AI-Assisted Pianos Enable Disabled Performers Play Beethoven

Using an artificial intelligence-powered piano, musicians with disabilities can now perform Beethoven’s symphonies. ‘Anybody’s Piano’, in its bid to assist players, tracks the music notes and augments the performance by adding the required keys that are not pressed.

24-year-old Kiwa Usami, who has cerebral palsy, was one of such musicians with disabilities performing with the Yokohama Sinfonietta at Suntory Hall on Thursday.

Usami, who began playing the piano while in elementary school, was one of the inspirations behind the AI program. Her dedication to practicing using only one finger inspired her teachers to work with Yamaha, Japanese music giant.

Their collaboration led to a revised version of Yamaha’s 2015 auto-playing piano.

‘It’s a really powerful experience to play with an orchestra,’ said Yurina Furukawa after a rehearsal on Wednesday.

The AI-assisted piano helps 10-year-old Furukawa who has a rare muscle condition and requires breathing assistance to perform from a bed in front of the grand piano. The piano helps her fill in the notes to complete the performance.

Unlike customary auto-play, once a player hits the wrong notes, the ‘Anybody’s Piano’.

‘When I miss a key or slow down, I feel the pressure from the piano to go on and press the right key,’ said 39-year-old performer Hiroko Higashino.

Higashino was born with three fingers on her right hand. She began learning how to play after the ‘Anybody’s Symphony No.9’ concert was announced.

‘If the piano helps me and adds two missing keys for me, I can more faithfully recreate the rich harmony, the music that Beethoven intended to express,’ she said.

Members from the audience described the performance as ‘uplifting’.

‘I haven’t had such a heart-trembling experience like this for a long time. It was the best Christmas present for me,’ said Teruko Imai, a concertgoer in her 60s.

Koki Kato, another member of the audience said that she was ‘so touched’ and ‘the piano makes it possible for anybody to perform, which is a very good thing for music too.’


By Marvellous Iwendi

Source: Japan Today