PROS / Flowkey has a user-friendly interface and a great list of popular songs to choose from.
CONS / This software is not going to teach you much about music theory or composition.
VERDICT / Flowkey’s lessons are enjoyable and easy to use. With a few additions to the song library and theory lessons, this could rival the best online piano software currently available.
Flowkey is designed to get you through the setup process as easily and quickly as possible so you can begin taking online piano lessons immediately. It is available as an app for your favorite tablet, or as online software for your computer. You can try out the software for free, or purchase a monthly or yearly subscription. The free trial limits the number of songs and lessons you can use, but you have full access to browse the list of songs and lessons available to you if you choose to pay for the service. You start the setup process by answering a couple questions about whether you’ve played piano before and if you have access to a piano. After you answer those questions, the software is set up and you will be ready to start learning.
If you have an acoustic piano, this software uses the built-in microphone of your computer or tablet to listen to your playing and track your progress. In fact, this is the only software we tested that allows you to play an acoustic piano and have the software track your progress via the built-in microphone in your computer. The lessons are also MIDI-compatible, so you can use a MIDI keyboard to play along with the lessons and the software can track the input. We found that when we used a MIDI keyboard, the program tracked progress more efficiently than the microphone, but both input options worked well.
The user interface looks the same whether you are using a tablet or computer. It is easy to navigate and is made up of four sections: browse, search, my songs and courses. This is probably the easiest software to navigate on our list because there aren’t any confusing menus to navigate. All the section tabs are located on the main startup page
When you begin the piano lessons, you can decide, based on your skill level, where to start. Flowkey keeps track of your progress through the lessons, so you can jump back and forth through the song list and lessons, and you won’t lose track of where you left off in a lesson or song. The lessons start with basic concepts like posture and hand position. Once you are in the proper playing position, you can transition into playing easy songs for the right hand, and then easy songs for the left hand. Flowkey will then move you into lessons that teach you to use both hands to make chords.
At the intermediate level, you begin by learning songs with four chords, as well as major chords, minor chords and accompaniment patterns. The advanced level lessons include helpful tips on improvisation, freestyle chord-playing and playing patterns with 7th and add9 chords. But, this might not be the best software option if you are an intermediate or advanced player looking for music theory lessons. There are only 11 lessons that pertain to reading sheet music, and the most advanced lesson culminates by having you sight read a fairly easy song using both hands
Flowkey’s list of songs is well thought out and includes choices from pop, classical, film & TV, Christmas, and video game music genres. Plus, you can search within those genres based on your skill level. Once you’ve chosen a song to learn, Flowkey has helpful learning modes to guide you on your way to learning an entire song. Slow mode will slow the song to 50 percent of the original tempo, and fast mode will play the song at 25 percent of the original tempo. You can also choose to focus on just the right hand or left hand parts, which is especially helpful if one hand is having a hard time keeping up with the other. Section looping allows you to concentrate on one portion of the song and practice it repeatedly until you feel comfortable.
Flowkey is a good online piano course, especially if you are interested in learning specific songs. It is easy to set up and navigate the user interface, which leaves more time for learning how to play your favorite song from the nicely fashioned list. However, if you are an intermediate to advanced player looking for help with sight reading or music theory, you may want to consider a different online piano lesson software.