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Piano learning apps
#2982771 05/23/20 11:27 AM
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There is a whole slew of apps..

Yousician flowkey simplypiano marvelpiano..

Now i have this friend who wants to learn piano
He has lots of time but not lots of money
I gave hime my old yamaha s90 to start out with
He cant pay a teacher, and i live to far off (not that i am a teacher)

So we are considering these apps
But which one to choose
Anyone know them or uses them?
Which one would give him the best start?
He is having a birthday next month
I think i will give him a 6 months sub to one of these..
Just to help him get trough these bad times..


Any advice is welcome

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Re: Piano learning apps
Bachus #2982777 05/23/20 11:41 AM
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I think this apps need a midi interface.

He can start by trying a few free piano lessons on YouTube and discover what he want to play, classic, blues, jazz, pop.



“To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts - such is the duty of the artist.”
- Robert Schumann

Re: Piano learning apps
Bachus #2982783 05/23/20 12:00 PM
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I started off using Playground Sessions. Has quite a range of genres to suit different musical tastes. Needs a keyboard with a midi over USB connection and a tablet to stick on the music stand to display the sheet music.

I think it’s fine for an absolute beginner to get them started and see if it’s something they might want to continue with. Very gentle introduction with one hand position five finger stuff.

It’s focused on teaching you the basics of how to read and play, not just showing you “monkey see, monkey do” playing by copying someone from a video.


Yamaha U1. Yamaha P-45. Yamaha RD-250 (a long time ago). smile
Re: Piano learning apps
Serge88 #2982784 05/23/20 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Serge88
I think this apps need a midi interface.

He can start by trying a few free piano lessons on YouTube and discover what he want to play, classic, blues, jazz, pop.

Thats why i gave him a yamaha s90, that is a digital stage piano with midi

Re: Piano learning apps
Bachus #2982794 05/23/20 12:24 PM
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I’ve only used one in that list ad that’s 'Piano Marvel'.

I love it. It gives me everything I need and I haven’t even made use of the music library yet. It pushes me further than I felt capable of and I really feel like I’m learning.
You can download the app and try it out for free for 30 days.

I use it with an iPad and it works seamlessly.

Re: Piano learning apps
scirocco #2982930 05/23/20 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by scirocco
I started off using Playground Sessions. Has quite a range of genres to suit different musical tastes. Needs a keyboard with a midi over USB connection and a tablet to stick on the music stand to display the sheet music.

I think it’s fine for an absolute beginner to get them started and see if it’s something they might want to continue with. Very gentle introduction with one hand position five finger stuff.

It’s focused on teaching you the basics of how to read and play, not just showing you “monkey see, monkey do” playing by copying someone from a video.
Originally Posted by scirocco
I started off using Playground Sessions. Has quite a range of genres to suit different musical tastes. Needs a keyboard with a midi over USB connection and a tablet to stick on the music stand to display the sheet music.

I think it’s fine for an absolute beginner to get them started and see if it’s something they might want to continue with. Very gentle introduction with one hand position five finger stuff.

It’s focused on teaching you the basics of how to read and play, not just showing you “monkey see, monkey do” playing by copying someone from a video.

Didnt know that one..
So far it looks like the most professional of them all
Seems the content is aimed at teaching you music more then just teaching you play songs..

Wonder if it has the same depth as Marvel Piano?

Re: Piano learning apps
Bachus #2982998 05/23/20 10:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Bachus
Seems the content is aimed at teaching you music more then just teaching you play songs..

Wonder if it has the same depth as Marvel Piano?

I haven't used Piano Marvel but I used Playground Sessions for about a year before buying an acoustic and getting a teacher. The PS setup is like working from a method book with each piece carefully selected to introduce a slightly harder thing to do if you follow the order that comes up. Because it's a paid product they have rights to use modern pop music so those are available to learn. There's also classical and traditional folk pieces in there. For a few dollars you can buy and download complete sheets arranged at whatever difficulty suits you. Or you can just stream them on the screen and play as often as you like, included in the subscription price. Each song has a backing track and adjustable tempo.

It's all done properly with teaching to read from notation to the correct rhythms etc. The only thing I'm slightly on the fence about is the moving cursor that you follow as you play. I find rhythm very easy but I could imagine for someone who doesn't keep time well, the moving cursor might become a crutch. Hard to say.


Yamaha U1. Yamaha P-45. Yamaha RD-250 (a long time ago). smile
Re: Piano learning apps
scirocco #2983299 05/24/20 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by scirocco
Originally Posted by Bachus
Seems the content is aimed at teaching you music more then just teaching you play songs..

Wonder if it has the same depth as Marvel Piano?

I haven't used Piano Marvel but I used Playground Sessions for about a year before buying an acoustic and getting a teacher. The PS setup is like working from a method book with each piece carefully selected to introduce a slightly harder thing to do if you follow the order that comes up. Because it's a paid product they have rights to use modern pop music so those are available to learn. There's also classical and traditional folk pieces in there. For a few dollars you can buy and download complete sheets arranged at whatever difficulty suits you. Or you can just stream them on the screen and play as often as you like, included in the subscription price. Each song has a backing track and adjustable tempo.

It's all done properly with teaching to read from notation to the correct rhythms etc. The only thing I'm slightly on the fence about is the moving cursor that you follow as you play. I find rhythm very easy but I could imagine for someone who doesn't keep time well, the moving cursor might become a crutch. Hard to say.

I played around with playground session today
And it feels great... its a two week free trial on ipad..

Lots of questions tough
And when i tried to ask some questions on their forum..
I found everything you ask/post first needs to be aproved by a moderator
Even asking questions...

Same goes for their major facebook groups..
Everything is moderated ..
Which makes me distrust them, as this is far away from open and honest communication..

My first post is waiting on aproval for more then 24 hours now.
Thats not a good thing.. in a world where people want answers

Re: Piano learning apps
Bachus #2983415 05/24/20 07:16 PM
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I think you’ll find that it’s only the first post that is moderated, like a lot of places, to stop spam and trolls. Unless they’ve changed it recently, subsequent posts don’t have to be approved individually. I would use Facebook though, the forum was pretty dead as I recall.

You might want to try it on a Windows computer as well as the ipad. One criticism I remember people having was that the iOS version was not as full-featured as the Windows version. I used a Surface Pro tablet and it was good.

Also works best if you listen directly to the keyboard sound. If you use the piano sound from the app there can be delay due to the computer which puts you off.


Yamaha U1. Yamaha P-45. Yamaha RD-250 (a long time ago). smile
Re: Piano learning apps
Bachus #2983436 05/24/20 08:06 PM
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I started with Simply Piano, I didn't know any better but I feel it gave me a good start despite its problems. I value it because it made piano fun to me as a non-player, and after a year I eventually got a teacher. SP does progress you, not as well as a method book, but as you master earlier sections it will introduce new concepts. It has a really fun library of songs to play along with.

Re: Piano learning apps
Bachus #2983639 05/25/20 10:58 AM
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Not sure if I am qualified to give a recommendation, but I will describe my experience and you can take it from there. I am beginner adult who saw the 6 year old DP sitting around during this time and said, ok got the time and always wanted to get serious about it so why not. I spent many years as a kid in school band as trumpet player so have some basic understanding of music theory. Figured I could use app to get some basic competency on Piano. I have tried most of them so here is my thoughts:

Flowkey - some basic learning, maybe best theory of bunch but seems limited once you get past introductory lessons. I did not renew after 30 days.

Simply piano - lots of lessons and a learning path to follow. Bought 3 months but may not renew after then. Still using it every day. Comes at theory a bit differently.

Skoove - didn’t like it so didn’t buy more than the free trial.

Playground sessions - did the trial, was pretty good with lots of videos. Does seem daunting to a beginner or to someone who wants to speed through theory concepts they already know.

Piano marvel - the app looks horrible and is hard to understand but, after a month of using these kind of apps and other things, maybe the best all around app for learning. Especially if you use books (Alfred adult) which brings me to ....

After a few weeks I realized that the apps are fun but the best method is still probably the books - Alfred or Farber. I think once you get to a certain point the usefulness of apps goes way down and the books goes way up. Maybe because you have some basic music theory understanding and can read music a bit (actually playing what you read the first time is different story. That’s the practice of months and years).

I have both Alfred adult and bought Faber. I like the Faber books more. It may come down to personal preference but Faber books also have an app (both books have links to videos and audio samples also) that does basically same thing the other apps do (check your playing against what’s written, provide accompaniment). You can get same with Alfred and piano marvel I think. The only thing some of the apps offer that books don’t is music beyond what’s in lessons edited for your level so I may end up subscribing to piano marvel down the line.

So for now, I am going with the Faber books and Faber app plus a couple of actual sheet music that was recommended to me - bartok and Czerny (like $6 each on amazon) as something I should do also. I also do simply piano chord lessons (they have 2 tracks after basic - solo or chord. I stopped the solo track in favor of the books and am just doing the chord stuff).

In the end I would recommend you try them all (they all have free trials) pick the one you want. But in the end, the books maybe the best, and actually cheapest, option. Ymmv.


Edit 1 - I should mention that I wanted an actual iPad app. So that was a factor. Some of the apps are better than others as an app. Eg. Playground sessions may be most complete method but the app is limited compared to computer version. Just fysa on why I say what I say.

Last edited by dham340; 05/25/20 11:04 AM.
Re: Piano learning apps
Bachus #2983644 05/25/20 11:06 AM
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dham340, my experience was like yours. I started with Piano Marvel, loved it and subscribed for a year but found out rather quickly that I needed “more” in terms of musicality. Books are the cheapest (at least for me) but they’re definitely not as fun for the brand new beginner.

Last edited by WeakLeftHand; 05/25/20 11:07 AM.

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Re: Piano learning apps
Bachus #2983649 05/25/20 11:15 AM
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Addendum to my post above :

Maybe what is best for you, depends on what you goal is. My goal is not to become some virtuoso. Nor is it to play the most recent pop songs. I am looking for some light classical, older pop here and there and maybe some jazz standards down the line.

I mention this because many of the apps using most recent pop songs as a selling point. They have lots of them so if that’s your goal, one of those apps that are less on theory and more on playing something you recognize may work for you. But, for my goals, seems that best way would be to work through the tried and true method books to gain basic understanding on theory and do the basic standard technique stuff to gain playing competency was best way to get to the goal.

Re: Piano learning apps
WeakLeftHand #2983650 05/25/20 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
dham340, my experience was like yours. I started with Piano Marvel, loved it and subscribed for a year but found out rather quickly that I needed “more” in terms of musicality. Books are the cheapest (at least for me) but they’re definitely not as fun for the brand new beginner.

Fun is the most important attribute to look for with someone just starting. Simply Piano taught me playing was enjoyable, even though it didn't perhaps progress me like a method book.

Re: Piano learning apps
offkey #2983659 05/25/20 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by offkey
Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
dham340, my experience was like yours. I started with Piano Marvel, loved it and subscribed for a year but found out rather quickly that I needed “more” in terms of musicality. Books are the cheapest (at least for me) but they’re definitely not as fun for the brand new beginner.

Fun is the most important attribute to look for with someone just starting. Simply Piano taught me playing was enjoyable, even though it didn't perhaps progress me like a method book.

I agree. Without those first few months of Piano Marvel, I don't know if I would've fallen in love with learning the piano.

Last edited by WeakLeftHand; 05/25/20 11:50 AM.

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Re: Piano learning apps
Bachus #2983750 05/25/20 01:52 PM
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Loved this thread. Ive been debating getting another app so this has helped me.

I downloaded Simply Piano over a year ago. Like dham340 I wanted something that worked on an iPad since I don’t have a laptop. Like a few of you have said, the app is good to get you started, but once you can read music a bit, a method book will be needed. But I still enjoy the app since it does have sheet music you can print out or use through the app.

I did have lessons before I downloaded it. It was a compromise until I could find a teacher again. Wasn’t planning on the break without a teacher lasting this long, but at the very least the app kept me playing. smile

Also its super simple to sit at for just 10-15mins , run some drills. Whether this is all I do that day or in addition to the books I’m working through, that has helped.

Also thanks all for the honest Playground sessions reviews. I was taken in by all the press and almost bought it. I think Harry Connick Jr was a selling point, too. hehe But 1) I didn’t realize the support was bad. I used to work at a help desk so no bueno and 2) the app was not as good on the iPad.

The Simply Piano (SP) app has great support! I didn’t use the app for months and messed up the renewal. I wanted to keep it, but accidentally used the wrong card. Anyway... They kept the app active and I didn’t loose my place for over a month until I was able to straighten it out. Also, post on the SPs Facebook page and if another user doesn’t answer you in under and hour, someone from SP will answer you.

That said, I have not tried any of the other apps. Since I want to play Jazz, Ive gone to books and YouTube.

Last edited by Oddsox; 05/25/20 01:55 PM.

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Re: Piano learning apps
Bachus #2983930 05/25/20 10:56 PM
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Regarding books vs apps, I actually used an app (Playground Sessions) for a year as an absolute beginner and worked properly at it. After a year I got a teacher and worked up through the Hal Leonard method books. So I’ve seen both sides of it.

There are a lot of similarities. Playground Sessions has what they call “boot camps” which are the equivalent of each level of method book. If you follow the lessons in the order they come in, you start off very simple and gradually build up exactly how a method book does. The focus is not on just picking a song you like and playing it regardless of how it might be unsuitable. Fingering is shown.

But because it is a commercial product the songs are legit arrangements of modern pop or themes (e.g. Game of Thrones) as well as catchy folk and classical stuff. The arrangements are deliberately simplified appropriate for each bootcamp level.

It’s a LOT better music than some of the dire old-fashioned stuff you often find used in traditional method books to avoid copyright issues.

Last edited by scirocco; 05/25/20 10:59 PM.

Yamaha U1. Yamaha P-45. Yamaha RD-250 (a long time ago). smile
Re: Piano learning apps
Bachus #2984125 05/26/20 11:10 AM
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Simply Piano - The most fun and enjoyable app to learn. It really keeps me motivated, and I do progress day by day using it. The separated solo and chord track of courses are also great. I would recommend it for an absolute beginner. However I feel there are too many pop music, and most songs are not arranged very well.

Flowkey - Only got some basic courses, and they're divided into different topics. e.g., there are 2 sections on scales, and there are like 20 scales starting from C major. It makes sense for a beginner to practice the C major scale, but not sure how many I should go until I stop, and how they interact with other courses. They do have a VERY comprehensive library of music, marked by different difficulty levels (still much more difficult than the ones in Simply Piano). They are also much better arranged and sound well.

Skoove - Got 3-month trial from my Roland DP purchase. Used it for 2 weeks but also don't like it. It's probably the interface, or the arrangements of the music.

Haven't used others so can't comment.

Re: Piano learning apps
Bachus #2984694 05/27/20 04:15 PM
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Piano Marvel is really wonderful if you are more interested in Classical Music, while I think PS is much better for someone who wants to play more modern music.

Re: Piano learning apps
Bachus #2984846 05/28/20 02:06 AM
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One drawback I found with Playground Sessions is that the app cannot and does not teach dynamics or articulation. This was the main reason I ditched it and got an acoustic and teacher.

To some extent that doesn’t matter too much for the pop and modern music that PS is focussed on. I haven’t used Piano Marvel - how does it deal with teaching dynamics and articulation for its more classical style music?


Yamaha U1. Yamaha P-45. Yamaha RD-250 (a long time ago). smile
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