The future of music

Hoffman Academy Review: Best Piano Lessons For Kids?

January 19, 2023
Hoffman Academy review

There are now plenty of ways to take piano lessons without hiring a piano teacher.

Many online learning courses and apps are efficient and will help you learn how to play the piano quickly and easily.

However, e-learning courses often lack human connection and might not be appealing to kids.

If you have a child that wants to take piano lessons at home, or you’re a beginner yourself but you don’t like how most musical online programs work, we have a suggestion for you.

Hoffman Academy is an online piano course based on guided video lessons. Created primarily for children, this affordable program is a fun way of gaining valuable musical knowledge and skills.

By using a holistic teaching approach, Hoffman Academy offers a rich and well-rounded curriculum that includes all important technical and theoretical elements of playing the piano.

It also uses games and other learning resources that are appealing to kids.

What’s truly great about this course is that all video lessons are completely free. You just need to create a free account on Hoffman Academy’s website.

However, if you become a Premium member, you will get access to many useful features and benefits.

In this article, we will tell you about Hoffman Academy’s creators and how they keep successfully sharing their knowledge and love for music with young piano players around the world.

We will also describe all the features and curriculum’s content.


If you were searching for the best online piano learning courses, you’ve probably seen the name of Hoffman Academy on the list.

Hoffman Academy is an online platform for learning piano whose video lessons were viewed over 23 million times in the past decade.

Academy’s video lessons, guided by encouraging piano teachers, are created primarily for children. Using a holistic approach, teachers will provide every student with comprehensible yet in-depth musical knowledge.

Although it’s a form of e-learning through which you learn how to play the piano at home, Hoffman Academy is based on a rather traditional way of teaching.

However, its fun and creative environment is what makes it appealing to kids and perfectly suited for their needs.

The Story Behind Hoffman Academy

The founders of Hoffman Academy are music teachers Joseph and Kelly Hoffman.

It all began with them opening Hoffman Academy in Portland, Oregon, and teaching piano to their regular students. After two years, they decided to share their teaching method through an online platform and started their business endeavor. 

The very first video lesson went live in 2010 on the website called Free Piano Lesson 4 Kids. Three years later, it was renamed Hoffman Academy, and it wasn’t long before it became popular and adored among many youngsters around the world.

Apart from continuously updating his online lessons, Mr. Hoffman is now successfully directing the Hoffman Academy of Music of Portland with a staff of teachers and hundreds of students.

Getting Started With Hoffman Academy

Hoffman Academy started off by offering online video lessons for free. That hasn’t changed, so you can access all piano lessons simply by creating an account on their website.

However, there is an option of getting a Premium membership. You can choose between Premium Monthly ($18/month), Premium Yearly ($179/year), and Premium Lifetime ($595 for full access for life).

With a Premium membership, you will get printable sheet music, worksheets, and games.

How Hoffman Academy works.

You will be able to track your progress and earn points and advance levels, and Mr. Hoffman will be providing you with a daily practice plan.

So while relying solely on video lessons isn’t bad, getting Premium’s benefits is much more productive in the long run.

You can also try the 30-day free trial without giving away your card details. That is great since you can easily forget about the end of your trial with some other learning platforms.

You don’t have to worry about having a digital piano in this case; the program will work with any piano or keyboard, and you can access your lessons via any device.

The Hoffman Method

Joseph Hoffman developed this method to teach his students in a more efficient way than most traditional piano lessons do.

The basic idea is to learn how to play the piano both by sight and by ear.

The Hoffman Method uses a holistic approach to provide knowledge of solfège, music theory, dictation, improvisation, and so on.

If you want your kids to enroll in Hoffman Academy, this method ensures they get a whole musical education.

When it comes to teaching children, it’s not only about the content but the way you present it.

Children need an interactive, playful and engaging approach, which is not always easy to find in online courses. That’s why Hoffman Academy stands out among kid-friendly piano learning programs.

Hoffman Academy review.

What also makes The Hoffman Method an effective way of learning how to play the piano is its learning pace. Kids will get all the important content in the very first lessons.

On the other hand, that content will be given in small portions, so students won’t get overwhelmed.

According to Hoffman Academy teachers, it’s essential for children to master small chunks of material before moving on. They can also come back and repeat certain parts and establish their own pace of learning,

Learning With Mr. Hoffman

Hoffman Academy’s curriculum is focused on both technical and theoretical parts.

Developing great piano skills is not a quick process but it can be a very fun, easy, and enjoyable one with the right program.

We already stated that this program is mostly for kids, and Mr. Hoffman’s approach is the reason why.

In his 5 to 10 minute video lessons he often uses games, puppets, costumes, and animation to explain musical concepts.

He demonstrates piano techniques in a clear way and by including metaphors and jokes he brings them closer to children. While explaining, he sometimes writes on his sheet music, like every teacher in piano school does.

That way, Mr. Hoffman creates a fun and engaging yet productive environment. He is calm, positive, interesting, and easy to understand.

Learning piano with Mr. Hoffman.

With each lesson, students are also given tasks and practice instructions. Those guided practice sections are great to keep your kid interested and distraction-free during exercises.

Most practice sessions will suggest playing slower, with a metronome or hands separately.

Besides printable sheet music of the song taught in the lesson, there’s an audio file as well so kids can hear what they’re supposed to sound like.

In the very first lesson, Mr. Hoffman points out the importance of regular practice and kindly urges his students to keep practicing the piano every day.

If you’re a parent, you’ll find the included Parent’s Guide quite useful. Read it and discover how to help your kid enjoy and succeed at piano lessons.

Parents should keep encouraging their kids in playing the piano. Although all students will get praise from their teacher Mr. Hoffman when they complete a lesson, they should hear it from you too.

The Curriculum

The course is divided into units with about 20 lessons each.

Mr. Hoffman starts off by explaining the first five notes, finger numbers, and white keys. In the very first lesson, he also teaches how to play “Hot Cross Buns.“

Hoffman Academy curriculum.

In the next few Units, he will introduce chords, grand staff, time signatures, rhythms, and accidentals. He will also explain sight-reading and notating by ear.

In Unit 4, students will learn more about improvisation and intervals, and finish with learning how to play “Ode to Joy.“

Unit 5 and 6 will bring more technique, rhythm challenges, syncopation, and improvisation with phrases, and it will teach kids how to play the “Happy Birthday Song.“

In Units 7 and 8, Mr. Hoffman will show new songs and more in-detail techniques, melodic dictation, and finger skips. He will also introduce the life and music of one of the most important artists in the learning piano process: Johann Sebastian Bach.

The next two Units will focus on tetrachords, octave scales, and playing Études and Minuets.

In the last three Units, Mr. Hoffman will talk about arpeggios, diatonic chords, two-octave scales, and teach his students how to play Sonatinas.

The final lesson will continue showing how to play the so-called “Super Secret Agent“ song. It includes various techniques and fast tempo, so students will apply all their skills while practicing this song.

Hoffman Academy learning interface.

Although the course ends with Unit 13, there are many other video lessons available to check out, especially once you’ve completed the “official part” of the program.

For example, some available YouTube video series are: Beginning Music Theory, Ear Training and Dictation, Improvisation and Composition. And Sight Reading.

On top of that, Hoffman Academy offers a number of song tutorials, so students don’t have to stop with the ones they learned in lessons.

Now the real fun can begin, right?

With all those skills, your kid can now learn how to play some great theme songs such as Stranger Things, Harry Potter, and the Pokemon Theme Song.


What will appeal to kids more than, of course, games?

Including online games in the curriculum is a great way to spark children’s interest and keep them involved in the learning process.

Four different areas are tackled through games: theory, rhythm, ear training, and the staff. 

The game called Alphabet Towers will help in learning musical theory by stacking the letters of the musical alphabet forward, backward, and in skips.

In Mystery Melodies, you have to choose a card with the notation that matches what you heard. By choosing the correct cards, you collect clues to solve the case.

Piano Street is another fun game focused on theory. By showing cards with letters and choosing the correct key on the keyboard, this game helps kids to find any key on the piano more quickly.

Piano Street game.

Rhythm Train helps in learning how to hear and read rhythm accurately. It’s about listening to the rhythm and putting cards with the correct answer onto the train as its cars.

In the Staff Crawler, students have to help Iggy the Inchworm reach his lunch by playing the notes shown on the screen. This game also helps kids learn how to use guide notes on the staff and improve their sight-reading.

All games have multiple levels, so tasks will get more difficult as the game progresses.

Besides being fun, these games are strengthening children’s knowledge and give them more confidence in their skills once they successfully complete them.

Music Learning Resources

Online games and Mr. Hoffman’s humorous figure are not the only sources of fun in the Hoffman Academy program.

Printable music learning resources are great tools to improve children’s piano skills, especially their theoretical knowledge.

You can access, print and use Alphabet Cards, Pentascale Matching Game, and Tempo Memory Matching Game.

There are also note finders, staff paper, and dynamics flashcards available, along with some nice motivational cards and a piano posture checklist sign.

On that note (pun intended), it’s great that Hoffman Method pays a lot of attention to a proper body posture and finger shape. Many online learning courses lack this kind of information.

Correct piano posture.

Hoffman Academy keeps updating its learning material on the website, so if you’re a member, you can always expect something new. With seasonal packets, for example, your kids will get new printable games, exercises, and accessories.

Pros and Cons

To give you a clearer picture of Hoffman Academy’s worth, we have summarized the program’s pros and cons.


  • An Appropriate Approach – Hoffmans Academy’s creators surely know how to appeal to kids.

Being a brilliant educator and a parent himself, Joseph Hoffman uses the right amount of game-like practice and storytelling to really keep his young students motivated.

It’s sometimes challenging to keep children interested in online courses long enough to finish them, so Mr. Hoffman’s effort is much appreciated among parents around the world.

  • Quality Content – Online piano learning courses often focus on only one aspect of playing the piano, like learning how to play popular songs, but Hoffman Academy has a different curriculum.

By having a holistic teaching approach, the Hoffman Method includes music theory, sight reading, technique, and improvisation.

Also, it teaches kids a proper posture for playing the piano.

  • Extra Learning Resources – Besides guided video lessons, Hoffman Academy offers many amenities such as online games, printable note finders and flashcards, seasonal packets, and so on.

Hoffman Academy website also has an active blog where parents can find useful information.


  • A Lack of Communication – Although Hoffman’s video lessons are interactive and engaging, they offer no feedback.

Kids should have a more individual approach in learning how to play the piano, and feedback is very important in that process.

You can submit questions to Hoffman Academy’s teachers, but that’s not the same as pointing out a child’s weak spot and helping them improve it.

So, Is Hoffman Academy Only For Kids?

Hoffman Academy is created with having kids in mind as its primary students.

The platform’s design, teacher’s language, and the choice of songs are clearly suited for young children.

However, parents can find this program useful too, if they practice with their kids. The approach might be kid-friendly but the curriculum is great for anyone who wants to learn how to play the piano or remind themselves of some music theory.

If you’re a beginner and slightly out of the targeted age group, you can still try this program. However, you need to be prepared for cute songs and finger puppets.

Piano finger puppets.

Alternative Programs

Similar to Hoffman Academy, Pianote uses well-structured video lessons guided by professional and inspiring piano teachers. Their comprehensible and positive approach will easily teach anyone how to play the piano.

A piano learning program that is also suitable for kids is Simply Piano. This online app has a fun game-like format and its linear learning process is excellent for anyone who needs a clear structure in learning.

Hoffman Academy, however, combines the best of both worlds – it has a real piano teacher who uses games to teach both technique and music theory. Therefore, it’s a perfect program for children.

Hoffman Academy Review – Final Thoughts

Hoffman Academy uses a holistic teaching method in its guided video lessons. By focusing both on musical theory and technique, it offers a well-rounded curriculum tailored specifically for children.

Academy’s Joseph Hoffman is a competent teacher that can make rather complex piano techniques seem simple and fun. His positive energy will motivate kids to engage in piano lessons. 

After finishing this e-learning course, students will have a solid musical background. And by learning sight-reading, they will be able to play any song on the piano and continue with more advanced lessons.  

With Hoffman Academy, children will also learn how to appreciate and love music, and that is the most important thing. This is sometimes hard to come by in online learning courses, and that’s why we think Hoffman Academy offers lessons worth taking.

In the end, sparking a passion for music is important for anyone who is just starting their piano learning journey. Hoffman Academy tends to do exactly that by not avoiding elements essential for developing musical abilities.

Further Reading:

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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