If you are a budding Mozart or just want to lay down some easy tracks for an indie game, you don’t have to have a personal piano instructor in your area to learn piano. There are now brilliant online piano lessons and piano learning apps available. So whether you’re a beginner or intermediate looking to brush-up on your techniques, we’ve reviewed the best online piano lessons for you. Learning to be a keyboard wizard has never been easier.
Playground Sessions has great lessons for novice and advanced players. This software uses a modern interface and impressive list of popular songs to keep you engaged.VIEW DEAL ON Playground Sessions
If you’ve always wanted to learn piano and either haven’t been able to afford the hourly lessons or you’ve found it hard to find the time, then learning to play piano online from the comfort of your own home is a great place to start.
You’re able to learn the piano at your own pace at a time that suits you, while the step-by-step guides provided by the best piano lessons online will allow you to effectively play beginner songs in less than an hour. Learning to play piano online is also a good way to decide whether you like playing the piano. It also means you can mess about have fun without the pressure of an instructor looking over your shoulder.
To assess online piano lessons we considered what you would learn from the curriculum, the range of music that the lessons taught you, how easy it was to access the lessons, as well as, how easy the lessons were to understand. We also looked at what levels of knowledge the website was best for.
We found the best online piano lesson is the Playground Sessions. This takes a unique approach to keep students interested with a curriculum focused on getting you playing the instrument before you get bogged down in too much music theory. This means it is a really fun piano lesson plan that kids - and people who just want to play music without learning the deeper truths.
1. Playground Sessions: best overall
Great online piano lessons that are a lot of fun and have a great song library
Playground Sessions takes a unique approach to keep students interested. The curriculum is focused on getting you playing the instrument before you get bogged down in too much music theory.
That means you will be learning to play songs before you learn to read music. 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 relatable 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.
There are three options for purchasing Playground Sessions: monthly subscription, annual subscription or lifetime membership. The one-time payment for lifetime membership allows you to move through the lessons at your own pace. In addition, multiple family members can learn piano on the same software platform.
- Read the review: Playground Sessions
2. Piano Marvel: best value
An online piano lesson site that with low subscription fees and small easy lessons
Piano Marvel gives you access to thousands of exercises and more than 1,500 songs for a monthly fee that is less than you would pay for one 30-minute face-to-face lesson. The lessons fall under two main categories – method and technique.
This software breaks the lessons into small and manageable chunks. You can use any MIDI-compatible keyboard to take the interactive piano lessons and track your progress through the lesson plan.
This piano learning software does a good job of engaging students immediately with the first lesson. Once you go through the easy configuration process to ensure your keyboard is properly talking to your computer and the software, you will start playing right away. The lessons are set up like games, and you’ll be awarded trophies based on how accurately you navigate each lesson. Piano Marvel lets you share your progress and achievements on Facebook and Twitter, which can be an important motivational tool for young adults.
The song library includes titles from all genres of music, including jazz, blues, classical, holiday, popular and rock ’n’ roll. A wide variety of songs can be downloaded for free, including video tutorials and sheet music, but most of them are classical selections.
- Read the review: Piano Marvel
3. Flowkey: best for young people
Great online piano lessons for a MIDI and acoustic piano
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 as with most online piano software, you can try the software for free for 30 days to make sure the lesson content and song list is right for you. Flowkey’s free trial limits the number of songs and lessons you can use, but you have access to browse the full list of songs and lessons.
This is the only online piano software we tested that can track your progress with a MIDI-capable keyboard and an acoustic piano. Flowkey can access the microphone on your tablet or laptop and use it to listen to your acoustic piano while you take lessons, giving real-time feedback on which notes you played wrong. That real-time tracking is also available if you use a keyboard with a MIDI connection or USB output.
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.
- Read the review: Flowkey
4. Piano With Willie: Best for adults
Best online piano lessons for adults and learning specific genres
Piano With Willie 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. Piano With Willie 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.
- Read the review: Piano With Willie
5. The Online Piano School with Christie Peery: Best for classical music
Best online piano lessons for learning classical music
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. This service doesn’t offer lessons for other genres of music, but if you want to learn to play classical music, this is a great option.
You can purchase a 3, 6 or 12-month subscription for less than what you’d pay for in-person lessons. 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.
- Read the review: The Online Piano School with Christie Peer
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Why trust us about online piano lessons?
We spent 60 hours taking online piano lessons to help you find the right piano learning software. Our testing staff has more than 20 years of experience as working musicians and have taken countless face-to-face lessons and online lessons for a variety of instruments. Luckily, the piano is not the primary instrument for any of our test staff, so we could effectively take beginning piano lessons, compare important features and make recommendations as novice piano players and advanced-level musicians.
We are also aware of the advantages and disadvantages of face-to-face instruction. Software instruction may not be the best option for everyone, but we found a few products that couple the advantages of software learning with the option to ask questions of a real human. As musicians, we were interested to see how long it would take to learn a beginner song on an unfamiliar instrument. Although we had a good amount of music theory knowledge before starting the lessons, it didn’t apply directly to the piano. Most of the products we tested gave us enough instruction to effectively play beginner songs in less than an hour.
In addition to our exhaustive research and testing protocols, we interviewed experts and people who use piano learning software in a professional capacity to stay up-to-date on all the latest features. We talked with Ryan Conger, professional keyboard player and music instructor at Fast Forward Charter High School, about how he uses software to supplement face-to-face instruction. He told me he uses online piano tutorials to supplement his classes to “give students some additional resources to utilize on their own.”
We also asked him about his recommendation for music theory knowledge as it pertains to beginner piano students. He told us, “I prefer beginning students to focus on the tactile feel and sound of the instrument.” He was careful to point out that some theory knowledge is helpful before starting piano lessons, “but taking even a little piano will help music theory sink in more quickly.” So, if you are nervous about taking online piano lessons because you have little or no experience with music or music theory, know that piano lessons are a great visual resource that can help you understand rhythm and melody.
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 online piano learning software
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.
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.
How to use a MIDI keyboard with piano learning software
MIDI is an acronym for musical instrument digital interface. The best piano lesson software allows you to use a MIDI-compatible keyboard with the lessons, and it tracks your progress in real time as you move through the lessons. MIDI connections started appearing on electronic keyboards in the mid-1980s and became a standard feature in the early '90s. Chances are, if you have an electronic keyboard in your storage room collecting dust, it has a MIDI connection you can use to take piano lessons online.
If your keyboard has a MIDI output, purchase a MIDI to USB interface cable to connect it to your computer or tablet. Most of the newest keyboards have a USB connection on the back panel that interacts with your computer the same as a MIDI connection, so it wouldn't require an interface cable, only a standard USB cable. Some have Bluetotth connectivity for a wireless connection too. With the advent of music production and composition software came a new class of keyboard without built-in sounds but designed to interact with software or piano learning apps. Those keyboards, commonly referred to as MIDI controllers, are much less expensive than their musical counterparts, don’t require power from a wall socket and take up less space in your practice room.
Two important features to look for in a MIDI-compatible keyboard are velocity sensitivity and the number of keys. Velocity sensitive keyboards track how hard you strike a key and send that information to the software, resulting in a range of volumes. Velocity sensitivity is an important feature for students transitioning from beginner lessons to intermediate and advanced lessons. MIDI controllers come as small as 25 keys, but we recommend using a keyboard with at least 61 keys for piano lessons. A full-size piano has 88 keys, but most beginner and intermediate lessons only use the middle 49 to 61 keys.
MIDI controllers for piano learning software
When you're choosing a MIDI-compatible keyboard to use with piano learning software, pay attention to the key feel and built-in sounds. An acoustic piano has 88 weighted keys, and many digital piano manufacturers have done a good job simulating both the feel and sound of an acoustic piano. MIDI-compatible keyboards with 88 weighted keys start at around $400 and go up to thousands of dollars, depending on the number and quality of built-in sounds. MIDI keyboards without built-in sounds have the same software control as digital pianos but are much more cost effective and portable, and they have a varying number of keys. Here are our favorite MIDI controllers to use with piano learning software:
This digital piano has 88 weighted keys and a USB output to connect it directly to a computer without an additional MIDI interface. It has only 10 built-in sounds, but the piano sound profiles use Yamaha’s Advanced Wave Memory sampling to sound as realistic as possible. This is one of the most compact 88-key digital pianos, but at 25 pounds, it might be a bit too heavy for young students to maneuver around a small bedroom. Yamaha’s P-series keyboards are a great entrance into the world of portable digital pianos, and the P-45 is a great place to start.
This controller keyboard doesn’t have a fully weighted key bed or any built-in sounds, but it’s a lightweight and perfectly suitable controller for the best piano learning software we tested. The semi-weighted keys are the same size as the keys on an acoustic piano, and they velocity sensitive, which means they track how hard you hit the keys and send that volume information to software. The Keystation series controllers come in 49-, 61- and 88-key versions and have a standard USB output to connect to a home computer or laptop.
Practice tracking apps
One of the most important aspects of using software to learn an instrument is self-motivation. Because there isn’t a teacher sitting next to you, it is hard to keep track of how long you practice and what you practice outside the prescribed lesson plan. These apps have tools to track progress, record practice sessions and manage a practice routine.
Modacity is a practice tracker, audio recorder and note taking app with an organized and easy-to-use interface. It allows you to customize a practice plan and tracks your progress with statistical data and audio recordings which speed up or slow down to help you fine tune your lessons. There is a free version for iPads and iPhones, but the premium version costs $8.99 per month and includes a chat feature that allows you to send practice questions to professional musicians and get specialized feedback about how to overcome a troublesome topic.
Music Journal Pro
Music Journal Pro is available for Apple devices for less than $7. It has a practice timer for up to two hours, which continues to run even if you open a different app to text or make a phone call. Music Journal Pro creates bar graphs that show how many minutes you practice each song or scale. You export the graphs to email to your instructor or archive them in a different location. This app also has a metronome and tempo adjustment feature which allows you to slow a song down, and the app tracks the beats per minute (BPM), so you can set a goal and view your progress with the BPM chart.
Online sheet music catalog
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:
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.
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.
Apps for Sight Reading & Ear Training
Sight reading and ear training are important principles of music theory and a necessary part of any good piano learning curriculum. The best piano learning programs we tested incorporate both ear training and sight reading, but if you are looking for some supplementary resources to motivate you to practice, here are some good mobile apps.
Tenuto is a helpful ear training app from the developers of musictheory.net. It’s available for iPhone and iPad for less than $4 and has a user-friendly interface that includes a virtual keyboard to help you visualize chords. The exercises are available offline, so you can brush up on your ear training from a comfortable park bench or on the bus ride to work. The exercises are fully customizable to help you practice the key signatures and scales that are giving you the most trouble. Challenge Mode allows you to add a time limit to the lessons and motivates you to try to beat your previous high score.
Music Tutor is a free app for Android and iOS devices that improves your sight-reading skills with speed and accuracy drills. You can customize the range of notes you want to practice, and the app gives you instant feedback about accuracy and response time in one-, five- or 10-minute sessions. The exercises include notes up to four ledger lines above or below the staff for any of the clefs. You enter the notes by using the virtual keyboard or a connected MIDI controller, or by pressing the letter note values. Music Tutor also helps develop your ear training by playing the sound of the note, but you can turn that feature off if it becomes a distraction.
Music notation apps
You don’t learn to notate or transcribe music until you get to intermediate and advanced curriculum. However, it is an important part of learning to play an instrument, and the sooner you learn it, the better. We tested and ranked the best music notation software for a home computer, but here are some easy-to-use mobile apps to help you get started writing and archiving your own piano sheet music.
Notion is our favorite music notation software for home computers, and it’s also available for iPhone and iPad for less than $15. The mobile app doesn’t have the same comprehensive selection of notation tools as the desktop version, but it is easy to use and perfectly suited for quickly jotting down ideas and short musical phrases. This app has the best-sounding playback engine of all the notation apps, so when you write a piano part, you can hear it played back on a Steinway grand piano. Notion has a virtual keyboard to help you input notes if you prefer that method to handwriting on a grand staff or using the drag-and-drop feature.
If you want a free notation app that works on Android devices, Notation Pad is the best option. It is also available free for iOS devices. The free version has all the tools to create simple compositions with the touch-friendly interface. The instrument packs cost extra, but you don’t need them for notating simple piano parts. This app also allows you to add lyrics to a piano composition, and it exports PDF or PNG files to share with your instructors and friends via email.
Best metronome 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:
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.
Backing tracks for piano
Backing tracks are a fun and effective way to practice improvisation, ear training and scale theory. Most online piano lessons we tested don’t introduce improvisation and ear training techniques until the intermediate and advanced lessons. However, we recommend using backing tracks to improve rhythm while practicing scales you learn in beginner lessons.
More on Online Learning
MusiClock is available for iPhone and iPad for less than $9 and includes helpful tools for beginners and advanced players alike. The user interface is attractive and easy to use, and the app has a virtual keyboard for practicing scales on the go. The backing tracks sound great and include popular musical genres like pop, blues and jazz. There are eight different scales, including major, minor, blues and pentatonic, and the interface is a helpful aid for visualizing scale theory.
The iReal Pro app is available for iOS, Android and Mac operating systems for less than $20. It comes with 50 accompaniment styles, but the 12 blues backing tracks are a $3 add-on for mobile devices. This app helps you create your own chord charts and upload them to the forum to share with other music students and professional players. iReal Pro doesn’t have many features for beginning piano students, but once you transition to intermediate and advanced lessons, improvisation practice is a crucial step to help improve your ear and give you the confidence to start playing with other musicians.
This online loop library has an intuitive interface that allows you to filter a vast library of backing tracks by musical genre and choose which instruments are excluded and included in the track. Once you choose which instruments you want to play along with, you can further filter the results by tempo, meter and key. The website has a community board with tips about improvisation and ear training, and a forum with virtual open mic sessions that allow you to jam with other musicians.
This app for iPad and iPhone has hundreds of drum loops that cover most musical genres. The user interface is easy to use and allows you to adjust the tempo and add your favorite grooves to a list for quick and easy access. You play the loops through the speaker on your mobile device or sync to a TV or speaker system via Bluetooth or Airplay. The app costs $1 and includes plenty of tracks for practicing improvisation and scales, or you can purchase expansion packs with additional drum loops in the genre of your preference for $1 each.
Virtual Piano Apps
The best online piano lesson platforms we tested include a virtual piano, which allows you to take lessons without a keyboard or acoustic piano. If you don’t enjoy the poor usability of the included virtual piano, or you want to practice scales or melodies on the go, here are some virtual piano mobile apps.
Virtuoso Piano Free 4
This virtual piano app is free and doesn’t display annoying ads like other free piano apps we reviewed. It is only available for iPhone and iPad, but it has eight different piano sounds sampled from actual instruments. Virtuoso Piano is compatible with piano learning programs, like Flowkey and Playground Sessions, that accept MIDI over Bluetooth and MIDI over Wi-Fi. The keyboard is velocity sensitive and has acoustic controls to change the sound of the instruments. This app also allows background playback, so you can play along to songs downloaded on your phone or tablet.
This virtual piano app is available for Android and iOS devices for free. It doesn’t sound as good as Virtuoso Piano, but it has an organ, synthesizer, Rhodes piano and string ensemble sounds. Perfect Piano supports multiplayer connections, so you can play piano with other players around the world and chat with them in the app. This app also has a recording function to export a MIDI or audio file. The waterfall display feature is helpful for improving rhythm and melody with accompanying visual info that simulates game-style learning.
Audio recording apps for piano
The best piano learning apps we tested have simple recording functions, but if you want to record your practice sessions on the go or layer multiple piano tracks, a multi-track recording app is the best option. These apps have a virtual piano and also record the sound coming from an acoustic piano or electronic keyboard using the microphone in your mobile device.
This free app for Android and iOS devices lets you record an unlimited number of projects and save them on a secure cloud. There are more than 120 virtual instruments and more than 2,000 royalty-free loops to help improve your improvisation skills. There’s an easy-to-use collaboration feature that allows you to record a piano track and send it to other BandLab users who can then add other instruments like drums, guitar or other keyboard sounds.
GarageBand doesn’t have the unique collaboration features found in BandLab, but the virtual keyboard is much more responsive. This app is only available on Apple devices, but it allows you to record up to 32 tracks per session and has a great selection of virtual instruments, including acoustic pianos, synthesizers, organs and electric pianos. Once you record a piano track, you add the virtual session drummer to the recording and it analyzes the tempo and style of your piano part to create a customized drum track to accompany it.
- Playground Sessions
- Piano Marvel
- Piano With Willie
- The Online Piano School with Christie Peery
- Hoffman Academy
|Product||Price||Overall Rating||Student Experience||Curriculum||Help and Support||Lowest Monthly Cost||Month-to-Month Cost||Annual Subscription||Motivation & Reinforcement||Real-Time Practice Tracking||Printable Music & Worksheets||Social Media Integration||MIDI Compatible||Educational Value||Modern Songs||Skill Levels||Sight-Reading||Song Requests|
|Playground Sessions||View Deal||5/5||10||10||10||$9.99||$17.99||$119.88||A||✓||✓||✓||✓||A-||✓||All Skill Levels||✓||✓|
|Piano Marvel||View Deal||5/5||10||9.8||6.3||$12.99||$12.99||$110.99||A-||✓||✓||✓||✓||A||✓||All Skill Levels||✓||✓|
|Piano With Willie||View Deal||3.5/5||5.3||10||10||$29.97||$29.97||$299||B||-||✓||✓||-||A||✓||All Skill Levels||✓||-|
|Flowkey||View Deal||3.5/5||6.3||7.5||10||$19||$19||$120||B||✓||-||-||✓||B||✓||All Skill Levels||-||✓|
|Skoove||View Deal||3.5/5||6||7.5||10||$9.99||$19.99||$119.99||B-||✓||✓||✓||B||✓||All Skill||✓|
|PianoKeyz||View Deal||3/5||4.8||7.5||8.8||$9.95||$99||$229||B||-||✓||✓||-||B||✓||All Skill Levels||-||✓|
|LearnPianoin30Days.com||View Deal||3/5||3.5||8.8||8.8||$27||$27||$324||B||-||✓||-||-||B||✓||All Skill Levels||✓||-|
|The Online Piano School with Christie Peery||View Deal||2.5/5||4.5||6||8.8||$23||$35||$279||B-||-||$||✓||-||A-||-||All Skill Levels||✓||-|
|Hoffman Academy||View Deal||2.5/5||3.5||6.8||5||$18||$18||$179||B+||-||$||-||-||B||-||Beginner||✓||-|
|OnlinePianist||View Deal||2.5/5||2.8||7.3||5||$4.99||$9.99||$59.95||C+||-||✓||✓||-||C-||✓||All Skill Levels||-||✓|