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People have been turning to the internet and apps as a means of learning for some time.
When it comes to learning how to play the piano, there are plenty of competitors boasting of their capability to take you from beginner to pro.
Of course, they both have merits and shortcomings. So we decided to present them side by side, in a Flowkey vs Simply Piano comparison article, highlighting the similarities and differences for anyone thinking about taking a punt on either one.
If you’re short on time, here’s a brief summary of the Flowkey vs Simply Piano debate…
Flowkey is the overall better option if you are a beginner looking for comprehensive online piano lessons. They have a large selection of songs to choose from and the learning pace is much quicker and more structured than Simply Piano. On the other hand, Simply Piano is slightly more child-friendly and a good option for early-aged learners.
Flowkey is a multiplatform answer to learning to play the piano. This means it is available for PC, MAC, iOS, and Android devices.
It has a good layout and is easy to navigate. Users are free to explore the course content in their own manner. It is far less structured than some teaching resources, which could be viewed as a good or bad thing.
For beginners, it is a great tool to learn from in a relaxed manner. It may also help people find their way back to learning the piano after losing interest early on in their venture.
Because you can skip lessons and navigate your own way through the content, you don’t have to complete the baby steps at the beginning.
It has lots of information available and some basic music theory is covered on how to read sheet music, notes, and rhythms.
So you will learn the fundamentals, however, the manner it functions doesn’t necessarily mean you will pick up the reading and rhythm in a fool-proof way.
It features over 1,500 songs in a huge variety of categories, covering more obscure genres than Simply Piano. Alongside your typical popular styles like classical, rock, country, and pop you have film & TV favorites, jazz, and even Christmas songs.
Want to learn more about Flowkey? Check out my comprehensive Flowkey review!
Simply Piano Overview
Simply Piano is the brainchild of JoyTunes, it is a hugely popular platform for learning the piano and has many awards under its belt including parents choice awards and Apple’s Editor Choice.
Simply Piano is only available for iOS and Android.
It has a few design elements that some think make it slightly better at teaching than Flowkey, however, it is a slower path.
This is good news if you only have limited time to schedule the app in or if you prefer to learn at your own pace.
The app is set up with more game-like elements, it is fun and encouraging. For that reason, it excels at teaching beginners and younger learners, but if you have any previous experience it might be a little tiresome.
It is a little more social feeling than Flowkey as you can set your own goals and customize your profile etc.
Flowkey vs Simply Piano: Features
Layout, Lesson Format, and Design
Both have logical easy to navigate layouts and each works in a similar way.
They either access your device’s built-in microphone to hear you play the note and respond to your playing or they can be linked via MIDI-USBs if you are using a keyboard or electronic piano that is MIDI compatible.
The MIDI route is actually more reliable, especially with Simply Piano which is very problematic when using a mic.
Both apps are quick and easy to install but Flowkey’s in-app functions are much faster. Simply Piano can take a while to load your next lesson or song.
On the other hand, Simply Piano functions a little quicker because Flowkey relies on you constantly having to click through info and close the pop-ups by tapping your screen.
With Simply Piano, you can actually play a piano note to close the pop-ups or click through the steps which is much more convenient.
If you have already rested your hands on the keys in position for the piece you aren’t constantly moving between the piano and the interface.
Delivery and Feedback
When it comes to how you are playing, both listen for your notes.
With Flowkey, you can play the notes in broken-down sections or along with the piece but there is nothing to really help the user gauge how well they are doing, it is very much an independent learning process.
That said, it differs from Simply Piano in that there is a video of a person playing the songs as well as the sheet music so you can see where you are going wrong and perhaps get a better physical idea from it than Simply Piano’s animated keys.
Simply Piano on the other hand has a color-coded system to help out. Which provides much better feedback to the learner.
If you play a note correctly, the notation turns blue but if you play incorrectly, it turns red. If you are hesitant or low you get a hint about where the note is on the piano and the notation turns yellow.
If you rack up too many yellow notes the app takes you back to the start of the bar (or bars) automatically to repeat the section. If you play notes incorrectly (red) successively then the app switches into practice mode and slows down with a metronome.
Both have course lessons and song lessons but as mentioned they are delivered differently, the song lessons are more central to Simply Piano and supplementary to the linear lessons.
If you want to play the songs, you are pre-warned about the lesson knowledge needed for the song itself.
So if you are intermediate or better, you can continue on to the song or make sure you have completed the lessons as a prerequisite.
In terms of lesson content, Flowkey covers a few more essentials than Simply Piano. Three are videos covering posture and sight-reading in more depth.
The course content for Simply Piano is very linear. You have to tick off each lesson to progress to the next. Great if you are working from scratch but pretty rigid.
The content is covered very slowly, the intermediate level of Simply Piano is more akin to the content in the beginner section of Flowkey.
Simply Piano has 27 lessons, split into 2 main routes dubbed ’Soloist’ and ‘Chords,’ accessed via scrolling the user-friendly dashboard panel.
Before you start either there is a “Piano Basics” video and “Essentials I” lesson that teaches you how your fingers are numbered for the coming lessons.
It has a little info on basic rhythm and introduces a couple of easy chords. You will learn to play a few notes with each hand independently and together. You are also presented with 6 very simple songs to play which should help encourage you early on.
The soloist section focuses more on sheet reading. It essentially takes you straight from the Essentials I course to Essentials II and III.
Though the expansion is pretty slow, you will learn C and F positions and a C major scale. Next, you can go on to Learn Classical I, and two Bach lessons that are voluntary.
Intermediate I, II, III, and IV introduce more rhythms and some syncopation as well as diving into D and G major scales. The final course is labeled pre-advanced and teaches a little music theory in the form of key signatures.
The Chords pathway takes you through pop I, II, and III to learn popular songs, it covers rock, and ventures into jazz songs. It has a section on chord styling that teaches the chords in different progressions and rhythms.
The sheet music for Simply Piano is all separate from the app and is currently in BETA testing.
The subject matter of Simply Piano’s lessons is very limited, it doesn’t teach you how to teach yourself. Flowkey is a little better suited to that. First on the Flowkey curriculum is a course entitled Absolute Beginner.
That takes you through: First Steps, Easy Songs For The Right Hand then Playing With The Left. After that, it gives you an introduction to sheet music, and finally, there is playing with both hands.
The songs for Simply Piano are all integral to the lessons available. Flowkey course content teaches you to be able to play any of the 1,500 songs available to you by instilling enough theory.
Simply Piano has far fewer songs available to play, (around 120) than Flowkey does. It should also be noted that the majority of Simply Piano songs are classical or pop whereas Flowkey’s library includes arrangements of songs from over 20 categories.
Although you are kind of going it alone with Flowkey, you can choose different speeds to learn a song with Slow Mode (50% or 75%) or Fast Mode (original tempo) and select a passage to loop if you are trying something difficult.
You can also practice each hand independently.
With Simply Piano, the song is taught in sections a few bars at a time. In the first section, you listen then you sight read and then you play the sections with a backing track, and then playing longer sections with the backing track or you can play the whole thing.
Simply Piano offers a 5-minute workout mode that is used for helping to reinforce skills and develop a good practice regime. They won’t advance you anywhere quickly or teach any new skills but they are a good recap and help to strengthen the skills you have already honed.
All courses also begin with a recap which is a great touch. The workouts utilize a greater variety of teaching techniques than Flowkey has adopted and are good fun.
Flowkey costs $19.99 per month or $38.97 for 3 months which works out as just $12.99 per month. You can also pay yearly upfront for $119.99.
Simply Piano will set you back $59.99 for 3 months which equates to $19.99 per month. Or you can pay for 6 months at $89.99 which brings it down to $14.99. They also competitively price match the yearly upfront fee of Flokey at $119.99.
So basically, Flowkey is the cheaper option if you pay it quarterly (every 3 months). Flowkey also has a lifetime subscription offer at $299.99 which is a big investment but could be useful for teachers or large families.
Flowkey Vs Simply Piano – Final Thoughts
If I had to pick a winner, I’d definitely learn towards Flowkey. With Flowkey, you’re getting everything Simply Piano offers but a little bit more.
Not only will you learn at a faster pace, but Flowkey will also leave you with a far better understanding of scales, chords, and the skill to read sheet music.
Both tools teach a decent amount of music theory. Simply Piano teaches it in bite-size chunks. For that reason, it may be better for younger users or less confident beginners.
Ultimately, Flowkey teaches more in-depth music theory but the pace is a little faster.
Both are well-designed, good-quality piano learning platforms that when in a pinch if access to music lessons isn’t a viable option for you, are solid solutions.
We would also recommend them for supplementary use as a bolstering tool to keep music education fun, both are pretty great for newcomers.
Finally, it would be ideal for kindling an interest in younger players or seeing how committed they really are before you invest cash and sacrifice space in your home for something as big as a piano!
But what have you got to lose… Why not try a 14-day free trial of Flowkey here and see for yourself?