Talk about a helping hand: Researchers at Georgia Tech’s Center for Music Technology are trying to reinvent how students learn to play the piano by developing a special glove that vibrates to cue a budding musician which finger needs to strike a key at a given moment.

The goal is to fuse music with muscle memory to teach pianists their craft.

"You can literally feel the notes," said Kevin Huang, the Georgia Tech graduate student who came up with the idea.

His early design is basically a golf glove powered by a battery that’s hooked into five vibrating motors, one for each finger. The glove has a wireless link to a PC, and it sends a tiny jolt through the motors to prompt each suggested tap of a piano key.

The glove’s software links to only a handful of songs now, but developers say it can be synchronized with iPods or other music players. That means a student wouldn’t have to be sitting at a piano to begin building the muscle memory of how songs are played.

Huang and his professors were encouraged by a pilot study that showed it helped some users learn basic songs quicker. Eventually, he hopes to turn the glove into a wristband that could teach users to play woodwind instruments as well.

Piano instructors need not worry: The glove won’t squeeze out traditional teaching methods.

"It’s not a replacement," Huang said. "If [students] want to learn in a traditional way, they still can. This just augments it. It provides a new, alternative way to learn the piano for people who don’t have time for the traditional, vigorous process."


Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology