You may have heard me mention flowkey before. It’s a really awesome app that teaches you how to play the piano. (You can read my review of it here and find a complete beginner’s guide here.) I don’t usually endorse apps that could take the place of a real live piano teacher, but I’ve found that flowkey is a great tool for piano teachers to incorporate into piano lessons. And, I realize it’s not always feasible for adults to work piano lessons into their schedules, so if you’re going to use an online app to learn piano, flowkey is the way to go!
I recently had the privilege of interviewing Jonas Gößling, the CEO of flowkey. He and the flowkey headquarters are located all the way over in Germany! I want to share with you what I’ve learned.
Pianissimo: Please give us a little background on how you started flowkey and how it’s going right now.
JG: We started flowkey with the idea to help people learn piano. There are millions of people out there that want to be able to play piano but don‘t do it because it is too time-consuming or frustrating. Our goal is to make it fundamentally easier and engaging.
After we’ve launched our iPad app in August 2015 we quickly became one of the leading products in this field, currently serving hundreds of thousands of users and thousands of paying customers.
Pianissimo: What exactly is flowkey? Can you explain this more for those who are unfamiliar with the app?
JG: In one sentence, flowkey is an app that helps you learn piano. It’s available as a web-app for PC/Mac and as an app for iPad and certain Android tablets. This summer we also launched flowkey for iPhones which was
a big milestone for us.
The app teaches you how to play popular songs and pieces and it also teaches you all the basics. It does so by showing you exactly how to play each note and giving you feedback. To achieve this we’ve developed a cutting edge note and chord recognition technology.
What are some different scenarios where flowkey has helped people be successful at the piano?
There are two main scenarios where our app is helping people every day.
The first one is helping adults get started with playing piano. These are people who have never played piano before and it’s one of their life goals. They use our courses to learn the basics and play their first songs within just a few days.
Another common scenario is when we help people who played as a child and want to get back into it. People who are returning to the piano as busy adults want to play the music they know and love. With flowkey they can do just that.
But the best way to explain the value of flowkey is probably to ask the people who are using it. So here are a few recent reviews from the app store:
“This is amazing! I love that you can ‘auto-loop’ sections. And play either hand…slow or with the ‘wait’ feature. The selection of music is great as well. If you want to learn and play the piano…this the app you need.”
“Over the years I’ve been tutored read books and used the internet sites! However nothing compares to Flowkey it is so enjoyable! And simple to understand with a wide choice in songs to learn or learning modules to complete! Thank you Flowkey :)”
“The program is fantastic. It is made for those who like to learn visually. You see the notes, and you visually see which notes the fingers are supposed to click. Lots of songs to learn from. It’s great because the program will have several versions of the same song, so you can learn on an easier arrangement and then as you progress you can tackle a more difficult arrangement of the same song. I requested Sounds of Silence be added, and I suppose others must also have requested the song, as it was added three weeks later. They try to add music for all tastes…classical, pop, modern rock, etc. Price for the lessons are very reasonable. Highly recommended.”
What tips do you have to help people get the most out of flowkey?
There are only two tips:
1) Get a proper digital or acoustic piano with 88 keys
2) Establish a daily practicing routine of roughly 20 minutes, e.g. each time you come home from work/school/university you make it a habit to practice with the app.
On your end, what is the process like to create a song? How long does it take? How do you choose new songs to add?
We‘re choosing songs mostly based on customer feedback and availability. We have developed a semi-automated process to create new video content for the app. Professional pianists can come to our studio and create a new song or exercise within minutes, given they can play the song without errors.
Are there any new developments in the works for flowkey?
This year we‘re focused on bringing flowkey to mobile phones. As to what comes next in terms of features or new products we can‘t share any details here.
How much is flowkey?
The app is free to download and has a number of free songs and course content. To get all songs and courses we offer different premium subscriptions:
Monthly subscription for $19.99/month
Quarterly subscription for for $38.99 ($12.99/month)
Yearly subscription for $119.99 ($9.99/month)
Pianissimo: Thank you to Jonas and to the whole flowkey team!
I’ve personally been using flowkey in my own practicing and I love having quick access to some many current songs and classic pieces of music. It’s exciting to see the notifications of all of the new songs that are regularly added. I encourage you to set up an account for free to try it out!
Bob Decker says
Impressive application. Should be a big help with practicing. Thanks for sharing an informative interview.