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Best online piano lessons 2021: Courses for kids and adult learners

Best online piano lessons: Piano apps for kids, beginners and experienced pianists
(Image credit: Getty )

Looking for the best online piano lessons? We’ve carefully reviewed and ordered our favourites below, for anyone who wants to master the instrument but doesn’t have time to attend in-person classes.

Before signing up for anything, though, there are a few important things to bear in mind. While all of the best online piano lessons provide high-quality tuition, there are some key differences between them. For a start, many piano-learning platforms require you to have a MIDI-compatible keyboard. This is so that you can hook it up to a laptop or PC, enabling the app or website to ascertain whether or not you're playing the correct notes. So, if you're determined to learn on your vintage Steinway, you'll want to avoid these.

Editor's Choice: Playground Sessions

Playground Sessions earned the top spot in our list of the best online piano lesson providers. It caters to both beginners and experienced players and also offers a wide range of music.VIEW DEAL ON Playground Sessions

Another thing to consider is what level of tuition you're looking for. A lot of the top digital piano courses cater for all abilities, but some are aimed squarely at people whose  piano experience amounts to playing Chopsticks at kindergarten. Other things to think about include cost (most online piano lessons are paid for by monthly or annual subscription), what kind of device you'll be using to access the lessons, and the kind of music you'd like to play along to. 

To help you choose the best online piano lessons for you, we've put together this handy guide. Want to broaden your musical skills even further? Check out our guide to the best online guitar lessons 2021 or try something completely different by testing out the best beat making software instead.  


1. Playground Sessions: Best online piano lessons overall 

Playground Sessions: Best online piano lessons overall

(Image credit: Playground Sessions)

Playground Sessions

Playground sessions has the best online piano lessons out there, with a huge amount of material for all levels of experience

Reasons to Buy

Win points and unlock courses to keep you motivated
Play as you learn with a large range of song genres 
Modern and user-friendly setup 

Reasons to Avoid

More than five songs a month require an additional fee 

With Playground Sessions you learn through being immersed in the world of piano, which is a great way to keep students engaged. You learn the basics of playing before you cover theory, which stops you from feeling overwhelmed. There are plenty of music theory lessons embedded in the lesson plans, but this software does a good job of directly associating those important tenets of music theory with a well-known song.

An important feature of online piano software is its ability to accurately track your progress. Playground Sessions gives you an instant status report after each lesson with the percentage of right and wrong notes played. You receive points based on that status report and progress through the lesson plans when you reach the required points. This software also allows you to record your lessons. We found that being able to replay your lesson helps you find the shortcomings of your skill set and improve. You can also customize your backing and speed or zone in on a particular few bars if you’re getting stuck.


2. Simply Piano: Best piano lessons for total beginners

Simply Piano: Best online piano lessons for total beginners

(Image credit: Simply Piano)

Simply Piano

If you're just starting with piano lessons and need a friendly intro, this is it

Reasons to Buy

Intuitive to use
Makes learning fun
Great backing tracks

Reasons to Avoid

Only on smart devices

If you're looking to start piano lessons from new, and you're ok to learn on smart devices like iPads, Simply Piano is unbeatable. It makes learning fun, but still gives you a broad grounding of knowledge and actually helps you learn the piano properly. The reason we recommend it for beginners is because Simply Piano lets you learn at your own pace, and you can set your own goals for what you play, so there's no steep learning curve here.

Instead of pushing the hardcore music reading and notation at the start, Simply Piano just shows these things on screen while you're gently introduced to the act of playing a range of different songs. You can see for yourself with the 7-day free trial, which actually has an on-screen keyboard to give you a taste of how it could work, even if you don't yet own a MIDI keyboard (you will need one for the full version).

Combined with a really solid technical foundation that has no latency, and a wide range of backing tracks, and this is a perfect way to start your journey with the piano. It isn't quite as star-studded and thorough as Playground Sessions, but is less intimidating to start with.


3. Piano Marvel: Best value online piano lessons

Piano Marvel: Best online piano lessons on a budget

(Image credit: Piano Marvel)

Piano Marvel

An online piano lesson site with low subscription fees and engaging lessons

Reasons to Buy

Low-cost subscription options
Rewards keep you motivated 
Lessons are broken into small, manageable chunks

Reasons to Avoid

No live-chat or face-to-face lesson support

Piano Marvel is great if you’re looking for the best low-cost online piano lessons. Lessons are split into small and manageable chunks which is great as learning piano can be overwhelming. You can use any MIDI-compatible keyboard to take the interactive piano lessons and track your progress through the lesson plan. There are rewards to keep you motivated and lessons are set up like games. 

The library of available songs includes titles from all genres including jazz, rock, and holiday titles, and you learn from playing songs you know and recognize. You don’t learn fingering positions in the first lesson, which feels counter-intuitive, but Piano Marvel is a great online piano service if you’re looking to try piano without spending too much. 


4. Flowkey: Best online piano lessons for younger pianists

Flowkey: Best online piano lessons for younger pianists

(Image credit: Flowkey)

Flowkey

Great online piano lessons for younger pianists and less experienced users

Reasons to Buy

Tracks your progress, even with an acoustic piano
Easy to use interface
Use on a tablet or laptop, with the option of a free trial

Reasons to Avoid

Limited number of music theory and sight-reading lessons

Flowkey has a modern and easy-to-use interface that makes it easy to jump around and choose a lesson plan or song to learn. A quick assessment of your skill level at the beginning of the setup process is designed to give you a good starting point in the curriculum.

There are monthly and yearly subscription options, and you can try the software free for 30 days to make sure the lesson content and song list is right for you. The easy-to-use software interface looks the same whether you use a computer or tablet. This was the easiest and most modern-looking software interface of all the products we tested. It will seem familiar to someone who uses mobile applications for learning or playing games.


5. Yousician: A great app with a fun learning style

Yousician: Best online piano lessons with a fun learning style

(Image credit: Yousician)

Yousician

If you want to make learning entertaining, this is a good choice

Reasons to Buy

Turns learning into a game
Good selection of tracks
Can be combined with other instrument learning

Reasons to Avoid

Suffers from latency issues

We get it - sometimes learning piano just isn't much fun, especially if you're trying to motivate yourself or a less enthusiastic student. Yousician stands out because it gamifies the learning process, letting you earn stars and rewards for playing every day. It also challenges you to unlock new tiers of lessons and content, so acts as a gentle challenge too.

There's loads to like here besides. The interface is clean and easy to use, the range of tracks available to play is pleasingly broad, and everything is colorful and well explained. The game-y style does mean that you don't really get the proper experience of learning notation from the start, and this only opens up at 'level three' so we think other apps, while less fun, give you a better grounding from the start.

It runs fine on most platforms, but we did notice some latency on the Apple version, and this kind of thing can really ruin an experience, as it completely throws out your timing. Overall, it's great, though. 


6. Piano With Willie: A good, solid series of lessons for adults

Piano With Willie: Best online piano lessons for adults

(Image credit: PianoWithWillie)

PianoWithWillie

Offers more traditional piano lessons for adults seeking more interaction

Reasons to Buy

Genre-specific lesson plans
An interactive option 
You’ll need to track your own progress

Reasons to Avoid

Expensive when compared to other options 

PianoWithWillie is available for purchase on a monthly, quarterly or annual subscription basis. It isn’t the most cost-effective online piano course, but there are thousands of lessons that help you learn a variety of music genres, including jazz, blues, gospel, latin, funk, rock and classical.

There are also lessons on how to improvise and arrange music, which are rare topics for online piano courses. One-on-one Skype lessons are available for people who still want the personal attention normally associated with face-to-face piano instruction.

We recommend this software more for adults than young children because of the lack of progress tracking. PianoWithWillie works better with self-motivated individuals who complete practice lessons without being prompted by the software. However, it does track your progress within each lesson and displays a percentage of completion before you start the next lesson.


7. ArtistWorks: Piano with Christie Peery: Best for classical music

ArtistWorks: Piano with Christie Peery: Best online piano lessons for classical music

(Image credit: ArtistWorks)

ArtistWorks: Piano with Christie Peery

Fantastic online piano lessons for learning classical music

Reasons to Buy

Personalized feedback via video
Work with tutors to develop your skill 

Reasons to Avoid

No immediate feedback as you play
You need a camera and metronome to get started

The Online Piano School with Christie Peery is the most comprehensive classical piano course on the web. There are hundreds of lessons for every experience level that you can take at your own pace using the ArtistWorks Video Exchange platform.

When you finish a section of lessons, submit a video and Christie personally reviews your video and gives you personalized feedback about how to improve. ArtistWorks, as the name suggests, puts its talent at the fore and lets you interact with skilled tutors, making this a great choice for those looking for a more traditional piano-learning experience.

The monthly price decreases with longer subscriptions, a 3-month subscription is $35 per month and the 12-month subscription is $23 per month. Before starting the lessons, purchase your own metronome, 88-key keyboard or piano and a video recording device to capture your practice sessions so you can submit them for feedback.


8. Skoove: A good all-round experience

Skoove: Best online piano lessons for all-round learning

(Image credit: Skoove)

Skoove

While it never excels at any one thing, Skoove is still a good option

Reasons to Buy

Beginner lessons help develop a broad range of skills
High quality backing tracks

Reasons to Avoid

Occasionally confusing interface
Doesn't do note duration

Skoove is one of the big names in piano learning, but we weren't as impressed with it as many of the other apps in our list. While it has all the features you'd expect, it doesn't excel in any particular area, and we also found the interface a little lacking when compared to its rivals. 

The beginner course brings together a lot of different concepts into a basic series of lessons. While this aims to give you a broad knowledge of piano as quickly as possible, the flipside is that it feels incredibly scattershot, so you don't get change to ease into any particular concept.

While there are some excellent backing tracks on here, and the audio sounds fantastic, we took issue with the way you read the music on screen. It simply runs from left to right, emulating the experience of reading sheet music, and that means you don't know what's coming up when you reach the end of the stave. Realistic, perhaps, but we prefer the scrolling display seen in other apps.


How we tested online piano lessons and piano learning apps

Our testing process for online piano lessons started with evaluating how easily each product can be purchased, downloaded and installed. Once the software was downloaded on our testing computer, we looked for all available features and took note of how easy it was to switch between lessons and songs. After we were comfortable navigating the software or app, we started taking beginner lessons. 

We didn’t have the time to advance our piano knowledge from beginner to advanced lessons with each software, but we did skip ahead to more advanced lessons and song titles to make sure that purchasing monthly and lifetime subscriptions would be worth the investment. We also tested how easy it was to use a MIDI keyboard when the software allowed for that.

How much do online piano lessons cost? 

The online piano courses we reviewed require a monthly, semi-annual, annual or lifetime subscription. Face-to-face lessons are better customized, but they are more expensive and require traveling to your teacher’s practice studio. An average cost for in-person lessons is around $20 per half-hour lesson, which can add up quickly if you take one lesson per week.

 Online lessons range from $10 to $50 per month depending on how long you subscribe and how comprehensive the lesson plan is. Even the most expensive online piano lessons are cheaper than face-to-face instruction, and you can take them at your own pace and in the comfort of your home. 

Important features of piano learning software

MIDI compatibility

The best online piano software allows you to use a MIDI-compatible keyboard to track your progress in real time while you take lessons. The software can identify the specific notes you missed so that you can go back and practice the areas that are giving you the most trouble. Any keyboard that has a MIDI output or USB port is MIDI-compatible. WiFi and Bluetooth are also sometimes an option and will allow you to connect your piano wirelessly to a computer or tablet, if you decide to use a piano learning app.

Metronome and adjustable tempo

Learning the hardest parts of your favorite song can be easier if you slow it down. The best software titles allow you to adjust the tempo to help you work through those rough patches. Using a metronome while you practice will improve your ability to play songs at the tempo they were written, and it will also help you keep the tempo consistent throughout the song.

Song requests

Online piano software that allows you to request specific song titles adds value for someone who wants to buy a yearly or permanent subscription. Learning songs that are familiar and fun keeps you motivated.

Tools for educators

Piano lesson software can be used by teachers who want to build a hybrid curriculum for students who have a hard time making it to face-to-face lessons. Lesson software that has tools for educators can allow teachers to track students’ progress remotely and recommend lessons and songs to keep them motivated.

Online sheet music catalogs: A valuable tool 

The best piano learning programs we tested have huge libraries of sheet music you can use for practice. In some cases you can print out the music or download it to a tablet. However, if you want a song that isn’t included in your piano learning curriculum, you might find it at one of the best online sources for printable and downloadable sheet music:

MusicNotes

This online catalog contains more than 300,000 arrangements that span a wide variety of musical genres. Each song costs around $5 and can be printed using a desktop computer or mobile device. There are also iOS and Android apps that allow you to take the sheet music you purchase to a recital or piano lesson. The app also allows you to loop troublesome sections of an arrangement and mark up the score with notes to help you remember rhythm and key changes.

The Mutopia Project

Most of the sheet music selections in the Mutopia catalog are classical and baroque compositions, but they are all free to print, copy, distribute and perform because they are in the public domain. All arrangements can be downloaded in PDF or MIDI formats, and if you use LilyPond composition software to write and arrange music, you can download an editable LilyPond to alter the arrangement. There are more than 2,000 titles in this catalog, but only around 700 are specifically for piano.

Best metronomes for piano learning

A metronome is an important practice tool for beginner and professional musicians alike. The best piano learning programs we tested have metronomes built into their interfaces. Even so, we recommend getting a separate metronome that has more features than the ones included in the software. Here are some of our favorite digital metronomes:

Soundbrenner pulse

This unique wearable metronome represents the best technological advancement in time keeping since the inception of digital metronomes. It is infinitely customizable and vibrates seven times stronger than a smartphone. The companion mobile app allows you to set the metronome to vibrate or flash, and you can create a setlist library with your favorite practice songs. You attach the silent, watch-like device to your arm, wrist or leg with the supplied strap and either tap the tempo into the wearable or set a tempo with the app. At $100, it's pricey, but it’s a worthy investment for someone with long-term practice goals.

Pro metronome app

Pro Metronome is free and works on iOS and Android devices. This easy-to-use app has a practice mode that gradually increases the tempo for a customizable length of time to help you work through a tricky phrase. There are 13 tone options, including the all-important cowbell, or you can set the app to flash on your phone. The upgraded version of the app costs $4 and includes a rhythm coach feature, sub-divisions and polyrhythms, but the free version has all the basic functionality you need to practice simple arrangements.