Top 10 Free Piano Apps
Not all free piano apps are made alike. In this article, I’d like to share the best of the best with you.
But before we get started, I’d also like to talk about reasons why you should look into learning piano with music apps. This is a surprisingly derisive topic amongst music teacher…(But obviously, I am on the pro-technology side! Well. Mostly. More on the cons of learning music apps later on).
Free Piano Apps: Why Use Them?
- You can’t afford a private teacher yet
- Need a supplement to your lessons
- Out of practice and want to polish up your playing
Music learning apps are a great resource if you aren’t ready to start private lessons yet. They may even help you get a leg up when it comes to reading treble and bass clef, or learning scales.
Similarly, learning apps are an excellent supplement to your lessons. They may help you find new repertoire to bring in to your instructor, or make you ask questions that you wouldn’t ask had you not had another resource.
If you just need to polish up your playing and reading skills, this is another great reason to use a music app. Here 10 of the best free piano apps that I have personally test-driven:
If you are in search of the best free piano learning app, this one is a big contender.
PianoMaestro allows you to choose between learning on the touch piano (on your Ipad/ tablet itself) or on your physical piano at home. With PianoMaetro, you can learn piano anywhere- Even on a plane!
Some of my favorite features within the app include include:
- The warm-ups
- Stellar note recognition (from your physical piano)
- Fun and popular tunes like ‘Sweet Home Alabama’, ‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno’ and ‘Into the Unknown’
- An option for a teacher account
PianoMaestro is one of my favorites because it is a notation-heavy app that lends well to learning classically. The only downfall is that it is only available on Apple’s app store.
2. Grand Piano 3D
This nifty app is moreso for music exposure than anything else. Piano 3D is a free grand piano app that allows you to press down keys and explore the piano with arrows.
While the term ‘music exposure’ might sound lighthearted, it isn’t. This app is simple and fun, and great for little kids.
Synthesia, not to be confused with synesthesia, is a piano learning app that teaches you to play using falling notes. This app isn’t all that different from Tap Tap (if you’re a millennial, you’ll know what I mean.) The difference between other rhythms games and Synthesia is that this app includes some notation. You can also connect your piano with the app.
A good reason to use Synthesia is to get you excited about music, and to get your foot in the door.You can use Synthesia on Windows, or your smartphone. According to the game’s Wikipedia page,
“Synthesia is a piano keyboard trainer for Microsoft Windows, IOS, macOS, and Android which allows users to play a MIDI keyboard or use a computer keyboard in time to a MIDI file by following on-screen directions, much in the style of Keyboard Mania or Guitar Hero”
It was first released in 2006, but continues to be a popular piano game today. There are 150 free songs with the lite version. Some easy songs include ‘La Marseillaise’ and ‘Canon in D’.
You can also import your own songs and unlock other features, but you will have to pay $7.99
Garageband isn’t technically a piano learning app, but it is free, and it does have a piano on it. As long as you have a Mac device, you can download the Garageband app for free.
Garageband is classified as a DAW, or Digital Audio Workstation. That being said, even if you don’t have a piano yet, you can still play and record on the digital piano inside of the DAW. How cool is that for producers, and those of you who are just getting around to learning the notes on the keyboards and how to play notation?
This app has an arpeggiator and common chords for songwriting, to boot. The sound packs are quite good. Also included in the keyboard instrument sound packs are synthesizers like leads, pads, and basses. Of all of the free piano apps I use, this is the one I use most often. That’s because I can plug in my Ipad to my DGX through my lightening cable, and record directly through Garageband. Then, I can export the WAV or Garageband file into another DAW and make a full song.
5.Piano From Above
Piano From Above in a free/ open source app that is very comparable to Synthesia. This game allows you to learn music visually on a digital MIDI keyboard.
What I like about this one is that you get the full version for free. This app has a practice mode like Synthesia, too, so you can slow down the songs to the speed that is most comfortable for you.
You can access the piano learning game here.
Flowkey is a free piano app that has songs and lessons.The app is free, but in order to access the premium content (songs that are harder than the beginner level), you’ll need to subscribe. That being said, the free content within Flowkey is great. You can search for songs based on the feeling, or the genre. The app includes romantic music, classical music, pop hits, video game music, and film and TV music. Some of the songs included in the free version are Happy Birthday, Amazing Grace, and Clair de Lune. All of the tunes come with a video of a real person playing it, above scrolling notation. This visual combination is really helpful, because you can see what finger the players are using for which note.
7. Perfect Ear
Perfect Ear is not exclusively a piano app, but it will help you learn . It is self-described as a ‘music tutor in your pocket!’. This app has a theory section with an introduction to scales, chord inversions, modes, and more. All of these things are essential knowledge for the serious pianist!
8. Simply Piano
This Simply piano is an app that was also made by the company Joytunes. Also, Simply piano provides you with sheet music, and has a listening feature. The listen feature uses technology to sense what you’re playing incorrectly, and tells you how to fix it. These step by step lessons are a great launch pad for learning piano. The beginning prompts when you first make a profile will gage where you are at as well as your playing goals, so that the lessons can be best catered to you.
9. Piano App by Yokee
Yokee’s free piano app is a fun game-like app that will help you with your hand-eye coordination. The free version has tunes like ‘Over the Rainbow’, ‘Fur Elise’, and ‘Waiting on a Miracle’. While it won’t have you playing Rachmaninov anytime soon, it is a fun and musical way to pass the time.
10. Piano by Yousician
Piano by Yousician is self-described as a visual piano teacher. There are two options on the app: to start from the very beginning, or to start with notation and full-length songs. The beginning course sets you up for learning to play and read sheet music, whereas the intermediate course sets you up to learn more music theory. The free version does have ads, but I guess that’s the price you’ll have to pay for learning ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’, and ‘Lean on Me’ for free.
Cons of Learning on Free Apps
- You may struggle to find materials that are at your level of playing
- Some apps don’t integrate music notation very well
- If you aren’t techy, you may end up frustrated
- Free apps often have ads
- There’s no one to correct positioning issues
Many free piano apps are often way too easy for intermediates, and don’t integrate notation. And honestly? It’s fine that not all apps integrate notation- But if learning how to read music is one of your big goals for this year, pay close attention. Some apps teach through visuals and repetition only. This isn’t a ‘bad’ way to learn. But if you aren’t a visual leaner, or have a hard time with memorization, it might not be the best option. Frankly, it isn’t the best option for me.
If you are going to use a visual app, try pairing it with a notation learning or music theory app. If you plan to eventually learn notation on the piano, this is going to be essential. You are going to need to learn not only treble clef, but bass clef as well.
Not very friendly with your smartphone? Then free piano apps may give you some trouble. Between skipping ads and making new profile after profile, it can get time consuming.
If you hate ads, there’s a select few free piano apps that you will enjoy. Like all other kinds of apps, free piano apps often have more advanced features and pieces that you can’t unlock unless you have a subscription. For some of these, unless you have the patient of a saint, you might also want to consider adding a paid app to your repertoire.
Lastly, always keep in mind that free piano apps are not a replacement for in-person lessons. When you are missing the human element, you won’t have anyone there to correct the poor posture or wrist placement that you might not know you have. And when you decide to let an unideal fingering slide a few times, there’s no one to break you out of that newly-formed bad habit! So, when you are learning online, try and be as self-aware as you can be (And have an irl lesson, at least every once in a while!).
While you can play duets with an app/ online, you miss out on the human element. There’s nothing compared to the magic that is made when you make music with another person in real time. So, apps or no apps, be sure to set up a time to make music with another ‘human bean’ as they say in the BFG.
Sheet Music Tips and Extra Lessons
Still don’t see an app that suits you? Then try out one of these sheet music resources and this free lessons site:
- Zebra Keys
The document app Scribd, gives you a free 30-day trial. After that, it is about $10-12 a month. A lot of people think that Scribd is just for reading magazines and what not. For me personally, Scribd gives me access to a ton more music so that I can practice and rearrange to my hearts desire. Scribd gives you access to tons of sheet music, and music books.
If you want copyright free classical pieces and older books, look no further than IMSLP (The Petrucci Music Library). If you’re not a subscriber, you’ll have to wait a little bit for your piece to download. That being said, it is one of the best classical sheet music resources on the internet, period. Wether you are a hapsichordist, pianist, oboist, or even a vocalist. You can search by instrument type, composer name, and more.
For really reliable sheet music in order to do covers of pop and rock songs, try out MusicNotes. This is a little more pricey than some places, but it allows you to download PDFS for a small free, and to put the song in whatever key you feel suits your voice the best.
Oh! And we can’t forget about Zebra Keys. Zebra Keys is it totally free website that teaches you how to play in over 50 lessons. It has flashing animations that help keep you engaged as you learn. I love this site because it has information about techniques and improvisation, too.
If you are looking for a good paid piano apps, here are a few recommendations I have for you:
- World of Notes
Tenuto is an economical paid app that will help you learn to read music. It is only $4!
World of Notes is a great piano app for kids. You can get it for $3 in the app store.
Many keyboard teachers are recommending the paid app, Pianote. Pianote is an app for those who are earnesting trying to learn. It is more expensive, at $29 a month. The app has 10 courses, from learning the notes, to musicality, songwriting and beyond. Other excellent paid app options include Flowkey, Skoove, PianoMarvel and Playground Sessions.
Free Piano Apps: Conclusion
While free piano apps aren’t the answer to all your musicial problems, they can help more than you might think! Try out those 10 apps and let us which one your favorite was.
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