as needed.
Now, imagine you’re teaching improvisation. You have a favorite song saved as an audio file, but it happens to be in a difficult key for your student. This is no problem for the RM-700. With a few touches on the screen, you can transpose audio files without changing the speed of the music! The transpose capabilities alone are enough reason to have an RM-700 in every private studio and music room.
Where’s The Tape?
Another powerful and extremely useful feature of the RM-700 is that it can record both MIDI and audio files. That’s right, a piano that can record! Imagine playing a piece for your student so they can hear how you play it, and then being able to send a recording of that performance home with them on a USB flash drive or CD so they can practice along with it. Or recording a student’s lesson or performance, so they could listen to it later to evaluate how they played. You can even pre-record an accompaniment for your students to play along with when they practice or perform.
With the recording capabilities, you’re not limited to just recording the keyboard by itself. Depending on whether you’re recording MIDI or audio, you can also record automatic accompaniments, MIDI files or even music from another audio source. In addition to keyboard parts, you can record vocals (or any other acoustic instrument) by plugging a microphone into the microphone input.
But Wait, There’s More!
There are a few additional features with the RM-700 that are worth mentioning. First of all, it has a built-in metronome, with a variety of sounds and patterns that are guaranteed to keep a student engaged. In addition to the click of a standard or electronic metronome, they can hear percussion instruments, hands clapping, a voice counting, or even the sounds of a dog and cat. Also, we all know that every now and then we can get so lost in menu and sound options that sometimes we just need to get back to the sound of a piano. For those times, you can hit the “panic button” (although we call it the “One Touch [Piano]” button) to take you back to the sound of the grand piano. Finally, the RM-700 comes with a remote control, which allows the teacher to choose songs, change key, change tempo and start/stop playback – all from anywhere in the classroom.
What Time Is It?
As you know by now, the RM-700 is a powerful piano. However, reading about it pales in comparison to playing it and going through all the features. When you find yourself with some free time, go to your local Roland dealer and play one for a few minutes. You’ll soon discover how quickly a few minutes turns into a few hours. You’ll also discover that this article only touches the surface of the RM-700, and you’ll find yourself wanting one, as well as trying to figure out how to get it. And frankly, we don’t blame you.
Remember that in addition to talking to your local Roland Dealer, you can always contact Roland directly with any questions you may have about the RM-700, as well as any other Roland products. You can reach us by phone at 323-890-3700 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
For more information on the Roland RM-700, go to: http://www.rolandmusiced.com/products/productdetails.php?ProductId=980&ParentId=426