One of my favorite online learning tools for piano is flowkey. It has hundreds of songs in all different styles and more are added regularly. Several students and I have used flowkey to learn popular songs (I have lots of Coldplay fans in my studio and tons of their songs are on flowkey!), some classics, as well as some Christmas songs.
I recommend signing up for a free account where you’ll have access to 8 songs. You can upgrade to a paid account at any time if you want more songs.
I have quite a few students who love to learn by watching piano tutorials on YouTube. I generally support this, because all of these students tend to have a really strong ear and their technical skills are far beyond their reading skills. I love that there are ways for them to learn satisfying and challenging music without being held back as they are learning to read better. (And of course we’re catching up on the sight-reading skills, but it takes time!)
There are a few things that I’m not crazy about on YouTube though. A lot of the tutorials only show which keys to play, so my students get in the bad habit of inventing unconventional fingerings. Some of the YouTube videos feature a person explaining what to play, but I find that often times, these people are self-taught musicians and aren’t necessarily using correct language, proper technique, good fingerings, etc.
Flowkey has everything I want my students to be seeing and hearing in a tutorial. My favorite part is that it is interactive. Students can highlight and select parts of the music to work on and the music loops over that section while the student learns it. The music plays out loud and the student can see the sheet music and hands on the piano.
The bottom half of the screen shows notated music that scrolls to the left.
The top half of the screen is a birds-eye view of a real person playing the music. You can see their fingers on the keys, and the keys are highlighted as they play the music.
A student can select a little piece of a song, as much or as little as they want. A lot of times, we focus on one measure, but other times, it’s nice to work on a whole phrase. With the selected portion of music, the student can choose to work on each hand separately in either a fast or slow mode.
One of the best features is the “wait” mode. This feature uses the computer’s microphone and pauses the music until the student has played the correct notes.
It’s awesome that flowkey combines so many different learning modalities, so students are bound to be successful with it. It’s important for students to have the visual component of seeing how the music corresponds with the sheet music, but being able to see hands on a keyboard is a completely different visual that resonates better with some students.
In all of the different modes, music is always playing audibly, which is great for auditory learners and visual learners.
I’ve had many parents of students inquire about taking piano lessons with me and most times, they discover that they’re to busy to add something else into their schedule. Flowkey would be perfect for parents who want to learn alongside their child but don’t necessarily have time for a weekly lesson. There are 19 video courses available on flowkey for beginners who have never played before.
When I’m using flowkey, I really enjoy being forced to learn differently than what comes naturally to me. Usually, when I start a new piece of music, I sight read the whole thing, then depending on the difficulty of the song, I work in pretty big sections, or if it’s not too hard, I’ll work on the whole song.
With flowkey, you can only see small sections at a time. Rather than having a scope of the entire song, you really break it down piece by piece and you learn each piece really well. With the loop feature, you’re forced to repeat sections when you normally might continue reading. By the time you get to the end of a song, you have actually learned the whole thing. It’s really satisfying to learn this way!
Flowkey is a great tool to supplement your traditional piano lessons. The monthly fee is quite reasonable and comparable to buying a book each month. Even though we have so many great learning resources at our fingertips these days, I still firmly believe that nothing can replace a human teacher that cares about you and can immediately react and respond to your playing.
Flowkey has been a really efficient way for my students to learn the notes of songs their interested in, then I can help them develop the musical side – expressions, technique, dynamics, pedaling, etc.
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