Best Online Piano Lessons of 2019

Billy Bommer ·
Audio & Travel Writer
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

We spent 60 hours taking online piano lessons to help you find the best product to advance your knowledge of the instrument and important tenets of music theory. Playground Sessions is the best software for most people because it has the best combination of traditional piano lessons, music theory lessons and popular song selections. Since software doesn’t offer the same level of accountability and reinforcement as face-to-face lessons, it’s important for an online lesson to immediately engage the student. Playground Sessions’ impressive song list and relatable teaching concepts are designed to immediately motivate students.

Best Overall
Playground Sessions
Playground Sessions has great lessons for novice and advanced players alike. This software uses a modern interface and impressive list of popular songs to keep you engaged.
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Best Overall
Playground Sessions
Best Value
Piano Marvel
Piano Marvel has lessons that are broken down into small and manageable segments. For less than $15 per month, you can learn piano method and technique at your own pace.
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Best for Young Adults
Flowkey
Flowkey has a user-friendly interface and will assess your talent level and suggest appropriate lessons. The song list has plenty of popular music titles, including film, TV and video game music.
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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
Video Tutorials
Printable Music & Worksheets
Social Media Integration
Piano Teacher Tools
MIDI Compatible
Section Looping
Adjustable Tempo/Metronome
Educational Value
Technique
Modern Songs
Classic Songs
Multiple Styles
Multiple Levels
Skill Levels
Sight-Reading
Theory
Musical Notation
Song Requests
Play by Ear
Online Forums
FAQs
Email
Phone
$0.00 PlaygroundSessions
10 10 10 10
$9.99
$17.88
$149.99
A
A-
All Skill Levels
$0.00 Piano Marvel
9.6 10 10 6.3
$12
$15
$99
A-
A
All Skill Levels
-
$50.00 Piano With Willie
7.4 5.3 10 10
$36
$49
$348
B
-
-
-
-
A
All Skill Levels
-
$0.00
7.1 6.3 7.5 10
$19
$19
$120
B
-
-
-
-
B
All Skill Levels
-
-
$9.95 PianoKeyz
6.1 4.8 7.5 8.8
$9.95
$99
$229
B
-
-
-
-
-
B
All Skill Levels
-
-
-
$27.00 LearnPianoin30Days
5.9 3.5 8.8 8.8
$27
$27
-
B
-
-
-
-
-
-
B
All Skill Levels
-
-
$69.95 Amazon
5.6 4.5 6.5 8.8
$29.95
-
One Time Fee
C+
-
-
-
-
-
C+
All Skill Levels
-
-
-
-
$23.25 The Online Piano School
5.5 4.5 6 8.8
$35
$35
$240
B-
-
$
-
-
-
-
A-
-
-
All Skill Levels
-
-
-
$85.50
4.8 3.5 6.8 5
$15
$15
$149
B+
-
$
-
-
-
-
-
B
-
-
Beginner
-
-
-
$10.00
4.5 2.8 7.3 5
$9.99
$9.99
$59.95
C+
-
-
-
-
-
-
C-
All Skill Levels
-
-
-
-
-
Best Overall
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.
Pros
  • You start playing songs in the first lesson.
  • Modern user interface
  • Impressive song list
Cons
  • Limited music theory lessons
  • There is an additional charge for some popular songs.
  • The software can’t use the microphone in your computer to track progress with an acoustic piano.
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Best Value
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.
Pros
  • Low-cost subscription options
  • MIDI compatible
  • Lessons are broken into small, manageable chunks
Cons
  • You can’t permanently purchase the software
  • No online user forum
  • No live-chat or face-to-face lesson support
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Best for Young Adults
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.
Pros
  • Tracks your progress, even with an acoustic piano
  • User interface is easy to navigate
  • It has section looping
Cons
  • Limited number of music theory and sight-reading lessons
  • Fewer lesson plans than other options
  • Music is not printable
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Best for Adults
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.
Pros
  • Genre specific lesson plans
Cons
  • Expensive
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Best for 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.
Pros
  • Personalized feedback
Cons
  • Only for classical music students
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Why Trust Us? 

We spent 60 hours taking online piano lessons to help you find the right product. 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 use the advantages of software learning, while providing 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 a foreign instrument. 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 expert associations and people who use piano learning software in a professional capacity to stay up-to-date on all the latest features. I 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.”

I also asked him about his recommendation for music theory knowledge as it pertains to beginner piano students. He told me, “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 tenets of music theory, know that piano lessons are a great visual resource that can help you understand rhythm and melody.  

How We Tested 

Our testing process for online piano lessons started with evaluating how easily each product can be purchased and downloaded. 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, 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 to track progress 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

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.

Metronome & Adjustable Tempo
Learning the hardest parts of your favorite song can be easier if you slow down the song. 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.

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 to take 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. Most of the newest keyboards have a USB connection on the back panel that interacts with your computer the same as a MIDI connection but doesn’t require an interface cable, only a standard USB cable. 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. 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 how many keys it has. 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.

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
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. It’s free 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 BPM so you can set a goal and view your progress with the BPM chart.

Piano Practice Apps for Kids 

These apps don’t have the robust lesson plan included with our favorite piano learning software. However, they are a fun way to motivate kids to practice important tenets of music theory, rhythm and sight-reading.

Note Rush
Note Rush is a fun flashcard game that uses the microphone in your mobile device to give you instant feedback. It is available on Apple iOS and Android devices for less than $5. There are 15 levels of timed exercises that start with learning notes in middle C position and advance to reading notes on the full grand staff. You can also build custom levels to practice reading specific notes, including sharps and flats. Piano teachers can use the Level Designer to customize a fun homework assignment with specific note drills and track their students’ progress.

Flashnote Derby
Flashnote Derby is a colorful sight-reading game that uses a horse racing theme to help children memorize notes on a music staff. You use a MIDI keyboard or acoustic piano to play the notes on the screen, and at the end of each lesson the app gives you feedback about which notes you played wrong. It is available for iOS and Android devices, and teachers can create an account that allows them to send customized homework and track progress.

Piano Maestro
Piano Maestro is only available for iPad, but it has a fun and engaging interface with a good selection of exercises and popular songs. You use your acoustic piano, electronic keyboard or the virtual keyboard in the app to progress through the lesson plan. Teachers can use the Home Challenges feature to assign lessons and practice songs and receive weekly feedback about a student’s progress. The app is free, but some of the songs require an in-app purchase. 

Sight-Reading & Ear Training Apps 

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
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 on 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
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 either the virtual keyboard, a connected MIDI controller or by pressing the letter note values. Music Tutor also helps develop your ear training skills 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
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 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 the drag-and-drop feature.

Notation Pad
If you don’t have an iPhone or iPad and 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 exports PDF or PNG files to share with your instructors and friends via email.

Best Metronome for Piano 

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 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 automatically 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 intermediate and advanced lessons. However, we recommend using backing tracks to improve rhythm while practicing scales you learn in beginner lessons.

MusiClock
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.

iReal Pro
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.

Online Piano Teacher Directory 

The online piano lesson programs we tested have exercises for players of every skill level, and some even offer virtual face-to-face instruction via Skype. However, there are circumstances, such as preparing for an upcoming performance or recital, that warrant face-to-face instruction and human interaction. Here are some online directories with private instructors for piano and other instruments:

Music Teachers Directory
Music Teachers Directory has an easy-to-use interface that allows you to search for piano teachers and filter results by student level, area of specialization and distance from your location. Each teacher’s profile includes a short description of their experience, a photo and a link to email them with questions. This music teacher directory has the best selection of teachers among the services we reviewed, and the instructors have a wide variety of genre specialties, including rock, pop and classical piano methods. Music Teacher Directory also has a list of teachers that offer online lessons via Skype and other popular video conferencing services.

Piano Teachers Directory
If you have a hard time finding a teacher near you using Music Teachers Directory, Piano Teachers Directory is the next best option. It didn't find as many teachers in our area as Music Teachers Directory did, but the pool is small to start with. You filter your search by state and then either call or email the teacher for more information. This service has a larger list of teaching studios than other services we reviewed, and instructors can add links to their personal teaching websites.

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.

Perfect Piano
This virtual piano app is available for Android and iOS devices for free. It doesn’t sound as good as Virtuoso Piano, but it also 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.