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A joyful way to learn the piano — and so much more

todayApril 13, 2021

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Learning to play the piano can sometimes feel impossible, taking hours of practice and consistent dedication — especially without a teacher to guide you. Roli, the company whose original claim to fame was an expressive digital ‘Seaboard‘ that allows for multiple degrees of expression, thinks its Lumi Keys can help. A small modular digital piano with light-up keys, the $299 Lumi promises to be one of the most intuitive ways of getting started playing the keyboard.

It all starts with those pretty colors. The Lumi is far from the first digital piano to use lights to guide players to their next notes, but I’ve never seen a treatment quite so colorful. More importantly, these colors are more than just a gimmick.

I’ve got to take a moment to just admire the hardware here. The rainbow keys could’ve easily looked chintzy, but the colors are bright and vibrant and evenly distributed throughout the keys in a way that is mesmerizing. The keys are smaller than a standard piano’s — Roli claims they are a better fit for the average hand. While I can’t verify that, I didn’t find it an issue regularly switching between the Lumi and my full-size weighted keyboard.

I like how the keys feel to play too, though Roli is a little misleading when they say the keys have 92% of the plunge depth of a grand piano. This is because the keys work in a two-step process: there’s an initial portion of shallow travel, followed by a stiffer portion that registers aftertouch. The net effect is to give the keys shallower travel than you might expect.


On the other hand, I appreciate that Roli took the care to make the keys playable throughout the entire key length. Many keyboards are hard to play towards the tippy top of the keys, but the Lumi remains comfortable when playing those tricky passages.