Learning the piano online is a great option for many people. You get to learn on your own schedule, and you can save money compared to the cost of taking in-person piano lessons.
Choosing the right course can be a challenge. Today, we’ll be taking a look at Flowkey vs Simply Piano. Both of these are online courses designed to get you playing the piano relatively quickly. In our review, we’ll do a deep dive into the features of both to help you make a decision.
Introducing The Courses
Before we get into the details and particular features of both Flowkey and Simply Piano, we’ll briefly introduce you to each one:
Flowkey is a thorough learning site that offers a great balance of theory, technique, and learning songs. Song videos let you see a pianist play as well as see the sheet music, which is a definite plus. Lots of piano learners love Flowkey for its many different learning modes — you can practice one hand at a time, loop lessons for repeated practice, set your own tempo, and more.
Pros & Cons of Flowkey
- There’s an option for a completely free membership that gives you limited access for as long as you want
- You can choose a practice mode where the lesson waits for you to play each note before moving on to the next one
- The song library has over 1500 songs, and you can sort by both level and genre
- It includes more lessons on posture and technique than most online piano sites
- There’s no built-in metronome, which some players may find frustrating
- Having your device’s microphone listen to an acoustic piano can cause issues — Flowkey works best with a MIDI keyboard
This is an app developed by JoyTunes. It’s somewhat unique in that you can’t use it on a computer — it only works on tablets and smartphones. It’s a well thought out app that takes you through some basics before letting you choose a Soloist track or a Chords track. Simply Piano incorporates elements of gamified learning, but it doesn’t have as many practice modes as some sites.
Pros & Cons of Simply Piano
- It’s a popular app that’s won a few awards from Google Play, including Best App
- There’s a one-week free trial for you to decide whether or not it’s the app for you
- Keys light up in different colors depending on whether you play them correctly, so you get instant feedback
- The song library includes many popular songs and piano classics
- Limited practice modes don’t let you set your own tempo or practice one hand at a time
- While your device microphone can listen to an acoustic piano for instant feedback, it will sometimes miss notes you play
Features Face To Face: Simply Piano Vs Flowkey
Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the key features of each program.
Flowkey allows you to access a limited number of beginner lessons with a free membership. However, once you’ve opted for a paid membership, you can access all Flowkey courses, which are divided into modules:
- Introduction to the Piano (8 courses)
- Playing With Both Hands (7 courses)
- Intermediate Piano Playing (6 courses)
- Mastering Chords (7 courses).
- Improvising With Chords (5 courses)
- Music Reading Training (8 courses).
- Playing Scales (10 courses)
- Playing Scales II (12 courses)
As you can see, Flowkey doesn’t focus much on music theory. Depending on your goals, this may or may not be an issue. However, these courses are designed to help you learn piano relatively quickly, and they can provide you with a decent start.
Simply Piano takes a slightly different approach to learning piano. Before you choose a track, you’ll take two courses: Piano Basics and Essentials I. These will give you the foundational skills you need to progress. While this site isn’t too heavy on music theory, these courses give you enough music theory to move forward with your playing.
After the basic courses, this app offers 27 total lessons, and they are divided into two tracks: Soloist and Chords. The Soloist track is more in line with traditional piano courses — you’ll learn scales, playing with both hands, sight-reading, and more.
The Chord track will teach you to play some of the main chords used in popular songs. This track is great if your main goal is to accompany some of your favorite songs. You don’t have to just choose one track or the other, though — you can take both if you like.
The Winner: Thanks to its more in-depth curriculum, we think that Flowkey wins this one.
Flowkey has a very impressive learning interface, and we like it because it combines sheet music, an instructional video, and instant feedback. As you’re learning the piano, you can watch a pianist play the song you’re learning. Sheet music for the song you’re playing will scroll along the bottom of the screen. (However, due to licensing issues, you don’t have the option to download sheet music separately.) Instant feedback will let you know whether you’ve played a note correctly — the notes will light up on the on-screen keyboard. All in all, the video quality is very good.
Simply Piano does online piano lessons a little differently. Before moving to the practice session, you watch a separate video where an instructor will show you how to play different parts of a song.
Once you’re ready, you can then practice what you’ve learned. On this screen, the sheet music scrolls across the screen as it does with Flowkey. Notes will light up blue when you play them correctly and red if they’re incorrect. If you take too long to hit a note, it will turn orange. Notably, Simply Piano does have sheet music you can download and print.
The Winner: We like that Flowkey lets you see the song being played by a pianist as you practice. We think it’s the winner here.
Practice Modes and Extra Lesson Features
Flowkey has become a popular site largely because it offers so many practice options. Some of the most useful ones are the three practice modes it offers:
- Wait mode — The app listens to your piano and waits for you to play each note before moving forward.
- Slow mode — This mode lets you slow the original tempo to 50% or 75%
- Fast mode — This is just the piece you’re learning at the original tempo
However, Flowkey also has a few other features to make practice easier. You can loop sections of a piece so you can practice them continuously, and there’s a feature that lets you practice playing with one hand at a time. This is especially helpful if you’re learning a complex piece. It’s worth noting that Flowkey does not include a metronome feature, though. Some players prefer a metronome when learning piano, but others prefer to practice without.
Simply piano also has several features that can help you learn piano more easily. If you’re practicing a song and consistently make mistakes, the app will automatically put you in practice mode, where you play slowly with a metronome. This is ideal for holding you accountable — you don’t have the option of simply skipping a song that gets too difficult.
One interesting feature is that every song has a backing track you can play along with. This can make your practice sessions feel more like jam sessions, which is a plus. And lastly, Simply Piano also has “five-minute workouts,” which are short exercises designed to reinforce course concepts.
The Winner: In this comparison, we think Simply Piano wins because of its extra practice features.
Flowkey has a very large song library — you can access over 1,000 songs. You also have the option to sort by both genre and ability level, which is ideal for the piano beginner. Flowkey’s library goes beyond that of most piano learning sites — in addition to pop and classical music, you can learn music from games, Asian pop, jazz, music from films and TV, and more. There are also lots of classical music options.
The Simply Piano song library isn’t quite as expansive as the one offered by Flowkey. However, it still offers hundreds of options. You can sort by ability level, but you can’t sort by genre. Most of the songs in the library are pop hits.
When you’re practicing a song from the Simply Piano library of songs, the app will give you a star rating out of three based on your performance. As you learn each song, the app will break it into smaller sections to prepare you to play it in its entirety.
The Winner: In terms of song libraries, we think the Flowkey library wins — it covers many more genres and is much more extensive.
Piano and Keyboard Compatibility
For players who have acoustic pianos, it’s important to make sure a learning platform can work with an acoustic piano. Both sites can use your device microphone to “listen” for the notes you play and then offer instant feedback.
However, it’s important to note that players using both platforms have complained that this feature doesn’t always work. This can be especially frustrating during practice modes that rely on the program to “hear” you play a note before moving on to the next. Essentially, both sites are compatible with acoustic pianos, but if possible, it’s a good idea to get started with a keyboard.
Simply Piano will work with a USB or MIDI keyboard, and it also has an on-screen keyboard. While an on-screen keyboard can be useful for trying out the app, it’s not great for long-term learning.
Flowkey will also work with any USB keyboard or MIDI keyboard. However, there’s no option for using an on-screen keyboard.
The Winner: We think Simply Piano wins this one, since you can use an on-screen keyboard as a beginner.
This is also an important consideration — you’ll want to make sure apps for playing the piano will work with your device. Flowkey will work with just about every smartphone or tablet regardless of whether it’s an Apple or an Android product. Notably, unlike many piano apps, you can also use it on a Chromebook.
If you want to start playing the piano with Simply Piano, your options are a little more limited. Simply Piano will only work on smartphones and tablets. Using a tablet is generally better, as it gives you a clearer view of what you’re trying to play.
The Winner: Since it’s compatible with more devices, Flowkey wins this time.
Cost and Membership Options
Flowkey lets you sign up and preview piano lessons and courses for free. There’s no time limit — you can keep this membership for as long as you want. If you want to upgrade that, you can choose a monthly membership for $19.99, an annual membership for $119.88, or a lifetime membership for $329.99.
Simply Piano has a slightly different pricing structure. You can start with a seven-day free trial to help you see if this is the app for teaching you to play the piano. After that, you can purchase a 3-month subscription for $59.99, a 6-month subscription for $89.99, or a year-long subscription for $119.99. However, Simply Piano will let you make multiple player profiles on an account, which is ideal if your whole family wants to learn piano.
The Winner: In terms of prices, we think Flowkey’s more flexible pricing structure wins.
In some cases, one piano site will have a feature that the other one does not:
- Downloadable sheet music — Simply Piano is the only site allowing you to download sheet music.
- Lesson recaps — Simply Piano is the only site that will briefly go over what you covered in your last practice session before moving on to a new one
- Loop feature — Only Flowkey lets you loop a song or a portion of the song as you practice
- Practicing with one hand — Only Flowkey lets you practice each hand’s part separately before combining them
When it comes to choosing Flowkey vs Simply Piano, it all depends on what you want out of a course. We think either one is great for learning to play the piano. Here are our recommendations for who should use each one:
Use Flowkey if:
- You want to be able to practice more songs in more genres
- You want an app you can use on a computer
- You want more practice options (one hand at a time, looping, etc.)
- You want to be able to pay one month at a time
If you think Flowkey is the right course for you, click here to check it out!
Use Simply Piano if:
- You mostly want to learn how to play along with popular songs
- You like the idea of an on-screen keyboard
- You want an app that will make sure you get each section right before moving on to the next
- You want to have multiple profiles on an account
If you’re ready for a subscription to Simply Piano, check it out here!
Learning piano is an adventure, and choosing one of the best piano sites will help make learning fun. Be sure to take your time as you choose a site. Happy playing!