Pianoforall might be the biggest online piano course on the planet but is it the best?
Let’s first begin by discussing what is going on right at this moment at Pianoforall.
Pianoforall is going through somewhat of a transition this year – 2022. There are currently two versions of the course available. One via the Pianoforall website (which is the one you’ll find in pretty much every other Pianoforall review but this one) and another via Udemy.
By the end of 2022, both courses will be merged into one and will be in the same format as the current Udemy course. To go directly to see what the differences are then click here.
- What Is Pianoforall?
- Getting Started
- What set up do I need?
- Installing the App on your Device
- Android and iOS
- Core Features Explained
- Learning and Teaching Method
- Beginner Lessons
- Intermediate and Advanced Courses
- What’s the difference between the new Pianoforall course and the old book-based one?
- How Long Does It Take To Learn Piano with Pianoforall?
- What languages is Pianoforall available in?
- How Good Is It For Kids?
- What are the Differences Between the Free and Paid versions?
- How Does Pianoforall Compare to Getting a Private Tutor?
- Does It Actually Work?
- How Does It Compare to Its Competitors?
- Where It Could Be Improved
- Community and Forums
What Is Pianoforall?
Pianoforall is an online piano learning course essentially set up to teach the piano to complete beginners or people that have not played in a while. More advanced piano players may benefit from some of the later piano courses but it essentially starts from scratch.
The aim is to turn a complete beginner into a competent or intermediate pianist in the shortest possible time but in a fun way.
The course is different from some other piano and keyboard courses (except Piano Marvel) as it uses a combination of video instruction with downloadable PDF documents. You are guided through all the material by the one and only Robin Hall.
There have already been around 350,000 people who have taken this piano course, so you’ll be in good company.
What set up do I need?
To join in with the course, you will need access to either a piano or a keyboard. A keyboard is obviously more practical and economical for someone who is just starting out.
You can also use a smaller MIDI keyboard with your laptop, but Pianoforall is one-directional ie. there is no feedback, so you won’t be able to use it to assess your progress against any software. MIDI keyboards are cheap and economical and you can easily pick one up from Amazon.
You don’t need any extra software to read the PDFs on a laptop. I have been opening them in the Chrome browser and reading them there. You may need to download an app such as Adobe Acrobat reader on mobile though depending on how your phone is set up. Google Drive PDF Viewer was what worked for me.
Installing the App on your Device
There is no Pianoforall app for the website but Udemy does have its own app if you sign up with them. You can download the Udemy app from either the App Store or Google Play and then sign in. Once signed in, you can just choose the Pianoforall course and you’re away.
Android and iOS
The Udemy app is essentially a condensed version of the desktop website. You could just as easily open the site up in your phone or tablet’s browser to get the same results.
One of the nice things about the app is that one tap on the app’s icon and you’re straight in. You also have access to all of Udemy’s video features, such as controlling the video’s speed as well as skipping backwards and forwards 15 seconds with just one tap.
You are also able to enqueue videos for download or just download everything in one go (depending on your phone’s hardware).
An interesting feature is the ability to make notes. You can tap on the notepad icon in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen. It will pause the video and allow you to make notes for that specific moment in time on the video. You then need to go to “More” and “Notes” to access it.
It’s not always immediately obvious how to access the PDFs via the app. Once you’re in the lesson you want to learn, you need to click on the three dots in the top right-hand corner. A pop-up will appear, you then click on “Lecture Resources”. This will then show you the PDF associated with this course. You will then need to have your PDF reader app ready to open the PDF up.
Core Features Explained
Unlike a lot of the online piano learning platforms out there, Pianoforall takes a different approach. You are supposed to follow the course in a certain order to learn the piano or keyboard.
The ten sections (or books) are split up into different genres (musical styles) and increase with difficulty as you progress through the course.
The first course is aimed at complete beginners to the piano. It begins by teaching the very basics of piano playing which include getting familiar with the keyboard and learning which key represents which musical note. You also cover other basic stuff like how to form piano chords and fingering.
By the end of section 1, those who have taken their time to master these steps will have a strong understanding of the very basics of the piano.
The first five sections are supposed to “lay the foundation”. During this phase of the course, the aim is to get you playing piano chords and even playing some songs such as “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” and “Auld Land Syne”.
The last five sections are aimed at driving home and mastering what you have already learned by playing some more difficult stuff on the piano.
Learning and Teaching Method
Robin Hall’s no-nonsense approach to learning the piano is “play first, ask questions later”. Robin believes that this is the fastest and most enjoyable way to learn the piano.
Most old-school piano courses begin with Sight Reading or learning by memorizing other people’s compositions with musical notation. Pianoforall aims to flip this on its head by starting with chords and learning to play by ear. You will learn the more laborious task of Sight Reading passively as you go through the course.
This is quite a different approach to say, Piano Marvel, which heavily emphasizes reading sheet music.
In the first lessons of section 1 (which is for complete beginners), he goes over the piano basics in a lot of detail and explicitly tells you what you need to know and memorize before moving on to the next video.
This may be a little frustrating for people who want to blast their way through the course and get to the end as soon as possible but there is some sense to this. The way the course is set up is to build on the piano skills that you have already learned.
If you haven’t nailed the section before, then you will face problems with the new material as it simply builds upon that. This is especially important in the very first few classes.
Flowkey is an excellent choice for someone learning the piano from scratch. You have nearly 9 hours of video lessons, all accompanied by written PDFs to help you out.
In section 1, the course starts by talking you through the various notes on a piano keyboard and what their names are. It then moves on to playing chords and fingering. You’ll then be taught about rhythm, C family chords, popular progressions like Half Beat Bounce and Oom Pah as well as Bossa Nova over the course of 87 piano lessons. By the time you have finished section 1, you should have a firm grasp of how to play some basic songs on the piano.
The style is slightly different than some other online piano courses in that it doesn’t start with scales and finger exercises. The course is designed to naturally develop your fingers and try and keep the course more fun and less theoretical.
Intermediate and Advanced Courses
To put it succinctly, pretty darn good! One of the things that surprised me about Pianoforall is that it has an extensive range of more advanced material beyond just the basics which are taught and explained in depth.
This makes it ideal for someone who has studied the piano before but never really mastered it and now wants to improve. You can skip the first few sections and start where you feel comfortable.
Sections 1-3 are essentially for piano beginners. Sections 4-6 are intermediate and sections 7-9 cover more advanced areas for the piano.
In the Advanced Chords section, Robin starts by talking you through his magic formula so you can bluff your way through these chords. It then goes over diminished chords and cluster chords. By the end of it, you’ll be learning popular progressions and Beatles-style rhythms.
The Advanced Blues and Fake Stride section extends on what you have already learned about chords and rhythm and introduces some sevenths and inversions.
The Taming of the Classics section goes into even more depth and teaches you songs such as La Donna e Mobile and The Blue Danube.
Although very advanced piano students might be better off with a private teacher, intermediate and some advanced students will definitely find some takeaways here.
What’s the difference between the new Pianoforall course and the old book-based one?
Videos! The book-based course only had PDFs or “books”. The latest version now includes videos and PDFs to guide you through the course.
The new piano course is actually slightly longer than the old one as it includes two new sections on Speed Learning and the Miracle of Mindfulness.
Speed learning is essentially a bunch of tips and tricks you can learn to help you learn the piano faster. The Miracle of Mindfulness section is more to do with the fact that the creator Robin Hall doubles up as a therapist.
The rest of the nine-section course largely remains the same.
How Long Does It Take To Learn Piano with Pianoforall?
According to Pianoforall, you can learn the piano “in weeks not years”. That said, as with learning any new skill, you will need to assign time every day or week to get your piano practice in. Obviously, if you can spend an hour a day, you’ll make faster progress than if you were to only spend an hour a week.
Putting it more mathematically, the total video play time of all the Pianoforall courses put together is just shy of 40 hours and then you have all the PDFs to read, plus the time you spend mastering the content.
Realistically, a beginner would need to spend 80-100 hours to finish this piano course and be a competent pianist.
If you can spend an hour a day working on the course, then you should be able to do that in less than three months.
Pianoforall recommends spending 20 minutes a day, so you’d be looking at closer to nine months at that pace.
What languages is Pianoforall available in?
Currently, the only audio language for Pianoforall is English narrated by the creator Robin Hall. There are English closed caption subtitles available for people who need a translation. There are 7 languages available including French, Spanish and even Turkish in the Udemy version. Surprisingly, there are no Asian languages, especially considering how popular the piano is in China and South Korea.
I wasn’t able to ascertain how good all the translations were on the whole as they are all auto-generated. I followed it in Spanish, a language I know, and it seemed pretty much spot on and definitely intelligible.
How Good Is It For Kids?
As with all online piano learning platforms, this will very much depend on the age and the willingness of the child to learn piano.
In my opinion, Pianoforall is probably not the best option for children of a young age to learn the piano. One of the reasons for this is that Pianoforall is not very interactive. It requires you to sit in front of a computer and do a video lesson and practice. On top of that, the PDFs may not be that exciting for kids.
I think something like Flowkey which provides feedback would be better suited for kids who are able to study on their own or with the help of a parent.
The pricing for the current Udemy course is a mere $20 with 73% off (Udemy always has ridiculous discounts).
You’ll pay slightly higher if you buy straight from the Pianoforall website which is currently priced at $39. This is apparently reduced from $79.
What are the Differences Between the Free and Paid versions?
Unfortunately, there is no free version for either course. Udemy does have a 30-day refund policy though. So, if you’re not satisfied with the course within that timeframe, you can get in touch with them for a refund.
How Does Pianoforall Compare to Getting a Private Tutor?
As with all online piano courses, the main difference is the price.
That is staggeringly cheap. An in-person piano teacher in New York will set you back in the region of $30-$50 an hour by comparison.
That said, clearly comparing just by price is not quite telling the whole story. If you have a professional teacher come over to your house once or twice a week, then that is surely going to be more motivational that learning piano online. Also, a private teacher can review your mistakes and bad habits and then give you personalized feedback.
Pianoforall can’t do that but Playground Sessions and Piano Marvel can.
If you’re a self-motivated person, Pianoforall checks all the boxes. But, if you can’t motivate yourself, then a private tutor may be a better option for you. It depends on you at the end of the day.
Does It Actually Work?
Yes, with one proviso, you put the effort in and set aside at least 20 minutes a day for studying. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to learning the piano and you will need to find the time. This is a huge course (probably the biggest we have ever reviewed), so there is a lot to take in.
How Does It Compare to Its Competitors?
The approach taken with Pianoforall is a little different from some of the other piano courses we have reviewed on KnowYourInstrument. You get the sense that you are being taught and guided through the whole process by a teacher.
This personalized approach to piano teaching taken by Robin Hall may not be to everyone’s liking. If you want a more formal beginners’ piano course then Playground Sessions or Flowkey might be a better option.
With some of the other piano courses, you are given instruction and then set free on a back catalog of songs to practice against. Pianoforall doesn’t unleash you to the wild, so to speak. In fact, Pianoforall doesn’t even have a song catalog.
It pretty much grabs you by the hand and walks you through everything.
Where It Could Be Improved
You can slow the video down or speed it up but this affects the narration as well. On a platform like Flowkey, you can adjust the video speed but still hear the notes quite clearly.
I think it would be better if there was a way to interact with and test your playing against the standard. At the moment, you basically watch the videos and read the PDFs. There’s no way to get assessed as to how well you’re doing other than by yourself.
You’ll also be hard pressed to find a song library – which is pretty much standard with other piano learning platforms.
The key difference with Pianoforall is that you’re buying a course. If you need a full piano learning environment, then check out our best online piano lesson reviews for more details.
Community and Forums
The Udemy app has a “Q&A” section where you’re able to pitch questions to the piano learning community. Robin himself actually responds to a lot of the questions, so you’re never too far from the actual trainer.
You can ask questions by simply clicking on “Ask a new question” and then choosing whether it’s course-related or something else. After that, you can just type in your question and submit it.
An interesting feature is that you have a few filter options to see if you’re question has already been asked. You can filter it down to the “Current lecture” or whether you want to check “All lectures”. You then have a couple of options as to whether you’d like “Recommended” questions or questions you’re following.
I find that engaging with a community of like-minded learners is really important. Plus, you can also read other people’s questions and have a go at answering them yourself.
If you buy Pianoforall from Udemy, then the support you receive for the product and your payments will be provided by Udemy itself. Udemy is one of the largest online education platforms in the world, so you can rest assured that it will be satisfactory.
With regard to the actual course content, you can find support as mentioned above via the “Q&A” section of each lecture. You can pitch questions there, that may be answered by other users or by the main man himself, Robin.
I didn’t actually test the “Q&A” section for this review, as I didn’t come across any issues. But, I have exchanged emails with Robin while I was writing this review to obtain more information or clarification and he usually responds within 24 hours, so he is very much on the ball.
So that concludes this Pianoforall review. Don’t forget to read our other online piano reviews and leave a comment below if you have any questions about Pianoforall.