Learning to play a musical instrument continues to be a popular pastime for both children and adults, complete beginners and returning learners.
Here we look at the advantages and disadvantages of learning to play the piano using online services, along with listing some popular services.
- Why Learn the Piano Online?
- How to Learn the Piano Online
- Disadvantages of Leaning Piano Online
- Popular Online Piano Lesson Services
Why Learn the Piano Online?
There are several reasons why online learning is gaining in popularity over more traditional methods such as visiting a music teacher on a regular basis or attending a college or music school.
Most people now have a good Internet service with unlimited (or high) quota and a fast, reliable connection, so it has become far easier to use online services instead of offline ones.
Particularly with the recent pandemic lockdowns, people have spent more time at home and have been looking for pastimes to occupy themselves.
Learning piano online allows you to learn from the comfort of your own home, at any time that suits you, rather than having to book a regular teaching slot with a teacher, travel to their residence or have them in your home, and so on. You can even continue learning when you are not 100% well, and are not reliant on the health and availability of others.
Instead of having to book a regular time slot with a teacher, perhaps at inconvenient times, and then attend even if you not fully fit, online piano lessons let you study and practice when you want and are able to, more easily fitting around your lifestyle and other commitments.
Online piano courses may well work out to be less expensive than traditional lessons because you are not paying for a human teacher’s time. That said, course prices can vary considerably depending on their quality and what they offer, so you still need to find something which works for you and is affordable for the longer term.
4. Quality of Instruction
Of course there are high quality, dedicated piano teachers although this choice may be limited in the local area. Online piano courses feature experienced instructors with more varied teaching styles than may be available in a student’s locality.
5. Variety of Resources
There are definite advantages to having a real-world piano tutor but it has to be considered that not all personalities or teaching styles ‘fit’ a student, which could lead to upset or even giving up.
By contrast, online piano courses are often more flexible, and can draw on a diverse range of teaching styles and methods to help the musician learn.
Online piano courses often provide a variety of resources, such as video lessons, interactive exercises, and sheet music, which can help you learn in a more engaging way.
Many online piano courses have communities where learners can connect with each other, share their progress, and get feedback from fellow pianists.
Of course it’s possible to do this in the offline world, and many teachers do organise gatherings and performances for their students, but with an online system the community is already there, if the learner wants it.
How to Learn the Piano Online
Here are the steps you should take to be successful learning the piano online.
1. Get a digital piano or keyboard
If you have no piano or appropriate music keyboard to practice on at home, you won’t be able to take any online piano lessons.
You don’t have to spend a huge amount of money to begin with. Look at an entry level digital piano or a music keyboard with full size, touch sensitive keys and at least 76 keys. You will also need a stand and a bench and a space in your home where you can practice without distractions.
2. Find a reputable online piano course
There are many online piano courses available, such as Piano Marvel, Playground Sessions, and Simply Piano. Choose a course that suits your level and learning style.
You may not know what the style and system of a particular online course is until you start using it, so look for free trials and avoid being tied in to a lengthy contract (even if it works out cheaper in the long run) until you are certain you want to continue using it.
Piano learning mobile apps may offer some level of instruction but they are generally better at supplementing other more advanced teaching methods rather than an end in themselves.
3. Set up a practice schedule
Try to set a schedule to practice, ideally every day, so you really start to learn what you are being taught and develop technique, musicality and muscle memory. If you are serious about improving and reaching a higher level of proficiency, you should not skimp on this.
4. Follow the lessons
Work through the online lessons and be sure to practice the exercises and pieces given. Don’t be tempted to rush through them, trying to get to a more advanced stage, until you are feeling confident at each stage. Learning to play an instrument is not a race, and the quality and consistency of your playing is far more important than trying to get to a high level but ending up with poor technique and execution.
5. Join a community
There are many online musician communities which can help and encourage learning musicians. This might be in a traditional forum or social media group. Don’t be afraid to look around until you find one which feels right, but also be aware that (sadly) there may always be some friction and ‘trolling’ in any online gathering. Stay positive and on-topic and block out the noise and bluster, and you can find this an enriching experience.
6. Get feedback
Try to get feedback on your playing from a qualified teacher or other experienced pianists. You can record yourself playing and share the video with a teacher or community for feedback.
Disadvantages of Learning Piano Online
It is important to understand that there can be negative or less desirable aspects to trying to learn the piano online. You should weigh these up and decide if you have the right personality and are in the best circumstances to overcome them:
1. Lack of in-person interaction
There are definite advantages to having a real human teacher sitting next to you while you are practicing or performing pieces you are learning on, such as immediate feedback, correction and guidance. It means you may develop bad playing habits or gloss over important techniques, allowing them to become more engrained, because no-one is there to point them out to you when they happen.
2. Technical issues
You need to have and maintain a decent Internet connection plus the computer equipment required to run the online course materials. If anything goes wrong it can scupper the entire learning process.
3. Limited access to resources
Some online piano courses may have limited access to certain resources, such as advanced repertoire or high-level technique training. This can make it harder to progress to more advanced levels of playing.
4. Lack of accountability
Without a physical teacher to hold you accountable, it can be easy to lose motivation and become inconsistent with your piano practice.
You need to honestly assess whether you are the sort of person who can motivate themselves over the long term, even when they’re not feeling at their best, or who may let practice and lessons slide and become disjointed. Don’t try to kid yourself as you are the only one who will suffer.
5. Less personalised instruction
Online piano courses may not provide the same level of personalised instruction as traditional piano lessons, as the instructor cannot physically observe your technique or provide tailored feedback.
Popular Online Piano Lesson Services
There are a number of established online piano lesson services available. Here are just a few:
Playground Sessions is an online piano lesson platform that offers a comprehensive curriculum of video lessons, interactive exercises, and popular songs to learn. The platform uses gamification to keep learners engaged and motivated, and provides instant feedback on your playing through a virtual keyboard.
Piano Marvel is another online piano lesson platform that offers a variety of resources, including video lessons, a large library of sheet music, and a gamified practice mode that allows you to track your progress. The platform also provides personalized feedback on your playing through its proprietary technology, which evaluates your timing, rhythm, and accuracy.
Flowkey is an online piano lesson service that offers a large library of songs and exercises, as well as interactive video lessons and sheet music. The platform provides feedback on your playing in real-time, and allows you to adjust the tempo and difficulty of each exercise to suit your level.
Simply Piano is an app-based online piano lesson service that offers a step-by-step curriculum, gamified lessons, and personalized feedback. The app uses audio recognition technology to evaluate your playing, and provides instant feedback on your timing and accuracy.
Skoove is an online piano lesson platform that offers a large library of songs and exercises, as well as interactive video lessons and personalized feedback. The platform uses artificial intelligence to provide real-time feedback on your playing, and adjusts the difficulty level of each exercise based on your progress.
Please note these are not affiliated links.
There’s no doubt that the development of cheaper digital pianos, more powerful computers and reliable Internet connections have opened up a wealth of possibilities for the budding pianist.
Online lessons can seem like an attractive option, particularly for those whose lifestyle makes more traditional learning difficult.
That said, it’s important to look at the possible cons as well as the pros, because online learning is not for everyone.
If you can, talk to musician friends you trust and see their opinion. It is important to make an informed choice so your learning potential is maximised.
Even so, there’s no shame in changing what teaching method you opt for if you find that one system doesn’t work for you.