You probably already know this: music makes life better. If you’ve ever been stuck in car with no stereo or tried to clean up your house in complete silence, you know what I mean. And not everyone is content to just listen to music. If you’re here, you’re probably thinking about how to play tunes on your own. Once you narrow down your instrument options, you’ll start asking yourself questions like “what is the best way to learn piano online?” (1) Or maybe even “where is the nearest tambourine tutor?”
I can’t really help you with that second question, but I’m more than happy to help with the first. In the immortal words of Frank Zappa:
“Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid.”
Choosing the Right Instrument
“I haven’t understood a bar of music in my life, but I have felt it.”
The obvious first step to playing music is picking an instrument! (2) You’ve got a lot of instrument types to choose from, such as:
- Stringed instruments: violins, cellos, guitars, harps, pianos, etc
- Brass instruments: trumpets, tubas, French horns, etc
- Woodwind instruments: flutes, clarinets, oboes, bassoons, etc
- Percussion instruments: drums, marimbas, xylophones, pianos, etc
Whew – that’s not even all the options! (If you have an eye for detail, you might have noticed something a bit odd. I’ll give you a second to think about it… The piano: it falls into both the stringed and percussion instruments categories. Cool, right?)
Since this is a piano-focused site, I’m going to take the fact that you are reading this post as a sign that you are mostly interested in piano. Don’t sue me if I’m wrong, because I’m no mind reader! But if you are looking for help with instruments other than piano, let me save you some time and tell you that you need to Google around a bit more. I’m going to be talking about piano from here on out.
Choosing Your Learning Pathway
“It’s never too late to do anything new when it comes to music.”
You’re still here! That must mean you are trying to figure out the best way to learn piano online, or at least exploring your options. This is the right place for you, so let’s talk about what you should look for in a piano-learning program.
Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first: there are a lot of stereotypes about learning piano. When you think about it, you’re probably imagining sitting in a room somewhere at an acoustic piano, with a teacher right there watching your every move. You’re probably picturing countless drills, long hours practicing, and stacks of sheet music taking over your music stand. Hopefully you’re not also picturing being frustrated and bored!
But I wouldn’t blame you if you were concerned about frustration and boredom – the way that society depicts piano lessons is pretty dreary, and unfortunately it’s also fairly accurate. Traditional lessons are not really set up for fun. They are set up to ground you in basic music theory, teach you sight reading, and have you work your way up from simplistic kiddie tunes to more complex pieces.
It’s a long process. It’s not always exciting or interesting. And in my experience, it doesn’t necessarily get you to the point where you can play whatever you want. But that doesn’t change the fact that piano should be at least a tiny bit fun – what’s the point if it isn’t? (3)
What is the Best Way to Learn Piano Online: Is That the Right Question to be Asking?
There are definitely people who do gravitate towards a traditional approach. Maybe you’re excited by the thought of playing Bach and Beethoven, and you are okay with all the work you’ll have to do to get to that point. Maybe you love routine and find the thought of weekly lessons (same time, same place, same teacher) reassuring. Or maybe you want the strict accountability of having a teacher standing over you and monitoring your progress.
That’s fine! There’s nothing wrong with preferring the traditional way. But in that case, asking what is the best way to learn piano online is probably the wrong question. If you know you want the traditional experience, you should seek out traditional, local teachers. I’m not saying you shouldn’t give my approach a try, but I want to make sure you understand that what I teach is definitely not traditional. 😉
What is the Best Way to Learn Piano Online if You Want to Focus on Ear Training
What about if you’re interested in learning to play by ear? And what is the best way to learn piano online if you want to develop your ear training?
I’m not an ear training expert, but I do have some buddies who play this way. There are a lot of top-rated YouTube videos that you can easily find, with exercises that will help you develop your listening ability. Not everyone who does ear training chooses to memorize notes by ear the way that you’re probably picturing, but it’s certainly possible if you’re passionate about doing so. The key will be to find exercises you understand, and to practice, practice, practice.
Now, I have nothing against practice… but I’m a former engineer. I don’t really want to play by ear alone, because I like tangible benchmarks and tools that make sense to my analytical mind in a way that ear training alone just doesn’t do. Which is why I’m a big fan of…
If you’ve read my About page, you already know that I gave 12 years of life to trying traditional lessons, with very unimpressive results. But the story didn’t end there! I met someone who showed me how chord-based playing works, and that changed everything for me.
When thinking about what is the best way to learn piano online, you’d be hard-pressed to find a faster or easier way of doing that than my chord-based approach. There’s really no comparison to traditional lessons: my students spend very little time drilling and spend a whole lot of time playing modern tunes. It can take as little as 21 days for them to go from complete beginners to competent, happy piano students who are empowered to play music they love.
Obviously I’m a little biased, but if you ask me what is the best way to learn piano online, I’m always going to learn towards chord-based playing. There’s no scary sheet music, no years of costly in-person lessons, and no Chopin* in sight. And since courses like mine are self-paced, you get to have a ton more control over when and how often you learn. That’s a huge difference from the more regimented schedule you have to maintain with traditional lessons!
*To be clear, I’m not against Chopin in general, just against playing centuries-old music if you don’t actually want to.
Picking the Best Way to Learn Piano in 2020
“…a piano is just a piano. It’s made out of so much wood and wires and little hammers and big ones, and ivory. While there’s only so much you can do with it, the only way to find this out is to try; to try and make it do everything.”
Now that you know your main options, you need to compare them to your piano goals and your specific learning needs. Consider:
- What kind of music you want to play
- How quickly you hope to learn
- What kind of schedule you are willing to maintain (both for lessons and practice)
- Whether you value independence or accountability more
- Your learning style
- What you’re comfortable investing your time and money in
That last point is very important, because not everyone is comfortable investing in the same ways. Some people get very nervous about committing to expensive in-person lessons with cancellation fees and relatively slow-paced progress. Others are not too keen to pay for lessons online, because it feels less “real.”
These are all valid considerations, and no matter which side of the fence you fall on there are options available to you.
How Can I Teach Myself to Learn to Play the Piano Fast?
All that said, I want to really hone in for a moment on the idea of learning quickly. Not everyone cares about that, but a great many people do. Because in this busy day and age, it’s hard to find time for yourself and your interests, piano included!
If your main focus is on getting fast results, you can cross off traditional piano from your list. And trying to DIY your learning with YouTube tutorials or develop your ear training skills can also be a very circuitous route to actually playing piano!! That leaves chord-based playing. 😉
I can’t tell you how many times a week I hear from my students, gleeful and giddy over how quickly they are progressing with my chord-based approach. And I’m thankful to say that the positive reviews affirming that fact just keep rolling in! (You can check them out here.)
So I feel very comfortable saying that chord-based playing is a truly effective, fast way to get playing piano – the answer to your question if you’re asking what is the best way to learn piano online.
What is the Best Way to Learn Piano Online
“The piano keys are black and white but they sound like a million colors in your mind.”
Maria Cristina Mena
Obviously, if you ask me what I think is the best way to learn piano online, I have an opinion about that. I wouldn’t have taken the time to develop my own piano-learning resources if I thought my approach didn’t work. And I certainly wouldn’t have invested my time and effort into putting those resources online, unless I believed that online learning wasn’t an effective format for many people!
The fact is, no one is exactly the same or has the exact same goals or needs. But you know what else is true? Many people have goals and needs that overlap. My students aren’t all carbon-copy cookie-cutter versions of each other, but they do often have a few things in common.
Most are adults, many of whom are retirement age. A majority of them simply don’t have the time to attend regular in-person lessons for months or years in a row. Most have a bucket list of songs they want to play, but just don’t know where to start. Many have had a look at sheet music (4) and realized that it’s just not for them.
For those people, a simpler chord-based approach like mine is a great place to start. And if you count yourself among those people, look no further! But ultimately, only you really know what your goals are and what kind of piano learning program you are looking for. It’s an individual decision that some research and experimentation should help you narrow things down.
Best Online Piano Lessons for Beginners
I’m very proud of the top-rated reviews and testimonials Piano In 21 Days has earned over time, and my students’ satisfaction is a top priority for me. There may not be any perfect, one-size-fits-all system. But I’ve done my best to (in my opinion) create what is the best way to learn piano online, especially for adult learners.
If that sounds like something you are interested in – if you want what is the best way to learn piano online – the best way to get started is my free 5-day workbook, so make sure you check that out. I hope you’ll stick around! 😉
- NCES, Fast Facts: Distance Learning, https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=80
- Catherine Ulbricht, Music Therapy for Health and Wellness, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/natural-standard/201306/music-therapy-health-and-wellness
- Sébastien Paquette and Geneviève Mignault Goulet, Lifetime benefits of musical training, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4010741/
- Wikipedia, Sheet music, https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheet_music