Perhaps motivated by an artist you admire, a particular piece that moved you, the rich timbre of the instrument itself, or maybe the piano resonates with you in a way you can’t quite put into words. This article outlines real benefits of playing the piano, points to some excellent resources for improving piano skills at your own pace, and recommends some of the best online piano lessons for beginners. There are great opportunities for online learning these days, making it easier than ever to create music and enhance the quality of your life!
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Musical versatility of the piano
Compared to many other musical instruments, the piano has a unique set of advantages and challenges. The fact that this physically large, heavy instrument has become so popular over the years really attests to its musical versatility. One usually doesn’t have to look far to find a piano or keyboard; whether at home, church, school, performance venue, rehearsal space, community center, or university. Why is the instrument such a success? For starters it has an expansive tonal range (ability to play very low up to very high pitched notes), wide dynamic range (soft to loud notes), only requires one finger per note (as opposed to guitar for example), and a relatively simple technique (compared to the violin or brass instruments). These characteristics make the piano capable of playing very complex pieces and expressing a wide range of emotion. So much amazing music has been composed on the piano across nearly every genre over the past few centuries, it truly boggles the mind!
Challenges of learning the piano
First and foremost, learning the play the piano requires patience. Unless you’re a modern-day Mozart, it will take weeks, months, and years of consistent practice to get where you want to be. It also requires good hand-eye coordination, manual dexterity, a steady work ethic, and honest self-evaluation. But it also depends on your own goals – do you want to play basic chords and sing along to your favorite tunes alone at home, or improvise intricate arpeggios in front of thousands of people in a concert hall? In all likelihood you’re probably thinking somewhere between these extremes. In any case, we all know what is required – practice! To ensure a consistent practice routine, many feel that hiring a personal instructor is the best way to go. Yet locating a good teacher can be difficult, expensive, and a challenge to find someone you’re compatible with. On the other hand, learning on your own can be frustrating, slow-going, and ineffective at times. So what if you want to learn at your own pace, while still maintaining a consistent and smart practice routine? This is where online piano lessons really fill the void between in-person instruction and self-directed learning.
Best online piano lessons for beginners
Following an online program, you can go at your own pace according to a schedule you define. Want to schedule your next lesson tomorrow at midnight? No problem! You aren’t forced to adhere to the timetable of an in-person instructor, and you can follow a structured lesson plan to stay focused and directed. Nowadays there are several quality online piano programs available. Below are three of the best online piano lessons for beginners to get you started, each with a unique learning style. Read on to decide which is the best fit for you.
Flowkey is an app (available on both iTunes and Google Play) you can download and use on multiple devices including tablets, smartphones, and laptops. It actually provides interactive feedback as you play along, making it an excellent tool for beginners. Flowkey does this by listening and analyzing your playing in real time using either the microphone on your device (if you’re playing on an acoustic piano) or through MIDI (if you plug your musical keyboard directly into your device). The intuitive app layout makes it very easy to start learning songs right away without any trouble, and the interactive aspect is an engaging and fun way to practice. The combined scrolling sheet music and keyboard video together create a fun sort of ‘video game’ feel. Flowkey includes tons of different songs to choose from and learn. Song categories include some you might expect (such as “Rock” and “Jazz”) and others you might be pleasantly surprised by (“Game Music” and “Asian Pop”). The songs are primarily beginner to intermediate arrangements which are relatively easy to play, without being overly simple or childlike. Every song has both slow and higher speed practice options. Flowkey is easy to test out – simply download the app and start using the free version.
Next up is Pianoforall. This series of step-by-step lessons designed specifically to bring complete beginners to an intermediate level quickly. Pianoforall has been around since 2006, and has helped over a quarter of a million students improve their piano playing worldwide. The fact that it has been around for nearly 1.5 decades with many musicians still using it to this day verifies the quality of the program. It uses a great teaching methodology that is very logical with a good overall flow. Beginning with simple rhythm style piano, it slowly expands into more complex styles. The Pianoforall ebooks and videos are available as an all-in-one package, either as a direct download or delivered to you on a DVD-ROM (useful if your internet connection is unstable). It includes 10 ebooks (600 pages total), 200 videos (10 hours total) and 500 audio lessons. Another benefit of Pianoforall is that it requires a simple one-time payment for lifetime access (no recurring payments or subscriptions). The ebook format may feel a bit outdated to some, but others will enjoy the simplicity without having to worry about fussy apps.
The third program on our list employs a totally different style of learning compared to the previous two options. MasterClass is a streaming platform for watching or listening to prerecorded video lessons taught by famous artists, musicians, scientists, comedians, etc. who are some of the best and brightest in their fields. Imagine having an intimate jazz piano lesson from Herbie Hancock, for example. Amazing! Although more expensive than the previous options, this will be an ideal choice if you learn best by listening to and watching an expert. Learn from the best of the best, including world-renown musicians. The site is continually adding new content, and you’ll get access to lessons in all sorts of things, not just music. Photography, cooking, science, acting, sports… you name it. Learn about producing and beat-making from Timbaland, space exploration from Chris Hadfield, acting from Natalie Portman, scientific thinking and communication from Neil deGrasse Tyson… the list goes on and on.
Now is the time to start making music. Piano has the potential to open up a whole new world of expressing emotion through sound. You don’t need to be a genius prodigy to learn fundamentals of building rhythms, chords, and harmonies, and the piano can help you unlock these concepts quickly and efficiently. In no time you’ll be able to play your favorite tunes, recognize common patterns across songs and genres, and even start morphing things together into your own compositions. The first step is resolving to play music every day, and online programs are a great way to keep that resolve going.