Virtual Drums And Synths For Kids at N.A.M.M. 2018

The National Association of Music Merchants held its annual showcase in late January in Anaheim, California. Musical instrument makers showed off their newest noise-making tools and gizmos. While nothing displayed at this year’s N.A.M.M. show reinvented the wheel (or the synth or guitar), it offered a peek into the music tech of tomorrow.

The Blipbox

A lot of the tech at NAMM aimed for beginner musicians, but the Blipbox was unique in focusing on absolute beginners. The colorful and compact synth is designed for children between the ages of three and eight years old. With its buttons and simple handles, it looks like a toy but plays like a keyboard. It’s a multifunction instrument, with drums, sounds and sequences kids can easily manipulate and sculpt.

The Phase

On “King of Rock,” RUN-DMC illustrated the perils of turntablists, saying “every jam we play, we break two needles.” Now, the Phase takes the needle out of the equation. Once the digital device is on top of a spinning record, it reads and transmits the information directly into a computer, bypassing the turntable’s hardware altogether.

Aerodrums VR

Air drummers of the world rejoice. Your dream of playing drums simply by waving your hands and tapping your foot are coming true. Through a virtual reality headset, movement-sensing drumsticks and foot sensors, percussionists can play beats on a VR drum set. It’ll be perfect for playing late night John Bonham tributes, but will lack the satisfying thwap of striking an instrument that exists in the physical world.

OneManBand (OMB)

While it’s only the size of a cell phone, OMB can give lone guitar players the power of a band and more. By tracking your fretting hand OMB can change the sound of the guitar, pick or strum for you or support your sound with a virtual backing band based on your playing.