Learning to play the piano is hard, so we tested several online piano lessons and found that one option was the best overall - however some others also offered great value for specific subsets of consumers.
People who teach themselves to play an instrument often have something or someone to emulate. We started looking at online piano lessons to see how easy it is to learn based on structure, guidance, and support. What we found is that online piano programs are designed for emulation, and thus, for self-teaching. In short, they make self-teaching easier.
Piano in 21 Days
With today's technology, teaching yourself to play an instrument, even one as complex as the piano, is much easier than it once was. Pianoforall offers the best online piano lessons because it uses today's technology in a way that works for most people without being overly complicated.
You can get started today with our #1 pick for online piano lessons. Check out the best program for learning piano here.
In addition to Pianoforall, we looked at many different online piano learning programs and narrowed them down to the top nine, which you can learn about below. We’ve chosen our top choices for multiple categories, from the best budget option to the best for jazz piano.
If you’re reading to find the best online piano lesson for you, keep reading!
1. Pianoforall (Best Overall)
You can use it on any device with no deadlines, and it's easy to transfer to other devices.
Features and Benefits
The e-books have embedded video lessons where the instructor plays something on a lower keyboard, while the upper keyboard in the picture shows which keys he hit. That, in turn, tells you which keys you should hit.
While a 61-key electronic piano will work for this (and really, for any learning method), you really ought to get a full-length, 88-key piano.
Book One of the three-book program starts with rhythms and chords, laying the foundation for improvisation and more challenging music. From there, you learn blues and rock n' roll, beginner and advanced chords, ballads, jazz, an advanced version of the blues, the foundations of classical piano, and finally, speed learning, which includes tricks for memorizing, among other things.
Perhaps one of Pianoforall's best features is that you can work on or offline, which means that if your internet connection is slow or down, or you just don't want to be online, you can still practice.
You can also email Robin Hall, Pianoforall's creator, for feedback and advice, and he will respond.
Who Is Pianoforall For?
People who want the easiest way to play piano or keyboard and have either never tickled the ivories before or who have some experience, but would like to learn more, will benefit from Pianoforall. Unlike Playground Sessions and Flowkey, Pianoforall is downloadable so you don't need to be online every time you want to work.
While many online piano-learning programs are subscription-based, you pay only a one-time fee for Pianoforall. If popular musical genres and genres like jazz are your jam, check out this program.
Read the in-depth Pianoforall review here.
2. Flowkey (Best Tech Utilization)
Perhaps the best part about Flowkey is that, once you've gained some proficiency, you can learn some of your favorite classical piano songs, regardless of the specific genre to which they belong.
Features and Benefits
Using your mobile device (smartphone or tablet), Flowkey plays a video of someone playing the song you want to learn. If you have an electric or digital piano, you can connect your device to its MIDI interface via USB and work with the program that way.
If not, though, Flowkey uses your device's mic to listen to the notes you're playing. In both cases, the program won't continue through the piece until you hit the right notes.
How do you know what keys to hit, though? Flowkey lights them up for you, which is quite helpful if you have problems reading music. Furthermore, it has three different speeds at which you can play: Slow, which allows you to learn the songs; fast, where you play at the song's original tempo; and loop, which lets you replay a passage until you get it right.
In all, Flowkey is one of the most comprehensive online piano learning programs available today.
Flowkey Free vs. Flowkey Premium
You can use Flowkey for free. However, like many apps, you get far more if you subscribe to the premium version. With the free version, you get:
- Introduction to piano
- Lessons to learn how to play with both hands
- Some intermediate piano work
- Eight songs to learn and master
However, if you purchase a premium subscription, you get all that plus the following:
- Learning and mastering chords
- Learning how to read sheet music
- Two levels of scale playing
- Access to over 1,000 piano arrangements of songs, film music, and classical work
Who Is Flowkey For?
Flowkey is excellent for beginners, advanced players, and former players who stopped for a while but are looking to get their chops back. It works well for anyone who wants to learn to play their favorite songs on a solid foundation.
You won't learn a lot of music theory, but you only need a basic grasp of theory unless you want to be a professional musician.
Read the full Flowkey review to learn more
3. Playground Sessions (Best for Jazz and Improv)
The ultimate goal of Playground Sessions is to make learning as easy and fun as possible so you want to keep practicing and learning.
Features and Benefits
This program comes with different types of lessons, including interactive lessons and video lessons. You also get access to songs and forums to help you on your way.
Like Flowkey, Playground Sessions uses your mobile device to connect to a MIDI interface or listen to you play but does not work with acoustic pianos, which can be a drawback since electronic pianos aren't cheap.
While you're using the feedback feature, the piano keys on the screen turn either red or green depending on whether you've hit the correct keys.
Besides that, your lessons are like games. The program gives you scores, visual progress, and instant feedback so you understand where you're having problems and have the desire to improve, just like you would with any game.
The video lessons from Harry Connick, Jr., and others introduce you to the interactive lessons, where you can learn chunks of songs at slow speeds until you're ready to play them at their intended tempo.
You get three levels of lessons presented as "tours:" Rookie, which has 84 lessons; Intermediate, which has 61 lessons (including 38 that deal with chords and triads); and Advanced, which has 21 lessons.
Who Is Playground Sessions for?
Anyone who wants to learn to play the piano by way of songs and wants familiar faces helping them learn will benefit from Playground Sessions. Also, because of these online piano lessons' game-like nature, this program can work for kids learning piano.
You need to subscribe to Playground Sessions, but it may well be worth it if you feel this is for you.
Read the full Playground Sessions review here.
4. Skoove (Best for Flexible Learning)
Skoove's slogan is, "Play your way," and indeed, that's what their method helps you do. While you learn the same fundamentals as you would with any other program, you really do get to play the piano your way.
Features and Benefits
Skoove breaks down its lessons in the following way:
- Get familiar with the song on deck
- Learn which keys you need to hit to play it
- Play the music in time or play along with performers
You can connect your device to a digital or electronic piano or have it listen to you play on your acoustic piano, like Flowkey. The beginner level works well for people who've never played before, and you learn your way around the piano before you really get into playing.
The intermediate and advanced levels involve learning more complex techniques and fun music. But one thing remains pretty constant, and that's the fact that each lesson comes with a song to learn.
Skoove Free vs. Skoove Premium
Skoove is similar to Flowkey in that you can use it for free or pay for more features and lessons. The free version includes:
- 25 lessons
- Unlimited time
When you upgrade to the premium version, you get:
- Over 400 lessons
- Lessons and songs updated monthly
- One-on-one support
- Special courses
Check out the full Skoove review here.
Who Is Skoove For?
This program is geared towards anyone who wants to learn the piano, people who want to relearn how to play, and those who wish to learn piano their own way.
Skoove takes a unique approach to learning to play the piano that you don't generally see in other programs. For those interested in doing their own thing, Skoove could be the program for you.
5. Piano Marvel (Best for Classical Learning)
While you can use it on digital, electronic, or acoustic pianos like most other programs, it takes an entirely different learning approach than anything else.
Features and Benefits
Piano Marvel has well over 3,000 exercises and lessons and thousands of songs to learn, including everything from Mozart and Chopin to film scores to popular musical genres.
The latest version has what's called "Prepare Mode," in which the program lets you work through the notes, rhythms, and fingerings of songs at your own pace before you move on to playing the full piece.
In addition to that and video lessons, Piano Marvel has something that few other programs have:
- A sight-reading assessment that's both a test and a sight-reading lesson
- An assess mode that helps you avoid practicing mistakes
- Feedback on performances and note-hinting
Piano Marvel's method and techniques lessons go through music theory, hand positioning, chords, arpeggios, and other technical aspects of piano playing, which is best for learning classical piano. You even get a trophy case to fill up, which serves as an incentive to keep practicing and improving.
Who Is Piano Marvel For?
If you're a student, a teacher, or a school music program, you can probably make good use of Piano Marvel. It works on Mac, Windows, and iOS for iPad. That limits screens you can use, but it also means you're more motivated to use a larger screen, which is better for your eyes.
You do get a free account, but paying for either of the premium accounts unlocks many more features. Generally, with Piano Marvel, you can learn piano several times faster than with traditional music lessons.
Read the full Piano Marvel review.
6. Piano in 21 Days (Best Foundational Program)
However, this program is a little more targeted than other programs. If you want or need music theory, or want to become a professional concert pianist, then this program probably won't work for you.
Piano in 21 Days addresses problems with traditional piano lessons. People want to play the music they enjoy, not what an increasingly out-of-date conventional system thinks they need to learn before playing what they want.
Features and Benefits
You only need a keyboard with 49 keys, although a full 88-key piano with properly weighted keys is better. Also, you access all the lessons through the website. You don't have to download an app or worry about whether your device is compatible.
Lessons are designated by day: Day One, Day Two, Day Three, etc. You spend time learning some basics, then some easy songs, and then more basics. For instance, Day One begins work on white keys, and Day 8 is almost identical to Day One, but you play on the black keys instead of the white keys.
You get complimentary courses, too, including studies in ear training and melody, hand coordination, and more. These lessons are on top of the core 21-day lessons, and you'll pay for one of three packages depending on what you want.
Piano in 21 Days takes lessons, breaks them down, and rebuilds them into things that help you learn the essentials without all the fluff. Like anything, whether this is an easy way for you to learn depends on more than just the program itself.
Who Is Piano in 21 Days For?
Geared towards adults who want to learn how to play easy piano music or possibly learn a new hobby, Piano in 21 Days takes away the tediousness of traditional lessons and drills. It's great for people who want to quickly learn either how to play their favorite songs or build enough of a foundation to go on to more complex work.
Read the Piano in 21 days review now.
7. Pianote (Best Budget)
However, like most online programs, including the ones we've listed here, Pianote does work on helping you learn to play the music you enjoy. The whole idea behind Pianote is to avoid any one-size-fits-all approach to learning to play the piano while still giving you the personalization you might want from regular piano lessons.
Features and Benefits
Like Piano in 21 Days and Piano Marvel, you don't need an electronic keyboard with a MIDI interface for this. All you need is a good internet connection and the ability to watch videos on a device.
When you sign up, you get a personalized video that recommends which lesson you start with, although for most, that lesson will probably be "How To Use Pianote." Each of its ten levels comes with ten lessons, so you get 100 lessons total that range from the most fundamental of skills to more advanced chords and styles.
Pianote's videos make it easy to see what your teachers are doing so you can listen, watch, and emulate. They start with a short video where the teacher goes over what you'll learn, and then you go to work. You see two keyboards, one that the teacher is playing and another that highlights the keys, and then you get to play along.
You also get two different speeds at which to play, along with a metronome and other features to help you along. If you need extra practice, you can loop sections of the music you're playing to keep going over them until you've got them.
Who Is Pianote For?
This program is suitable for beginners who want to learn and intermediate players who want to brush up on their skills.
Keep in mind that Pianote is a subscription program. You'll either pay on a monthly or annual basis, but you'll get a better price with Pianote than you will for most other programs. If the video-game-like programs aren't for you and you're on a tight budget, this one may serve your needs.
Read the in-depth Pianote review now.
8. Yousician (Best Foundations for All Ages)
This program works with electronic and acoustic instruments and with Android, iOS, and PC devices. You don't need to worry about connecting anything to a MIDI interface, either. As long as you have your instrument, you can use this program.
Features and Benefits
The best thing about all these online programs is that you learn at your own pace, and Yousician is no different. Its piano program lights up a keyboard on your screen before you start working so you can get your hands into the correct position.
You can also see a long bar that shows you where you are in the song you're working on, plus where you're going. You can play with your right hand, left hand, or both hands together, and you get instant feedback while you're playing.
Besides learning the piano's keyboard, you also learn to read music. Yousician has several ways to do that because learning to read music is hard. Some people want to avoid it as much as possible, and teaching it effectively requires understanding that different students learn in different ways.
You can learn standard notation, enhanced notation (standard notation with color-coded fingerings and the note names included), and a visual representation of rhythm that allows you to focus on your playing.
Who Is Yousician For?
Yousician is for children and adults of all ages who have a keyboard or piano and want to learn as much as possible from online piano lessons and want choices in how they learn.
Yousician requires a subscription, but you can get a free trial to see if the program is right for you. This is one of the top online music-learning programs in the world, so you'll get a good education and foundation if Yousician is right for you.
9. Hoffman Academy (Best for Kids)
Hoffman Academy takes that away and ensures your child can learn to play the piano at home.
Features and Benefits
Hoffman Academy's videos are available online for free, and they serve as the start of each lesson. Any device with a screen your child can easily read will work with the Academy's platform, as will any piano.
Kids get detailed instructions and goals so they know what they're working towards with each lesson. They also get self-paced lessons, so if there's something they're having problems with, they have the time to work on it until they have it before moving on to the next lesson.
You can also get fun worksheets that further their understanding of music and music theory, which aids their progress on the piano. When it comes to learning notations, Hoffman Academy has videos with flashcards that teach kids what notation looks like and then goes from there.
Hoffman Academy uses a unique, multi-sensory approach that stimulates children's minds and, ideally, keeps them coming back for more. It fosters a connection with music and helps them want to continue.
Who Is Hoffman Academy For?
Hoffman Academy is an online piano program explicitly geared towards children and may be a good segue into one of the other piano programs or private lessons later on if your child so chooses.
If your child wants to learn piano and you want to help them, try the Hoffman Academy. You do have to pay to access things like printed sheet music and worksheets, but it's cheaper, more convenient, and more well-rounded than traditional piano lessons.
What Should You Look for in an Online Piano-Learning Program?
Generally, the best online piano lessons provide a good foundation, including posture and hand position, a basic understanding of how to read music, and lessons that involve the basics of putting songs together.
You should look for several things in online piano programs that help ensure you're getting what you need and want. Ultimately, you want a program that will give you the best value for what you want to learn and how you want to learn it. Things to look for include:
- Ease of use (required technology, navigation, access to materials)
- A learning pace that matches your personal abilities
- Ways to spur and maintain your level of engagement
- Intellectual learning (theory, posture/position, technique)
- A way to determine your skill level before you sign up
- High sound quality
- Wide variety in lessons and songs
- Realistic promises
- Student support (either from real piano teachers, via program feedback, or a combination)
If a program doesn't have most of these criteria, chances are you'll have more problems than the program is worth. What good is an online piano-learning program if you can't learn from it, get bored, and have no way to know whether you're progressing?
Not to mention that pie-in-the-sky promises combined with a high subscription or sale price mean you'll probably find yourself sorely disappointed, if not outright scammed.
Consider next: More great free piano lessons online
Problems with Online Piano Lessons
Perhaps the biggest drawback to online piano lessons is that they tend to have a one-size-fits-all approach. Even though they have features that are supposed to help you customize the program to your specific needs, customization tends to have limits.
You want a program that gives you a lot of variety in both the lessons and the songs you can learn to play. Otherwise, you can get bored, or worse, frustrated. Each of these programs offers at least some of that, but they may not meet your specific learning needs or style.
Another problem you'll encounter is a lack of emphasis on hand position, posture, and other things that seem like minor details. When you take private lessons, you have a teacher who will correct those things as you work so you learn things the right way the first time.
With even the best online piano lessons, that lack of emphasis and feedback can cause you to learn bad habits, which are much harder to unlearn later on.
Beyond that, it comes down to personal preference: Whether you want a more traditional approach or a fun, non-traditional, game-oriented format.
Optimizing Your Learning with Online Piano Lessons
Online piano lessons work best when you regularly practice, no matter what methods they use to teach. One of the best ways to ensure you get the most out of your lessons is to schedule regular practice. If you have a busy schedule as it is, that means carving out some time. The more frequently you can work in lessons and practice, the better you'll do.
Using As Many of Your Program's Available Tools As Possible
The best online piano lessons come with a variety of tools besides visualization on a keyboard. The purpose is to maintain your engagement and help you learn different ways to play similar things.
While repetition does work, it also gets boring and screws up your desire to practice. Programs that provide variety instead of repetition will work better for you. Use those tools to optimize your experience and get the best value for your time and effort.
Online piano programs have revolutionized the world of piano lessons, and Pianoforall is our number one pick because it provides the most comprehensive learning program using easy-to-follow teaching methods. If you need to learn slowly, you can adjust the program's speed, and when you're ready to play a song at tempo, you can do that, too.
Pianoforall can work for virtually everyone, even advanced and pro pianists. Furthermore, with its colored visuals and flexible learning and playing speeds, you can vary your training regiment with the program based on your actual skill on Piano.
You can learn a lot with the many of the other programs, an Flowkey is a very close second to Pianoforall (with a free trial to get started). To get started with a program and to learn more about learning Piano in general, check out the websites listed here now.