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So you’ve stumbled across flowkey and like what you see, but you’re wondering if the premium account is worth it and how it stacks up to the other piano learning apps. Can it really help improve your piano skills?
Well in this article I’ll help you decide all of these and much more; I really help this flowkey review helps you make a more informed decision.
What Is flowkey?
There are many piano learning apps out there. In your search for the best one available, the name “flowkey” is bound to come up repeatedly. And for good reason.
flowkey is a popular solution for those looking to learn piano online. No need to download or install software – if you’ve got access to the internet, you can use flowkey to begin learning the piano, or grow your existing skills.
The app is also available on Google Play and the App Store.
Though you can use flowkey on any device with a browser and internet access, it’s always nice to have plenty of screen space at your disposal so you can see everything clearly. A tablet, laptop, or desktop computer should do nicely.
Of course, it’s always a good idea to prepare a keyboard or piano for lessons as well. If you don’t have your own, now might be a good time to rent or purchase one, as it’s going to make the process of practicing much easier.
But you can still see what’s inside their membership, even if you don’t have a piano you can play on.
All you need to do to get started is create an account with flowkey.
The Flowkey Website
The flowkey website is likely where you’ll be going to sign up for your free account and ultimately upgrade to Premium if you decide that it’s the right piano learning app for you.
You can also read testimonials on their website to get a better sense of what others have gained from using flowkey.
In this hands-on review, we’ll focus mostly on the flowkey app rather than everything that’s available, but in case you’re looking for additional information, we thought you might like to know about the website.
Who Is flowkey For & What Does It Help You Achieve?
flowkey claims to be for beginners, returners, intermediates, and advanced players alike. Regardless of what level you play at, unless you know everything, there is always something more to learn! And there is quite a bit of material inside flowkey.
If you need to pick up the basics, then you can engage in the course material.
If you’re ready to advance your playing through learning songs, you can cruise through their song library of over 1,500 songs from every genre and skill level. You can even refine your search using skill level, genre, or mood.
What you achieve or how much you achieve is ultimately up to you, and we wouldn’t want you thinking otherwise. Results are always individual, depending on work ethic and aptitude.
But if you’ve ever thought about becoming a better pianist, and you’re serious about it, putting your own money into it can be a strong motivator to learning. If you keep taking free lessons, you won’t be as invested in our own success.
In general, we feel flowkey is great for self-motivated, self-directed learners. If you want to learn at your own pace, it’s great for that as well, but to make the most of it, you will certainly need to put some effort into learning and practicing. The platform is easy to use, but there isn’t too much hand-holding built into it either.
How Much Does flowkey Cost?
You can create an account and begin scanning their library of content entirely for free.
But if you want to access all the songs and courses, you’ll want to upgrade to flowkey Premium.
The following plans are available:
- 1 Month – $19.99/month
- 12 Months – $9.99 Month (billed every 12 months)
- Lifetime – $329.99 (billed once)
A Look Inside flowkey
flowkey features a slick, modern, simplistic interface. Once inside, you can browse songs and courses, and even use the search function to find exactly the songs you’re looking for.
We’ll talk a little bit more about the user interface and usability a little later, but here we’re going to look at what you can expect to find inside in terms of content, how it’s delivered, how much is available, as well as some actual lesson titles.
How Is The Learning Material Presented?
It depends on which section of the app you’re on – songs or courses. So, we’ll look at both.
First, let’s talk about songs. When you’re in the songs section, you can search via playing level (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, or Pro), by category (Romantic, Classical Music, Pop Hits, Game Music, Jazz, etc.), or search manually for a specific song.
You can preview songs before selecting one to work on, so you know exactly what it sounds like before you begin.
Once inside a song, you’ll see a keyboard at the top of the screen, a few controls in the middle of the screen, and sheet music at the bottom of the screen.
If you press the “play” button, you can see a live demonstration of how the song is intended to be played, complete with real, human hands playing the notes and chords as they are meant to be played.
On either side of the play button, you will see hand buttons. You can use these to work on hands independently before you bring them together. And this can prove immensely helpful, no matter what level you play piano at, and it’s something teachers often recommend to their students.
When you’re working on a specific hand, the app goes into “Wait Mode,” so it does not progress until it hears you playing the note onscreen. This is basically a self-correcting device to help you recognize your notes in standard notation.
Users can also toggle between 50% speed and 75% speed, so they can work their way up to playing at full speed. Again, this is a great feature, because practicing accuracy comes first. Once you can play a piece accurately, more than likely, you can play it faster, too.
Most teachers recommend students start slowly before trying to play at full speed.
Other settings are available should you need them (the button can be found in the upper right-hand side). You can use the app in full screen mode, hide note names, adjust your MIDI/USB or microphone settings, and more.
Overall, users should find the app immersive and smooth. Content seems to load relatively quickly, and transitions are speedy as well.
Now for the courses section.
Once inside, you’ll be presented with eight courses to choose from (we talk about each of these in a little more detail later and look at some of the modules and lesson titles too).
The course nest is a little difficult to explain, but within each course are modules, and within modules are multiple lessons, which are organized into smaller, digestible chunks – mini lessons if you will.
Not that this should matter too much, but terminology is important, and the way it’s presented can be a tad confusing.
Now, the exact content you’re presented with will depend on which course you’re taking. Most of what we share here will be based on what we found inside the Introduction to the Piano course, but much of it should apply to other courses as well.
Once you’ve selected your module and lesson, flowkey will take you to a short video lesson. In the case of Introduction to the Piano, there are mini lessons on posture, finger positioning, hand position, and so on. After each video, you can replay the video or move onto the next one.
Of course, besides lesson videos, there are also interactive lessons where you work on your playing. The layout should be familiar if you’ve looked at the songs section already – there’s a keyboard (with hands) at the top of the screen and scrolling sheet music at the bottom of the screen.
Again, flowkey has note recognition technology, and will use your device’s microphone to detect the accuracy of your playing. This gives you feedback on how well you’re doing.
So, overall, most of the content is delivered via video and sheet music. Supporting text, PDFs, audio files, and the like are mostly non-existent. Then again, for some, they could distract from the lessons, and it seems a deliberate choice on the part of the developers to make the platform minimal.
As I’ve been told before, what looks easy on the outside isn’t always easy on the inside. Meaning it can take a great deal effort to code and develop an app that works perfectly, no matter how simple it looks.
How Is The Learning Material Delivered?
Video content and sheet music are mainstays within flowkey.
Again, while other content like supportive text, PDFs, and audio files are not present – and this may be a detractor to some – we think the simple, easy to use app is going to win over far more people.
In free mode, you only have access to 10 songs and one course, but once you’ve upgraded to Premium, you get access to everything inside and you can engage with it at your own pace.
How Much Content Is Available?
In terms of songs, flowkey gives you access to over 1,500 songs at various playing levels and in different genres. That’s a lot of material, even if you aren’t starting from scratch.
In terms of courses, there are eight:
- Introduction to the Piano – 8 modules
- Playing with Both Hands – 7 modules
- Intermediate Piano Playing – 6 modules
- Mastering Chords – 7 modules
- Improvising with Chords – 5 modules
- Music Reading Training – 8 modules
- Playing Scales – 10 modules
- Playing Scales II – 12 modules
We noticed that flowkey refers to modules as “courses.” And while each module does feature quite a bit of content, we feel the term “module” is a little closer to home.
Note that you can’t get access to all the content unless you’ve upgraded to Premium.
Here we’ll briefly go over the modules and lessons inside a couple of courses, so you can get an even better sense of what’s available inside (we’ll also look at a few lesson titles a little later).
If you want to see everything that’s available inside flowkey, then don’t forget – you can always create a user account and see for yourself.
First, the Introduction to the Piano course:
- First Steps: Orientation at the Piano, The C Position, Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”
- Easy Songs for the right Hand: When the Saints Go Marching In, Jingle Bells
- Intro to Reading Sheet Music: The Names of the Keys, Right Hand – Keys from C to G, Aura Lee
- Playing with the Left Hand: The C Position, Mexican Hat Dance
- Notes on the Bass Clef Staff: Notation of the Left Hand
- Note Value and Rhythm: Introduction: Rhythm, The Quarter Note, The Half Note, The Whole Note
- Rhythm Practice: Rhythm Practice I, Rhythm Practice II, Note Value + Pitch Practice
- New Notes for the Right Hand: Right Hand – Keys from G to F, Swan Lake – Theme
Second, the Playing with Both Hands course:
- Intro to Playing with Both Hands: Introductory Exercises, Coordination and Hand Independence, Ode to Joy – Two Hand Version
- New Note Values: The Eight Note, The Whole Rest, The Half Rest, Musette (J.S. Bach) – Part 1, Musette (J.S. Bach) – Part 2, Musette (J.S. Bach) – All Parts
- The Pickup and the Dotted Note: The Pickup, The Dotted Half Note, Conclusive Song – Part 1, Conclusive Song – Part 2, Conclusive Song – Part 3
- The Dotted Quarter Note: The Dotted Quarter Note, London Bridge – Part 1, London Bridge – Part 2, London Bridge – All Parts
- Quarter Rest and Tie: The Quarter Rest, A Tie, C to G in a Higher Octave, Banks of the Ohio – Part 1, Banks of the Ohio – Part 2, Banks of the Ohio – All Parts
- Playing Multiple Notes with One Hand: Playing Multiple Notes with One Hand, Le Coq est mort – Part 1, Le Coq est mort – Part 2, Le Coq est mort – Part 3, Le Coq est mort – All Parts
- Playing Chords: The C Major Chord, Ode to Joy – chord version, When the Saints Go Marching In – chord version
And there you have it. Again, the entire curriculum can be viewed inside, even if you haven’t upgraded to Premium, and only have a free account.
Select Lesson Titles And What They Help You Achieve
While we can’t cover all the courses, modules, or lessons inside flowkey, we thought we would share a few of the lesson titles and what they help you achieve.
Because most lessons (or lesson chapters) are relatively short, we don’t necessarily have a lot to share here, but we thought it would be going over a few examples.
The titles that follow are all from the Introduction to the Piano course.
Sitting Position And Posture
This is a relatively quick lesson on how to sit at your piano, as well as how your arms, hands, and fingers should be positioned relative to the instrument.
The C Position
The C position is the most basic finger position on the piano where your thumb and fingers are placed above the C, D, E, F, and G notes. Most pianists start at this position and begin learning simple exercises and melodies before they learn other positions.
Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”
As you can imagine, this is the interactive lesson where you learn Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” your first complete piece within the Introduction to the Piano course.
Is flowkey User Friendly? What Is Their Platform Like?
It’s our judgment that flowkey has been designed as a simple, minimalist online app. To that extent, it makes learning piano easy, because it removes distractions and gets you to focus on the act of playing your instrument instead of getting sucked into the mechanics and details of it all.
We’ve offered some commentary on this already, but in this section, we’ll explore flowkey’s usability and user interface in greater depth.
Is flowkey Easy To Navigate?
Once inside, you’ll see that flowkey has a simple navigation bar on the left-hand side of the screen with songs, search, my songs (where you can save your favorites), and courses. That’s right – just four links to different sections of the app, and most of the time, you will only be using one of them.
There is a convenient settings button on the sidebar too, though, just in case.
Inside the songs section, you can find songs based on skill level, genre, or even mood. Given that there is also a built-in search function, we would consider this a complete set of tools you need to find the song you’re looking for.
The menu bar only takes up a small amount of space, so right of it you can instantly see about 14 songs (with covers) you can choose from. Though we imagine the exact number of songs you can see will depend on your screen size.
We also like that you can preview each song before opting to learn it, just so you can hear how it will sound when you’ve mastered it.
Of course, this does not guarantee that flowkey has the song you’re looking for. There is something catering to everyone’s tastes, no doubt, but in the grand scheme of things 1,500 songs isn’t that many, especially when you consider that 24,000 songs are released daily.
To be fair, you can still find a lot of hits and favorites on flowkey.
(I was rather surprised to find Extreme’s “More Than Words” inside flowkey’s library. The song was a hit, but the band isn’t that well known.)
The song learning environment is also simple and nicely laid out, and quick to load. It contains just the essentials in terms of information, setting aside what users might consider distractions or unnecessary content, so they can focus on the important part – playing.
flowkey is highly visual. This is characteristic of most if not all piano apps, and we would even say flowkey is perhaps less visual than some of the alternatives, which seem to rely on more flash. But where it might lose out in terms of flare, it certainly makes up for in immersion.
We also like that you can see exactly how an exercise or song is meant to be played onscreen, and that goes for the courses section as well.
There isn’t much to say about two of the four links in the navigation. The search function is there to help you find songs, and my songs is for saving your favorites for later, as well as viewing the songs you’ve recently accessed. But we do like that these are helpful features to keep users on track and find what they’re looking for.
The courses section is easy to navigate as well. After all, there are only eight courses. But as noted earlier, it is nested in a somewhat complicated way. Basically, there are courses, modules, lessons, and lesson chapters. Not that this should prove overwhelming in any way.
After selecting a course, you choose a module. And, within each module are a few lessons – usually between one and four.
Lesson chapters are kind of anyone’s guess. But they do break up the lessons and make it easy for you to progress. It doesn’t take much for you to feel like you’re getting somewhere with your learning efforts.
Lesson chapters are generally made up of short videos and interactive lessons. We’ve found there is a nice flow between the content, and assuming you’ve got a stable internet connection, none of it should take long to load at all.
Though nothing is truly “perfect,” we do feel flowkey has created a near perfect environment based on the content available.
Content might be flowkey’s greatest weakness, only because it’s somewhat limited.
Is Progress Saving Available?
Yes. flowkey tells you what percentage of a module you’ve completed when you’re inside a course.
So, if you leave a module halfway through, you should be able to find your place again without issue.
Flowkey Review – The Verdict
There are many piano learning apps available, and, at the end of the day, your selection will depend on what works best for you.
We can see flowkey working great for a specific type of learner, who is self-motivated and doesn’t mind taking charge of the reigns a little.
Some piano learning apps feature a lot more hand-holding, which can be good if that’s what you need, but may not be ideal for those who want to be a little more intentional about their individual development.
If you want to be intentional about your development, flowkey is a solid platform to take advantage of.
If there’s anything missing within flowkey, it’s that most of the course content is basic, and if you want to move beyond it, you may need to find additional training.
There are always plenty of songs to work on within flowkey, and in that sense, you’re unlikely to run out of content in a hurry. But not having more course material could be a bit of a downside for some.
In every other regard, there’s a lot to like about the platform, including their usability and navigation.
Ultimately, we do feel this piano app can help you improve your skills, especially if you are somewhere in the vicinity of a beginner to intermediate player. Advanced players can still find content, but there may not be as much. The rest is up to you. If you don’t put in the time, you won’t get anywhere. Make sure you’re committed to your learning for the best results possible.