Flowkey Online Piano Lessons Full Review

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Flowkey is thorough, innovative, and has a lot of features that other online piano lesson services just don’t have. Right from the beginning, you have the unique option to practice your lessons on an acoustic piano by using a microphone on a mobile device with the Flowkey app. This is the only software that we’ve reviewed that gives you this option in addition to MIDI connectivity. This feature is one of many reasons this software is definitely one of the best contenders for a program I would recommend for an aspiring pianist to learn from.

Another aspect of this program that I really enjoy for both new and experienced players alike is the song library. The number of choices you have is immense as well as having some different musical styles to pick from. You’ll gain access to sheet music and accommodating tutorial videos to just about any song you might want to add to your repertoire.

Not only that, it also has many features that make it easier for students to learn the songs by having a slow down feature, “wait mode”, and a score looping feature available for every song. We will be going over each of these features and tools below!

Now that you have an overview of what Flowkey is like on the surface, let’s delve into some more specific aspects of the program.

Flowkey Online Piano Lessons Overview

Microphone note detection

Simple Navigation

Eclectic Song Library

Advanced/Beginner friendly

Linear curriculum

Somewhat high monthly cost without a commitment

Courses

Introduction to the piano

When initially exploring the course material as a beginner, you are given a great amount of different kinds of material to digest, but definitely lets you observe it in a pragmatic and easily understood fashion.

With the introductory lesson, which is included with the free trial, you cover every foundation of piano playing, starting with learning about the different parts of the piano and then immediately leads you into plucking some notes on easy songs with your right hand.

The next few lessons cover your first stepping stones of how sheet music works as well as adding your left hand into the mix while not neglecting to focus a good amount of the lessons on rhythm and note value concepts for the beginner. This really gives you a great foundation to ease into the next lessons that primarily focus on getting the hang of playing with both hands. The play-along keyboard in the videos shows fingering and highlights which keys to play, making it especially easy for beginners to see when playing with both hands.

piano introduction

Intermediate

These next few lessons cover a range of concepts like understanding accidentals, key changes, playing in 6/8 time, and crossover techniques. All of these lessons are extensions of furthering your knowledge in reading sheet music and just as musical voices lead from one note to the next, these lessons segue into the most important concept in a pianist’s journey: chords.

After you are familiarized with how the sheet music operates and how notes are built on the staff, you then are tasked with learning what chord shapes are the most common, how to build chords, and how to execute chord accompaniment. Since the piano is a ‘chordal’ instrument, these skills are foundationally important. Every pianist must know how chords work in order to be a useful and mature pianist. On the other hand, you could always be the guy in the band that says “wait, what’s the next chord?”

song selection

Advanced

This next chunk of lessons is under the title “Improvising with Chords”. This section consists of a group of lessons expanding on chord knowledge and building more complex chords. In addition, a good foundation for improvising accompaniments is taught with learning basic rhythmic patterns and styles as well as learning techniques to add ‘color’ to chord progressions with 7th chord qualities or added 9ths and 6ths. In that same sense, the whole section is wrapped up with a lesson called “Improvising in Various Pop Styles” where you learn to accompany many popular songs.

I think this lesson segment can be very powerful to the right student. This is where I imagine most recreational pianists’ stopping points would be as everything up to this point gives you the tools to play most pop, rock, country, and more on the keyboard. There is nothing wrong with stopping and procuring what you love! The greatest musicians out there all have something that they’re talented at doing and that comes from hours of doing the same type of exercise or technique as much as their heart desires until they are masters. Music is unique in this way; it is OK to practice what you already know!

Music Reading for Piano

Music reading is critical for professional pianists in particular; many pianists’ careers are totally based off of reading music. This course has a very rudimentary approach to teaching it, which is just fine for any beginners. Over the course of 6 individual lessons, you are familiarized with the notes on both the treble (right hand) and bass (left hand) clefs with short exercises designed to practice the notes in little bite-sized chunks.

For instance, the first lesson is just the right hand playing C, D, and E in different permutations and concludes with an interactive exercise. Having short but foundational lessons like this is a nice practical approach to teaching the first steps of reading to someone who maybe doesn’t have all the time in the world or is a slow learner.

I don’t agree with this aspect of piano playing being so sectioned off into its own category because it is such an integral part of the instrument. Every musical situation can be translated into the musical staff and pianists especially should be able to read it very well if they’re wanting to be proficient in their profession.

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Scales

The final two lesson segments will have you playing all the major and natural minor scales they could think of. This part of the course is lacking in the relativity of the lessons. Why are they learning the scales? What will this improve in myself as a pianist? There’s no reason to think that it could diminish your capabilities, but it sure isn’t as exciting as learning the chords to your favorite song without the right context.

You are presented with 22 courses of just scale after scale, fingering after fingering. Honestly, I can see this section boring a student to death. The way I got myself to learn scales many years ago was through practicing the art of improvisation and transcribing. This method led me to yearn the knowledge to improve my single-note capabilities and created a really exciting and involving platform for me to enjoy the results with.

To me, scales are a soil to grow the seed of improvisation as well as a push in the direction of understanding key signatures. Scales are the basis of note choice in solos, harmonizing, how a single-note or harmonized line can make someone feel, and much more. This somewhat falls into the subject of Jazz Improvisation, but it is a concept available for all genres and really makes scales a subject that relates to students and players much more than using scales to improve technique and not much more. Upon learning these scales, memorizing how many sharps and flats they have and the fingerings, you also develop an understanding of key signatures that will help you greatly when playing sheet music that you’ve never played before or unexpected key changes.

Flowkey practice

Song Library & How It Works

The song library is always the most exciting part of any online lesson platform. Flowkey has a plethora of different songs to choose and much of the material is pointed toward the two most popular piano genres: Pop and classical, though there is a lot more to choose from. I love the layout of the song learning platform on this program, it has everything from video of a keyboard with all the fingerings laid out at the top of the screen to the scrolling notes on the musical staff below.

Not to mention the innovative tools you have to work with like ‘slow mode’ and ‘wait mode’. Slow mode does just what it sounds like it does, slows down the song. This helps with working up a song to full speed when initially learning the tune. ‘Wait mode’ is very nice because it waits for you to play the right note before the musical staff will move on to the rest of the song. This is a great way to get students to understand and hear wrong notes.

Mobile App

Flowkey is available on the Google marketplace for Android as well as the App Store for iOS. Having tried both of the operating systems, they both are essentially exactly the same as the website. However, now that it has mobility, this may be ideal for someone who only has an acoustic piano. As mentioned before, this is the only online piano lesson format that has microphone capabilities to accurately detect notes; this can be used on the mobile app for practicing very conveniently anywhere on any piano you may have access to.

Not many people have the luxury of running into pianos on a regular basis, but particularly students of music at a school studying a different instrument will eventually have to learn the piano by way of curriculum. This can be a proactive way to get a leg up before everyone else!

The app can also be really helpful in households that only have an acoustic piano and no computer setup with MIDI capabilities. Having your child practice at grandma’s upright piano on the weekends on your iPad could be a way to get them interested without you having to put up the money for expensive lessons.

courses

Value

Even though it isn’t the cheapest program, there are quite superior features you get with Flowkey in terms of tools and teaching. The option to use the microphone for note detection is a powerful quality and some of the tools you’re given when learning songs or sheet music like the ‘slow’ and ‘wait’ modes, not to mention the huge library of popular songs, just aren’t found in other programs. If you’ve decided to go with the three-month commitment price of $12.99 for instance, you’ve gotten yourself quite an innovative and useful program with all the bells and whistles for a reasonable price.

Strong/Weak points

There are a lot of strong points to this program that I’ve already mentioned. The tools given to you are spectacular, the song choices are anything but narrow-minded, and the instruction videos are interactive and good quality. Now, let’s touch on a weaker point of the program:

When the course section of Flowkey is examined as a whole, it seems very linear in terms of projected progression. You learn how to play with both hands, then you learn how chords work and how to play them, then you learn songs, then you learn patterns, and finally you learn scales.

I think that getting through an introductory section will be linear in itself, but afterwards there needs to be a mix of aspects in order to more easily procure enough skills to really choose what kind of piano player you want to be later on down the road. With this in mind, it would be best to consciously mix and match the lessons the more comfortable you get. This should especially be kept in mind when thinking of the ‘scales’ section of this program. Scales are very important, but the way it’s laid out in this program just will not encapsulate your attention.

practice video

Final Thoughts

Whatever your goal is as a pianist, a good foundation of knowledge can be found here if you’re willing to stick with it. Flowkey can give you all the knowledge necessary to play your favorite songs from almost any genre, unless you are only willing to play Tchaikovsky. The curriculum of Flowkey is suggestively linear, so this is definitely not a get-good-quick scheme but it is well designed to capture the attention of someone who is inexperienced at the piano. Everything from the tools you are given to learn songs to the complexities of the more advanced sheet music is a breeding ground for musical accomplishment and comes pretty highly recommended for anyone wanting to improve on or begin piano playing.

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