What’s the Easiest Way to Learn Piano?

The complete guide to picking the best piano method

Playing your favorite songs on the piano is a dream, but you’re unsure where to start or what the best learning method is for your style. No worries, you’re in the right place! 

In this article, you’ll find out the approach that fits your musical interests, schedule, budget, and how you personally learn best when it comes to the piano.

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Table of Contents

How Many Ways Are There to Learn Piano?

There are basically three (3) ways to learn piano: in-person lessons, online lessons, and self-teaching. Thanks to the internet, piano lessons have become more innovative with web chat and video tools like Zoom, making learning the piano more convenient and affordable than ever before. This format is known as ‘online lessons.’

Best ways to learn piano - How many ways are there? Lesson With You

There are also self-teaching apps and websites that let you learn piano with fun graphics and games, which could potentially benefit your piano learning journey. But as many piano teachers agree, video courses and phone apps CANNOT offer the same professional instruction and customized feedback as live teachers can. 

For example, videos cannot assess how you’re placing your fingers on the keys and critique your hand posture or the amount of pressure you apply to the keys.

In-person, or what they call “traditional” piano lessons are also very effective and can really make your piano journey feel inspiring. The downside though is you’ll need to travel to the teacher’s studio, and they generally cost more than taking online lessons.

How to Choose the Right Instrument

With so many piano and keyboard options available online or at music stores, deciding between an acoustic piano and a digital keyboard can be challenging. Which one is right for you?
How to get the right instrument - The easiest and best way to learn piano

Acoustic pianos, available in styles like upright, studio, and grand, offer a classic option. Playing with an acoustic piano provides an experience of rich sound, real mechanical action, and full key pressure. Just remember, they can be pricier than digital keyboards, so it’s a commitment worth considering.

But digital pianos have their advantages over acoustic ones. They’re lightweight and easy to move around, unlike heavy acoustic pianos. Plus, you don’t need to spend money on regular tuning (usually over $100 each time, at least once a year). If you decide to get a digital keyboard, make sure to choose one with fully weighted 88 keys for the best possible learning experience.

So what’s the pricing like? You can purchase a digital piano for between $400 and $1000. A low- to mid-tier acoustic piano may cost around $3500 or more. You can order online via Amazon or their official website, or visit in-person music stores near you.

Choosing the Best Learning Option

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to learning an instrument. Every piano method has its pros and cons, so let’s look at some of the options together. Here’s a list of choices:

  1. Hybrid uses technology along with live instruction from a real instructor.
  2. Traditional uses a teacher to guide you without any technology involved.
  3. Traditional Self-Teaching uses neither technology nor teachers, letting you learn on your own.
  4. Digital Self-Teaching uses technology but no teachers, letting you learn on your own.

1. A Hybrid Method

The hybrid method combines the benefits of technology with private live instruction, offering exceptional convenience. You can learn piano without the need to travel, saving both time and gas. Plus, it’s a budget-friendly option compared to traditional lessons, saving at least 10 to 15% each lesson.
Hybrid method - the best and easiest way to learn piano - Lesson With You

These days, video chat apps like Zoom are opening up a whole new world for piano students. You can now get live, real-time lessons with talented instructors no matter where they’re located. It’s like having an in-studio piano teacher, but virtual. Just like in-person lessons, teachers use Standard Piano Curriculum (such as Faber, Bastien, Alfreds, etc.) and will tailor these materials to match your learning pace and needs.

All you need is a webcam (laptop/computer), high speed internet, and piano or digital keyboard.

To find an online piano teacher, search across websites. At Lesson With You, you can find a professional teacher at a very reasonable price, starting at $35 without contracts. They also offer a first free lesson to try out.

Some other helpful websites include TakeLessons, Thumbtack, among others.

Some of you might wonder if the quality of the hybrid instruction is comparable to a traditional setting, but it absolutely is! With hybrid methods, you can still experience a comprehensive approach to piano under the carefully designed and personalized guidance of professionals.

This hybrid method is ideal for beginners to intermediate piano students who like the flexibility and convenience of learning piano from home and have a lower budget compared to in-person or local piano lessons. 

How much do online piano lessons cost?

Expect to pay an average of $40 per 30-minute lesson, $56 per 45-minute lesson, and $68 per hour lesson.

To get the most out of your lessons, plan to take a weekly recurring lesson for at least 6 to 8 months with the same provider. Bi-weekly lessons are not recommended for most players, as they are more likely to forget to practice the piano between lessons. 

Also, check if the teacher has a degree in piano performance or pedagogy to guarantee professional instruction. They should also have at least three years of piano teaching experience with over 10 years of performing history.

Pros Cons
+ More affordable compared to in-person lessons
- Limited physical adjustments by a teacher
+ Simple access to teachers from anywhere in the world
- Possible technical glitches
+ No need to travel to lesson
- Sound quality limitations
+ Personalized feedback and curriculum
+ Flexible scheduling policy
+ Great Customer Service

2. A Traditional Method

Traditional methods offer personalized instruction but require extra time and money. You can choose between 1-on-1 in-person lessons or group lessons, although a 1:1 setting is generally more effective.

The traditional method offers detailed feedback and guidance, along with the valuable experience of playing and listening to the full sound of an acoustic piano. In the studio, teachers can provide more physical adjustments, and the atmosphere may be slightly more serious compared to other learning paths.

The downside includes the higher cost and the need to travel. Traditional lessons are generally more expensive than hybrid lessons or self-teaching. Additionally, you either need to go to the teacher’s studio or have the teacher visit your house, which adds to the cost.

In-person lessons (traditional method) - Lesson With You - The easiest way to learn piano

To find a piano teacher near you, try searching online using phrases like ‘local piano teacher near [your city]’ or ‘piano lessons in [your city]’.

Another option is to ask for recommendations from your neighbors, colleagues, or friends through word of mouth. If you’re part of the homeschooling community, your local co-op can also be a great source of referrals.

Some instructors offer opportunities for seasonal recitals and masterclasses, which can improve your musicianship a lot. These performance opportunities are also available in online piano lessons.

How much do in-person piano lessons cost?

Expect to pay an average of $45 for a 30-minute lesson, $60 for a 45-minute lesson, and $70 for an hour-long lesson.

In-person group lessons are significantly cheaper but lack personalized guidance, which could slow down the learning process. However, the collaborative environment could be great for younger students. Expect to pay between $20 to $30 for a half-hour session. 

This traditional method is ideal for intermediate to advanced students willing to commit more time and money. If you’ve taken piano lessons for at least five years and want to further improve your skills, we recommend in-person lessons if your budget allows.

Pros Cons
+ Personalized feedback and curriculum
- Expensive
+ More interactive
- Need to travel to the teacher’s location
+ Able to experience the real, acoustic piano sound
- Limited teacher selection
+ In-person performance opportunities
- Inflexible scheduling

3. Traditional Self Teaching

A traditional self-teaching method for piano removes the instructor, saving you money but requiring a lot of self-discipline. It’s challenging because you won’t get real-time correction and feedback on your techniques and posture.

Here are two popular DIY methods for learning piano:

1) Using standard piano method books

Many piano instructors use piano method books for its reliability and comprehensive structure to learning piano. Curriculums like Faber piano adventure series, Alfred piano methods, Bastien piano methods are considered solid for students of all ages and levels, but recommended especially for beginners.

So why are these methods considered “standard”? These are written and published by piano educators who have studied piano pedagogy extensively. Typically, these method books begin with a Primer level and progress through Level 1, Level 2, and beyond. Each level usually consists of several books, such as a lesson book, technique book, theory book, and more, offering a comprehensive learning experience.

For example, if you choose Faber Piano Adventures as an adult, start with their comprehensive ‘Adult Piano Adventures All-in-One Vol. 1.’ If your child is starting out, begin with the ‘Faber Primer Level’ lesson book and theory book. The performance book is optional. 

Each lesson book contains new musical concepts and theoretical explanations, along with drills and engaging images to help students understand well. For the best results, try to complete all drills before moving on to the new concept, listen to the audio to understand how the note sounds. If there’s any concept that’s hard to understand, search for YouTube tutorials or try an online lesson to get a guidance.

How much does a piano method book cost?

These piano method books typically cost between $7 and $10 per book, or around $25 on average for a lesson book package that includes at least three individual books.

2) Playing by ear

This method is great for those who are naturally curious and love to experiment, especially if you’re 12 or older and already have some familiarity with the instrument and enjoy listening to music.

But honestly, we suggest giving this method a try only after you’ve taken a few lessons or spent at least a year studying piano on your own with some sort of structured curriculum, like Alfred’s piano methods. The reason is that you won’t get any help or outside feedback if you dive into this DIY method from the start.

To play a song by ear on the keyboard, expect numerous trial and error sessions. This requires constantly listening to the recording or video to match the keys you’re pressing. It also requires good memorization techniques to keep learning the notes.

Pros Cons
+ Affordable
- No outside feedback, guidance or help
+ No need to travel, learn from home
- Might learn the wrong way to play piano or read music
+ Flexible scheduling
- No interaction
+ Learn at your pace
- Less motivation to practice

4. Digital Self Teaching

This method is like traditional self-teaching but primarily uses online materials and technology to help you learn piano, without an instructor. Digital self teaching methods often involve using software, mobile apps or pre-recorded video courses.

These options are usually more interactive than traditional DIY methods, getting you involved by touching graphics, listening to audio, and clicking the mouse to keep watching videos.

Compared to traditional self-teaching, this method is more costly and requires a stable internet connection and a device like a laptop. Ready to discover which tool will kickstart your piano journey?

1) Using standard online courses

If you’re looking for a free online platform, ZebraKeys is worth exploring. Its courses are comprehensive and interactive, covering a wide range of introductory topics like playing notes and chords and understanding core theory. It’s easily accessible and completely free!

But, like with most DIY methods, you won’t have a live instructor giving you feedback and correction as you go. Also, the site might seem a bit outdated, which might not grab the attention of kids or visual learners. The courses aren’t personalized to match your specific needs or goals either. 

10 best free piano lesson near you - Pianonanny - Lesson With You article
If you’re looking for a simpler standard online course, check out Pianonanny. This free website might not have interactive or fun features, but it’s great for revisiting music theory.

For paid online courses, Hoffman Academy is particularly popular among kids aged 7 to 11. It offers engaging graphics, fun games, and detailed practice guides tailored for beginners. Compared to standard piano method books or written piano websites, Hoffman Academy offers interactive features and various courses.

But, here’s the thing—it still requires a good amount of dedication to practice, learn, and master those piano skills, which isn’t always easy for young students. Parents might need to step in to keep their kids focused during the course, which isn’t always the most exciting way to learn piano. Plus, there’s still no live instructor giving real-time feedback, which could lead to incorrect hand positioning or even misreading the music.

Their popular premium courses, priced at $20 per month, welcome both kids and adults. But they may not be the best fit for intermediate or advanced students, or those who have been studying piano (either through DIY or private lessons) for more than a year.

2) Using pre-recorded videos or tutorials

If you’re looking for a simpler approach than standard online courses and have the motivation and time to practice piano more often, this is a good option to try. Compared to the standard online courses, this method focuses on showcasing videos and tutorials in a row to teach students important piano technique and musical theory.

These pre-recorded videos are usually uploaded on YouTube, offering tutorials that are somewhat interactive, conversational, and fun to watch. But, the quality can vary between different videos and channels, and they may not be customized enough for students of all ages and levels to understand.  

There are some promising channels to start with, like Piano Lessons on the Web, PianoCareer, and Graham Fitch. I recommend using these videos for supplemental or recreational purposes to motivate you to practice piano, review concepts, and most importantly, to enjoy the music.

Another interesting platform to check out is Playground Sessions. Each course features videos and interactive elements, like following the colors of notes while pressing the keys, and awards badges to give you a sense of accomplishment.

Digital self teaching piano - The easiest way to learn piano

But, like other digital platforms, courses on Playground Sessions aren’t customized enough and lack the detailed professional instruction that matches your learning style or goals. They offer a feedback system, but it’s not thorough and can’t compare to the feedback you get from a live instructor who can critique your posture, sound, and technique on the keys.

3) Using apps

One great thing about using software or apps is how much they can help you practice your piano skills. They might not cover everything like music theory or sight-reading, but they’re great for supporting your practice sessions from time to time. 

These softwares and apps can be used on almost all devices, including Windows, MacOs, and Android.

Popular software options include Flowkey, Skoove, and SimplyPiano. They focus on teaching general piano concepts and basic techniques through playing popular tunes. They offer free content initially but require further payment or subscriptions to access more. We think the ideal way to use them is as a supplement, not as a comprehensive piano curriculum.

Using apps for piano learning - Lesson With You - The easiest way to learn piano article

Other apps, like Music Tutor, can help you read music faster and improve your note-playing accuracy. With Instrumentive for Musicians, you can organize and plan practice sessions, practice piano with a metronome, and keep notes to track your progress. If you want to improve your understanding of chords or intervals, Complete Ear Trainer is a good place to start.

Pros Cons
+ Affordable, sometimes even free
- No customized curriculum
+ Low commitment
- No feedback
+ Saves travel time
- Low commitment to practice
+ Review lessons as many times as you need
- May develop bad habits
+ Engaging features like games
- May lose interest quickly if progress is slow

What's the Best Age to Learn Piano?

There’s no right or wrong time to start learning piano. It’s a unique skill that grows the more time and effort you put into it. We recommend starting at age 7 for young students, but anyone 7 and older can begin learning piano whenever they’re ready.

What really matters is finding the right method to develop your piano skills, nurture your love and passion for music, and enjoy the learning process at a steady pace for the long term.

There’s no right or wrong time to start learning piano. It’s a unique skill that grows the more time and effort you put into it. We recommend starting at age 7 for young students, but anyone 7 and older can begin learning piano whenever they’re ready.

What really matters is finding the right method to develop your piano skills, nurture your love and passion for music, and enjoy the learning process at a steady pace for the long term.

How Much Time Does It Take to Learn the Piano?

How long it takes to learn the piano depends on your age, the quality of instruction, and how much time you can dedicate to practice. Generally, students who take private in-person or online lessons from an instructor learn faster than those who self-study as beginners. Using a standard piano curriculum along with digital tools can also speed up the learning process compared to using just one method.
How much time does it take to learn piano? - Lesson With You - The easiest way to learn piano article

Young beginners can expect to learn the basics of piano techniques and music theory within two to three years with consistent lessons and practice. They should plan to learn at least one new piece each month and a new theory concept or technique every week, with constant review of learned skills. For adults, it could take more or less time depending on their availability to practice.

If you’re looking to learn a simple, familiar tune with an easy arrangement like a Christmas carol, it might just take a few weeks. But if you’re wanting to play something like Chopin’s piano sonata, that could take anywhere from a few months to a year, depending on how much you want to polish it up for a performance or even competition.

Final Thoughts

Nice work! You’ve gained some really good insights into choosing the right instrument for you and weighing out the different learning options, looking at both the pros and cons. You also know what kinds of costs to expect and some tips for making the best decision possible.

Now it’s time to think about your goals, musical interests, scheduling, and budget. Ask yourself these questions: What’s motivating you to learn the piano? What styles of music interest you and would you like to play? Do you have a flexible schedule or a rather tight one? What’s your budget for taking regular lessons?

Still have questions? At Lesson With You, we can help you get matched with the best instructor without contracts. Start a free 30-minute trial and begin your piano journey!

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Rose Park

Rose Park is a graduate of the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University where she studied Piano Performance and Arts Administration, receiving both Bachelor's and Master's degrees before co-founding Lesson With You. As a pianist, Rose was a prizewinner in many international piano competitions and performed at various summer programs and festivals across the United States, Italy, and Japan.