Piano learning applications are becoming very popular, especially during this period when people have to spend more time at their homes.
Simply Piano is one of the most successful apps on the market right now and it attracts new users every day.
So if you have some free time on your hands and wish to learn how to play an instrument, or simply want to polish the piano skills you’ve gained as a child, choosing a suitable app is a great idea.
But is Simply Piano the right app for you?
Simply Piano received many awards and got recognized as a fun and easy way to learn to play piano, but it also has its weaknesses, so its efficiency depends on the user.
We will now introduce you to the app’s features, explain how it works and point out who is it most suitable for.
Simply Piano Overview
Simply Piano is an award-winning application developed by JoyTunes (also responsible for Piano Maestro and Piano Dust Buster apps). After its worldwide release in 2015, it has quickly skyrocketed to success and became one of the most popular piano learning apps.
So what made it so popular?
The format of the Simply Piano app is almost game-like, which makes it interactive, engaging, and simple to use. That also makes Simply Piano excellent for kids.
Another characteristic that makes Simply Piano a fun and encouraging tool for developing piano skills is the way it smoothly guides you through the process. It will teach you songs, step by step, and once you accomplish them you will move on to the more demanding ones.
By having clear instructions and goals, Simply Piano can help you stay on track and have a sense of progress, which makes it a great learning tool for beginners.
How Does Simply Piano Work?
Simply Piano works in a convenient way that it listens to the notes you play and gives you instant feedback. So to use it, you have to place your device on the top of your piano or a keyboard.
However, the app is not compatible with computers, so you can use it only on your phone (iOS and Android) or tablet. On the other hand, it works with any piano or keyboard, including acoustic piano. You can also connect it via MIDI-USBs, which is probably a more reliable option.
Simply Piano offers a 7-day free trial, so that should give you enough time to test it and decide whether you like the app enough to subsribe. It would cost you $119.99 annually, and $59.99 for three months subscription.
Remember to unsubscribe if you don’t want to buy it though, because it will otherwise automatically charge you with annual recurring!
If you decide to subscribe, you will be able to have multiple profiles on your account, so up to five people will have full access and track their own progress.
Also, after downloading the app, you can use it without an Internet connection, which is a great feature if your WIFI tends to get disobedient.
Starting with Simply Piano
What happens once you have the app installed?
When you open the app on your phone or tablet, you will first have to answer some simple questions about your prior experience and goals. That way you will get lessons designed specifically for your skills and level of knowledge.
Then, after creating a profile and subscribing, you will have access to your first lessons.
You will be able to choose between two paths: Soloist and Chords, although you can do them both simultaneously. Each course has about 12 lessons that include playing songs and learning new techniques in between.
You can also choose to take sub-lessons which can come in quite handy.
Before choosing a learning path, you will be offered two courses: „Piano Basics“ and „Essentials 1“. They are available on the free trial and will teach you finger numbers and positions, basic rhythms, and few easy chords to give you a proper foundation for your piano practice.
If you start learning how to play your favorite song on the piano without this basic knowledge, you can only run into problems later.
So which course should you choose next?
If you want to focus on reading sheet and learning or improve your piano technique, then the Soloist is the right choice. We also recommend it if you have no previous experience in playing the piano.
In the Soloist Path, you will start with Essentials 2 and 3 course where you will expand your knowledge of notes and proceed with Classical and Intermediate courses.
Some courses such as Classical 1 will give you a brief history lesson and introduce you to some important pieces and styles of the Classical and Romantic period. This course is optional but we can assure you – every piano player spent time with Bach at some point.
By the time you reach the last course, you will be introduced to the 16th note (the one that gets one-fourth of a beat) and key signatures.
In every lesson, you will learn new techniques by playing a suitable song.
Can you choose which song to play? Not really, every lesson includes a specific song. However, you can choose songs from the song library, but we will come back to that soon.
The Chords Path will teach you different chords and how to use them to accompany songs.
You will start with the Pop Chords 1 lesson and learn how to play C major, D major, G major, and E minor.
There are different styles in using chords, and you will get to learn them in the Chord Styling 1, 2 and 3. These styles include ballads, soft rock and classic rock, and you will combine blues and jazz patterns too in the following lessons.
The Slash Chord course is the final one and it will help you to master the pedal base, moving base, and chord inversions. It will also introduce you to slash chords (common chord + bass note).
This course will definitely be great for you if you wish to learn different songs, especially popular ones.
However, a challenging part of playing piano lies in mastering the scales, maintaining the tempo, enhancing your fingers’ coordination, and so on. From that aspect, this course might not make you an advanced piano player but could be a fun way for you to learn familiar melodies.
Simply Piano Songs
Simply Piano teaches you to develop your music skills through playing songs, each suitable for the level you’re at. When you complete a particular lesson, you will be able to access new songs.
Now you’re probably wondering if you can skip songs and lessons on Simply Piano?
No, you can’t skip lessons unless you complete them first. That might be tiresome for some more experienced players, but it might not be so bad for beginners since it doesn’t allow you to get ahead of yourself or miss out on anything.
However, you can access a rich song library that has hundreds of songs to choose from and to play apart from the ones in your exercises. Each level of learning has its own variety of recommended songs. So if it doesn’t fit your level, it will simply warn you about that.
In the song library, you will mostly come across popular hits from artists such as Robbie Williams, R.E.M, Coldplay and Bruno Mars. During your lessons, you will also learn some movie and TV soundtracks such as Game of Thrones and Titanic score, as well as some classical gems.
JoyTunes keeps updating the song library though, so you can always find something new for yourself.
When you’re playing a chosen song or completing the exercises, you will usually not simply play given notes but also accompany the song, meaning you will hear vocals, other instruments, tempo, etc.
This is the case even in classical songs, and Beethoven’s Für Elise certainly doesn’t have drums in the background in its original version. Also, even though this can help you with keeping the correct tempo, it can be rather distracting for some players, especially more experienced ones.
As we just mentioned, hearing too many instruments and vocals while you’re playing the piano can be distracting. Also, although it can often be encouraging and fun, and you can imagine yourself as a part of the band, it will not allow you to really listen to yourself.
When you play any instrument, it’s important to be aware of the sound you’re creating, and that can be challenging with all these other sounds around you.
However, there is something that Simply Piano offers, unlike some other apps, and that is printable sheet music. Once you learn notes, you will find this very useful and quite enjoyable.
With sheet music, you will not have to look at scrolling notes on the screen anymore or be interrupted with feedback or flashing colors that occur when you hit the wrong note. It will be just you and the music, as it should be.
Another feature included in the Simply Piano app is the possibility of a 5-minute workout. So if you don’t have enough time on your hands to dive into a lesson, you can choose between several options: strengthening skills, flash card challenge or touch mode practice.
Each option will provide you with a short exercise based on your current level. It will not teach you anything new, but it is useful to double-check what you’ve learned.
These workouts are also great to maintain regular practice.
Besides 5-minute workouts, you can strengthen your skills in the practice mode. However, the app switches you into this mode after you’ve hit a certain amount of wrong notes. It’s good that it makes you get it right, but it might be better if you could choose it yourself.
Who is Simply Piano Best For?
After trying it out and looking at all the features and possibilities that Simply Piano offers, we can understand why the app became so popular. It is easy to use, has concrete goals set for you, and offers a variety of songs to learn.
On the other hand, if you decide to learn piano this way, you have to be prepared for a slow process and a few other disadvantages.
So, all things considered, Simply Piano is best for beginners and those who want to improve their skills but are willing to commit to a step-by-step learning program.
We summarized some pros and cons, so if you’re still wondering whether this app is the right choice for you, this will clear things up.
- Any piano or keyboard works – You don’t need to have a grand piano to start learning to play. Since the app is listening to the notes, anything works.
Even if you don’t have a digital or acoustic piano, you can play on the on-screen keyboard. While this might not be very convenient, it could be a good way to ‘test your interest’ before investing in a real piano.
- Lesson recaps – At the beginning of every lesson, you will get a recap as a reminder of what you’ve previously learned. This is great for your muscle memory, but also for those days after you’ve made a long break from your practice.
- No skipping lessons – The app doesn’t let you go forward unless you’ve finished the lesson in the right way. While many would disagree this is a positive thing, the same scenario would happen to you in the piano school; the piano teacher wouldn’t show you a new and more complex technique until you’re ready for it.
Learning to play the piano requires patience, and this is a good way for you to practice it.
- Easy to use – Last but not least, one of the Simply Piano advantages is its simple interface, as well as its linear curriculum.
Also, the design is pretty colorful, so along with its gamified format, the app is very appealing and comprehensible to children.
- Slow process – Although you can go for a 3 or 6-month subscription, the whole process of learning might take some time.
That might be problematic primarily because you will have to wait a long time to learn some important things (like key signatures), and it would be useful to at least get a brief look at it before the final course.
- Lack of feedback – This is perhaps a disadvantage for many instrument learning apps.
When you play a song on Simply Piano, the app will rate you with stars and point out how many notes you got right. It will tell you about the tempo too, but it’s important not to forget that playing piano is not only about hitting the correct notes and speed.
Also, the app sometimes can’t recognize the note right away, so dealing with the app’s bugs can often be discouraging (and occasionally very annoying).
- Not enough music theory – Simply Piano lessons teach you music theory, but perhaps not enough to develop serious piano skills.
The app simply doesn’t teach you some essential things such as the importance of your posture.
Some courses include a history lesson, but it is brief (and optional). So even when you’re done with the whole course, you will have a basic knowledge. That is a good start, but you shouldn’t stop here if you want to dive into a more advanced piano playing.
- It’s not very customizable – You can’t customize the app when it comes to tempo. Also, it would be great if you would be able to practice your hands separately.
- Other potential problems – Some users tend to complain about some other difficulties. For example, the subscription cancellation we warned you about earlier, to some people didn’t work out the way they planned and they needed to request a refund.
Also, there are some complaints about the customer service, in terms that it’s sometimes not easy to get an answer from the company if you have any questions or encounter a problem.
There is a variety of alternative programs to Simply Piano.
One of them is Flowkey, an online learning app that also teaches you how to play the piano by listening and giving instant feedback. Unlike Simply Piano, it’s a non-linear program, so you can skip ahead and access any lesson you want.
A program that is similar to Flowkey but slightly more structured is Yousician. The app is also available for all operating systems and offers many interactive tutorials.
Flowkey and Yousician are convenient both for newcomers and more experienced piano players and are fun and easy to use.
However, Simply Piano guides you through its curriculum and doesn’t let you skip ahead before you complete each lesson. That’s a big advantage for beginners, especially children, who are in need of structure and clear guidance.
All things considered, Piano Simply is a well-designed and effective platform with a sufficient amount of lessons and available songs.
The app will smoothly guide you through the learning process and motivate you on the way. However, while its layout might be fun and friendly, not everyone prefers a colorful and game-like interface while learning something.
Also, the app will not help you to learn to play piano in-depth or enhance your overall musicality since it’s focused primarily on the correct notes.
However, Simply Piano has a similar amount of pros and cons, and some weaknesses can refer only to certain users’ experiences and personal preferences.
It’s certainly a good choice for beginners and kids, as well as adults who need a structured and easy-going piano practice.