With the dawn of the internet, learning an instrument has never been easier. But with so many websites and learning platforms to choose from it can be hard to know where to start.
Of all the places to learn the piano, Flowkey stands out as one of the more recognisable.
If you’re wondering whether Flowkey is worth the investment, this comprehensive Flowkey review is exactly what you’re looking for.
I’ve learnt several songs and tried other courses on Flowkey, so I understand how the platform works. Plus I’ve taken online music lessons elsewhere so I have a deep understanding of what else is on offer to you.
I aim to help you to decide whether or not this is the right place for you to learn the piano. So I’ll be going over everything you need to know and sharing my own experiences and opinions of the site.
So let’s jump in!
If you’re short on time then here are the highlights:
You will learn:
- A diverse range of songs, designed for beginners, intermediates and pros
- How to use Flowkeys tools for your advantage
- Where to get started with Piano, from how to sit to where to place your fingers
- The basics of playing with both hands
- How to start your journey with scales and sight-reading
- All about chords; how to build them and use them in songs
- Effective tools that will help you improve; from playing at slower speeds to looping difficult parts of the song
- A real range of songs to learn, that will help you to put together an impressive repertoire, no matter your level of play
- Top tips on how to best use your fingers and playing with both hands
- Great visuals, including sheet music, correct notes and a play-along piano
- The basics of music theory, from scales to sight-reading
- Something for everyone, regardless of playing level
- Not very personal
- Limited lessons on musicianship and musical theory
Length of course: As long as you need. Part of the beauty of Flowkey tools is that you can take as long or as little as you like practising and going over the song you’re learning. Other courses on the site often contain 5-6 video lessons, each of which takes around five minutes to complete.
Best for: People who want to learn new songs and add them to their set-list. The Flowkey tools are a great way to learn new music for beginners, intermediate and advanced players. There’s less here for those who want to develop their general musicianship and all-round piano skills.
Overall: If you want to learn new music, Flowkey is the place for you. All your favorite music from a range of genres can be found here, along with effective visuals and tools that help you improve far quicker than you would if you were learning on your own. Although you might need to look elsewhere for developing your technique or ear, as a way of getting your favorite songs nailed on the piano, Flowkey is very effective.
In this review I’ll be covering:
- All about Flowkey
- My review of Flowkey courses
- What I liked about this platform
- What I think could be improved
- Who I think this platform is for
- The cost and any potential alternatives and most importantly…
Is Flowkey worth it?
What Is Flowkey?
Founded in Berlin, Flowkey is one of the largest growing musical education platforms and has continued to expand since it was launched 6 years ago.
The site aims to teach new songs to aspiring pianists from a range of backgrounds.
Currently, there are 1500+ pieces to choose from, from basically every major genre, time period and composer you can think of. And their song library is constantly being updated.
As a cross-platform app, you can use Flowkey on both the web and mobile, with basically any device of your choosing. Flowkey uses note recognition technology as the primary way of helping students learn new music faster than traditional teaching methods.
There are also additional courses students can take on technique, scales and musical theory, which they can then apply to the songs they want to learn on the platform.
How Does Flowkey Work?
You sign up to the website, creating an account. This grants you access to the free version of the site. There are 8 songs available for you to learn on this version, and you also gain access to several lessons from Flowkey’s other courses.
Premium access unlocks the entire song library, as well as all of the courses available on the site. There’s a wide range of songs to choose from, including:
- Amazing Grace
- Moonlight Sonata
- Bohemian Rhapsody
Each song and lesson will be distinguished by a color symbol that tells you whether it’s beginner, intermediate, advanced or pro. You’ll need to allow access to your microphone, and set up your device next to a piano or keyboard for most of the tools to work.
To learn a song, you click on its icon, and you are taken to a page where you get to hear the song first, and see it played on the piano. You then have several methods to choose from to begin learning. These include:
- Wait mode, which waits until the correct note is played for the song to proceed
- Playing along at 50% speed
- Playing along at 75% speed
- Learning just the left hand of the song
- Learning just the right hand of the song
- Loop mode, which loops a particularly difficult part of the music
Clicking on a course will take you to several short videos that will first introduce you to a new concept (e.g. scales) and then take you through several practice techniques and activities. You will first hear the activity and then play along. As with wait mode, you will only proceed if the note you play is correct.
Flowkey monitors your progress through each course with what percentage of it you’ve completed.
My Review Of The Flowkey Courses
In order to provide you with the most balanced review I could, I’ve tried a mix of different songs with varying difficulties, genres and time periods.
That way I could gain a deeper understanding of how the app works and whether the tools they use work across a range of songs.
I also tried my hand at the piano courses on the site, again ranging from beginner to intermediate, as well as the recommended practice exercises on my own keyboard at home.
Probably the best place to get started is with the beginner lessons Flowkey have on offer.
There are three beginner courses on Flowkey, and loads of songs at this level for novices to start learning.
Each beginner lesson or song is denoted by a little green symbol next to the lesson icon.
The new pieces I learnt here included Ode to joy, Claire de Lune and Swan Lake.
You will learn:
- How to get started with the piano, specifically where to sit and place your fingers
- Practice tips for learning rhythms
- Introduction to sight-reading
- Notation, note values and what they mean
- How to get started playing with both hands
- How to play simple, but legendary classical pieces
- Allows beginners to add classical pieces to their repertoire
- Practice exercises are useful but straightforward
- Courses give a reasonably solid grounding in the instrument
- Flowkey tools are particularly helpful for beginners
- Visuals make sight-reading a lot easier to comprehend
- Thrown in the deep end, with no real instructor to guide you
- Courses could go into more detail, even at this early stage
- Song lessons could highlight what key signature/time signature changes mean
Length of Course: Each beginner lesson takes around five minutes to complete, depending on how long it takes you to get through the practice exercises. The same applies to learning the song, all is done at your speed.
Best for: Absolute beginners. Although it might help to get a little bit of theory knowledge beforehand, as there are a few gaps in the course, this part of the website is certainly designed primarily for those who have never touched a piano before.
Overall: It was so rewarding to learn these classical songs in such a short space of time, and I’m saying that as someone who has a little experience playing piano. I’m sure beginners with no musical experience will be ecstatic with their rapid progress. The note recognition technology is the really helpful aspect of this part of the course, but I was pleased to get tips on exercises on fingering and playing technique
Once you’ve learnt a decent amount of beginner songs, it might be time to move on to the intermediate aspect of the course.
These lessons can be denoted by a yellow symbol.
Although the format, tools and teaching style is very similar across the site, being at a different level of playing means your perspective can change. Some aspects of Flowkey might be less useful, whereas you may gain a new appreciation for others.
The new songs I picked up here included Happy birthday and Brahms’ lullaby. The former has given me something to show off whenever there’s a piano at a birthday party, whereas the latter helps relax my constantly barking dog. You also pick up No Woman, No Cry (and basically any pop song) from the four chords lesson.
You will learn:
- What pianists mean by sharps, flats and naturals
- New fingering techniques
- Playing in 6/8 time
- The essential scales, both major and minor
- The best technique for playing scales
- The “four chords” from basically every pop song
- How to build any major or minor chord
- All about chord inversions
- Natural development of piano skills from the beginner section
- Plenty of content for intermediate players
- Visual aids are still useful for intermediates
- The step-up in complication is aided by loop mode and Wait mode
- Range of styles to choose from
- Song sections appropriate for this stage of learning
- Four chords lesson gives pianists a solid grounding in pop chord progression
- Again, could dive into theory lessons more, e.g. intervals, circle of fifths
Length of course: Similarly, each lesson took me around five minutes, but it is subjective. The videos aren’t long to get through, so it really depends on how quickly you complete the practise exercises, the same applying to learning songs. There’s around the same number of courses, with three intermediate courses to choose from.
Best for: This is probably the hardest group to define. If you’re anywhere between a complete beginner and Mozart, you could be defined as intermediate. I’d say the best people suited to this site are people who are already comfortable with the beginner levels and who the site works with or prefer to work and develop on their own, without a teacher taking them through each step.
Overall: As you can probably tell from the disparity between the pros and cons, this was my favourite part of Flowkey. Even though this site is aimed primarily at beginners, I found that having previous musical experience meant it was easier to guide myself through learning the songs without any formal teacher. Each intermediate-level song also felt appropriately placed for my skill level.
Although advanced players may think they’re above learning piano online, and as a result aren’t always the target audience, there is still plenty of content available for them with Flowkey.
I was only able to attempt one advanced song: Bach’s Prelude No. 1 in C.
Even if you don’t know the piece by name, you’ve almost definitely heard it. Whilst it didn’t come to me quite as naturally as Happy Birthday, I still think the Flowkeys meant I was able to progress a lot quicker than if I had attempted to sight-read the piece on my own.
Advanced lessons can be recognised by a red icon. The same goes for pro and the color purple.
You will learn:
- More complicated scales, including even more sharps and flats
- Technical exercises for playing these scales
- Playing four-note chords
- Chord accompaniment patterns
- Practising improvisation
- A great source of advanced repertoire
- Emphasises the importance of scales
- Great techniques for practising scales
- Loop section is useful for technically difficult passages of music
- Feels like a natural step up from intermediate
- Advanced versions of songs that also exist as beginner versions
- Could have lessons on general musicianship; composing, playing in new styles
- Flowkey tools are less useful at this ability level
Length of course: Again, depends largely on ability, but at this stage, you can expect to progress a lot faster through each exercise. There are also only two advanced courses, rather than three. There are no pro courses.
Best for: Pianists with a strong background in the instrument who are looking for a source of new music to learn. Advanced players who still struggle with sight-reading will find the Flowkey tools useful.
Overall: I’m not a pro, so I can make an explicit comment on how well suited the courses are to advanced and pro players. But, having followed the courses from the beginner level, all the pros and potential drawbacks still apply. It’s great to have such a selection of songs to learn, especially with tools like wait mode at your disposal.
What I Liked About Flowkey
Without a doubt, Flowkey’s biggest asset is the tools and technology they use to help you learn the piano.
I’ve described how these work above, but it would be doing the site a disservice to not go into why I value these so much.
Anyone learning a new skill will know that two of the most important things to pay attention to are time and practice. Unfortunately, particularly for beginners, these two components are all the more excruciating to endure. I’ve often found myself asking, why can’t I just skip to the bit where I’m good at piano already? Even seasoned professionals can hit a similar brick wall when learning a difficult piece of music.
The tools Flowkey employs to help with your practice combat most of these challenges head-on. I was impressed by the note-recognition technology and found that being told to go back and try again when I hit a wrong note to be an effective learning strategy.
I also found that these tools conveyed essential lessons about learning and practising music. The 50% playback trick served as an important reminder that the best thing to do when learning a new piece is to slow it down, whereas the loop function was a godsend when it came to cracking difficult bars and passages.
Furthermore, allowing the student to choose whether to focus on the left-hand part, the right-hand part or both was another ingenious idea. The coordination of playing with both hands is a massive curveball for new piano students, so splitting both hands up and then slowly practising them together is a great way to get comfortable.
Any one of these tools would’ve been extremely useful on their own, but having the selection, and being able to choose which one to use depending on what I was struggling with meant I learnt these songs a lot quicker than I thought I could’ve.
A Diverse Range Of Songs
I always think it’s important to ask, before enrolling in any kind of online course, what is my end goal here?
I started my journey with Flowkey not intending to become Beethoven or Mozart, but instead with the hope of having a few songs that I can sit down and play to impress (and perhaps slightly annoy) my friends and family whenever there’s a piano.
If you share my objective, and you’re looking for somewhere to learn new songs, Flowkey has got you covered.
Even the free version has a lot to offer, whether it’s technical classical pieces like Claire de Lune or Swan Lake, or genre-defining, legendary tracks like No Woman, No Cry.
Upgrade to premium and there are over 1500 songs on offer, from every genre you can think of. So, whether you want to be a baroque superstar, learn the hits from your favourite films or just be able to play some pop hits your friends can sing along to, the Flowkey library is a great place to start learning.
Each song will come with the tools I’ve mentioned above, so you’ll be able to learn your favourite tracks quicker and more effectively.
Another brilliant asset is that there’s something for everyone. For beginners, this is a brilliant way of trying out your first track, intermediates are spoilt for choice and can try out new genres, and even the often neglected advanced piano player can get stuck into some technical pieces.
To be honest, this is something of a requirement for musical learning sites. It would be extremely difficult to learn an instrument without good visual cues. But with that said, I still think the layout of Flowkey lessons is worth praising.
In each lesson, whether it’s learning a new song or musical theory, the visuals are very similar.
Upon opening a new lesson you’ll see a piano on the top half of the screen with the sheet music on the bottom. This split-screen effect is very effective and is particularly helpful for those without much experience reading music.
From this, you get to see not only what the notation looks like, but how that translates onto the piano. So, if you spend enough time going over the songs, and pay close attention to what note on the sheet music corresponds to what note on the piano, you should slowly and intuitively grasp an understanding of reading music.
After that, you won’t even need sight-reading lessons!
But that’s not all. Flowkey will also show you each note of the song on the piano. For example, when a C is played, the key will light up in green with a big C on top. This is also a great way to get to grips with what notes are on the keyboard.
Some visuals highlight difficult extracts of music for you to focus on, and give ticks when the correct note is played. All of this corresponds to rapid development in skill.
Lots Of Techniques To Try At Home
I said before that I aimed to learn a few songs on the piano, as I’m sure most people do. After all, pro musicians don’t practice for years for the sake of practising. It’s with recordings, concerts and live performances where it all pays off, both financially and emotionally.
With that said, a little bit of music theory has never hurt anyone, and on top of all the songs, there’s still more to take away from Flowkey.
The site would have served its purpose perfectly sufficiently by just providing the sheet music and tools to learn each song, but Flowkey offers a lot more.
From sitting at the piano properly, to how your hands should feel at the keys, to learning scales and chords, there’s plenty to keep the most avid learner satisfied. By providing these lessons, Flowkey allows their students to become better all-round musicians, and apply what they learn from the offered courses to the song library.
The additional courses are by no means comprehensive, and there’s certainly room for improvement (we’ll get to that in a moment). But for what it is, there are plenty of practice tricks and techniques that are certain to make you a better piano player.
What I Think Could Be Improved
Not Very Personal
We all learn in different ways. How we process new information depends on how our brains are wired, our previous experiences and a range of other factors unique to us.
It’s a bit of a grandiose point, but I think it’s particularly important to keep in mind when reading this section of the review that what I view as a con, you might see as not a con, or perhaps even pro.
I think this is particularly relevant when it comes to discussing teaching style. For all the brilliance of the learning tools, I struggled with how Flowkey lessons were taught. Let me explain why:
Unlike most piano lessons, online or in real life, you never meet your instructor on Flowkey. The closest you get is a pair of hands hovering on a piano and a voiceover. The rest is up to you.
For some, I suppose myself included, this is fine, and could even be ideal. But I know that for many people, learning a new skill requires them to establish a strong relationship with their instructor, even if they never meet them. Other musical sites will often have established teachers that guide you through each lesson.
Having that reassurance, and step by step description can be essential to new students, particularly when it comes to understanding difficult concepts and persisting with practice.
Again, you may not see this as a con, and might even view it as a pro. It’s just something to keep in mind when considering whether or not this is worth the investment.
Lessons Outside Of Song Library Fairly Limited
I know, I know. I literally just praised the lessons outside of the song library. And, as I said, most people using this site will only be doing so with the aim of learning a few new songs. I just feel like the Flowkey courses could do with some expansion.
That isn’t to detract from what they currently have. All the fundamentals, including scales and chords, are there and the techniques given for practising are very effective. I was just left wanting more.
I feel more effort could be put into making Flowkey students into general musicians. This could be done by, for example, giving lessons on the circle of fifths, arpeggios, ear training, composition, intervals, diminished chords and playing in new genres.
On top of this, why not include some music theory tips and pointers in the song lessons. For example, if a beginner song is in ¾ time, how about having a little bit of info explaining what this means. Or why not tell students what an accidental is when it appears in a song they’re learning.
I understand that people are mainly here for the songs, and it’s a very tall order to develop new students’ all-round musicianship. But I just feel a few of these suggestions would enhance the overall experience of the site.
Need A Piano
This seems obvious, right? If you need a piano for real-life lessons, of course, you would need one for online lessons.
My critique is more that most, if not all the focus is on the note recognition technology, so without a piano, there aren’t a lot of resources on the site to explore and learn from. You can’t download the sheet music for later or watch a video lesson where a piano isn’t required.
On top of this, the most effective instrument to use when learning is a seven octave piano. These instruments are very expensive, and it requires a lot of consideration before you purchase one.
Again, this isn’t a con so much as it’s something to think about.
Who Is Flowkey For?
Some musical sites are elite clubs, whereas others cater only to novices. But part of the beauty of Flowkey’s expansive song library is that there is no limit to the people who can use it.
Here are a few, more specific groups of people who I think would really benefit from the site:
- Beginners who want to get started with their first song
- Instrumentalists from other backgrounds looking to try their hand at piano
- Intermediate players who want to push out to advanced playing at their own pace
- Seasoned pianists looking to expand their repertoire
- Pianists who want to test out Flowkey’s tools
- Self-taught players who want a slightly stronger grounding in technique
On that last point, if you’re looking to improve your general musicianship, or take a deep dive into music theory, this may not be the ideal place to start.
On top of this, the only other group who this isn’t for are people with no interest in learning piano.
Unlike many e-learning services, some aspects of Flowkey are free. You get to learn up to 8 songs, plus a few of their other lessons without spending a cent.
If you like what you receive, you can upgrade to premium. There are a few options here.
A one-month subscription is $19.99. If you pay this three months in advance, you’ll pay $12.99 per month, saving $21. Paying for twelve months would cost you $9.99 per month.
You can also purchase a lifetime subscription for $299.99, billed one time only.
Each option gives you access to the entire song library, and each Flowkey course, on multiple devices.
Currently, you can unlock access to everything Flowkey has to offer for 7 days as a free trial.
Alternatives To Flowkey
No other instrument shares such a sprawling and influential legacy as the piano, so it’s easy to see why so many piano teachers are taking to the internet to share their expertise.
Luckily for us keen e-learners, this means we are a bit spoiled for choice, and if Flowkey isn’t for you there are still plenty of alternatives for you to explore.
Pianote is the other obvious choice. Although it shares the trait of an expansive song library with Flowkey, there is a much stronger focus on developing musicianship generally. You can check out our Pianote Review.
The main focus is on The Method, a 10 step program designed to help beginners rapid improve their playing through methodically introducing musical concepts, applying these to popular songs and employing ear-training and theory techniques.
Other websites dedicated to piano include Piano Marvel and Skoove. Whereas Piano Marvel aims to help you learn and practice your favourite songs, Skoove adopts a more interactive approach to teaching and offers you your first 25 lessons for free.
Another platform I have tried is Playground Sessions. If you start your piano-playing journey here, you can be sure that you are getting a uniquely strong foundation in music that’ll make your life easier. The interface, the engaging in-person teaching style and the wonderful practice exercises all come together to make Playground Sessions another great choice.
With the dawn of the internet age, educators and entrepreneurs have devoted time to setting up platforms for learning an entire range of skills. Sites like Udemy and SkillShare have come to dominate this ever-growing portion of the web.
And given the popularity of this instrument, it’s no wonder that there’s no shortage of piano lessons to take on this site. If you’re a beginner, why not try Pianoforall on Udemy, described as a fantastic new way of learning piano.
And we haven’t forgotten about you more advanced players looking to develop your skills in a more specific genre. You overachievers can check out The Ultimate Gospel Piano Course on SkillShare if you want a challenge.
If all of that sounds good, but you think it would be even better if it was taught by a celebrity, why not try a MasterClass? This site focuses on having leading experts in their field taking you through their craft in their own way.
There’s plenty to choose from on the music front, but their chief piano offering is a real stalwart: Herbie Hancock Teaches Jazz Piano – check out our Herbie Hancock MasterClass Review.
What Others Have Said
As I said before, we all learn in very different ways. So it’s very important to consider other people’s opinions before coming to the end of this review, to make it balanced, fair and comprehensive.
I’ve spent some time scouring the internet for comments and opinions on the site, to build a consensus of what others think, and share that with you here.
One thing you will notice is that there is a hotly contested debate over which piano site is the best among the online instrumental community. And there is no clear winner. As I said, we all have different priorities when it comes to learning, and this is reflected in the discussions over what’s the best way to learn piano.
With that said, Flowkey seems to fare fairly well among these discussions. Although some people prefer other websites, everyone seems to agree that the tools on Flowkey are really handy.
One commenter summed up their opinion with this:
“I’ve been using Flowkey. I find it very useful. The scrolling notation can be annoying sometimes, but you can pause and pick out the notes. Also, having a pianist's hands play along helps if you get confused about fingering.” - Reddit commenter
I strongly agree with the main point made here. The way that you can pause and focus on notes is an essential part of why I was able to learn new songs so quickly, alongside the reference of the piano player.
But this comment also mentions that they get frustrated by the scrolling notation, which I’ve always found to be quite useful.
Not all the commenters are positive, however.
“I am a beginner as well, and I tried using Synthesia and Flowkey. However, it is not that effective and it gets confusing at times. I thought it would be easier but honestly reading sheet music is a lot easier for me.” - Reddit commenter
Whilst I haven’t shared this experience, I can certainly see where this person is coming from. Although I’ve found the tools to be effective, I can appreciate that it can seem counterintuitive and a little confusing at times.
Some people dismiss Piano learning apps entirely, saying that the best and only way to learn piano is the traditional method. I strongly disagree with this. Not only do some people not have the time or resources for in-person lessons, although some aspects of traditional learning can’t be replicated online, that works both ways.
I have a much stronger affinity with people who see this as a new opportunity for the instrument, and music education generally. Sure, some aspects of traditional teaching won’t be easily replicated, but now we can explore new ways of learning that appeal to a greater range of people. There’s certainly a big crowd who share this opinion.
The internet has constantly been a place for innovation, and that holds true for learning as it does for anything else.
Is Flowkey Worth It?
So, having considered the pros, the cons, the cost and the alternatives, it’s time to ask the big question:
Is Flowkey worth it?
The true answer to this, as always, depends on what you’re looking for.
If you’re a piano player at any level, particularly if you’re just starting out, Flowkey can be a really great way to get comfortable with learning new songs. Not only will you have access to an expansive song library, but Flowkey’s note recognition technology means you’ll be able to learn each piece of music a lot quicker than you normally would.
If you’re looking to develop your general piano skills, and want something that goes into depth about music theory, technique and general musicianship, then there are other sites out there that are much more suited to your tastes.
The courses on Flowkey will give you a decent grounding in the piano, as well as a lot of great practice exercises, but could be a lot more comprehensive and have a more personable teaching style to make new learners feel comfortable.
So, whilst it may not be my first choice, I’m still really happy with the songs I was able to learn and using Flowkey ended up being super helpful and quite a lot of fun. At the end of my time using the app, I could play my favourite songs much faster than I could before.
What more could you want?
I hope some of these thoughts and info I’ve shared here help you make up your mind as to whether or not Flowkey is what you’re looking for.
Frequently Asked Questions
8 songs and several courses on Flowkey are free. You can purchase premium access for $19.99 a month. This goes down to $12.99 per month for the three-month package and $9.99 a month for the yearly package. Alternatively, you can purchase a lifetime subscription for $299.99.
No, Flowkey does not appear to operate a refund policy.
Flowkey has a song library containing over 1500 songs to learn. This is continuously expanding. On top of this, there are 8 courses focusing on technique.
Yes, Flowkey operates a 7 day free trial of premium access.
Charlie is a student reading politics at King’s College London. He is also a passionate musician with over 14 years of experience. In his free time, he also enjoys cinema, long-distance running and learning new things.