Synthesia and Flowkey both take quite different approaches to teaching you how to play the piano. Both have a “game” feeling to them, and this has become quite popular among people who are learning piano, as it can make it feel a lot more simple and straightforward and even add an extra level of fun. In terms of what they can actually offer, though, these two apps are quite different.
So, should you go for Synthesia or Flowkey? Which one is best suited to the way in which you want to learn how to play piano and what are some key differences to consider before making this decision? We explore more in our Synthesia and Flowkey review and comparison. In this guide, you will learn more about how the two apps stack up against one another.
The Fundamental Differences – Flowkey vs Synthesia
If you have looked up a song tutorial online for piano the there is every chance you have seen Synthesia in action. Many of the YouTube tutorials out there for piano playing involve a song being put through the software. It shows you which notes you need to play next in a linear fashion and works in a similar way to a lighted piano. It’s sort of a “repeat after me” technique. Though it is showing you what to do, and it is great for quickly and easily learning song melodies, it doesn’t really get into the how and why. For this reason, Synthesia isn’t really an all-in-one solution for piano lessons or learning to play. Instead, it is a useful guideline.
Flowkey, on the other hand, is a complete course and set of piano lessons to get you to a similar ability level as you could expect if you had some lessons in person. it explains a lot more about music theory, reading sheet music and also has a lot of songs and inbuilt music for you to practice. We will say from the outset that the Flowkey software is far more “all-encompassing” and gives you a guide on how to get started rather than just throwing you in at the deep end.
Prices of Flowkey vs Synthesia
Because they are quite different in terms of what sort of product they are, they are also quite different in price. While Flowkey’s price is similar to a lot of the other apps out there like Playground Sessions and Yousician, which charge monthly, Synthesia has a one-off cost attached to it just like buying a piece of software.
Synthesia is a one-off cost of around $40. There are sometimes promotions running which makes the software even cheaper. When you compare this to a lot of the other music software on the market you will see that it really isn’t that expensive.
Flowkey is more pricey and has a different structure. You pay for monthly or yearly memberships instead of paying one-off (though you can get a lifetime membership for around $329.99). If you choose to pay monthly, it is $19.99, whereas if you are committed to learning for longer and you wish to pay yearly, it costs $119.99 per year. Is it cheap? No, but you get a full solution to learn how to play piano with this software, so it is inevitable that it costs a little more.
Compare either of these courses to what it would cost to get lessons in person, and you will see that playing the piano can be cheaper if you find a way to learn yourself.
Something that is definitely a strength for both of these is their compatibility. Both software can be run on iPad, Android tablet, and laptop. You can run Flowkey on a phone but depending on your screen size this will make things difficult. With Synthesia, even older operating systems and hardware find it easy to run the piano app.
Naturally, you need a piano for learning, and in the case of Flowkey you can use either an acoustic piano or a digital piano. The software uses the microphone of your device to pick up your playing and provide an interactive learning experience, showing a piano learner whether they are playing the right notes. You can also use a MIDI-enabled keyboard.
For Synthesia, you can get the same interactive experience as they have looked to “gamify” playing piano, but you need to have some sort of USB-MIDI compatibility when playing songs, otherwise, it won’t be able to understand your piano or what you are trying to play.
This is an area where there really can be no comparison! There aren’t lessons included if you go for Synthesia, you will not develop a way of learning music theory and reading sheet music will be a lot more difficult. However, Flowkey provides you with the best way to learn piano with all of the basic techniques you need to pick up before you get started. It mixes video lessons with interactive learning and shows you exactly what to do, explaining musical terms along the way.
Flowkey will ask you a series of questions regarding your ability and experience levels and if you are already familiar with certain aspects then it might skip you on a bit further in the course. Their approach to piano learning is very beginner-friendly as you can even choose the speed at which the songs within are played. It is definitely good for those just starting out.
With Synthesia, you certainly shouldn’t expect to learn each and every aspect of playing your instrument. Combined with books, YouTube tutorials, and other courses it can be a good option, but perhaps not as a standalone. What it does is impressive, but it is not a complete course.
Flowkey has a huge variety of songs and you can choose based on what you want to learn, whether you are looking to play classical music, pop songs, even film and TV music. Both the sheet music and a tutorial are included to walk you through playing each of these songs, and they have been specifically adapted for use with the Flowkey app.
Synthesia has many songs included, too, but there is another hugely beneficial aspect that a lot of people like about it, which is also the reason so many of those YouTube tutorial videos utilize it. Synthesia allows you to upload a MIDI file, and uses this to effectively create a new tutorial for you. A quick search for MIDI files will show you that people have created them for literally tens of thousands of songs, and you can use this to work out how to play them on piano. You can buy them, or in some cases the MIDI files are available for free. This means you don’t need to rely on a bunch of pre-selected songs, you can choose the bands and artists you love and opt for these songs instead.
Though Flowkey’s library is fantastic, in a shootout vs Synthesia then we would have to say the latter app wins, just because of the fact that it is so incredibly flexible.
Who Will Flowkey Suit?
Flowkey is great for an aspiring musician who wants to go from zero. If you have very little knowledge and want to learn piano then this can give you a proper, professional overview, showing you all of the different tips and techniques that a beginner needs to wow their friends and get their piano journey off to the best start. If you want an app to install on your tablet and that can help you to learn, Flowkey might well be for you.
Who Will Synthesia Suit?
If you are using other methods of learning such as having lessons in person or already know a bit about the piano and just want to be able to access tutorials to a huge amount of songs then Synthesia could work. Also, if you aren’t worried about theory or learning sheet music as part of your piano lessons, Synthesia suits people who want to bypass all of this and learn to play by ear.
When comparing these two pieces of software, it might be a simple choice to make. When learning the piano, people are looking for different things. These two apps are probably not in direct competition. In fact, you could probably use them both in conjunction with one another to help with your piano playing. Flowkey will teach you more, but Synthesia opens up a world of new songs.