There are a plethora of apps that promise to help you learn how to play the piano, so it can be really tough to know which one to trust.
A lot of people turn to Simply Piano as a way to learn. It is a popular app on Android and Apple devices and it is even recommended by a lot of piano and keyboard manufacturers. Some of these provide a free trial to the Simply Piano platform for those who buy their instruments.
Simply Piano is made by a company called JoyTunes who have actually made quite a few different apps related to playing the piano. This is their app to help anyone learn piano even with no prior knowledge of how the instrument works. The app boasts loads of awards including receiving the accolade of Apple’s Editor’s Choice Award, and Best App from Google Play.
So, does it live up to expectations? Can piano really be simplified with an app like this? Why are so many people using courses like this to learn?
About the App
SimplyPiano works in a similar way to a lot of the other piano learning apps on the market today. It can use the microphone within your device to “listen” to what you are playing. This is a way to give instant feedback so that you can work out whether you are getting it right or not.
One of the key benefits of this is the fact that it can work with any piano. You don’t need to plug your piano or keyboard into the device (an iPad or laptop, for example). Instead, just use the microphone to work out whether you’re playing correctly.
Simply Piano is made by the same team that previously developed apps including “Piano Fust Buster” and “Piano Maestro”. They know how to animate a keyboard and make an interface that is good for beginners as well casual piano players. This works with any piano, but it also has a nice, simple navigation and can get you started in no time at all.
The manufacturers claim that there are millions of uses of their software each and every week. This is not surprising when you see how easy they make music, and the fact that there is a free version to play to get you started.
Connecting to Your Device
As we have already mentioned, this can use the microphone within your device to listen to your playing. For this reason, you don’t have to connect it via any cables. However, if you do want a more reliable tracking of the sound from your piano to your device you can connect it via a cable. Many MIDI-enabled devices can do this with USB-MIDI connections.
The benefit of doing this is the fact that you won’t be relying solely on the microphone, which can get confused if there are other sounds and not provide the most reliable interactivity.
Setting Up Your Account
One of the best things about Simply Piano is the way that it tracks your progress, and can even track the progress of others sharing your device. If a lot of people in your home want to share access to your account, you can. The app allows for up to five profiles within. This is good if, for instance, both of your children are learning how to play and you want to allow them both to have access from the same account.
Simply Piano will ask you a number of different questions when you get started. You can set whether or not you have previous knowledge, and also what areas you plan to focus on.
You can set your goals so that the app can better understand exactly what you want to get out of the piano. Some people might focus on different aspects based on whether reading sheet music is a priority or not.
How Piano Courses Work in Simply Piano
Playing the piano is split into 27 different lessons within Simply Piano. This means that you can take gradual steps towards being an accomplished pianist. The app makers know that not everyone wants to focus on sheet music, so a lot of these are very visual, too. Truly “simple piano”.
The very basics are taught first, and playing with one hand to get you started, though eventually the second hand is introduced.
Cleverly, the piano app has two different learning paths, “chords” vs “soloist”. The chord mode is really focused more on people who want to play the piano or keyboard as an accompaniment and who want to play a lot of rock and pop songs. The soloist model is more focused on those who want to learn how to play in a classical way, with more of a traditional outlook on how to play piano. It is great that the makers of the app differentiate, as there are multiple ways in which you can play the piano, and different areas of focus for people who have different priorities. You don’t have to learn Bach to be able to play some pop songs.
As well as the clever course with two different learning paths, there are a number of different songs that you can focus on, with simple, visual guides to the notes to play. This is where the live feedback comes in. The apps piano listening skills mean that it will be able to detect if you are playing it right or not. It will not let you advance until you have played the section correctly and move onto new courses within their app.
Free vs Paid
If you are opting for the free version of Simply Piano, you will have access to two of the 27 lessons. This is a way to get started and to look around the app to see if you like the interface before you pay for the app membership. You can go through the very basics before you start playing with two hands and make any decisions on which types of songs you wish to learn and whether you want to be able to sight-read and play classical compositions or if you just want to be able to play from reading chords and watching tutorials.
Free piano apps are rare. If you want to learn more about music, there is usually a cost attached. The “free” mode is restrictive. So Simply Piano is not strictly “free”.
One of the huge restrictions on the “free” version of the course is the fact that it doesn’t allow any access to the huge list of fun songs that you can play on the app. This is very disappointing for those who plan to dive in and start playing music quickly.
Fortunately, even after you’ve had a play with your two initial lessons, you can sign up for a seven-day free trial. This means that without being charged, you can further look into the piano songs that are on the app and whether this might be the best way to learn piano for you. You don’t have to make the decision straight away.
Some manufacturers of keyboards and pianos also include extended free trials. This is a way for music manufacturers to make their keyboard more appealing than some of the others. A lot of people looking for reviews of Simply Piano are doing so because they are buying a keyboard with a free trial and they want to know if this is the best choice.
Simply Piano Prices
When it comes to making the choice of whether or not you want to pay for access, you will have a few different options to consider. Naturally, the longer you are willing to pay for at once, the cheaper the monthly price works out at.
The options are:
- 3 months recurring subscription for $59.99 (USD)
- 6 months recurring subscription for $89.99 (USD)
- Yearly recurring subscription for $119.99 (USD)
If you pay for the yearly subscription then this is in line with what a lot of the other music learning and piano learning apps on the market tend to cost.
Some of the other apps on the market offer an option to pay for a lifetime membership, this can be useful for a number of reasons, and it means that once you have paid, you have access to the songs and their sheet music forever. You also get access to new courses uploaded within the app. With Simply Piano, this is not an option.
It is also slightly inflexible in the way that you can’t pay a month at a time. The minimum outlay in one go to play with Simply Piano is $59.99. However, the huge repertoire of songs and clever lesson system means that it is worth the investment if you plan to stick with your new music hobby.
Pros and Cons of Simply Piano
To compare properly to the other apps such as Yousician, you need to understand the pros and cons of the app. No learning app is 100% perfect and different people make different decisions based on what they need to be able to play and learn in the future.
- Loads of songs to learn with the paid version including a number of different genres and styles.
- Takes a sensible approach to teaching the piano which means that you can learn the basics correctly, such as reading music, and then you can build upon this knowledge.
- Two different learning paths. Choose between whether you wish to become a piano maestro, classical pianist or you want to focus on playing some chords and becoming a keyboardist who can play some accompaniment.
- Can be used with any model of keyboard, digital or acoustic piano, either through a cord or by just using the device microphone.
- You can have a number of different profiles within the same account.
- The pricing and memberships are a little inflexible, with no one-month option and no choice of whether you want to pay for a lifetime membership.
- Doesn’t let you skip sections. This is a feature that the app may well include in the future, but at the moment you can’t skip ahead within a lesson, which can be a bit annoying if there is something specific that you want to practice and you have to go way back to the start of the lesson.
- As with a lot of the current apps that give instant feedback via the device mic, the sound can be imperfect, and other things can interrupt meaning you have to play a piece of music twice before the app recognizes it.
- The course is designed to take longer than some others. The app makers suggest that you spend two years on the lessons and this means that you might not go at the pace you want to. You can move through it quicker, so it isn’t too much of an issue.
- The free version does not offer you access to the songs within the app.
Simply Piano has got a lot right. This review is generally very favorable and we particularly like the fact that the app can split into different learning paths to suit how you wish to approach the piano.
It is arguably the best app for a whole family wanting to learn piano, you can share the app with up to six of you being able to play piano at your own pace with your own profile. One of you can be reading sheet music and playing Vivaldi while the other learns chords to play Ed Sheeran. It is simple and easy to use for all ages!