Music is good for the soul, and learning to play music is like super food for the brain. So if you want to learn to play an instrument like the piano you should totally go for it. But where to start? Buy a piano, or a keyboard, and then find an instructor? Then you're faced with paying for lessons — not to mention squeezing in time for them whenever your instructor has slots available. Pretty difficult to pack into your already full schedule.
Why not start with some apps instead? We've got eight of the best apps for learning piano, ones that give you tips, tricks and exercises to help you learn how to tickle the ivories at your own pace, on your own time. Most can be used with an in-app onscreen keyboard, but others work in conjunction with a real life piano or keyboard if you have one. So whether you're regretting all the time you spent ducking those piano lessons your parents signed you up for when you were in middle school, or you're starting as a complete newbie, check out our list of some of the very best apps for learning piano.
Features: Thousands of songs to learn, on-screen piano with customizable piano settings, realistic piano sound
Piano Melody stands out as one of the best apps for learning piano because it's intuitive to use, lets you play piano right on your screen, has tons of songs ranging through multiple genres (because not everyone wants to learn to play just classical music, right?) and lets you take control of how you learn and set the pace on how fast you progress. You can focus on learning by ear or by sight and change the speed of the songs you play along with, among a number of other customizable options.
Features: Piano simulator with full-sized keyboard available, built-in sound effects to choose from, record and share your audio files, adjust levels of difficulty
Perfect Piano is a solid app that lets you choose different kinds of keyboards on which to learn, from a grand piano to a synthesizer and beyond. You can also record and share your exercises if you're learning with a friend or simply want to show off your new skills a little bit. The app offers a wide selection of songs and styles of piano to learn, and with adjustable difficulty is great for both beginners and more advanced students. There's an added feature that lets you connect and play with or against other users anywhere in the world. Perfect for anyone who likes a little competition mixed in with their learning.
Features: On-screen piano keyboard, large catalogue of songs to learn, multiple courses to choose from
This is one of the best apps for learning to play piano from scratch. If you're an absolute beginner it offers you step-by-step basics for learning to read music and becoming familiar with the piano keyboard. Different courses are offered for a variety of musical genres. You can turn your iPad into an actual on-screen piano and learn via their Touch Courses, or pair the app with your piano or keyboard at home.
Features: Free to download, learn to read music and memorize chords via games, play full keyboard or select a single octave, dual keyboard option, record your playing
This free app for learning piano offers quality piano sound, of course, but also offers additional instruments and special sound effects as well. You can up your skill levels by playing fun games. Record your own playing, or songs you create with their library of effects.
Features: Large selection of songs to learn, exercises and lessons created by actual music instructors
Exercises designed by actual instructors for players of all levels makes this one of the best apps for learning piano. It includes videos, lessons, weekly challenges, a large tune library and even a progress tracker. You can choose to focus on any aspect of playing, from learning chords to learning to play by ear.
Features: Learn to sight read using games that operate in practice or game modes, learn to read both treble and base clefs, use the score and achievements stats tracker to see how far you've come
Learning to play the piano means not just becoming familiar and comfortable with the instrument itself. You also have to learn to read music and musical scores, and this can be tough. Luckily Note Trainer's Lite version lets you learn by playing games that increase in difficulty and speed over time, building on what you learn each time. Start slow and pick up the pace as your skills and confidence grow, and you'll be sight reading and playing like a pro in no time.
Features: Interactive exercises and games, on-screen keyboard options, use in conjunction with your own piano or keyboard at home
With four different lesson categories that include learning both how to read music and to play by ear, daily challenges and also "mini games," Perfect Pianist is one of the most user-friendly apps for learning the piano. It focuses on developing the core skills you'll need to play and builds your skills sets up from there. Learning through this app is designed to be fun first and foremost, but it also makes you do the work you'll need to do in order to actually learn to play. This is the app for players who really want to grow their abilities.
Features: Adjustable speed during song play, games geared toward learning, a variety of playing modes, synch the app to your keyboard
Another of the game-oriented apps for playing piano, Pianist HD: Piano+ makes learning, dare we say it?, fun. You can learn at your own speed by adjusting the playback of the songs you play along with. This lets you set the pace for whatever skill level you're at right now. you can then choose between single player, double player or performances modes, among others. There are a ton of different sound effects too. Try connecting your keyboard to your phone and using your real life instrument to play along with the app.
Simply Piano by JoyTunes (our third entry, above) is the best app for learning piano as a brand new player. It's great for kids or adults, offering nearly two dozen courses for players to study. You can get immediate feedback on your playing ability, and the app lets you explore different styles of playing as well as a variety of musical genres. While you need to buy a premium subscription to be able to access all of the courses and features, if you're serious about learning to play the piano then consider buying Simply Piano a solid investment worth making.
There are quite a few apps for learning piano, and many of the best are also free! Apps like Piano by Gismart (see our fourth option, above), Piano 3D and Magic Piano by Smule each give you the opportunity to download their apps for free and be off and learning in no time. Starting with a free app is easy on the old wallet, of course, but it's also a low stress, low investment opportunity for the more casual learner. Not everyone is going to fall in love with the piano enough to put in all the hard work to become a pro, after all. So free apps give you the opportunity to explore the instrument, get a feel for how much learning is involved, and see if this is something you'd like to pursue in earnest or if maybe a different instrument will suit you better.
Beyond these apps is the world of online music lessons, where you can stretch your skills and build both your playing and sight reading muscles. If you want to move on up to next-level learning try Playground Sessions, Piano With Willie or Piano Marvel. These are all excellent online lessons websites to start with, each offering a relatively low monthly subscription fee to access. Another way to find right-for-you online lessons — or even apps — is to search for those geared toward the kind of music you want to learn to play. After all, if you want to learn the blues or honky tonk piano then lessons created around learning to read and play classical scores and styles just won't hold your interest, will they?
Learning to play a new instrument, or to re-learn one you had a few lessons on once upon a time, is no easy task. You're going to have to put in the work to learn, practice and improve on a regular basis. So if you're looking for a little help you can't go wrong with any of the apps for learning piano listed above, or exploring the world of online music lessons as well. Because who doesn't want a tutor in their pocket? These apps mean you can take your lessons on the go if that's what suits you. You can access both your instrument and your instructor any time, anywhere.