There’s never been a better time to learn an instrument. There are so many efficient tools and resources available to us that you can actually develop your musical skills in a short period, all by yourself. One of these tools is flowkey, which will help you pick up the piano. It’s a great platform to absorb a wide variety of skills, and Yamaha partnered with them to allow you to learn how to play countless songs in different styles, from beginner level to advanced.

Detailed video lessons for all levels

The courses in flowkey are well designed and feature several tools to help you get started. A number of subjects are explored such as the basics, chords, scales, accompaniment and improvisation. Short videos will explain these various concepts and then you’ll move on to actual playing.

In the lesson interface, a scrolling musical staff shows you which notes to play while a video screen displays an overhead view of the hands of a pianist practising with you. This helps to visualize the hand movements and to understand which fingers to use for each note. This also enables people that can’t read music to learn visually.

Before you actually play, you get to listen to the part multiple times to get an idea of how it is supposed to sound. Then, it is broken down to smaller parts that you perform on each hand separately and eventually together. A note detection system is implemented and will wait for you until you correctly perform the section.

Yamaha piano

Learn your favourite songs

A big part of flowkey is the massive song library. You’ll have access to sheet music for over 1500 different songs. The interface is the same as in the lessons. You’ll be able to watch an actual pianist perform any section and you’ll be able to practice each hand one at a time before combining them. To make this easier, the app will only play the audio for the hand selected and will only show you the keys for that hand. There’s also a handy loop tool to work on harder parts that require more attention.

Various difficulty levels

One of the best parts of flowkey is that most of the repertoire offered on the app provides different arrangements that scale to the level of the player. For difficult songs, flowkey has recorded easy versions of most songs in their library, so new players can learn their favourite pieces without too much trouble. The levels range from beginner to pro, with intermediate and advanced in between. In beginner charts, chords and rhythms are simplified and the melody is greatly emphasized. There are fewer stretches, no awkward chords and little counterpoint (moving voices). The key might be modified to include more white keys. This makes a big part of the repertoire instantly available, without the need for a teacher or pianist to provide a bespoke, simplified arrangement.

Intermediate and advanced arrangements increase the difficulty by adding more of the original elements. There are more notes in the chords, rhythms vary between left and right hands and more melodic interplay. The higher you go in level, the closer you are to the original intention of the composer.

Also caters to more advanced players

There’s a fourth level called Pro. It’s available for particularly difficult pieces such as Clair de Lune by Debussy or some of the Nocturnes by Chopin. Additionally, this setting also represents a refined arrangement of some popular songs. It also includes embellishments of the melody, possibly chromatic movement, lots of rhythmic variety and big left hand leaps and arpeggiation to accompany the right hand. The result is a high-level, lovely rendition of a well-known song, similar to what a professional solo piano player would perform for an audience.

This system makes it easy for pianists to progress by adding the different elements that appear in higher levels. By initially learning a simpler arrangement, a solid melodic foundation is set and then the parts that make a piece unique are included. Overall, it’s an excellent cumulative system that teaches the instrument’s mechanics through study of the instrument’s repertoire.

Available for most devices and operating systems

flowkey is compatible with a wide variety of devices, so you can learn comfortably no matter where you are or what your setup is. For desktop and laptop users, the platform is optimized for Google Chrome.

For those that wish to use their phones or tablets, the flowkey app is available for a wide range of iPads and iPhones, android smartphones and tablets and windows tablets.

Various subscription models

flowkey offers various subscription models that will fit every budget. First of all, the service has a free tier. It unlocks 8 songs to learn and a few of the lessons. This is a great way to experiment with the platform and to see how it works.

The rest of the features require a premium membership. There are flexible plans that will match your needs. You’ll have the option between a monthly, 6-month or yearly subscription. Longer periods evidently offer savings on previous plans.

If you want to check out all the premium features of flowkey without committing to a subscription, a yearly membership will give you a 7-day trial for free. It’s enough time to browse through the available lessons and see if your favourite songs are included. If you decide the platform is not for you, make sure to cancel 24 hours before the trial period ends.

Compatible with acoustic and digital pianos

You can learn on most types of pianos with flowkey. Acoustic pianos and digital keyboards with speakers will be detected by the built-in microphone of your device. If you have a keyboard with no speakers, you can also use the MIDI or USB port. Keep in mind that depending on what you use to run the app, you might need extra adapters or cables to interface with your instrument.

flowkey is a great platform to get you started on the piano. It has many different lessons to help you with the basics and more advanced concepts that will be very useful to you as a musician. It has an incredible amount of beautiful music to learn. As a supplement to private or group lessons, it will offer a different approach that will be beneficial to your progress. Also, the extra repertoire you’ll have access to is an excellent way of expanding your horizons.

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Nikolai Olekhnovitch
Nikolai Olekhnovitch is a professional guitarist from Montreal. The experience and musical versatility he acquired during his music studies and involvement with diverse musical acts come in quite handy when reviewing various instruments. When he is not on the road performing, he’s exploring martial arts and seeking out the perfect espresso.