PianoStudio in Review – Easiest Way To Play Moonlight Sonata Without An Actual Piano


If you’ve glanced upon my iShred review, then you already know how I raved about Frontier Design Group. The piano is evidently the latest instrument these talented developers have tackled for the iDevice. I may not be a professional musician with the piano (mainly because my house simply isn’t big enough for a grand piano), but I can honestly say this is the most complex and intuitive piano application I have ever come across.

PianoStudio Features:

  • Three high-quality piano instruments (Grand 1, Grand 2, Upright)
  • 9 built-in demo songs
  • Built-in Recorder with overdubbing, variable tempo, metronome, and undo/redo
  • Tilt-controlled volume and sustain pedal
  • Awesome phrase editor lets you create repeating patterns or passages that would otherwise be impossible to play
  • Built-in chord library with over 10,000 chords
  • Lots of visual customizations to help you organize and play your tunes
  • 5 banks of buttons per song
  • 9 available button layout styles with between 8 and 40 buttons, plus keyboard-and-buttons style

As with every Frontier Design Group instrumental application, PianoStudio features a unique interface that enables you to play difficult and complex songs you’d never imagine you’re capable of. Instead of being overwhelmed with an entire piano at your fingertips, PianoStudio lets you customize notes, chords, and even short phrases, and assign them to single buttons. There are two types of buttons: 1) The regular note or chord button which is represented by a rectangle with rounded edges. 2) The phrase button that plays a short sequence of notes when it’s held, which is represented by an octogon. Since PianoStudio has a completely different interface than any other piano application, it may be strenuous to know which button to play next. PianoStudio compensates for this by allowing you to add pointers next to a button which shows you what button to play next.

For instance, if I’m playing a note/chord/phrase and there’s an arrow pointing down from the button, then that means the next note/chord/phrase that I’m supposed to play is the button underneath the one that I’m currently playing. Each button can be customized to one of 23 colors, so you’re able to differentiate which notes should be played in a group/together. Every button can also be labeled to say what ever you want on it. Thus, for phrase notes, you can change them to say Melody 1, Melody 2, and so on. If you find you need more space to put notes, then there’s an extra 4 banks that can be filled. The banks are located at the top of the screen and are labeled 1-5. Just tap a number to go to that bank. The banks can also be edited to have a specific button layout.


Without a doubt, the phrase editor is what makes PianoStudio truly special, and allows playing complex songs possible. On the phrase editor, you can create sequences of notes and assign them all to one button. To make a note in the phrase editor, simply tap the note on the piano on the left side of the screen. The volume and length of each note can be individually adjusted.


Any musical application should have a recorder, and fortunately PianoStudio has one. The recorder can be located by holding the cassette tape on the top right corner of the screen. While playing back a recording, the buttons will have a blue circle on them when they are being used. There are two types of blue circles: 1) The regular blue circle means the note was played normally. 2) The translucent blue circle means that the note was held/sustained. The only use of accelerometer in Piano Studio is when you hold a note. When tapping a note then tilting back on the iDevice, the note’s sound will then continue to ring out. The beats per bar as well as tempo can be adjusted from the settings menu.


The app itself comes preloaded with 9 demo songs to try out. To access your songs, press the the top left button of the screen then go to “Songs”. The phrase editor, songs, news (updates from the developers), and help screen can also be accessed from this button. From the songs menu, you can load, rearrange, add, and delete any song. If you load a song, then the notes for that song will be loaded onto the main menu screen, where you play the song. You can also leave comments for each song such as, “If only I went to music school, I could actually play this song on a real piano.”


In total there are three different pianos in Piano Studio. From the settings menu you can change the instrument sound from a Grand 1 to either a Grand 2 or Upright piano. Each piano has its own distinctive tone. Other settings include the ability to turn hold/ sustain on/off and how they can be accessed (H- Tilt= activated when you tilt the iDevice from side to side/ V- Tilt= activated when you tilt the iDevice from front to back).


Easily my favorite feature of iShred was AirPlay mode, where you were able to download, rate, and view songs from users around the world. Unfortunately, Piano Studio doesn’t have this much wanted feature, but hopefully it will in an upcoming update. However, Piano Studio does let you share your songs via Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail. Alas, this feature, which was introduced in the 1.1 update, does not currently work (you get a server error when sending a song). Other than that, Piano Studio is an amazing tool for any striving musician and the possibilities for music composition are endless.

I award PianoStudio with a Grab It rating and applaud it for successfully implementing another instrument into the App Store with such ingenuity.


App Summary
Title:PianoStudio (v1.1)Developer:Frontier Design Group
Price:$6.99App Size:16.3 MB
  • Chord library
  • Recorder
  • Unique interface that allows for easy playing
  • Phrase editor
  • Brings a whole new meaning to music composition on the iDevice
  • No airplay feature
  • Share feature does not currently work


  • Louis

    We’re giving away 10 promo codes for what could very well be THE definitive piano app for the iDevice. To enter and win a copy, submit a comment below and let us know what your impressions are of PianoStudio. Winners will be randomly picked and announced on Aug 12 @ 10am EST. Good Luck!

  • leeac

    I always wanted to learn to play the piano. Guess this will allow me to try.

  • Wow, are you serious? That looks amazing! I’m not very good at the piano, but who knows, after using this app, I may start playing something good! I love making music, mostly random stuff, so this should be a good app for that.

    I like the recording feature but it would be nice if you could share to friends. Oh well. Probably in an update.

  • Jeremy

    This looks like a very complete iPhone app

  • oneonone323

    this looks like a good game im not the best at piano but i think i can mostly start to like the piano

  • Coconutbowling

    You can share songs via Twitter and Facebook. That feature alone makes this stand out from other similar apps.

  • NICK

    this looks like a good game i nevered tried piano but i think this can change my mind

  • Wow, that is one full-featured piano app! I might actually be able to play more than just the riff from Lean On Me, with this one, and my notes wont all sound like farm animals. 😉

  • sf49lu

    Hmm pretty cool.

  • mrholder

    What an in-depth app! Thanks for the review.

  • sam

    looks cool! i enter the contest!

  • kev

    looks amazing

  • sounds like a cool app =)

  • @DimerHunton

    Looks like a pretty comprehensive app! And a contest, nice!

  • sandra.c

    As a piano player myself, PianoStudio looks like the real deal. I’ve tried out other (cheaper) piano apps on my ipod, but they weren’t very good. This one though seems full of features will allow me to practice my songs while I am away from the real thing :) Hope to win!

  • chupschups

    I can’t play an instrument to save my life, but I’ve always wanted to learn the piano…… this looks like an app to help me start

  • Fares

    This app looks incredible… everyday developers come up with stunning apps and this one is no exception from the looks of it. Would love to get my hand on a code, count me in pls 😉

  • Alok

    Wow awesome application, I’ll probably tell my friends about it

  • I used to play the organ / piano when I was a kid (mostly organ). Never thought I’d see the day when I could carry one in my pocket! This looks like it would be a really cool application.

  • Raoupp

    Those videos sold me. This is really something that every musician/iP owner should have on his device.

  • Tim

    Wow, this does look quite impressive…. and I’ve been working on collecting different musical apps. This would be a great addition!

  • JoseMartin

    Those videos look amazing! This is probably the best piano app i’ve seen!!

  • Irene

    This music app looks like a treat. Probably I can use it to impress my gal friends.

  • Zach

    This looks like a really cool piano app for the iPhone. It may even be as good as iShred!

  • Shane

    I rather miss learning piano from a few years back. There are so many songs that I could know, yet I can’t play them because I no longer have the ability to play well.

  • This App looks really HOT. Im really want to learn piano. I was the only one in my family who don’t know how to piano. This is my chance to learn it. I hope i will win. Please pick me!! THANKS!

  • This app looks pretty complex. I like!

  • Louis

    Congrats to mrholder, RHENZHEN, JoseMartin, leeac, Zach, Coconutbowling, oneone323, Jeremy, kev and Tim for winning a copy of this great piano app. Now go make some sweet sweet music!

  • THANKS!, Louis… :o)

  • Jeremy Duncan

    From reading the review i know that this app runs circles around pianist app from moocow music!!! Hope i win a copy

  • This gadget are very good and quite easy to use for early learner.

  • Betty Herloski

    Great app!

  • I’ve never seen this before, looks like a wonderful way to learn piano.

  • Anonymous

    If you are currently connected to music in some manner, it is definitely easy for you to learn piano online. Those who have a deep inner need to create beautiful music can start their beginner piano lessons with a good teacher.

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