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Introduction

Seemingly every day, dedicated musicians are leveraging  technology to create AMAZING new tools for students of all levels. We put together this e-book to inspire you to try new ideas, hone your skills, make new music and have fun while doing it. 

There are THOUSANDS of apps & websites out there that promise to help you learn music, which is really exciting, but can also be pretty intimidating. We spent waaay too much time combing through the Apple App & Google Play stores, various blogs, and asking our professional colleagues, so you could have these high-quality recommendations. 

Here’s how we tried to make order out of chaos:

  • We have 4 main units, with 4-5 segments in each unit, with 8-15 resources for each segment.
  • Many of the resources COULD be in multiple segments, but to reduce duplication, we simply put it in the segment we thought it BEST fit. We have a “See Also” blurb to recommend other segments you might want to check out for related apps.
  • In each section, we feature 3 apps that want to especially highlight. We try to pick 3 fairly different apps, to highlight what’s possible within a category. We still encourage you to check out all the apps in the category. The top 3 are not necessarily the best of the best.
  • We highlight any links to our own products and services with orange text and this emoticon cool. We think you’ll like what we have to offer and it helps support a small local business. Win-win!
  • Because prices for apps / services can change frequently, we’ve removed references to prices on here. That being said, we will mention the basic business model – free, in-app upgrades, subscription, etc. And if it’s cheap or expensive in comparison to other products and services.

If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. App you’d like us to consider for the next edition? Good or bad experience you had with a website we recommended? Difficulty getting an app working with the gear you bought from us? Cool song that you wrote using one of these tools? Just email brendan@familypiano.com – he’ll be glad to hear from you and help however he can, if warranted.

About Us: Need an Instrument to Practice on?

If you can’t practice, you can’t progress. If this list has you all excited to play, but you’re still pounding keys on an older keyboard, Family Piano Co has some really good options for you.

We have a beautiful selection of new and used pianos, both uprights and grands, plenty of which are budget-friendly for folks just starting off.  We offer 100% trade-ups with all used acoustic pianos, most of which come with our three-year-warranty, so you can rest assured you will be completely satisfied with any purchase you make. In fact, our skilled technicians spend 2-4 days fixing up each piano, making sure it’s perfect right before it’s delivered to your home.  If price is a big issue, we have a flexible rent-to-own program, and financing options as well.

In addition to acoustic pianos, we also have many digital keyboards and pianos from KawaiCasio, and Roland. Any we have in stock are at the point of being viable learning tools for most students and musicians. It can be daunting knowing the exact differences between each model, but our knowledgeable staff can walk you through them all so you can pick the best possible option. We price-match Amazon, and other major online retailers, to ensure you get the best price, and additionally, you can take digitals home immediately, get more hands-on training from us, and you support a local business on top of that!

So whenever you’re ready, we’d love to personally walk you through your options, answer your questions, and make sure you have an enjoyable, low-pressure, no-haggle experience here. Feel free to call us at (847) 775-1988, email us at info@familypiano.com, or fill out the form to the right to get in touch!

15 + 11 =

Unit I: Everyday Tools

Most musicians already have everyday tools, like a metronome, a tuner, and a practice journal. Those might suffice. But especially for those starting out without any of these tools or those looking for more advanced features, we wanted to round up the latest and greatest. As we dived into what these apps could do, we were amazed to discover some really nifty things they could do and some nice ways they could make our lives easier. We hope you find this section helpful.

Top 7

Metronomes

While many apps have some basic built-in clickers, it’s amazing how sophisticated metronome apps have gotten. Many of them have the ability to program in all of the characteristics of a song (including time signature changes) and then to make ordered playlists of these song settings. Many of them allow you to start slow and then automatically get a little faster every 4 measures, for example, to help with drilling a particular passage. Many of them have a variety of sounds and the ability to choose which beats get emphasis.

cool We do sell physical metronomes if you like.

See AlsoThe Rhythm Trainer section. Also, if you have a digital piano, it’s probably worth checking out the capabilities of your built in metronome.

Stage Metronome is a free app with no ads or monetization for Android and iOS, which is really nice. Lots of features that you would otherwise need to pay for. Has everything you want on one screen, although you may find it a little crowded.

Time Guru has the unique feature of muting some of the clicks, so that you rely less and less on the constant tick of the metronome. You can control whether this is done in a systematic way or randomly. It’s otherwise an aesthetically pleasing, feature rich-app that will probably meet all of your metronome needs.

Soundbrenner Pulse is a watch that you can wear that has you feel the beat, rather than necessarily listening to it. It syncs up to their well-regarded and feature-rich Metronome app (which you can use without buying the physical Pulse). The app can also work with Ableton Link and has multiplayer sync. The app is free of cost, free of ads and on both Android and iOS.

Pro Metronome (iOS /Android) is a very feature-rich metronome. The free version is perfectly workable for most students, but paying a few bucks for the pro version unlocks poly rhythms, subdivisions, playlists, warm-up mode, and more. Has a dark leather and wood aesthetic.

Beatronome is a very sophisticated metronome mixed with a sophisticated rhythm trainer. You can notate specific beats, save them, organize them into practice sessions and then train them on progressively faster tempos.

Practice+ (iOS) is a clean, customizable & robust metronome app that includes their very accurate tuner. Looks to incorporate all the features (plus some!) of their very popular Metronome+app. Has recording capability.

Tempo Advance is an Editor’s Choice app and has been developed in conjunction with the drummer of Dream Theatre, an early fan of the app. This is probably the most feature-rich and customizable app of them all, with especially robust polyrhythm options.

Top 7

Tuners 

Here are some of the best tuning apps we could find. Many other apps have tuners built-in and that may suffice for you, but these particularly stand out for their accuracy and features. These are mostly for guitar and other stringed instruments, since pianos require tuning by a well-trained professional (otherwise you can make it worse). Plus, piano tuning apps are not cheap.

cool We can tune your piano! We are not currently making house calls, but we’re happy to add your name to our waiting list.

Snark Tuner is the leading clip-on tuner. Because it clips on to your instrument and can measure the soundwave vibrations through the clip, it’s more accurate than the ones that use your cellphone’s microphone. We sell these for $19.99 (same as online retailers).

GuitarTuna is made by Yousician and is advertised as the world’s #1 tuning app. It has a super accurate tuner for guitar, bass, ukulele, violin and more, plus a library of alternative tunings, and games for learning your chords. It’s free for both android and iOS, with a paid option to unlock more features.

Peterson Strobe Tuner is one of the more expensive options and is a little more complicated to use, but is accurate to 1/10 of a cent. (There are 100 “cents” or increments between semi-tones, like C to C#, for example). You can also plug in your electric guitar into a special adapter to plug into your phone or get a special clip-on adapter for non-electric instruments. It has noise filter options, Boost Mode for softer instruments and more. They have proprietary tuning presets designed to make your particular instrument sound better (upgrade option, iOS only).

Cleartune is very popular with a lot of professional musicians and has won online polls for top tuner. It can do temperament, pitch pipe, support for transposing instruments, solfege, and more. Accurate to 1 cent. It’s a couple bucks for both iOS and Android.

TonalEnergy has a couple neat options – it can show the soundwaves and can also record how in-tune your are as you play, which is very helpful for string instruments and vocalists, to give you feedback after you finish playing a piece. There’s a big smiley face that some people like. Built in robust metronome is nice. iOS, Android and Amazon Fire.

Fender Tune has a pretty clean interface, with extra tools – video tutorials for beginners on how to tune, chord charts, and more. They have a pro option that will show you the cents / hertz while you’re tuning. iOS / Android.

Karang (by Chordify) claims to be “the first multi-string guitar tuner,” allowing you to check the tuning of all of your strings at once, with one strum. This is true and it’s a cool, unique feature, but currently, it’s not super accurate and it only supports standard EADGBe guitar tuning – no other instruments or alternative tunings.

 

Top 12

Practice Journals 

Practice journals are a great way to make your practice sessions more focused, productive and rewarding. Most musicians have experimented extensively to find a system they like, whether that’s paper-based, digital, or some combination of the two. Here, we’ve provided links to some of the best digital options, but I also encourage you to experiment until you find a system that works well for you.

cool We sell basic paper practice journals for 99 cents.

See Also: Google around for “music practice journal system” or something similar. Ask your piano teacher for best practices with recording your practice sessions. There are a ton of different paper-based music journal options on Amazon. 

Better Practice App – is designed for the teacher and student to both use. Teachers can load the sheet music, backing tracks, videos, notes, and more, so younger students have everything they need for a very efficient and rewarding practice session. Captures lots of statistics about the practice sessions, for giving insight to both parents and teachers. Has chat functionality, so students can easily ask questions that might otherwise stump them and badges to make progress fun. It’s browser-based, so it works on any device!

Instrumentive – This is a nice, cleanly-designed practice journal that is completely free of cost (and ads) for both Android and iOS. You can see your progress for each piece of music you’re working on and/or on practice playlists. It allows you to set goals and then tracks some basic statistics. You can record yourself, so you can listen back later. Supports any variety of instruments. 

Loop Habit Tracker – one of the most popular and refined general goal tracking apps – part of this is because it is completely free and open-source, with no ads. Allows you to track all sorts of goals, like how many times per week you’re working out or meditating. So if you want to track your progress on a number of personally rewarding tasks simultaneously in one app, and don’t need the extra functionality of the music-specific journal apps, this might be the best solution for you.

Sessions – A uniquely “social” practice journal, designed around sharing your practice with other people for more accountability and feedback. It’s a little more basic in terms of functionality, for better or worse.

MyTractice – Another app to be used primarily by both teacher and student. Similar in many ways to the “Better Practice,” but different design / User Interface might appeal to different people. Has both native Android and iOS apps. Has a monthly subscription cost, typically paid by the teacher.

Modacity – set practice playlists and track how much time you’re spending on each chunk of your practice routine. Lots of ways of taking notes. Also, you can text the Modacity team questions about your technique and they’ll get an expert instrumentalist to text you back. Also has a metronome, tuner, recorder, tone generator, etc. – their goal is that you can use just one app. iOS only right now, but they’re working on Android.

ABRSM Music Case is the official practice app for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, the UK’s largest music education body – very prestigous. This app just came out and is only version 1.0.3, but looks very promising. After downloading the app, they’ll ask upfront if you’re a student, a teacher, or a parent, to optimize how you’ll use the app. You can organize your practicing into “cases,” then track your time and/or record yourself, and then you can share your practice notes with your teacher via QR code, which is nice. Both Android and iOS.

Play ‘n’ Practice – it has an integrated score reader to help give optimize your practice sessions around the pieces you’re learning (like helping you pick scales and arpeggios based on the day’s pieces). Constantly being improved, looks pretty nice. iOS only.

Music Practice Log – you create practice items and then categorize them and put them into lists. Then you can track stats about them over time. This app is particularly “Type A,” but hey, some musicians swear by it.

Practice Bird Smart Journal is a score reader that added an integrated practice session recorder a few months ago. Looks promising! iOS

Evernote – this blog posts describes a system for using the popular note-taking app Evernote to record your progress on repertoire songs over time.

Do It Now: RPG To Do List is a general goal tracker (like Loop Habit Tracker) that encourages you to achieve your various goals by making your life into an RPG. Fairly text / statistics heavy, but a cool project by an independent developer.

Top 14

Mobile Apps from Instrument Makers 

 

Companies like Roland, Casio, and Kawai have recently started  putting out apps to enhance the functionality of their products, yet some of these apps are useful for any musician. Some companies, like Roland and Yamaha, have over 40 different apps, many of them tailored to very specific products. That being said, here are some of our favorites, mostly by companies we represent, plus a few more that should be helpful for most musicians.

cool You can buy your musical instruments from us at internet-matched prices, then download apps to increase your enjoyment of the product.

Roland Piano Partner 2 – a feature-packed way to easily control your bluetooth-enabled Roland products, this free app for both Android or iOS is one of the many compelling reasons to choose an FP-10, FP-30, FP-90, RP-102 or another home-keyboard from Roland.

Chordana Viewer – This app from Casio analyzes the chords from a song / audio file on your device then helps you make the Chord Chart. You can then edit it, export it and use it at a gig. (iOS Only)

Kala Ukulele Songbook & Tuner has over 100 songs that you can quickly learn to play with just 4 chords. They have backing tracks and lyrics, plus the option to unlock an additional 2000 hit songs from Muopia (for a subscription cost). Very popular and well regarded.

Roland

  • Piano Every Day – a more powerful controller for the more premium LX-series instruments from Roland, this features a built-in sheet music store, and a host of tools for encouraging practicing.
  • Zenbeats – a fun way to make electronic music easily on your phone. A great introduction to EDM or Hip-Hop music making with the great sounds of Roland powering it.

Casio

  • Chordana Play – has a fun music playing game. You can even import your own MIDI files to use with it. Mostly for use with the new Casiotones and other smaller portable keybaords.
  • Chordana Play for Piano – this one allows you to control newer, 88-key Casio keyboards and has a fun music playing game built in. Requires a USB cable and a Lightning USB camera adapter (sold separately).
  • Chordana Tap – Similar to Chordana Viewer, this app analyzes real recordings and figures out the chords. They give you some buttons to play back those chords and make the music your own. Neat!

Kawai

  • Touch Notation – it’s a very nice music score writing app that you can use with hand gestures.
  • Touch Metronome – a well-regarded metronome app that allows you quite a bit of customization in a nice looking app.
  • Virtual Technician – an app for finely adjusting the sound and performance for your Kawai digital piano.

    Yamaha

    • Kittar – takes a song on your device and breaks it down into phrases, making it easier to play along with.
    • Chord Tracker – analyzes songs and displays the chords for you. Works great with their nifty Sonogenic Keytar.
    • Yamaha Synth Book – provides an overview of the 40 year history of Yamaha’s synth models, plus a virtual analogue software synth, a DJ Performance app, and a portal to to Yamaha’s synth communities.

    Unit II: Fun Ways to Drill Skills

    There are so many individual skills that add up to excellent musicianship. Most people find some things easy and other things more difficult, skills that require more focused effort. Nowadays, teachers and parents can harness the engaging power of videogames to help students WANT to practice these individual skills. Studies show that random rewards, immediate feedback, progressive challenges, positive reinforcement and other forms of gamification can significantly increase time spent on these activities and significant improvement for the student.

    In this section, we’ve grouped together games, apps, and websites into main areas of study. Within these groupings, there are apps targeting different age groups, skill levels, and seriousness. Like with any skill, practicing in a variety of ways, from different angles, really helps, so feel free to mix and match as many of these as you like!

    Top 11

    Games for Kids 

    The American Academy of Pediatricians recently launched a website to help your family craft a thoughtful media diet. A big part of it is including high-quality, educational media. Here, we’ve provided some links for some fun, enriching games that are arguably better for your kids than another round of Candy Crush.

    To help reduce overall screen time, especially for younger children, we also include in this section some nice printables and offline activities. Many of these are designed to foster high-quality parent-child interactions that don’t require much knowledge on the part of the parent and help lay the foundations for success with more structured music instruction later.

    These games don’t teach your child how to play an instrument per se, but rather, give them some familiarity with the ideas of music, so they have a stronger foundation when they do start formal study of an instrument.

    cool You can buy books from us, like Mozart Mouse that are designed for young children.

    Sesame Street Makes Music is an awarding winning app, created with IDEO and sponsored by the NAMM foundation. Play cartoon instruments and explore musical ideas with your kids’ favorite Sesame Street characters. (iOS only)

    Mazaam is designed for very young children, focused around classical music. Cartoony games for independent play + lots of activities for parent-child musical explorations, based on pedagogical research. Has some nifty Augmented Reality games too. For both android and iOS.

    Chrome Music Lab is a dynamic website with tons of fun activities, games, and ways of engaging with music, for kids of all ages. Has some simplified sequencers, a couple really nifty sound wave visualizers, and some fun ways of demonstrating musical ideas.  Built to work best in the Google Chrome web browser.

    Bandimal – is a really fun music composer for young kids, where each instrument is a silly instrument. The developer, Yatatoy, puts out a similar game called Loopimal, which is more loop-based (and also works on older iPad). An Apple Editor’s Choice game.

    Musical Me! is a fun & cartoony introduction to real musical terms and ideas. This award-winning game is designed to be played independently and was created by Duck Duck Moose, a company wholly-owned by Khan Academy

    Mussila Music School is an award-winning game for both Android and iOS. Lots of different activities for exploring music: basic piano playing, DJ scratching, composing, listening to real classical music, and more. Over 1,000 different challenges in 20 different courses (more added regularly)

    Sago Mini Sound Box is one of many, many apps in the Sago catalog for very young children. Many reviews rave about how their 9 or 12 month olds love pointing and having the instruments play.

    Music Sparkles is a more sophisticated set of virtual instruments for kids. Everything sparkles!

    Music4Kids – this cartoony introduction to music has 140 challenges in it and encourages composing.

    Sound Shapes is a console game for PS3, PS4, and PS Vita. It’s a sidescrolling adventure game with a musical focus. It might require too much coordination for some younger children, but looks like it could be fun for the whole family. It has won a ton of Editor’s awards

    Some Printable / Crafty Non-Screen Activities:

     Top 7

    Games for Rhythm Development 

    Proper rhythm is very important for every single musician, but some folks need some extra practice to tighten up their skills. There are a bunch of really good books out there to help with this (especially for drummers!), but with regular books, this can be boring – games can be just the thing to make rhythm practice a lot more fun. While some of these are more educational or more fun than others, here are some great apps to check out if want to focus on playing tighter, more complicated rhythms better.

    cool We carry books designed to help you develop rhythm.

    Also Check Out: The Metronome Section and the Games to Teach You Piano, Guitar or Uke section.

    Rhythm Sight Reading Trainer (iOS) will graphically lay-out where you played, so you can get visual feedback on how “on the beat” you are. Has thousands of possible exercises, for everyone from beginners to really advanced players. Customizable options for swing notes and making/editing your own rhythms. Stereo mode allows you to hear the metronome in one ear and your taping in the other. You can tap on the screen or use your device’s microphone to hear you clapping, snapping or playing your own instrument.

    Complete Rhythm Trainer is a well-designed and feature-rich option for Android and Amazon devices. It supports all note types and organizes over 250 drills into 30 progressively difficult levels. You can also create your own playlists of custom-made exercises and there are leaderboards if you like competing.  You can customize how it sounds and how it looks and it has a dedicated polyrhythm section, if you want to explore that.

    Rayark This company has published a series of richly illustrated fantasy games to critical acclaim. These feel like Final Fantasy mixed with Guitar Hero, with substantive plotlines that compel you to keep playing. Very fun, although not as educational. They have options for every gamer – PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC, iOS, Android, and more.

    Rhythm Trainer by Demax (different product than the Complete Rhythm Trainer) is a simpler rhythm training option that is very well-regarded and refined, for Android.

    Rhythm Swing  By the makers of Flashnote Derby, this rhythm trainer helps younger children learn about rhythm through fun games guided by lessons. This cartoony app is iOS only.

    Steve Reich’s Clapping Music – a fun game to improve your rhythm by tapping the screen at the right time.

    Finger Rhythm Hopscotch  This fun little game is finger hopskotch, and it helps students understand basic rhythm. The idea is that you hop your fingers across the board, and hold your finger on each place for the value of the written note then earn points for the successful completion of a board. It’s simple, free, and doesn’t involve screens. Furthermore, the site it’s on, Music for Little Learners, has a fantastic blog for teacher resource

    Top 5

    Games for Note Recognition 

     

    Being able to fluently read notes is a key skill for learning music more quickly and confidently. If you can comfortably play the music, you can focus more on your emotional interpretation of the music. These games help you focus on this skill, whether you’re in front of the piano or killing time in the doctor’s office.

    cool We sell physical flashcards so that help not only with note recognition, but also rhythm patterns.

    Also Check Out: The Games for Learning How to Play Piano, Guitar, or Uke section.

    Notion's iOS logo, a red grid with a violin on the top left, a treble clef on the top right, a bass clef on the bottom left, and a piano on the bottom right.

    Staff Wars is an app for helping beginning students identify the notes on the staff. It has a Star Wars aesthetic, making it a favorite of students and piano teachers alike.

    Complete Music Reading Trainer is made by the same company as the Complete Rhythm Trainer, with a similar lay-out and design. Lots of customizable drill options. Well organized.

    Fretboard Learn has 5 different modes for learning the note names of the frets on your instrument – not just guitar, but also bass, ukulele, banjo, and mandolin. Allows you to focus on certain strings or ranges, and supports both right and left-handed players. Free on Android / iOS, with paid upgrade options.

     

    Flashnote Derby  A fun game available on both the App Store and Google Play that helps familiarize children with reading notes on the music staff. Has a cheesy horse race aesthetic, but is fun.

    Note Rush this note recognition trainer can use the microphone on your device, so you can use it with pretty much any instrument. It also now has MIDI support (on iOS), so you can connect your keyboard for even better accuracy. This fun colorful app is available for iOS, Android and Amazon devices.

    Top 11

    Music Theory & Ear Training 

    Many of the other apps address Music Theory on a need-to-know basis, but many musicians want to have a deeper understanding of the theoretical underpinning of different styles of music. It really helps with improvisation, playing with others, and learning music more quickly. And many musicians not only want to train their minds, but also their ears – which is convenient, because many of these apps do both. 

    cool We carry some great music theory books. If you are taking private music lessons, check with your teacher, because they can probably guide you in recommending a music theory book that’s best for you and is complimentary with the rest of your instruction.

    Tenuto by MusicTheory.net has 24 highly customizable exercises to increase your musicality, like recognizing chords on your instrument to identifying intervals by ear and scale construction, it’s a very well-regarded app for musicians of all levels.

    The logo of Vampr, an app that connects musicians.

    Meludia Melody

    An ear-training game that helps you learn to aurally identify specific notes. It starts with just two different notes – like a C or G – then gets more complicated. It’s a fun and addictive way to train yourself to hear notes better. Free to download on iOS and android; has in-app purchases.

    Learning Music by Ableton (Beta) – this addictive course on making electronic music presents one little bit of knowledge at a time, along with embedded music tools, for the reader to actually play with the concept before clicking the “next” button. Careful, before you know it, you could spend hours on it. Great for experienced musicians, too, who want to learn music theory not from a classical perspective, but more from a modern music production angle. Totally free.

    MusicTheory.net  This site provides about forty lessons on music theory in the form of slideshows. They’re all concise, and easy to follow, even if you’ve never studied music theory before. The website also provides excercises that put what you learn into practice, and other tools such as a chord calculator and tempo tapper. It’s free content that’s supported by the sales of their excellent Theory Lessons iOS app.

    Open Music Theory – a comprehensive, open source “textbook” of music theory. Well-laid out explanations of basic music theory, plus more advanced explorations of form, post-tonal theory, and more. Primarily from a classical perspective.

    Learning Synths by Ableton (Beta) – similar to their “Learning Music” course, this is a really fun way to explore how fundamental concepts like Envelopes, Filters, Oscillators, and more impact sound. Totally free and a ton of fun!

    Theory Works by ABRSM – The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music is the UK’s largest music education body, one of its largest music publishers and the world’s leading provider of music exams. This is their official app, with more than 6,000 specially written questions to test and extend your music theory knowledge.

    Music Theory Pro – also a variety of tests and exercises, but there’s a more competitive element to it, where you can post your scores to high score boards in the game.

    Ear Master (iOS)- not only does it offer over 2500 music theory and rhythm exercises, but it also has extensive modules to support sight singing, including using the microphone to give you feedback on pitch. Teachers can assign work in the app. Comes with some free content; you can purchase additional courses for a few bucks each in the app itself.

    My Ear Training – focuses on just ear training. Uses the microphone to give you feedback on your singing. You can dig through lots of statistics on your performance. It’s a nice feature-rich app for both Android and iOS.

    Earpeggio is a totally free iOS app that has 10 areas of exercises, including identifying: intervals, chords, chord progressions, melody diction, and rhythm diction. Has quizzes and keeps track of statistics for you too.

    Top 12

    Chords and Backing Tracks 

    Many apps include basic chord dictionaries, which can help beginners learn the basic building blocks or more advanced players find more interesting chords to utilize. These apps help you improve your use of chords in a variety of ways, including with the use of backing tracks. These are essentially chord progressions played over a rhythm that you can jam with, a super fun way of improving your improvisational skills.

    cool We also sell chord & scale dictionaries in paper book formats.

    Also Check Out: The Mobile Apps from Instrument Manufacturers section, since Casio and Yamaha make some cool chord analysis apps that we talk about there. Also, the Metronome and Rhythm Trainer sections can provide you with plain rhythms to practice along with.

    Chordify promises to get you the chord chart for ANY song. Impressively, it can analyze songs from streaming services like Youtube or Soundcloud, or from mp3s on your device. They also have a massive library of songs that have been edited by excellent musicians to be even better. For any song, you can easily transpose, slow down and/or loop tricky parts. Very cool. You can sign up for free, but the fun stuff requires a Premium subscription.

    iReal Pro is an awesome backing track player, with thousands of chord charts and a ton of control & accompaniment for how you want “your backing band to sound.” It has extensive chord dictionaries for piano, guitar, and ukulele. It was on the Time Magazine List of Best Inventions in 2010 and has been continuously updated ever since. Available on Android, iOS, and Mac computers.

    Tonic AR Chord Dictionary (iOS) will use your camera and “augmented reality” (AR) technology to point out where on your keyboard to put your fingers to play a given chord. A little gimmicky, but fun!

    Garageband – if you have an Apple device, don’t forget about this! It’s easy to drag and drop loops, so you can jam along with music in pretty much any style. Or you can use the cool Smart Instrument feature to play various chord progressions.

    Suggester is basically a giant interactive chord chart that’s designed to help you put together chord progressions. Primarily designed for pianists.

    Tonaly is an elegant & beautifully designed iOS chord app that’s based around the circle of 5ths. Chords can be laid out for piano, guitar, bass, uke, violin, viola, and cello. You can also export your progressions as MIDI files for use in more sophisticated recording software.

    Piano Companion is a full-featured chord and scale dictionary, with a ton of helpful tools to learn and apply that knowledge, including reverse chord look-up. Available on Android, iOS, Amazon, Windows Mobile, PC, and Mac.

    Chord Progression Master is a nice Android app that allows you to browse chords by style and mood, rather than just abstract letters. You can easily preview the progressions. A similar app on iOS is Autochords.

    Smart Chords by s.mart Music Lab is a free, incredibly feature-rich chord utility for fretted instruments for Android. Thousands of chords for fretted instruments (including Bouzouki) and over 500 preset tunings, for both right and left handed players, you can do a reverse chord look-up in several different ways. You can compose using standard notation, slash-style, Nashville numbers, and Solfege. There are waaay more features than we can list here, just check it out.

    FourChords Guitar Songbook by Musopia – this has over 2000 songs that you can play with just 4 chords. Ideal for beginners who want to play a bunch of songs very quickly. For both Android and iOS.

    Unit III: Find & Make Music

    Traditional sheet music in traditional printed books is a great way to learn music – it’s very tactile, you can write on it, and there won’t be technology issues. That being said, digital sheet music is becoming increasingly popular for a couple of reasons: you can get it from the comfort of your home in a couple of minutes, you can quickly hide your own notes-to-self, they don’t take up any space (besides a few kilobytes), and sometimes you can edit the music. The vast selection of songs offered online is helpful for finding just the piece (and arrangement) that you want.

    For those who aren’t familiar with some of the lingo, here are the most common ways you’ll see music notated on the web:

    • Traditional music notation is probably what you’re most used to – 5 lines with black dots & lines. Piano has both bass and treble clef. Every note is written out – melody & accompaniment – with precise rhythm notation too.
    • Lead sheets (fake books) boil down songs to the bare essentials, so that a musician can not only sightread the piece easier, but also gives them more room for their own interpretation. Lead sheets use traditional music notation to write out the basic melody, but just use chord symbols for the accompaniment. Song lyrics are included. Especially popular with jazz and pop music.
    • Tablature or “Tabs” is a super simple way of indicating what notes to play for a fretted instrument. On the vertical axis, you have 1 row per string, usually with a letter to indicate the tuning. Then, for each row, there are numbers indicating what fret on that string to play – you just play them left to right. It’s VERY easy – so easy that you might forget your music theory and develop some bad playing habits.
    • MIDI is in many ways like sheet music, but for music production. Usually, there’s a piano on the left side of the screen (to indicate the pitch of a note) and vertical lines denoting divisions of a beat (whole, half, quarter, etc), so you can visually see where in the song a note is, what pitch it is and how long it lasts.

    Many tools out there allow you to not only read the music, but edit it or even create music from scratch. So there’s a SPECTRUM of music manipulation possible, that we tried to logically segment for you, but please note that there’s a lot of overlap, depending on the specific app.

    Top 12

    Sources for Sheet Music 

    While sheet music books have historically been THE way of getting music (and they’re still a great way of getting music), digital options are becoming increasingly popular. Here’s a couple reasons why

    There’s a lot of ways of writing down music: traditional music notation, tablature (“tabs”), chord charts / leadsheets / fakebooks, and more. Some folks like physical paper, others like the conveniences of digital management. We try to have a little something here for everyone.

    cool You can browse our selection of physical  books & sheet music online. You can also email Linda@familypianoco.com with any requests and she can look into ordering it for you.

    Also Check Out the Score-Reader Section.

    IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library  Essentially Wikipedia for sheet music. Everything featured is “out of copyright,” meaning that you can download them for free. It’s the biggest collection of free public domain sheet music we know of, and it’s great for classical, blues, and jazz classics. It’s not just for piano, but also orchestral and vocal pieces too.

    Scribd is a subscription service for unlimited access to their collection of audiobooks, e-books, AND sheet music for a very reasonable $10 per month. They have a nice collection of premium, best-selling books from top publishers, like Hal Leonard. 

    Sheet Music Plus – Has the largest selection of sheet music for purchase or free download on the planet. Over a million pieces of digital and print sheet music to choose from, with various reward programs and discounts available, especially for music teachers. Composers can also upload and sell their own original pieces through the platform.

    Prima Music  An online sheet music shop with lots of teacher resources available as well. You sign up for membership, and are able to build your way up to 25% discount on every order, which is a neat incentive.  They offer free shipping on every order, no sales tax, and have a price-match policy too.

    Musicnotes  A publisher with over 300,000 arrangements available for various instruments, with a nice app for Android, iOS, Mac and PC. You can preview every page before you buy, transpose to any key, and mark it up in the app and has ForScore integration.

    Sheet Music Direct is based on the Hal Leonard catalog and has a pretty cool subscription option that gives  you access to a TON of premium, contemporary pieces of in-demand music for less than $10 per month.

    Ultimate-Guitar.com has fought its way to becoming the #1 site for user-submitted tabs on the planet, with over 1,000,000 available for free for guitar, bass, ukulele, and more. They actually license them, so artists get paid and they also have a more feature-rich Pro version for a fee.

    Songsterr has a huge collection of tabs & chord charts, with an app that allows you to slow down, loop pieces, mute parts, and more. All the content is legal and the content creators get paid.

    Fakebooks are often big collections of many popular songs, typically written with just the chord changes, basic melody line, and lyrics. This skeletal sketch of the music gives the musician a lot of room to embellish and improvise to fill in the gaps, and makes it easy for a musician to quickly sightread almost anything written in this format. Historically, these fake books have not paid the artists royalties, although this is changing.

    8Notes has quite a bit of free sheet music, plus some basic “lessons” (articles) and links to helpful resources.

    Direct From the Publisher – If there’s a specific piece you’re looking for, most of the major publishers have their own websites where you can order directly from them, either the physical book and/or the digital download.

    Top 11

    Composing (& Organizing) Sheet Music 

    Most composition apps allow you to organize a lot of music. Conversely, apps designed to help you organize and use lots of sheet music typically also allow you to edit that music. So the line between writing and organizing the music is pretty blurred in many of the apps we reviewed. We did put the Sources of Sheet Music in a separate section (albeit closely related), so that folks who are simply looking to get their hands on a piece of sheet music can do so relatively efficiently. Plus, there were so many good options to talk about, it made sense to have two smaller, focused sections.

    cool We carry keyboards with Bluetooth MIDI which allow you to wirelessly interact with dozens of 3rd party apps, like one of our favorites, Notion.

     Also Check Out: The Sources of Sheet Music section and this great, in-depth comparison / review of the most popular Score Readers. Also, some of the apps in the Chord section help organize your chord charts just like these help organize your sheet music.

    Notion's iOS logo, a red grid with a violin on the top left, a treble clef on the top right, a bass clef on the bottom left, and a piano on the bottom right.
    Notion by Presonus. This is useful score manager is also a very powerful compositional tool. By connecting this to a keyboard with Bluetooth MIDI, you can watch as you press keys on your digital piano and the notes appear on the sheet music. Later, you can correct any errors and then play it back, using the excellent built-in virtual instruments. The iOS app is significantly less expensive than the desktop software.

    Musescore  An open-source music notation program backed by a huge community of music lovers. You can use it to write music for several different instruments via MIDI input, and there are plugins you can use to customize your experience as well. There is also quite a bit of user-generated sheet music and arrangements – I’ve found some songs here I couldn’t find anywhere else. For Android, iOS, PC, Mac, and an impressive array of Linux builds.

    Sibelius is arguably the market leader for music notation software. While it is substantially more expensive than the other options on this list, it does have incredible tools for composing and teaching music. Check out their Cloud Publishing platform for selling your work. Sibelius is for PC & Mac only, plus they have two interconnecting iOS apps: Scorch is a score library, Link is for sharing your music with a network of musicians.

    ForScoreOne of the most feature-rich, refined & gorgeous sheet music managers out there, this is a favorite amongst composers, as well as classical musicians collaborating on a performance. Built exclusively for Apple products, ForScore has deep integration and support for the Apple Pen, plus intelligent scaling, depending on the size of the screen you’re on.

    Newzik a close competitor to ForScore, with a ton of great features. Has simpler library management and has integration with the vast IMSLP library of public domain pieces. Syncs across registered devices and handles MusicXML files well.

    PiaScore – is another strong score reader, with some cool features, like being able to turn pages by shaking your head or winking.

    PowerMusic for managing sheet music PDFs. Is mostly desktop based, but they added an iOS app. They also sell proprietary sheet music and some hardware accessories designed to work with their software.

    Flat.io is an online collaborative sheet music writing platform. Has offline capability, advanced history, MIDI export, support for guitar tabs, and is fully integrated into Google Classroom

    iGig Book is a score reader designed for the gigging musician who is relying mostly on chord charts. Works great for quickly making backing tracks in any style to jam with.

    OnSong Pro is another full-featured app designed to easily manage huge libraries of chord and lyric sheets, designed especially for worship directors, bandleaders, and gigging musicians

    Mobile Sheets is one of the few Android / Windows based score readers that is NOT available on iOS! Has a fairly full feature list: hands-free page turning, lots of organizational tools, dropbox support, setlists, and more.

    Air Turn makes Bluetooth-based hardware for easily turning digital pages during a performance. Not only can you buy their hardware, but you can check out the HUGE list of compatible apps.

    Top 11

    Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) 

     

    There are a ton of Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) options out there. (Here’s a really good comparison chart with follow-up articles). This type of very sophisticated recording and production software is used in music studios of all sizes. This is a very competitive field, which is constantly evolving. You can do most things on most DAWs, but the differences between them typically come down to: how it’s organized for your workflow, proprietary features, included plug-ins / sounds, and how it interacts with hardware / other software. Here are some of the most popular ones, with a brief description of why you might choose one over another

    cool We carry a nice selection of MIDI hardware that is designed to be used in conjunction with DAWs.

    Also Check Out the Musical Collaboration section, since many of those tools can be considered lightweight DAWs with robust collaboration and sharing options.

    Ableton Live is the most popular DAW for electronic music production, and can be used for any genre. It has a unique “arranger view” that’s a grid of pieces of your song (called ” clips), which easily lets you re-arrange and remix your song during a performance. You could buy the introductory version of Ableton for $99 via their website, but it also comes bundled free with pretty much every piece of hardware on the market today (including pretty much everything we sell, starting at $99!).

    Pro Tools was the original DAW. It replaced a lot of analog recording platforms in professional recording studios during the 1990s and has been THE de facto choice since then. It arguably has the best sound processing and output on the market, plus an incredibly refined user interface. There is a free basic option.

    Garageband is a really fun, consumer-grade introduction to serious recording principles that comes included on iPad and Mac computers from Apple. It integrates really well with other Apple software products and has some unique features, like built in music lesson videos from famous musicians.

    Logic Pro X is Apple’s professional version of Garageband. It has a similar workflow, so it’s easy to learn if you’re already familiar with Garageband. It’s also very affordable to purchase.

    FL Studio is the more professional name for what used to be called “Fruity Loops.” It started in the late 1990s as a cheap and relatively easy way to create beats for hip-hop, where it quickly gained popularity. Today, it’s a full-featured DAW that’s still popular because of it’s price and relatively easy learning curve.

    Reason‘s main strength is all the virtual instruments you can load up into “virtual racks”, visually represented as they would in real life, even allowing you to plug cables from one effects box into another if you want.

    Reaper is a power, up-and-coming DAW that’s popular because of the low price tag, the excellent audio quality, and the ability to radically customize the user interface.

    Cubase started in 1989 on the Atari and has brought us many critical innovations, including the VST format for virtual instrument plug-ins that a lot of DAWs now rely on. It used to be positioned as a second-tier “consumer grade” product that now has a professional grade sound processing engine powering it. It’s popular with a lot of composers and in many music classrooms around the planet.

    Studio One is made by Presonus, a hardware manufacturer of pre-amps and audio interfaces. Built on the foundation of their audio expertise, they created a new DAW with a user-intuitive single-window interface with lots of drag-and-drop functionality. It’s well-reviewed and gaining popularity.

    Maschine 2 is the software companion for the Maschine Production hardware sold by Native Instruments. The tight integration makes using the Maschine “beat-maker” incredibly fun & easy. It’s not a full-featured DAW, but if you’re thinking about buying a Maschine (which we sell and is awesome!), then know that it comes with Maschine 2 AND Ableton Live Lite.

    Audacity is not a full-featured DAW, but it’s a very well-respected open-source, audio editor, if you’re just looking for an easy & free way to do basic audio editing on Mac, PC, and Linus.

    Top 13 Tools for

    Musical Collaboration 

     

    Nowadays, it’s more powerful than ever to connect with other musicians. Here are some tools to do that with anyone in the world, whether you want to chat, jam on guitar, layer recordings, or remix each other’s work.

    The logo of Vampr, an app that connects musicians.
    Vampr – “Tinder for musicians” – Users build their profile with Soundcloud and YouTube links, and then “swipe right” to connect and collaborate with other musicians, using the built-in chat funtionality. This app is free on both Android and iOS.

    BandLab offers a 100% free DAW (recording tool) in the cloud that can be accessed by various bandmembers on pretty much any platform – Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, etc. Has a clean interface. Unlike most DAWs (see the later section on these), this one is built from the ground up for collaboration with other bandmates.

    ProCollabs – A collaborative song-building platform, ProCollabs sets itself apart by listening to potential members to screen out poor musicianship, so the caliber of the network is much higher. They also have a strong copyright attribution system in place, so everyone is on the same page before a piece is published.

    Acapella – (iOS, but android coming soon!) – this popular video app allows you to quickly layer videos of singing or playing an instrument, so you can do splitscreen performances with other folks from around the world. Some teachers use this tool to play “with” their students (albeit one after another), to get around the lag issues associated with traditional video streaming services, like Zoom or Google Duo.

    Kompoz helps you connect with musicians from around the globe to collaboratively work on tracks that you can sell and make money on. There’s also various community and group pages for socially and professionally networking. It was one of the first sites of it’s kind and has a huge network of musicians. It’s easy to get started for free and the paid options are very reasonable.

    Blend allows you to post projects for collaboration (either with a select group or the whole world). You can also buy and sell stems, sample packs, beats, lessons and more in their marketplace. You can also easily distribute your final product to Spotify, Apple Music, etc through their label.

    Soundtrap is an online collaborative DAW that was acquired by Spotify in 2017. Lots of features to facilitate collaboration. Has over 4,000 loops, auto-tune, plus some really cool podcasting options, including “interactive transcripts” for spoken audio that you can edit like a word document. Works on any device.

    Soundbetter connects musicians with music producers, mixers, audio engineers, and other professionals so your track will “sound better”.

    Melboss promises “to connect the music industry.” One of the cool, unique things they do is you can find top producers to give you focused, in-depth feedback on your work (for a fee). They also have professional development and marketing tools built-in.

    Audiu is a platform that encourages honest and constructive feedback between members.

    Bandhub is another popular collaboration tool, aimed at musicians jamming together. This one uses video as well, which makes it feel like you’re connecting more to the other musicians.

    SongTree – you upload your part of a song, so that anyone in the world can “overdub” it. You get badges and visibility based on how many overdubs other musicians do for your songs. Very social way of seeing how other people interpret your music.

    Vocalizr is designed to connect vocalists with producers.

    Unit IV: Comprehensive Courses & Games

    We believe that private lessons are invaluable for a number of reasons:

    • Accountability – Each week, the teacher checks in on your progress or lack thereof, and helps you get back on track.
    • Correcting Errors – teachers can catch things that you probably won’t catch (and a youtube video definitely won’t!).
    • Refined Musicality, as the teacher gives nuanced feedback and helps customize your learning path
    • Connection with a teacher who cares about your success, other students who are also learning, and members of the audience, at performance opportunities, like recitals.
    • Answering Questions and engaging in a back-and-forth dialogue that can quickly take you to the next level.

    We understand the criticisms of weekly private music lessons, which typically boil down to price, set schedule, and commitment level. Not everyone is ready to commit to weekly lessons, has a consistent work schedule or can reliably afford even modest tuition.

    For that reason, musical entrepreneurs have created a wide variety of apps, games, websites, and video courses with the goal of teaching more casual people how to play an instrument. For more serious players, these resources can be great supplements to their main mode of instruction. 

    Most self-taught players hit a plateau and find private instruction invaluable. If you’re interested in private music lessons, please reach out to us. 

    Top 14

    Games for Learning to Play Piano or Guitar 

    Ever since Guitar Hero inspired players to practice for hundreds of hours, various musical entrepreneurs have worked hard to re-create that addictive gameplay to get students practicing real instruments. These games will listen to you play – sometimes with the microphone on your device, sometimes via MIDI connection – and then give you points. You progress from level to level, easier to harder. Usually, each person in the household can have their own avatar, so everyone can track their own progress (great if you like to compete!) These games will mostly vary in the songs that they license, the way they structure the instruction, and the overall aesthetics, but there are sometimes differences in features.

    cool We carry keyboards with Bluetooth MIDI which is a more accurate way to send data into the apps, so you have a smoother experience.

    Piano Maestro's logo, a bean head with headphones on a piano.

    Piano Maestro – A top-ranked in-depth educational tool that helps students practice and learn their sight reading, rhythm, technique, playing with both hands and much more. It has a huge library and is very popular with piano teachers. It’s not particularly structured with a clear learning path, rather they organize the songs by difficulty level. Try it for free using our coupon code, JTS1FamilyPiano.

    Yousician's green logo, as it is displayed in the App Store.

    Yousician – Learn piano, guitar, bass, ukulele, and singing with this interactive music app. Listens to you play through your device’s mic, and gives you feedback on accuracy and rhythm. Thousands of step-by-step tutorial, exercises, and video lessons available, plus they license popular radio hits. It’s on Android, iOS, & PC.

    RockSmith A really cool video game by UbiSoft for PS4, Xbox, and PC that’s designed to teach you on a real electric guitar. It comes with a special cord so you can plug it directly into your device, so it can accurately read what you’re doing and give you detailed feedback.

    Simply Piano is by JoyTunes, the company that makes Piano Maestro and Piano Dust Buster. This app is more than just a big collection of songs – it’s structured to start simple and teach as you go along, with helpful practice mode features.

    Piano Dust Busters by Joytunes is designed to be a more casual introduction to piano for younger players, with a “falling notes” style game play.

    Skoove is another very popular learning platform that promises to have real teachers on hand to help answer your questions as you have them. Works on PC, Mac, and iOS. Right now, Roland is offering 3 months free if you own a Roland product.

    Flowkey – The number one search for “how to play piano.” Has a really nice library of over 1500 songs and 50 step-by-step courses, wth tons of video game music, rock, and pop, plus the classical pieces you’d expect. They were iOS-only for a while, but now have an Android app.

    Musiah is based on “Artificial Intelligence” to guide detailed feedback to you, to replicate having a teacher besides you. They say about 70% of their students are adults – you can choose to play with cartoon animations or “straight” (without the cartoons). Has games & drills; uses stationary sheet music, so if you don’t like scrolling options, this will be a good one for you.

    Playground Sessions –  Co-founded by Quincy Jones with prominent involvement by Harry Connick Jr, this app “combines gaming elements, popular music, and advanced technology to make learning as fun as possible.” Teacher tools available too. Does NOT work with acoustic pianos, as it requires a wired (or bluetooth) MIDI connection. Works on PC, Mac or iPad.

    Piano Marvel now has an iPad app, in addition to working on Mac / PC. It can give feedback on VERY fast, complicated and advanced pieces (a big part of the library), making this an excellent choice for advanced pianists who want a more fun way of sight-reading repertoire.

    Chordana Play by Casio – Another fun “Guitar Hero for Piano” Game, where you can load in any MIDI file and it will work. It has the popular “falling colors” view or the more traditional music notation. Compatible with select Casio models. 

    Melodics is a sophisticated desktop app that teaches you to play MIDI keys, drums, or grid controllers. Over 800 lessons from top artists in the electronic music community.

    Synthesia  Start by playing notes on your keyboard as they fall down, and end up playing popular songs! This game is in the previously discussed “Guitar Hero” style–and in fact, it was previously called “Piano Hero.” It features a large library of music, a practice mode, and premium features such as a learning pack that displays music in proper notation. It is free otherwise, and available on PC/Mac, plus the App Store and Google Play.

    Monster Chords is a fun game to help young kids to play on their guitar or ukulele. A little cheesy, but just the right thing for young kids, ages 4+.

    Top 6

    Video Courses for Learning Piano 

    These websites focus just on teaching you piano. Most of them focus on one primary teacher who has fleshed out a pretty extensive course of study, with well-produced videos and supplementary materials.

    cool We now offer private lessons via video – you can also do in-studio lessons (when we’re able to do those again).

    Also Check Out: The Video Courses for Multiple Instruments and the Games to Teach You to Play Piano, Guitar, and Uke.

    Hoffman Academy  They provide over 200 free piano learning videos, aimed towards teaching kids the fundamentals of playing piano. A nice structured curriculum that is a great place to start and supplements most piano lessons well. Their premium option offers worksheets, backing tracks, games, and more.

    Pianote  A video-learning platform that has both a structured curriculum, plus weekly live-stream videos, community forums, and modules for learning specific musical skills. When you sign up for the annual plan, you also have the option of getting physical music books to go along with the course, which is nice.

    Tonebase is like “Netflix for high-level classical piano lessons.” They’ve got over 25 world-class instructors and tons of lessons organized into courses, with great videos, PDFs, and exercises. This is a well-funded, high-production value operation that costs a little more than other options, but is quite nice.

    The Musical Webb  Both a site for online music courses, and an active blog/newsletter filled with useful and relevant resources for aspiring musicians and artists. Courses are available for beginners, as well as for practicing musicians.

    Piano With Willie – a Berklee College of Music grad, Willie has been making lessons since 2000, so there are over 690 hours of high-quality content up, with detailed sheet music, jam tracks and more.

    Making Music Fun offers a nice package of lessons, pdfs, games, for piano. One of the more affordable options on this list, especially if you have multiple players.

    Jordan Rudess Online Academy – the amazing keyboardist and composer of Dream Theatre, Jordan offers a wide range of videos and an online community, for beginners and advanced players alike. $49 for a lifetime membership.

    Top 8

    Video Courses for Learning Guitar & Ukulele 

    There are several websites offering large libraries of lessons, integrated mobile apps, and various features designed to help you learn faster. We encourage you to take advantage of the free trial options and pick the one you ultimately like the most, as a great supplement to in-person lessons.

    cool We now offer private lessons via video – you can also do in-studio lessons (when we’re allowed to do them again).

    Also Check Out: The Video Courses for Multiple Instruments and the Games to Teach You to Play Piano, Guitar, and Uke.

    True Fire has over 40,000 video lessons for every skill level and style, filmed in HD. Has interactive tabs, slow motion, progress tracking, and more, TrueFire has the largest collection of video lessons (outside of the hodge-podge of Youtube). More expensive than most of the other options here, but still very reasonable and you get a 30-day trial.

    Jam Play has over 6,500 lessons, organized into 450 courses by over 110 instructors. It’s all filmed in HD at their studios, with enhanced tech, like interactive tabs, A/B looping, slow motion, and more. It’s a paid service, but quite reasonable, which is why it’s one of the most popular guitar learning platforms out there.

    Justin Guitar – an early pioneer in offering free video lessons online, this website has only grown in popularity and scope, with over 1,000 free video guitar lessons and some handy tools on the website (like interval trainer, metronome, etc). Everything is still taught by Justin Sandercoe.

     Fender Play – A high-budget, high production value offering from Fender Guitars, this site offers a very polished, focused set of lessons for a monthly subscription.  Also for bass guitar and ukulele.

    Guitar Tricks has over 11,000 lessons and advertises themselves as having the “easiest system and the fastest results.” They have built-in tools on their website, and accompanying apps.

    Your Guitar Academy – well-organized, professional-looking video lessons, with quite a bit of content to help you sound like your favorite artist. All free.

    GuitarLessons.com – hundreds of free lessons online, organized by topic. The videos for the lessons are also on their Youtube channel, if you prefer watching them via the Youtube app, on your preferred device.

    Top 8

    Video Courses for Learning Multiple Instruments 

    So rather than smaller websites focusing on one instrument, these platforms are structured to handle many instruments, many instructors, and sometimes, many non-music topics, as well. If you’re learning multiple instruments or the specialized sites don’t do it for you, check these out.

     

    Udemy  This huge online marketplace allows people to upload entire video courses, complete with PDFs, tests, and more. There are  over 300 results for “piano,” many for $12 – $50, and courses for pretty much anything else you want to learn.

    Artist Works offers high-quality video courses by well-regarded professional musicians for pretty much every instrument out there. They also allow you to submit a limited number of video recordings of you playing, so you can get a video response back from an instructor. Pretty neat!

    Lynda.com is one of our favorite video learning platforms for software topics like Photoshop, WordPress, and Ableton. They’ve expanded into music lessons for a variety of instruments. There’s a modest monthly fee, but check with your local public library – they might offer you, their patron, access for free!

    SoundFly – online music learning courses for piano, guitar, music composition, music production, and more. The big difference is that for premium courses, they also pair you with a private mentor, which we think is super important. Some free courses available too.

    Coursera.org is famous for bringing college classes to the public for free (or cheap). So these offerings are structured like what you’d find at the Berklee College of Music, for example (a participating institution with courses on Coursera).

    Groove3 has a pretty big library of video courses for a wide variety of instruments in a wide variety of styles, but also for music production skills. You can buy most courses individually or pay for an All-Access subscription, both at pretty reasonable prices.

    Liberty Park Music offers courses for piano, guitar, drums, and music theory, with accompanying work files, and accompanying support from their teachers (via chat).

    Learn and Master offers a primarily DVD-centric option, with books and play along CDs, which is great if you’d like something a little more tactile.

    Bonus: Some of Our Favorite

    Youtube Channels & Utilities – EDITED

    There’s a mindblowing amount of content on youtube – every minute, over 300 hours of videos are uploaded. Here are some channels that if you haven’t had a chance to check out, you might really enjoy them. These are great, especially if you want to try out a bunch of different genres, ideas, techniques, songs, etc.

    See AlsoThe Video Courses on how to play your instrument, since those typically have a more structured curriculum for building your skills, rather than a bunch of one-off videos.

    Tips for Using Youtube More Effectively

     

    Favorite Youtube Channels for PIANO

    • Piano Lessons On The Web  A very excellent all-in-one place for beginners. Tim not only has lessons for playing piano, but he features lessons for music theory and songwriting, music reading, rhythm, and miscellaneous tips and technique videos as well
    • Michael New  Michael’s channel is one that features lessons mostly in music theory. His videos are appropriate for beginners and advanced players alike, and he also covers topics any musicians will find useful like how to improvise and dealing with performance anxiety.
    • Piano Philosophy by danthecomposer  The underlying philosophy behind his channel is that playing piano starts in the mind, and not the fingers. Furthermore, his blog,
    • A Philosophical Approach to Piano, has a lot of interesting articles and supplements to the videos on his channel.
    • Bill Hilton has a ton of practical, focused videos, primarily for piano players with some experience who want to go to the next level, especially with jazz / pop / blues.
    Favorite Youtube Channels for GUITAR

    • Guitar Jamz – has new videos daily and over 1800 lessons by several different teachers. You can go to their website to get supplementary materials.
    • Andy Guitar has a huge amount of great lessons aimed at beginner guitarists.
    • Music is Win is a ton of fun, but also educational. He really tries to think outside the box for interesting informative content.
    • Guitar World has a ton of great videos, including rock stars explaining how to play their songs, plus good coverage of new gear.

     

    Favorite Youtube Channels for Multiple Instruments

    • Berklee Online – they have a ton of well-produced videos teaching skills for any pro musician, like music production, business skills and more.
    • Reverb – they have a great e-commerce platform AND a top-notch video production team that dives deep into cool gear.
    • 12 Tone – Music Theorist breaks down popular songs in really interesting & engaging style.
    • Andrew Huang – makes electronic music / production really accessible and fun.