The best online piano lessons are a great way to learn at home, especially in the current climate. There are piano learning apps for all levels of experience, from kids and beginners all the way through to experts and long-time learners. They will often feature incentives and structured lesson plans to get you started and keep you coming back regularly, and most come at affordable prices, so they don't make a huge impact on your bank balance. If you're looking for an entry point into piano lessons, to top up existing tutoring, or just to sharpen your existing skills, there is something for you on the list below.
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
So what makes for the best online piano lessons? Well, there are several types, and you should consider which of them best suits your personal circumstances. There are piano learning apps, online sites, and full software downloads that can be used offline on a laptop or home computer. Some of the better piano apps actually include interactions with teachers, and most will include pre-recorded lessons so you get some human feedback and inspiration. Both these techniques will encourage you to learn and to keep coming back, especially when combined with in-app rewards like trophies, tokens, or the ability to unlock additional songs and sheet music. For the piano lessons more focused on kids, these kinds of rewards and incentives are especially useful.
You'll also need to consider what level of commitment you want with your piano lessons. Most providers offer different levels of membership designed to suit your individual needs, and many have trial periods that allow you to test them out to see if they're a good fit. If you're serious about piano, you could opt for a lifetime membership, whereas others simply have monthly subscriptions or one-off payments for different levels of access. You should also consider what kind of piano music you want to learn, and what device you're learning on...
Another advantage of online piano lessons is their ability to work with MIDI-compatible keyboards or apps. The main difference between electronic pianos vs acoustic pianos is their portability and price. Electronic pianos make great starter options and will fit into smaller spaces and storage areas when not in use. We assessed how well the best online piano lessons utilised the features of MIDI keyboards, but some also allow you to learn on a traditional piano.
1. Playground Sessions: Best online piano lessons overall
Playground sessions has the best online piano lessons out there, with a huge amount of material for all levels of experience
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.
- Read our Playground Sessions review
2. Piano Marvel: best value online piano lessons
An online piano lesson site with low subscription fees and engaging lessons
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’s 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.
- Read our Piano Marvel review
3. Flowkey: best online piano lessons for younger pianists
Great online piano lessons for younger pianists and less experienced users
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.
- Read our Flowkey review
4. Piano With Willie: Best online piano lessons for adults
Offers more traditional piano lessons for adults seeking more interaction
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.
- Read our PianoWithWillie review
5. ArtistWorks: Piano with Christie Peery: Best for classical music
Fantastic 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. 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.
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
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.