Can You Learn Piano From an App?

By May 12, 2021News

Online learning has never been more popular, and piano educators haven’t been ignorant to that trend. You can find piano lessons on YouTube, work with piano teachers in real time online, and yes, download apps.

But are piano apps any good? This article will explain some of the pros and cons of piano lesson apps, and we will compare online platforms with live, in-person teaching.

If you’d like to learn more about piano lessons in Cleveland, or if you would like a free trial lesson with a piano teacher in Aurora, OH, please get in touch!

Can You Learn Piano with an App?

Yes, technically, you can learn piano with an app. Modern piano apps will teach you how to read notes in both treble and bass clefs, play those notes on the keys of the piano, use good hand position, play chords, and so forth. Some apps will teach you basic music theory (like intervals, keys, key signatures), and some will help you learn how to improvise and play by ear. You can liken piano learning apps to Duolingo – you will learn valuable, useful information that applies to the discipline you would like to pursue.

Limitations of Learning with an App

Each app has its own learning method, and there is no variation from it. You will only learn technique one way, you can only learn the notes and keyboard topography through their chosen method, and you will only play the drills and pieces included in the app. There is no room for variation, and depending on your learning style and preferences, this may be an issue.

Furthermore, you will not be able to ask questions. What if the concept of 4/4 time does not make sense to you in Simply Piano or Flowkey? If the app’s explanation leaves you confused, you’ll have to search online, watch YouTube videos, etc. – it can be inefficient and time consuming.

Another shortcoming is repertoire selection. Many apps have beginner, intermediate, and advanced music loaded into the app that you will learn how to play, but if you don’t like that music, or if you would benefit from other pieces with different challenges, you won’t ever know. Googling “good beginner piano music” will only lead to frustration, since most blogs list ridiculous selections like “Fur Elise” and “Claire de Lune” – in all seriousness, look it up. Those pieces are not for beginners!

What is Your Definition of “Learning” Piano?

If you would like to learn the basics of music and play a handful of tunes, learning the piano through an app might be the right fit for you. Let’s return to the Duolingo example – if you use Duolingo every day for a period of time, you’ll be able to speak and understand another language at a rudimentary level. Many instrumentalists, like a guitarist, for instance, will want to add basic piano to their repertoire.

If you want to become an advanced, or “fluent,” pianist though, you will need to work with an experienced teacher. This would be the same step as conversational or immersive linguistic study.

Are Private Piano Lessons Better Than Apps?

Yes, you will learn the piano on a deeper level, in less time, if you work with a piano teacher. Of course, that partially depends on the skill of your teacher, but at the Aurora School of Music, our teachers have earned advanced degrees and acquired years of professional teaching experience.

Teachers Can Respond To Your Specific Needs

Working with a teacher is a dynamic learning experience. They will adjust their teaching to your responses, questions, and specific needs, and if a concept doesn’t make sense after one explanation, they will find another angle. They can also speed up or slow down the learning progression in accordance with your progress.

An in-person teacher can also mix in new concepts gradually rather than presenting new material as a separate module. For instance, if you are working on the b flat major scale, your teacher may find it appropriate to use that scale to teach you where the tonic (I), subdominant (IV), and dominant (V) are, as well as the relative minor key and so forth. While you are learning that scale, your teacher will also be monitoring your posture, thumb cross-under, wrist position, and more.

You Can Ask Questions and Discuss Musical Concepts

Adult piano students in particular enjoy the discussion of musical concepts with a knowledgeable teacher. You can ask about composers, interpretation, technique, music theory, and so much more with an instructor. You can also also ask questions about your lesson material, and most importantly, you can take notes while you practice throughout the week and ask questions about your practice sessions.

A Qualified Teacher Will Choose Appropriate, Interesting Repertoire

Repertoire selection is one of the most important things a teacher does. This includes technical etudes and studies as well.

There is so much “real” piano music out there (not just leveled pieces in Faber, Alfred books, and others) that your teacher will be able to assign you serious and enjoyable piano music sooner than you would think. Piano teachers spend a considerable amount of time learning about keyboard literature, and they can “prescribe” pieces to you based on your level, deficiencies, and taste.

You Have Accountability

Even if you are a disciplined person who would practice the piano every day under an app’s guidance, meeting with a teacher every week keeps you honest in your pursuit of piano mastery. Not only will your lesson suffer if you don’t practice the piano consistently during the week, but your teacher will be able to diagnose specific issues with the quality of your practice.

So Are Piano Lesson Apps Worth It?

Yes, piano apps are an excellent investment for pianists-in-progress, as an addition to weekly lessons. Your teacher would be thrilled if you downloaded Yousician or a similar app and used it as a practice supplement throughout the week. Piano teachers will often use apps as an in-lesson tool when teaching young children music – it’s an interesting variable that can keep the student’s attention.

For a free 30 minute trial lesson, please get in touch at your earliest convenience. We would be thrilled to work with you, and in addition to piano, we offer voice lessons in Cleveland, guitar lessons in Cleveland, singing lessons in Aurora, and more.