If you look online, there are now plenty of ways to learn instruments without instructors. Many apps and software developers have created programs that allow people to learn to play the piano by themselves.
Each piano learning software has its pros and cons, with some made with higher quality than others; one such superior software is Flowkey.
You can use Flowkey on your phone, tablet, or computer to help you learn pieces on the piano. There are lots of genres to choose from, such as jazz, pop, classical, R&B, and even game themes. In each genre is a long song list to choose from.
Flowkey was designed to mostly benefit beginners, although it still has plenty of benefits for experienced players as well, such as more complex pieces.
Like many of these types of apps, Flowkey has a free trial. However, to access everything the app has to offer, that will require a paid subscription, but we’ll cover the subscription details later on in this Flowkey review. Either way, the software is cheaper than hiring a piano tutor, which is what the software is meant to replace.
Flowkey can be used with any piano, including digital pianos, MIDI keyboards, and acoustic (stand or grand) pianos. This feature is possible since it uses the microphone of your device, instead of a MIDI or USB cable to connect. If you do have a USB-to-MIDI device, though, Flowkey will accommodate this.
Learning To Play The Piano With Flowkey
Flowkey’s main objective is to teach you how to learn new pieces without needing an instructor or buying sheet music. It is especially useful for students who aren’t great at sight-reading alone.
Flowkey has an interesting method to do this. Not only does it give you the sheet music, but it also gives you a video of someone playing the piece along with you.
To register your playing, Flowkey uses your device’s microphone capability or the MIDI interface of your digital keyboard. It will listen to you as you play and stop whenever you need to stop. The video of the pianist also helps by lighting up the keys along with your sheet music.
More than the learning method, Flowkey comes with a rich library of music. Unfortunately, you can only access the full library on a paid subscription. The free trial will only give you access to a small portion of the entire library.
Thankfully, one of these is an introduction to playing the piano, so beginners can still benefit from the trial. If they end up liking it enough, they can access the library of around 1500 pieces just with a paid subscription.
You can use Flowkey on a Mac or Windows laptop or even an iOS or Android mobile device.
Signing Up With Flowkey
When you first start with Flowkey, it will ask you some questions. Once it learns more about your piano playing experience, it can customize the experience to suit you better, especially if you already have some musical skill or talent. It will ask about things like past playing experience, the kind of keyboard you’re using, and how well you can sight-read.
The main thing lacking from Flowkey is that it has no content for learning music theory, technique, or sight-reading in itself. If you’re a beginner and your only objective is to learn how to play songs, then there’s no problem.
However, the authentic piano-playing experience is often accompanied by lessons in technique and music theory. Building those skills helps you learn more complicated pieces by yourself.
The limited theory-related content that Flowkey has may be adequate for players up to the intermediate level. But beyond that, there isn’t much more music theory to learn from Flowkey.
If you’re looking for mastery with classical music, we’d recommend looking at other piano learning software. But again, if you’re a beginner looking to learn some songs on the piano, Flowkey will be plenty of help.
The Learning Process
Flowkey has an intuitive and user-friendly interface. After signing up and answering the questions, you can go straight into learning some pieces.
On the interface’s search bar, type the name of the piece you want to learn, and it will appear. If the piece is a sonata with several movements, it also gives you the option of viewing a single movement instead of the entire piece.
Once you’ve chosen your piece, the software starts loading up the player, which is what you play along to as you learn the piece. You can also manipulate the player to suit you better; factors such as tempo and learning mode are up to you to customize.
Flowkey also gives you the option to select only a short section of the piece. Doing this will help you focus on that section, especially if you’re having a hard time with it, and the piano learning software will help you go over this section repetitively until you get the hang of it.
There are two modes of learning that Flowkey offers: the Slow Motion mode and the Wait mode.
The Slow Motion mode slows down the entire piece for you to follow. There are certain speeds, such as 50% or 75% of the original tempo, which is vital for learning to play the piece without stopping every so often.
It is also a common technique that real piano instructors use until the student can play the entire piece at the original tempo. Once you’ve gotten used to the piece, you can play along to the tempo at 100%.
Wait mode is a special mode that is hard to find on any other software. Flowkey listens to how you play, whether through a microphone or a MIDI capability, to see if you’re playing along. If you take a while, it will, as the name suggests, wait for you.
Similar to the Slow Motion mode, you can choose a few bars at a time to focus on. Once you’ve got the note right, Flowkey will keep going and keep waiting for you to follow. There is also a function to loop that particular section. This learning mode is very convenient for beginners since repetition is critical for learning and mastering playing the piano.
Flowkey Song Library
One of our favorite aspects of Flowkey is its library of songs to learn. With its collection of over 1500 pieces, the list of genres and titles seems to go on and on. Since the app focuses on helping students learn pieces, the library comes very much in handy. This way, you can learn to play pretty much anything you feel the urge to.
Whether it’s a pop classic, a theme from a movie or series, a slow ballad, a classical piece, a holiday tune, or even a game theme, you can find almost anything. Other categories include jazz, R&B, Asian pop, mellow songs, happy songs, and groovy songs. Make sure to peruse the category list in the app to get a full grasp of how extensive their library is.
The freedom you get from Flowkey is probably one of its most significant assets. Often with piano teachers, they tell the student which piece to learn and when. Although the teacher does this with good intentions, if the student does not enjoy the assigned piece, it’s easy for them to lose interest and motivation.
With Flowkey, students can pick pretty much any piece they want to learn and do it in their own time. Students often quit when they lose motivation or become disinterested in the music they’re learning so Flowkey tries to make sure this isn’t the case.
When learning pieces, one concern would be the difficulty level. Even with piano teachers, they usually choose pieces to fit your learning level. Flowkey doesn’t neglect this either. You can alter your search options by choosing the difficulty level. The software provides further categorized lists of pieces according to genre and difficulty level.
Video Tutorials and Lessons
More of Flowkey’s advantages lie in its lessons, courses, and video tutorials. More than learning new pieces through Flowkey, students have access to learning aspects such as hand positions, posture, two-hand playing, improvisation, chord variations, and many more.
I think this is one of Flowkey’s best features, especially for beginners.
When I tested Flowkey, I found the lessons for sight-reading to be comfortable and intuitive to understand. There were also unique lessons on composition, improvisation, and developing your skill and dexterity by doing scale exercises.
Compared to a real piano instructor, Flowkey is not entirely adequate for teaching you piano technique and self-sufficiency. Also, Flowkey’s scope is limited to beginner and intermediate piano players and may not benefit advanced players all that much.
Similar to other learning software, Flowkey offers a free trial. However, you can use this free version for as long as you like, whereas other software would limit you to say thirty days only. The free version also has excellent customer support. They usually reply in less than a day unless it’s the weekend.
But the free trial does not give you full access to Flowkey’s library and other features. Most of the songs and video tutorials can only be accessed through a paid subscription.
The full paid version undoubtedly has more features, content, and songs compared to the free version. If you liked the app’s limited free version, then I highly recommend you go for an upgrade, especially if there are more songs you want to learn. Flowkey is relatively affordable compared to lots of other apps.
You’ll be able to learn over 1500 pieces and more. It’ll be hard not to find your favorite song in their library. From sonatas to film themes to pop songs, you will feel as if there’s no limit to the library.
Aside from their library, Flowkey has some great courses that help you learn and practice improvisation, sight-reading, and music theory.
Flowkey has several available subscription packages to choose from. Here’s a rundown of the subscription plans:
Monthly subscription: €19.99 per month
With this subscription, you get a billing every month. You get access to the full library and ten of the video courses, with of course excellent customer support.
Yearly subscription: €9.99 per month
On the annual subscription, you receive a billing every 12 months. You have access to the same resources as the monthly subscription at a much lower price.
Lifetime subscription: €329.99
The lifetime subscription bills you once and gives you full access to all of Flowkey’s features. If you use Flowkey for three years or more, you’d already have gotten more value for money than if you do the yearly subscription.
Flowkey Pros & Cons
- An intuitive and well-designed display
- Great for new players, beginners, and intermediate players
- The free version can be used for as long as you like
- Various subscription plans
- Over 1500 songs to learn and more incoming
- Costs less than a piano instructor
- Does not have complete lesson concepts
- Does not help you learn to sight-read quickly
- Has no rhythm or metronome function
- Depends on the microphone input which can be faulty
- Not very beneficial for advanced players
Flowkey Review – Final Thoughts
We’ve highlighted the great things about Flowkey and reviewed the drawbacks. After considering everything, I think it’s entirely worth it. The fact that you can try out the free version for an unlimited amount of time and choose a paid plan at any time is also quite convenient.
The most significant benefit to gain from Flowkey is the expansive library of songs and being able to learn at your own pace at a lower cost than an actual piano teacher.
If you’re a beginner who wants to learn plenty of songs, Flowkey might be what you’re looking for. You get quick lessons on sight-reading, music theory, and the like, and the lessons you receive are adequate for you to learn most of the songs in the library.
However, if you stick to the piano app long enough, you may find yourself wanting to advance to a higher level and learning more techniques. Unfortunately, Flowkey doesn’t house a lot of content for very advanced players. While Flowkey has lessons that can help you, they’re limited to the intermediate level at most.
Advancing to higher piano and music levels will likely demand a music teacher. However, if you don’t have the funds for that but want to begin learning the instrument, Flowkey is a great option to get you started. And if you’re looking for mastery, maybe you can consider a piano teacher later on.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this Flowkey review!