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In Today's World, Anyone Can Learn to Play Piano

Traditional teachers and apps making playing piano fun

Shay Burk Staff Reporter
Published:
Updated:
4 min read
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If anyone wants to do it and can put the time in, they can do it. 
- Dana Fanning, piano teacher


Learning to play the piano doesn’t mean going to the grumpy old lady’s house down the street anymore.

In today’s world, people can access piano teachers who use online games and fun tools or simply go online and learn from the comfort of their own home.

Getting Started

College student Sebastian Boelhower started his college experience last fall pursuing a degree in music education and found his first challenge was learning to play the piano.

“Before last August, I had virtually no experience with this instrument and I knew I needed to learn it to earn my degree,” he said.

Boelhower started out with an instructor learning the basics of posture and finger placement. He learned basic scales and fragments of pieces.

With the start of the second semester, Boelhower knew the work would become more challenging.

“I was starting to really get the hang of it with guidance from my professor and countless hours in a practice room. Then the coronavirus happened,” he said.

The Coronavirus Factor

As with all other college students around the country, Boelhower was sent home for the rest of the semester due to the coronavirus. He had classes with his teacher on Zoom but found it challenging not to be in the same room.

While he had never really tried any apps, Boelhower decided he needed more help in his quarantine world.

“After a little bit of research, I decided to try the apps Flowkey and Piano by Yousician. Both of these apps have innumerable lessons and exercises, tutorials, and Yousician’s app will give feedback on the playing that it hears,” Boelhower said.

He opted for the free versions of the two apps and found that both had a lot of tools but likely had more in the paid version that he did not explore.

“I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on them, especially since I was already paying for a piano class,” Boelhower said. “I was able to glean some useful tips and lessons from these apps.”

Apps Make a Difference

Yousician was founded in 2010 in Helsinki, Finland by Chris Thür and Mikko Kaipainen based on their own passion for music. Their goal was to create a music platform where anyone would learn, play, create, and teach music anywhere in the world even with no prior experience.

The app gives users the ability to start at any level and work through the program at their own pace. There are weekly challenges and comprehensive progress tracking to help the student through the learning process.

Yousician tackles challenging portions of piano learning like playing chords with step-by-step video lessons, workouts, and fun songs to put the lesson in practice right away.

Flowkey, which was created in conjunction with the instrument maker Yamaha, gives students an at-their-own-pace way to learn piano through playing songs they know from the radio. 

Make it Easy to Understand

While piano teacher Dana Fanning doesn’t use Yousician or Flowkey in her classes, she uses the same concept of lessons and games to teach her students.

With some students as young as 7-years-old, Fanning said the key is to break all into easy to understand pieces.

“We use some music apps and it’s so much fun,” Fanning said. “Kids are smarter on these apps and they really learn.”

One of her favorites is Flash Note Derby, an app she uses to help students learn notes on the staff and having fun at the same time.

Fanning has also found that sometimes it’s easier for her students to watch another student trying to play the same piece on YouTube to get comfortable with it rather than watching the teacher.

The challenge with teaching adults versus children is that children are willing to learn in little bites while adults want to learn it all at once. And Fanning says adults really need to go slow as well, maybe not as slow as kids, but there is still a lot to learn and it won’t all come in a day.

“If anyone wants to do it and can put the time in, they can do it,” Fanning said. 

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In Today's World, Anyone Can Learn to Play Piano

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