It may not be as trendy as the guitar, but the piano remains one of the most-loved and most-played instruments in the world. It’s a versatile instrument that can be used to make music by beginners and virtuosos alike, and it can accompany almost any instrument and perform in pretty much any genre.
That said, would-be pianists may find it daunting to take that initial step and begin learning how to play. Fortunately, there is a glut of excellent piano-learning apps out right now that can help you take your first step, or your second or third steps. Here are the best of them.
What’s great about Perfect Piano is that you can use it in one of two ways: Either with the built-in virtual keyboard that has you tapping on your phone’s screen, or with a MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) keyboard, such as the Yamaha P105, Roland F-120, or Xkey. Either way, it offers a fun and accessible way of learning thousands of popular songs on the piano. The app offers the ability to choose different guidance patterns for you to play along to songs with, including traditional sheet music. It also lets you slow down the speed of playback, so you can work your way through songs at your own pace. The built-in virtual keyboard includes all 88 keys of a classical grand piano, and can also be given various sounds, from grand piano to pipe organ and synth. Another nice touch is that the app includes a multiplayer mode, so that you can compete with friends to see who can play back songs most fluently.
Aimed at everyone from beginners to more experienced pianists, Simply Piano offers courses that are broken down into a series of lessons. It also lets you learn a wide variety of songs and compositions, something which lets you put what you’ve learned in the lessons into practice. Unlike some other piano apps, it really starts from the beginning, walking you through the basics (such as playing with both hands) and also providing personalized five-minute workouts that are tailored to your skill level. The app is free to download and to use, but you will have to subscribe to its premium version to access all courses, which will set you back $96 for a whole year.
Available only for iOS (sorry Android owners), Skoove offers a very comprehensive and personalized piano-learning experience. What sets it apart from the crowd is that uses A.I. to recognize what you’re playing and offer you appropriate exercises for improving on any mistakes you might be making. It includes over 400 lessons and over a thousand instructional videos, so you can really pick an area you’d most like to work on and develop your skills from there. As with other piano-learning apps, it includes a wide library of songs for you to learn, from Beethoven and Mozart to the Beatles and Adele. Helpfully, it includes lessons and tips for recognizes notes and playing music by ear. The app is compatible with USB/MIDI and acoustic keyboards, while it also includes a virtual on-screen keyboard option.
Piano Academy by Yokee Music
Offering an on-screen virtual keyboard and MIDI-keyboard support, Piano Academy is another comprehensive piano-learning app that offers something for everyone. Its lessons are broken down according to theory or method area, while it offers a wide selection of tutorial videos delivered by an instructor who helps to demonstrate what you’re actually trying to learn. One nice touch is that the app listens to you as you play, providing you with feedback on how accurately you’re playing music. It also includes a range of enjoyable games for learning the basics of piano playing, such as hand coordination. The app lets you learn hundreds of songs, using an indicator with sheet music that moves from note-to-note as you play. Overall, a very accessible and useful app.
Complete with video tutorials, interactive lessons, and hundreds of songs, Flowkey offers pretty much everything you’d want in a piano-learning app. Aimed at everyone from beginners to more advanced players, it includes step-by-step lessons and instructions on various areas of technique, from reading music to chords and improvisation. It also monitors your playing for advice on how to improve, regardless of whether you’re using an acoustic piano or one with a MIDI connection. The app is free to download and use, but accessing the full range of learning material and content will require a Premium subscription, which is $20 for one month and $120 for 12 months.
Piano by Gismart
Here’s a piano-learning app aimed specifically at people who don’t own their own piano or keyboard. Piano is a keyboard simulator app that includes an on-screen piano for you to learn how to play, helping you to get a taste of whether you might like to take the plunge and buy your own piano. It includes a range of lessons on basic skills, such as learning how to play particular chords, while it also a range of fun mini-games for making the whole learning process a little more enjoyable. Like other apps, Piano lets you learn a number of famous songs, but it also offers a novel way of doing this via its Magic Tiles game, in which virtual tiles fall on the keyboard, indicating which keys to play and when. Ultimately, it may not be quite as exhaustive as other apps, but it’s certainly fun. The full version of the app costs $10 per month or $50 per year, letting you access new songs weekly and more sounds for your virtual keyboard (and removing ads).
Vivace: Learn to Read Music
Yes, it’s not particularly fun, but learning how to read sheet music is all-but essential if you want to become an accomplished pianist. Vivace lets you do just this, providing a wide variety of illustrated tutorials and customized lessons for recognizing notes. Not only does it teach you how to understand note pitch and duration, but it also includes lessons on learning the different musical staffs, and on all 15 key signatures. The app is available only for Android, although a good iOS alternative is Notes! — Learn to Read Music.
Yousician (monthly subscription)
It may be more popular among guitarists, but Yousician is just as comprehensive as a piano-learning app. It offers more than 1,500 exercises, lessons, and games for you to develop your piano-playing skills, while it also boasts a wide roster of popular songs that you can play and practice along with. Helpfully, it includes lessons and pointers on music theory and how to read sheet music, so it covers pretty much all bases. It’s free to download and use, but the full range of content is available only to those who shell out for a subscription of $20 per month.
The Metronome by Soundbrenner (free)
This app won’t teach you piano chords, scales, or techniques, but it does provide pretty much the best metronome you can find in app form. This is essential if you want to learn how to play the piano in time, especially if you aim to play with other musicians or record your handiwork. It lets you set and adjust tempo easily, while it also lets you practice to pretty much any time signature you care to imagine. One other nice feature is that it lets you create a setlist of different tempos and meters so that you can practice for a recital or jam session.
Functional Ear Trainer (free)
Again, this isn’t a piano-learning app per se, but it’s all-but essential if you want to be a well-rounded musician capable of improvising with others and playing music by ear. Its approach is fairly simple, teaching you how to recognize tones and intervals in any musical key. This is extremely helpful for learning how to work out songs, since as long as you have the right tonic note (i.e. the first note of any given key), the ability to recognize the distinctive tones of other notes will help you crack the rest of the song. Also, this isn’t something you need to spend masses of time on, since using this app for only 10 minutes per day should improve your listening substantially after a while.