Learning Piano Online Vs. In-Person: What's Best for You?

hands on piano with computer in front

Is learning piano online better than taking in-person piano lessons? I’ve tried to figure this out myself by trying both, and I’ve found that there is not any hard-and-fast answer. Learning piano online vs with a teacher is very convenient, I’ll admit, but I’ve found out that I had been making a lot of mistakes that a teacher would have caught. When I decided to learn to play piano online, I actually discovered that there were a lot of options that would combine in-person learning with online piano lessons.

Learning Piano Online vs. With a Teacher

I decided to be very objective in my research and make a list of the pros and cons of whether or not I should study piano online. Surprisingly (for me) the first decision I had to make was whether or not my online piano lessons would be with a real teacher or with an app. I had no idea that piano teachers offer online lessons!

I do live in the countryside and it’s quite a commute to any teacher that’s outside of my area, so my results are kind of skewed in that direction. If you live in an area with easy commutes, your results may be different.

Pros of Learning Piano Online, with a Teacher:

ipad with headphones next to piano

- I don’t have to travel when I have a Skype lesson.
- There are many excellent teachers available online.
- I’m not limited to my area when searching for a piano teacher.
- Teachers catch and correct mistakes right away so that you don’t practice mistakes.
- An online piano lesson with a teacher keeps me on task – I don’t surf social media during my lesson.

Pros of Learning Piano Online, with an App:

- I have endless repeats on sections that give me trouble.
- I can do my lesson whenever I want to!
- I’m not as embarrassed when I make a mistake, because nobody is there to see it.
- Most online music apps are cheaper than taking private lessons.

Cons of Learning Piano Online:

- A bad internet connection can make learning difficult.
- I don’t have someone sitting right there to correct my technique.
- With an app, I’m more easily distracted, since there is no teacher watching.
- With an app, the piano has to be in tune or the app won’t recognize the notes being played.

Pros of Learning Piano with a Teacher In-Person:

violin next to music stand

- With an in-person teacher, I get the expertise and first-hand experience of a professional.
- My teacher can demonstrate techniques and hand positions without changing camera angles.
- I have a set time every week that is reserved specifically for lessons.
- Teacher resources are at ready access and don’t have to be mailed.
- My teacher can physically place my hands in place and demonstrate pedaling.

Are Online Piano Lessons any Good?

Learning piano online turned out to be a good choice for me. I started out with apps, then moved on to online lessons with a teacher. Here is what I learned online:

- There are a lot of free videos on YouTube that will teach you how to play popular songs. I learned quite a few “hooks” that everybody recognizes and make me look really great at parties!
- There are many DIY apps that actually teach you music and piano technique but it’s always best to learn music online with a real teacher. Keep in mind that these DIY apps, begin to cost you money, though. Some of them have monthly fees, others have annual fees.
- Are online lessons any good? It depends on the quality of the teaching and your willingness to practice.
- Online piano courses are usually crafted by professional teachers and musicians. These give you access to the best of the best, without the cost and inconvenience of hiring a private teacher.

Learn to Play Piano Online

After looking at all the resources available, I decided to learn to play the piano online. As an adult, I was pretty sure I would stick to it, so there wasn’t the variable of “getting bored” to figure in. However, I might end up not having time to dedicate to my new craft, so there would be less pressure on me if I just used the Internet for piano lessons.

Also, there was the issue of cost. I researched electronic keyboards and digital pianos, finally deciding on the one that fit my budget. Then came the cost of the apps. I chose to learn to play piano online by following YouTube videos for a while. Then I started shopping for apps that would broaden my horizons.

Pace Yourself

One drawback to taking in-person piano lessons, at least as far as I was concerned, was the feeling that someone else would see my mistakes. I don’t have a problem asking for clarification or help on a difficult passage, but I don’t always get the correction the first time. By learning piano online, I don’t have any witnesses to my repeated mistakes. 

Learning to change hand positions on the piano also gave me more trouble than I expected. With online piano lessons, I was able to pace myself and take it slowly without being embarrassed.

There are times when I do my piano lesson at night, before bed. Most teachers around my area would certainly be unavailable for that kind of lesson! What I have discovered, though, is that an online piano teacher in another hemisphere could accommodate my weird hours!

Endless Replays

With online piano lessons through an app, I get endless replays. Not only does this help my learning process, but it also gives me a chance to go back and play something I’ve already mastered. It’s great to see how far I’ve come!

Pointers When Taking Online Piano Lessons

There are several practicing tips that will help you out, whether you are learning piano online or taking in-person lessons.

- Start slowly. We always want to play up to performance speed, especially on popular songs. But slowing down to practice speed will train reading skills and help you play more accurately.
- Have a goal. Why do you want to learn to play the piano? Maybe it’s always been a dream of yours, or maybe your parents are going to make you take lessons. Whatever your goal is, don’t lose sight of it. When times get tough, you will need to remember why you started this journey.
- Pay close attention to the rhythm of the song. It’s common to lose sight of the actual music when you’re bogged down in the details of playing.
- Become a listener. Listen to the example before you start playing. Listen to professional performances of the same piece and get an idea of the flow of the song. Once you have the notes figured out for yourself, start looking for that kind of fluency in your own playing.
- Practice in small sections. When you encounter a difficult spot, rewind and do it again. If you only practice the parts you can play, you’ll never learn the whole song.

Learning piano online may be your best option, too. Online piano lessons can open up a whole new world of music for you. 

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