Maybe you've played piano off and on for a few years. Or maybe you've never played but have always wanted to. The right piano course can be hard to find, but it's vital to choose the right one if you want to become a better player and enjoy the learning experience.
Today, we'll be looking into the Pianoforall course, an expertly designed online program that has helped hundreds of thousands of players take their piano playing skills to the next level. This all-online program is made up of electronic books that come with audio and video, and you can learn at your own pace.
Things to Consider Before Signing Up for an Online Piano Course
Online lessons are becoming more and more popular, and it's easy to see why--you can access lessons at any time, you can learn anywhere, and online courses tend to be more affordable than in-person learning.
However, with the sheer number of online music courses available, it's important to think carefully about what you need in a course. Here are some of the things to ask yourself before signing up:
How much experience do you have?
Many piano courses are designed in a way that makes them accessible to complete beginners. If you have some experience, you may need to spend some time looking for a course that fits your experience level.
Can you read sheet music?
Some lesson plans will teach you to read sheet music, some assume you can already read it, and others avoid sheet music as much as possible. Which one you need depends on your goals as a player.
Do you have a preferred genre focus?
Many courses for beginners introduce you to a range of different genres. If you want to specialize, it's a good idea to seek out a lesson plan with an emphasis on your specific genre focus.
Do you need to access lessons offline?
Many of the piano courses are online, but only some of them give you the option to download lessons to access them offline. This can be very helpful if you experience internet issues.
PRO's & CON's of Pianoforall
Before we get into the specifics of the course, let's look at some of the pros and cons of Pianoforall.
Features & Benefits
Now, we'll take a closer look at this remarkable program and how it works. By evaluating some of its key features, we'll hopefully help you decide whether this program is the right one for you.
What's In a Lesson?
You might wonder what a typical lesson looks like. Each “Pianoforall” lesson is guided, and it features video and audio to demonstrate what you're playing. (You can view a sample lesson here.)
You also can print out exercises if you'd prefer to use paper copies to guide your practice. Like most types of video lessons, the ones on Pianoforall can be accessed at any time from any computer, smartphone, or tablet.
You also can access them offline, which is especially useful if you like to practice in areas where you may not have reliable internet.
Because of the course's unique streamlined layout, you'll have everything right where you need it. The exercises are laid out in sheet-music style on the virtual pages of each book.
If you want to see the video and hear audio, you simply need to click an icon on the page. Then, a screen will pop out and illustrate the lesson for you. There's no navigating from screen to screen and no need to navigate an online database while flipping pages in a book -- everything is coordinated for you.
This approach has a lot of the benefit of traditional piano lessons without the traditional cost. You get an introduction and narration of each exercise, along with a demonstration.
However, since the course is self-paced, you can skip over exercises that are too easy and spend extra time on the challenging ones. In total, there are 200 video lessons, so this course should keep you playing for a fair amount of time.
Who Is It Designed For?
According to Robin Hall, the creator of Pianoforall, this unique course is designed to take beginner piano players to the intermediate level as quickly as possible. You don't need any prior experience of piano playing or of any other instrument.
You begin by learning rhythm style piano and expand your musical journey to play Jazz, Ballad style, Blues, and other styles, eventually playing even amazing classical pieces.
Pianoforall will teach you to play using a combination of playing by ear and reading sheet music. You'll also be able to hear audio lessons of each exercise, so you'll know what they should sound like.If you want to hear one beginner player's impression of Pianoforall, check out this video review. We think that this course is great for beginner players, and it's especially good for those who want to explore different genres or who don't know what genre they want to focus on just yet.
How Do the Lessons Progress?
This program is designed to be different from traditional music lessons in that you start applying what you learn to actual songs very quickly. (If you're curious to hear one student's opinion, check out check out this video review). That said, you're probably curious about what you learn and when.
Pianoforall is a course that's divided among several interactive books. These books are virtual and come with audio and video lessons to help you assess your playing. Here's a summary of the included books and what you'll learn in each one:
Book 1 - Party Time Rhythm Style Piano
This intro book titled "Party Time" helps you learn to play by ear, and it also introduces you to playing popular rhythm-style piano and basic chord knowledge.
The book begins by familiarizing you with the keyboard itself before moving on to the notes, basic chords, and basic rhythm (involving left note and right chord) followed by an introduction to musical notation and rests.
This book on rhythm piano teaches you eleven basic chords and ten rhythms with associated practice progressions. After completing the book, you will be able to play several popular songs on the piano by combining these rhythms and chords.
The book includes the amazing broken chord ballad. In a broken chord, instead of playing all notes at the same time, you play them one by one. So you have broken the chords into individual notes.
Book 2 - Blues & Rock 'n Roll
Blues and rock songs on a piano are a lot of fun to play, and this section goes further into rhythm piano and introduces you to blues rhythms and chords that can be used for countless famous songs.
This playing style is chosen because blues music emphasizes left-hand rhythms over right-hand ones. Basically, Robin Hall wants to practice left-hand rhythms till you are very comfortable with them, before starting with the right-hand rhythms.
This relatively brief book starts with a very basic rhythm called twelve-bar blues, which is a combination of three chords played over twelve bars. The book covers five blues rhythms in all.
Book 3 - Chord Magic Book
This section teaches you helpful memory tricks, speed learning exercises, and chord progressions that are used in popular songs.
This is one of the heavier and more technical books thus far, whereby you learn piano chords and the inversions associated with each of the piano keys.
The piano teacher provides simple "all chords memory tricks" to remember the basic major and minor chords associated with each of the 12 piano tones. The book has all the practice progressions to help you play piano chords learned above.
The book finally introduces you to the "cycle of fifths", also known as the "circle of fifths". These concepts introduce you to the structure of the music, the relationship between keys, and provide an excellent way to practice and all the chords and their inversions.
Book 4 - Advanced Chords Made Easy
This Pianoforall book has plenty of practice progressions modeled after famous songs, and you also get a rhythm chart for 80 Beatles songs.
This book continues with the journey of teaching piano chords with the goal of imparting advanced chord knowledge in a way that they appear much simpler than they actually are.
It teaches you to play the piano chords from the chord symbols seen in most songbooks. Robin Hall then introduces you to a technique that he calls "One magic formula", that will help you learn how to play advanced chords with numbers 9, 11, and sus4 after them. These chords will add a lot of color to your tunes.
He then introduces you to Barry Manilow's style chordal composition and challenges to create a Manilow-style song. The book further moves on to diminished chords and clustered chords with a lot of practice progressions so that you are able to play them well.
Towards the end, the book covers a lesson on Beatles stylings with a list of Beatles songs along with the first chord and the rhythm associated with each of them.
You can play many of them with the rhythms and chords you have learned so far. However, sevenths and bass runs, used by Beatles a lot, are yet to be covered till this stage. Beatles performed on many Blues & Rock n Roll songs and even wrote some of their own.
Book 5 - Ballad Style
This engaging Pianoforall course section helps you create your own melodies and learn how to play piano in the ballad style. In fact, the first lesson itself introduces you to the step-by-step process to create your own ballad-style songs.
As Hall comments, the simplest way to learn piano in this particular style is by improvising before trying to learn actual tunes. The process involves learning and experimenting with simple left-hand chord patterns, pentatonic or five-note scale followed by a more structured approach to playing piano in ballad style through different chord tones and patterns.
This structured approach involves variations of basic 3 note left-hand patterns and using the chord changes to guide the notes on the right hand.
Finally, you should apply what you have learned so far to the actual melodies. The book demonstrates the process for "Auld Lang Sang" and provides the piano sheet music for five more songs. The book teaches melody in-depth and you will be able to play your first full-length solo piano pieces towards the end of the book.
It includes melody lines for some popular Christmas carols. In the last few lessons, you can improve your piano skills by adding the left hand by yourself.
Book 6 - Jazz Piano Made Easy
This Pianoforall book covers easy techniques that you can apply to songs you already know. You'll also learn chords and patterns commonly used in jazz.
This is one of the heaviest in content, challenging, and educational portions of the course that will help you build a very solid foundation in Jazz piano, and Blues.
It introduces you to the blues scale to get the bluesy sound and the blues chords. Hall calls the blues scale as magical as it sounds good over any chord change in a given key.
The book now moves to Jazz. While the ballad style method to read music rhythms can work for Jazz, there is a much easier and better way to learn the style is to just listen to the audio clips and copying them.
Jazz standards and show tunes make use of many combinations of the 7th chord. You may play the 7th chord with your left hand and the melody with your right. 4-note seventh chord may sound muddy when played lower on your keyboard except when you are playing on a grand piano.
If the melody line is also near the middle, you may have to play the voicing of the chord, as the voicings of the low chords are much cleaner and sweeter.
Further down the book, the student learns Jazz in four distinct keys, is presented with numerous ideas for jazz improvisation, learns quartal harmony, and is given in-depth understanding to play the piano seventh chord. As is usual with the course, all of these are accompanied by many cool practice progressions.
Book 7 - Advanced Blues & Fake Stride
If you liked the previous Blues book (Pianoforall Book 2), you'll love the further blues techniques taught in this Advanced Blues and Fake Stride book.
It uses your advanced knowledge of chords acquired since then and adds fun right-hand chord riffs to the blues rhythms that you already know. All this culminates into advanced blues piano by putting together right-hand patterns with left-hand rhythms.
To further spice up, you are introduced to many blues devices like Pickups, Slides, Tremolos, Hammer-Ons, and turnarounds.
Pickup - a short riff that leads to a pattern or a chord.
Slide - When you quickly move from one note to another. This sounds like a bent string on the guitar.
Tremolo - Alternating two notes at a high speed, thereby producing a vibrating sound.
Turnarounds - Blues tunes are mostly a repeated sequence of twelve chords. Turnaround is basically a pattern, lick, or chord that provides an audible desire to return to the beginning chord.
In the second part, the book introduces you to the stride piano, both real and fake. the difference between the two lies in the length by which your left hand is moving from a low bass note to the chord and so on.
You are then encouraged to play the "Entertainer", by using the fake stride technique. The song is otherwise having a difficult Jazz arrangement.
Book 8 - Taming the Classics
This Pianoforall book adapts some of the great classical pieces so you can begin to play them.
Piano Playing Through Sheet Music With Tips To Learn Piano
As this is the first section in the curriculum that relies on your skills to read music sheets, Hall starts the book by recapping the piano basics - right from keys, the notes they represent, basic music notation, bars, beats, and rests.
He follows this by teaching piano key signatures, new symbols, and musical language. He completes the lesson by giving you a lot of practice and sight-read music tips.
These sight-read music tips include looking out for familiar chords, patterns, and motifs. Many classical pieces have repetitive patterns and motifs. So you can focus on the notes themselves.
Diving Into Classical Music
Pianoforall has provided a red dot as a sight-reading aid for all the sharp and flat notes. While sight-reading may also not be very easy, but with practice, you can perform well in classical piano playing.
The book has provided many full practice classical piano pieces from big artists like Beethoven, Mozart, J. S. Bach, Chopin, etc. While the book leaves it to you, I recommend spending a lot of time on this section in going through sheet music, pedaling, and tone and play songs to develop sheet music skills.
Book 9 - Speed Learning
This Pianoforall book focuses on scales, triads and arpeggios, and exercises, but it tries to make them fun. Each exercise is designed to speed up your learning.
As Hall states in this book, practicing scales and broken chords results in a very quick improvement in your piano skills. While these exercises may be boring and repetitive for beginners, they are structured to help you practice in every key
Some other piano courses may cover these topics at the very beginning, but in this course, it is covered in the end. Here the focus is to use these techniques to quickly refine your already developed basic skills.
The book touches all the types of scales - major scales, minor scales, diminished scales, chromatic scales, whole-tone scales, in addition to triads, seventh chords, melodic patterns, key signatures, etc.
While these books are numbered, you may be able to change around the order, though not recommended. For instance, if you are mostly interested in playing blues, you might be interested in working on the blues books before some of the others.
Other Factors to Consider
Piano lessons are a useful and fun investment if you choose the right program for you. We've already gone through many of the important features of Pianoforall -- it can teach you to play by ear, it introduces you to many genres, and it helps you get comfortable and familiar with improvising and making your own melodies. In this section, we'll look at some of the additional features of this program that you may find useful to know.
When we were first reading about this interesting program, we thought the pricing listed was a mistake. Robin Hall notes that the regular price for the whole course is $79, but the course is often on sale for $39.
This price is remarkable because, unlike many online lesson programs, it isn't a monthly membership fee. You just pay the $39 once and have lifetime access. As an added bonus, your membership includes all updates of Pianoforall for life. We think that's a pretty good deal.
For many students, there comes a time when they feel stuck learning the piano. Whether they're a new student or have been playing for a while (like the student in this review), many students will need to reach out at some point.
If you do get stuck, the good news is that this course has a great support team. In fact, they'll be supportive even before you've made a purchase. Course creator Robin Hall says on the website that you can request the e-mail addresses of current Pianoforall students, and they can discuss the course with you to help you decide if it's a good fit.
Hall also says you can contact him with questions or to request a critique of your playing. In a world where many course creators just seem to be after money, it's refreshing to see a course creator who genuinely seems to care.
Social Proof of the Course
Before selecting a piano program online, it's a good idea to do some research. Many programs will have some screenshots or sample lessons available, but it's rare that you get to actually see the program before purchasing it.
For that reason, it's a good idea to investigate reviews of online piano courses before enrolling. We've included a few snapshots of Pianoforall reviews here:
This Pianoforall review comes from the site Piano Dreamers. The snapshot we chose is a useful one because it goes over some of the basics of Pianoforall. Like many online courses, this one helps you get playing quickly, and it uses an accessible chord-centered approach.
This Pianoforall review snippet comes from the review site Know It All Nev. The reviewer isn't a musician, but he noticed the program's unique approach, which the creator of Pianoforall calls a "secret."
This "secret" may not work for all players (especially those who prefer a theory-based approach), but it seems to work for many Pianoforall students.
This last one is from Pianoforallreview.co.uk, a site made by an active user of the program. This review snapshot is helpful because it touches on how the program works, and it also praises creator Robin Hall's quick response time when contacted.
No single piano course is perfect for every player, but we think that Pianoforall will be suitable for a lot of beginning players. With progressive, easy-to-follow lessons and a wide genre focus, this approach gets you started playing quickly. If you want to gain a deeper knowledge of music theory and use that to support your learning, though, this may not be quite the program you're looking for.
However, for the fairly low one-time payment of $39, we think that Pianoforall is an incredible value. There's no free trial option, but this price is about what you would pay for one standard music lesson, so we think it's more than worthwhile. Click here to check it out!