The piano is probably the most satisfying and rewarding instrument you can learn to play. And although it takes a lifetime to master, why wait? The best way to learn piano is to start right now… and within a few hours you will be able to play your first tune. You just need to pick the right ways to learn.
This is a complete guide to the different ways you can start to learn the piano today, methods that are hopefully at least one will suit your learning style, budget and time available. And (nearly) all these way are available to teach you all of the time. Day or Night. So that you can …
Learn How To Play Piano When It Suits You!
Why Learn How To Play The Piano?
Here are just a few reasons why so many of you want to learn how to play the piano:
- spend hours entertaining yourself or others
- play on your own or in a group
- much easier and less painful to learn than violin, woodwind, brass or guitar … you will be in tune and sound OK almost straight away!
- if you learn on a digital piano keyboard you can wear headphones so you won’t disturb the family and neighbours
- whatever type of music you want to play the piano fits in, whether it’s classical, jazz, blues, rock, pop
- keyboard is the perfect instrument to learn if you want to use a DAW, or Music Production and Recording Software, or any MIDI software
- playing the piano is good for your brain
- excellent to develop your hand-eye co-ordination
- playing the piano is THE most uplifting and absorbing hobby
So let’s start to look at the numerous different types of piano learning methods, then hopefully you can find the best way to learn piano on your own, or with a teacher.
Remember because everyone if different, what is best for one person might not suit another. But some of the following methods are so cost effective you can try more than one. A combination of ways to learn piano at home will probably help you learn how to play faster and more easily.
The Best Way For YOU To Learn Piano
The best way for you to learn piano quickly is going to depend on:
- your budget
- your past experience (ie can you already play a little, can you read music, do you already play another instrument …)
- the time you have available each day or week
- the genre you want to learn … it is much quicker to learn chords and play by ear than it is to learn highly technical classical pieces
- whether you want to learn to play by ear, or improvise and make up your own pieces, or learn to read sheet music
- your own personal learning style
The good news is whatever type of piano you want to learn there WILL be a way that works for you …. So let’s just dive in and have a look at all the different ways you can learn piano fast.
1. Learn Piano Online
You don’t have to spend long on YouTube to discover literally thousands of people who will help you to learn how to play piano online. For Free! Here are just 3 great examples of YouTube Piano Channels which are definitely worth a look:
- PianoVideoLessons specialises in helping you to learn popular piano songs without having to ready music (but she also has videos to teach you piano notes too)
- Allysia of PianoTV has a very engaging style has produced lots of information videos and tutorials all about the piano
- Finally HDPiano using fantastic graphics to help you learn to play popular songs from artists like Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith
Outside of YouTube, this popular post on 7 steps to learn how to play the piano will give you a quick overview of the basics. Although it is a bit more of a quick reference guide than a complete course.
So … if there are so many free resourses and YouTube piano lessons available, why pay for an online course or app?
Well, the problem with YouTube is that even on the best piano channels it is almost impossible to find a good step-by-step way to learn piano systematically. And so you won’t make progress. That’s why we think the best way to learn piano online is to purchase a good course, or subscribe to a proper piano learning membership site or training channel.
Which is the best website to learn piano?
One of our personal favourites in the online piano course arena is Playground Sessions. Recommended by Yamaha as “the best way to learn the piano from the comfort of your own home”, playground sessions is one of the most comprehensive online piano learning experiences. Playground Sessions has a combination of:
- interactive piano lesson software which provides real time feedback
- over 500 popular song lessons
- a progress tracker
- 70 interactive video tutorials with over 30 hours of video lessons
It works on PC, Mac and iPad and is available in offline mode for when you are not connected to the internet.
You can choose to try Playground Sessions for a month or two by paying monthly, but for a one-off fee you can have lifetime access. This represents the very best value. Buy once and you have access to all the software, videos and online lessons forever.
PianoForAll is a lower priced alternative to Playground Sessions, and for over 10 years has been a popular and highly respected online piano course. Available for a very low one-off price, when you buy Piano4All you get access to:
- An all-in-one package of interactive Ebooks, Videos and audios
- An online piano course that works with all devices: PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android tablets and phones
- All styles of piano are covered including pop, blues, jazz, ballads, improvisation, classical
- You learn to play-by-ear and you can also learn to read music at the same time if you wish
- 10 clearly laid out ebooks, 200 videos totalling 10 hours of video piano lessons plus 500 audio lessons
- You can choose between instant online access, or have the entire PianoForAll course delivered on a DVD ROM wherever you live (follow the Order link on the main menu for more information …)
What I particularly like about Piano4All is the chord based approach, so it is particularly good if you want to learn to improvise and play by ear, and you do literally learn to play something almost immediately.
Udemy Online Piano Lessons
Udemy is one of the biggest providers of online courses on just about any topic. And if you follow this link, you will find there are plenty of very well-reviewed piano courses. I like Udemy because you pick very specific courses to suit you, and once you have bought them you have access to them forever. You can read up-to-date reviews and try some of the modules before you buy, and then access the course on any/all of your Mac, PC, iPad, iPhone or Android Phone.
You can also almost always download the course for offline access too (though you just need to check the instructor has made this option available. There is a version of PianoForAll on Udemy and if Udemy are running a promotion then it is well worth buying on their platform. But when it is full price, then it is much better to buy PianoForAll direct from their website (follow the link then click on the Order menu).
The other course I have recently bought and worked through is simply called Piano Chords. In this course you learn to read chord symbols in a visual and intuitive way. Even though I already had a basic knowledge of chords and can read music, this course taught me so much about chord structures, and has made my improvisations much more interesting.
Finally, the best course for complete beginners is Piano Lessons For Beginners. Mantius Cazaubon is a very engaging instructor and if you read the reviews for this course you will see how many people love the straightforward style. A genuinely good online course if you are starting to learn the piano from scratch.
On Udemy, there must be an online piano course for just about everyone, whether you want to play by ear, improvise jazz or learn to read music. Go explore!
Learn Piano Online With Lynda
Finally, the other massive website for online courses is Lynda. Click here to see some of the piano courses available on Lynda. Lynda works differently to Udemy. On Udemy you buy individual courses, so you can tailor your learning, and once you have bought a course you keep it forever. You subscribe to Lynda on a monthly basis. However, you can get instant access with a free trial, and you can learn pretty much anything on Lynda, so once you have paid your monthly fee you can access any and all of the courses available. I’ve been learning how to use photographic software as well as taking advantage of the music lessons, and everything on Lynda is very high quality. Definitely worth going for the free trial and trying out all the online piano courses available on Lynda.
2. Piano Lesson Software
We already had a look at the Playground Sessions online piano learning system that incorporates piano lesson software in its program. However there are other alternatives. The best piano tutor software takes advantage of MIDI, so if you learn on a digital piano or keyboard and connect the keyboard to your computer or tablet then you will be able to benefit from a whole range of interactive features. Using good piano learning software will really improve your rate of progress in a way that was simply not possible a few years ago.
Here are just a few of the benefits of using a good piano teaching software package: if you connect your keyboard using MIDI then the eMedia Piano and Keyboard Method Software provides instant feedback on playing mistakes, including wrong notes and rhythms. It also includes a metronome, recorder, variable-speed MIDI keyboard tracks, accompaniment tracks, and ear training exercises. PLUS you can slow files down. And slow methodical practise is definitely the best way to progress.
Our favourite software to learn piano is definitely the eMedia method. For just one price, you get access to the kind of feedback only a physical teacher could provide in the past. And if you want to eventually take piano exams, it is the ultimate tool for perfecting your sight-reading. The eMedia Deluxe Package is their most comprehensive piano software offering, but did you know eMedia are also behind the famous Piano For Dummies software series? This less expensive piano lesson software incorporates many of the interactive features mentioned above.
3. Learn Piano DVDs
Although we live in a more virtual world than ever, many of you still want a good learn to play piano DVD. And the humble piano lesson DVD definitely does have its place. No internet connection required, watch on your TV as well as computer, the best DVD series have superb quality videos and take a well-structured approach to learning the piano. So DVD’s definitely will add to your armoury of piano learning options. There are a number of choices, but the most comprehensive and well thought-out piano learning DVD series is that by Learn and Master. And it’s backed up with a pack of play-along CD’s. If you follow this link to the Learn and Master Piano website, you can see an introductory video.
4. Piano Lesson Books
Even more old-school than the DVD, but certainly the most cost-effective way to teach yourself to play the piano is to invest in some good learn piano books. In fact whichever method you choose to learn piano, whether you invest in an online course, purchase piano software, or buy a DVD, a good piano music book or two will be an essential extra purchase. Before computers, tablets, and TVs the trusty piano lesson book was THE way you learnt to play!
The best book to learn piano as an adult is the hugely popular . This is the perfect book for the beginner student seeking for a complete piano course. It includes hand exercises, finger strengthening drills, and written assignments to reinforce each lesson. And it has a logical progression between each lesson, and a detailed explanation of chord theory and playing styles. By the end of the course you will have learned to play some of the most popular piano music ever written and you will have gained an understanding of basic musical concepts and styles.
Looking for something more? Here are the current best sellers in piano music instruction on Amazon, and hopefully at least one or two will help you achieve your goal of learning to play.
Willard A. Palmer (Author), Morton Manus (Author), Amanda Vick Lethco (Author)
Nancy Faber (Composer), Randall Faber (Composer)
Nancy Faber (Composer), Randall Faber (Composer)
Willard A. Palmer (Author), Morton Manus (Author), Amanda Vick Lethco (Author)
5. Lighted Keyboard Piano
Definitely one for the visual learners, an instructional keyboard with light-up keys is another approach you could consider. The principle is fairly self-explanatory. There is a small display on the keyboard which indicates which fingers to use, then the keys light up. You simply follow the lead of the keyboard. This can be a good way of developing keyboard skills, and can be a lot of fun.
It makes learning the keyboard more of a game than a chore. However, you would probably want to combine this method with one of the others mentioned here, so that eventually you would be able to play any piano or keyboard, not just one that lights up. Nevertheless, these lighted keyboards are well reviewed and extremely popular. They are certainly very popular with children.
I would recommend that you make sure the one you pick has got MIDI capability, so you can use it alongside apps and software (the cheapest Casios have limited capability so buy the best one you can). The main contender in the lighted key keyboard field is CASIO. They produce a whole range of Lighted Keys keyboards. The more you spend, the more comprehensive the teaching package and the more connectivity you get. They even produce one or two with mic input so you can sing along.
Yamaha also produce keyboard with lighted keys, the Yamaha EZ-220. This particular keyboard is available for a very good price including stand and headphones, and works alongside the Yamaha Educational Suite.
Finally, if you are in the US or Canada, then the Smart Piano Keyboard is definitely a worthy alternative to the big two. Smart have invested a great deal in their Smart Piano App as well. Unfortunately (at the time of writing) does not seem to be available in the UK ….
Just A Gimmick?
The world does seem to be a bit divided as to whether lighted keyboard pianos are a gimmick, or worth buying. My view is that they are actually very well priced, and incredibly well reviewed on Amazon. And you do not have to use them in lighted key mode all the time. So if you are considering buying a keyboard anyway to start to learn, why not one of these?
A different option would be to purchase a standard keyboard, get it connected to your computer or tablet, and give the Synthesia app a go. It’s not quite the same as a lighted keyboard, but the principle is very similar.
6. Connect and Record Yourself … Listen and Learn
So learning how to record your keyboard or piano isn’t exactly the most obvious way to teach yourself piano. However, combined with any of the above methods, recording yourself will help you progress more quickly. In fact piano tutor software like eMedia includes a digital recorder so you can record and play yourself back. This feature allows you to compare your recordings with the instructor’s version, fine tune your skills and even share your recordings with friends and family.
In fact I am so passionate about being able to record yourself I wrote an entire and free online course on how to record your piano keyboard on PC, Mac and iPad. You can see all the videos totally free here.
It is also most important to learn how to connect your keyboard to your computer using MIDI. That is because most piano software and many online piano courses are interactive. However they can only interact if your keyboard is connected. Many keyboards now connect with a USB lead, or if your keyboard has standard MIDI ports you might need to invest in a USB-MIDI interface.
Listen to yourself play so you can pinpoint the bits you need to work on. Difficult to listen objectively whilst you play. To benefit from the digital recorder in the software, or to record yourself in any recording software you do need the right equipment. You can read more about different ways to record your keyboard but our absolute top recommendation is the Presonus AudioBox iTwo. Here’s why:
- stereo inputs and MIDI. use one bit of kit to do both audio and MIDI (as long as your keyboard has MIDI ports. If it is USB MIDI then you can connect it direct)
- works cross platform on iPad, PC and Mac for ultimate portability
- Presonus make software that works on both PC and Mac and interfaces with their iPad app – there is a light version included with the interface
7. Find A Piano Teacher
I’ve left this one til last for a reason. Because when all is said and done, the best way to learn piano is to find a good piano teacher. And the most effective way to find a good teacher near where you live is through word of mouth, or local reviews. Then book a couple of trial lessons to make sure you both get along. What suits one person might not suit another.
Even if this way is best, there are a number of problems with finding and keeping a good piano teacher:
- there simply may not be a piano teacher based conveniently for you
- paying a piano teacher will very quickly become far more expensive than any other method
- you get limited time with the teacher …. then you have to go away and learn on your own
- attending regular piano lessons can be difficult to fit in to a busy schedule
I was lucky enough to have a few lessons when I was a child which definitely helped me to get so far. But I haven’t learnt from a teacher for years. What has been useful is being able to develop piano skills using software and online courses. On top of that, my teacher always focused on learning to read music … and more recently I have become much more interested in learning to play by ear and improvise.
So if you can find a good teacher, and can afford it …. great! But even if you do, you will still progress very much more quickly if you also invest in some good software, and online program or music books. That is how I have kept learning and developing my own piano playing skills.
Too Late To Learn?
No, it is never too late to learn the piano! If you’re interested in adult piano lessons, but are concerned that you have left it too late, then you will enjoy this inspirational post on the BBC site. The writer of this post found herself in good company when starting to learn the piano as a grown-up. Adults everywhere are learning the piano to relieve stress, focus their minds – and for the sheer joy it brings. So do try at least one of the above. You will be very glad you did. And let us know how you get on as you learn to play the piano.