Solid fundaments are vital to any aspiring pianist, that’s why we are checking out the best online piano lessons in 2021. The way we learn to play the piano has changed dramatically through online content and the surge of online piano lessons available.
We are going to handpick what we consider to be the best options for varying skill levels and budgets. In this article, we will identify the benefits of learning online and some potential pitfalls, too.
Here are the best online piano lessons in 2021:
- Playground Sessions
- Piano with Christie Peery
- Piano Marvel
- Piano with Willie
1. Playground Sessions
The best overall
Playground Sessions has been around for a decade but has never had more momentum than it does now.
We mentioned how important fundamentals are in music education, and Playground Sessions has a foundation to rival any. Boasting the legendary Quincy Jones as co-founder (overseeing curriculum) and Jazz icon Harry Connick Jr. as a tutor, you are in safe hands.
There are three membership plans available: monthly ($17,99), annual ($9.99 per month), and lifetime ($289.99 one-time). Each membership gives access to the music theory boot camp, bonus courses, and more. The lessons are interactive and delivered in an almost video-game style (think Guitar Hero). When you follow the notes, the on-screen keyboard will light up notes as you play – green for correct, red for wrong. As you progress, you can gain points and rewards for doing well.
Lessons are taught in a step-by-step way, almost like levels. For example, the first time you learn a song, it will be the bare essentials, the second step will add more notes/harmony, and so on. Content is divided into Rookie, Intermediate, and Advanced. Video lessons are delivered by Harry Connick Jr and YouTube pianist David Tines. The videos are used as introductions for more in-depth interactive lessons, and a nice personal touch for newbies.
Playground Sessions offers a huge library of songs to learn, from all different genres. With a monthly membership, you get access to five new songs per month, but extra songs come with a $1.99 fee.
The interface is user-friendly and offers useful features like slow tempos, demo previews (both hands or independently), and record mode. They also sell some keyboards that come with memberships, including Casio, Yamaha, and their own Playground Sessions brand.
Check Playground Sessions
Playground Sessions is the best for two reasons. Firstly, it provides solid foundations from an outstanding team of musicians. Secondly, it makes learning fun, and when practicing is fun, it works.
The best value for money
Skoove is a platform that aims to be as broad as possible with its target audience. One of the main reasons we like it is that you get several months free when you purchase a qualifying MIDI controller. You can also try a premium membership with over 400 lessons free for 7-days. Outside of that, Skoove has a completely free lifetime membership plan where you can test out 25 selected lessons.
Skoove covers beginner to advanced levels, although there is definitely more emphasis on the beginner end. Like other platforms, the idea is to get you playing songs quickly and enjoying it. But, Skoove does stress how important it is to have good technique. They have plenty of hands-only videos where you can clearly see the instructors’ technique to back that up.
The interactive lessons have some pretty smart AI that not only indicates when you are right and wrong but suggests ways to improve, too. Beyond the software, you can actually get some one to one advice from real tutors, which adds a personal feel to it.
Another thing that Skoove encourages is playing by ear. Not as a way to bypass reading music, but as an extension to your skills. In the real world of a gigging musician, this will serve you well.
There are loads of songs available from pop chart hits to classical music, although it’s probably more pop-orientated. It’s easy to use and has a nice play-along feature that lets you play songs with a full band.
Skoove is awesome! It doesn’t take you too deep into music theory, but it does make it clear that theory is important. In short, it gives you solid foundations while learning lots of fun songs. At some point, you’ll have to learn elsewhere, but Skoove will have served you very well.
The best range of songs
Flowkey is another platform with a solid team behind it, having been created in collaboration with Yamaha. Yamaha makes some of the best learner keyboards around, so it makes sense that they have a lot to offer in this area.
The Flowkey software can accurately track your progress via MIDI or an acoustic piano. When practicing on an acoustic piano, your device’s microphone will detect pitch/notes.
Memberships start at $19 per month, with annual and lifetime options available. If you purchase a qualifying Yamaha keyboard, you’ll receive three months free. Furthermore, Flowkey offers a 30-day free trial, so you’ve nothing to lose. The trial grants you access to eight songs and partial lessons, while a paid membership offers full content.
Lessons cover beginner to pro levels, so you can choose where you’d like to start. However, there are a few preliminary questions to detect your level. Once you begin, lessons progress from basic music reading to songs with more than three chords. One of this platform’s biggest assets is the massive song library and diverse range of musical styles.
The Flowkey interface is straightforward and lets you pause or slow down any difficult lessons/songs.
Flowkey is a great tool if you want to learn how to play lots of songs. But, it’s not the best if you want a deeper understanding of the theory behind the songs. If you only care about playing the songs you like and learning them quickly, Flowkey is a solid choice.
4. ArtistWorks Piano with Christie Peery
The best for classical music
We have included ArtistWorks because it’s as close to traditional piano lessons as you will get online. ArtistWorks is video-based rather than interactive lessons.
The lack of interactive feedback in lessons might be a no-go for some people, understandably. But, what ArtistWorks offers you instead is real feedback from your tutor as well as support from other members. You will need a device that allows you to record video; a smartphone will do. After recording your practice session, you upload it to their video exchange platform, where Christie Peery will personally review it and provide feedback. Christie is a respected teacher and renowned concert pianist.
Other students will be able to check out your videos, as you will with theirs. Again, this might put some users off, but think of it as a support network. Everyone is learning, and you’ll always find people at your level.
Despite the lack of interactive features, lessons are well put together with a clear overhead view of hands and technique. The material is split into three categories: basic, intermediate, and advanced. There are classical, jazz, and pop teachers providing a range of content.
Currently, the shortest membership plan is three months at $35 per month, so it’s not the cheapest, but it’s effective.
If you want to learn classical music online and aren’t too self-conscious to share your practice sessions, this is the one for you. It’s almost like being part of a college class with a great teacher. It adds a more human touch to online learning.
The best one-time payment option
Pianoforall is one of the most simple platforms you will find. In that spirit, we are going to keep this short and sweet. Pianoforall is video-based; there are no interactive lessons. It’s available for a one-off payment of $79, and that includes all future updates. Available for $39 when a discount is active.
The main focus is on learning chord shapes/structures and applying them to popular songs. Learning chord shapes helps you to play songs in different keys and understand harmony and melody well.
While learning about chords and how to apply them in different keys, it also teaches you to play by ear. By getting used to different chord qualities, you can start to pick them out in songs you hear on the radio or elsewhere. The strong focus on chords also makes it easier for you to improvise because you know what shapes work well together. Improvisation encourages you to compose, not just learn existing songs.
Pianoforall definitely misses a few steps in the music theory journey. But, it’s not pretending to be a complete A-Z course; think of it as a piano hack. It helps anyone, with or without current musical ability, play songs quickly and easily. It won’t take you to the end of the road, but it will give you a new party piece, endless fun, and who knows, you might even write a hit song.
6. Piano Marvel
The best theory start pack
Piano Marvel might not be as well-known as some of the others on our list, but it’s not one to ignore. This app-based online platform offers hundreds of video lessons as well as interactive content. It provides a good mix of music theory and songs. The content provided isn’t anything unique, but the way it’s put together is specifically designed to make it easy to digest, even as a beginner.
One of the features that showcase the well thought out structure is Piano Marvel’s Prepare Mode. In Prepare Mode, the playhead will wait for you to play the notes before moving. That means you can learn at your own pace without falling behind and getting de-motivated. Over time and practice, you’ll be ready to play at full tempo.
It also includes a sight reading test from SASR (Standard Assessment of Sight Reading). The sight reading test is a fantastic addition because it lets you know where you’re at with it, and it’s a reminder not to slack off in that area.
Another awesome feature is the Assess Mode, which scores you as you play and gives awards for good performance. It encourages you to keep going till you get it right because you want to win that trophy!
Piano Marvel offers a completely free membership where you can have a go at some lessons. A paid account will cost you $15.99 per month and offers lots of actionable content.
Check Piano Marvel
Piano Marvel is a really good choice for anyone who wants to focus on theory more than songs. It takes sometimes complicated content and teaches it in a manageable way for learners. Remember, the more theory you know, the more songs you can play/understand down the line. Piano Marvel won’t take you all the way to professional, but it will certainly put you on the right track.
7. Piano with Willie
The best for serious musicians
Piano with Willie is mostly video-based, and while that’s a negative for some users, we feel this approach works well for adults. The platform offers thousands of lessons from Berklee graduate Willie Myette – so you can be assured his credentials are legit.
Membership is available by monthly or annual subscription, starting at $29.97 per month. It might seem expensive compared to most, but this is definitely aimed at adults who are serious about learning.
The real start in Piano with Willie is the range of content. The platform covers everything from basic chords and scales to complex improvisation and arrangement tips. Much of the content available here isn’t found on other platforms.
The genres covered by the platform range from jazz and blues to funk and rock. There is lots of diversity, but it’s probably jazz/blues-heavy at its core.
Another good thing about Piano with Willie is that it tailors the lesson plans to the genre you want to learn. There is no one size fits all approach to learning, and it’s this attention to detail that justifies the price.
If the lack of interactive lessons is a problem for you, then you should be happy to know that weekly Skype sessions are available. These are group sessions, and add a face to face aspect to the experience.
Check Piano with Willie
Piano with Willie is our top-rated online piano lessons for adults. The reason we say that is that you pay the price for serious content and a deeper understanding than most platforms offer. If you just want to learn some songs, it’s not for you. But, if you want to become a fully-fledged musician, it’s a great place to start.
If you don’t want to pay, there are a couple of FREE options that might be a good starting point.
Check out Piano Nanny, a website with over 20 years worth of free piano content.
Another good option is the Andrew Furmanczyk YouTube channel. It has over 500 K subscribers and a wealth of content.
Why learn piano online?
The most obvious benefit of learning piano online is that you can go at your own pace. Whether you have school or work, you can fit in your lessons when your schedule allows. It also means you don’t have to travel or carry any gear around; you can grab a coffee (or a juice) and learn from the comfort of your own home.
With so many options available, you have the opportunity to tailor the lessons to your own needs. When you do find the right lessons for you, you can watch/take them a million times if you like. That’s something that you can’t always do with a face to face tutor. It also removes some pressure that might come from feeling like you are falling behind with a tutor. It doesn’t matter who you are; we all have weeks when we don’t practice as much as we should.
So, the comfort aspect is certainly a big deal, but the cost is a major factor, too. Even if some online lessons seem expensive, chances are you’d pay more for face to face lessons. Online teachers can take huge amounts of students, which means they can offer lower prices, rather than a set hourly rate.
Why pay if there are free lessons?
Well, the answer is simple, and it’s a common phrase – you get what you pay for, simple.
What we mean is that it’s rare to get anything for free truly. There are free options that might take you some of the way towards your goal, but not completely. There might be free options that could take you the whole way, but without structure, you’ll get lost.
Paid content tends to go much deeper than free content. Free content often has gaps or omits important information to get to the point faster.
When you pay for lessons, you aren’t just paying for content; you are paying for a path to follow. Don’t underestimate how important that is.
Another reason to pay is that you will generally get better teachers. That statement isn’t universally true; there might be awesome teachers who are happy to help for free. But, for the most part, if someone is good enough to charge for their services, they usually will.
If you pay for something, you won’t want it to go to waste. So, the fact you had to put up some cash should give you more motivation to get your money’s worth and make an effort.
What to look for in online lessons?
The most important thing about any online piano lessons is that they will get you to where you want to be. So there is no easy answer to this question; it depends on what you want to get out of it.
- Do you want to become a pro musician?
- Do you want to perform on stage?
- Do you just want a hobby?
- Do you just want a neat party trick?
Whatever you want, you need to make sure that the platform you choose can get you there. Don’t look for a shortcut; if you are serious about learning, don’t choose the cheapest/fastest option and expect the best results. Similarly, if you just want a hobby, then don’t overpay for lessons.
The one thing that all good online lessons must have is structure, a clear path to your goal.
Why can’t I learn from YouTube videos?
You can learn from YouTube, and there are thousands of amazing videos that won’t cost you a penny. The trouble is, as we mentioned above, there is no structure. Learning to play via YouTube is often a terrible idea for beginners because you will jump from one video to another without learning everything that should have come in-between.
You will end up being able to play a few things, but have no real sense of musicianship. Alternatively, you’ll be halfway through a lesson and notice a video of a cat in the suggested clips, and that will be the end of your learning.
YouTube is a rabbit hole, don’t get sucked in.
Who are online lessons for?
Most platforms say they cater to beginners right through to pros. The truth is, if you are an advanced player, you probably won’t be interested in online lessons. You probably wouldn’t gain anything other than a monthly bill.
Online piano lessons are ideal for beginners to intermediate players, but especially beginners. They are the ideal way to get started, and before you know it, you’ll be playing songs or maybe even writing songs.
Looking for the best MIDI keyboard/digital piano to use for online lessons? Check out these guides:
Our list has the best online piano lessons available in 2021, and They all have something to offer an eager student. Learning online is a great way to get into music, and music is a wonderful thing to have in your life. So, whether you want to start a career or a hobby, get started today, you won’t regret it.