In order not to make the suspense last longer, let's immediately answer the question: Is it possible to learn to play the piano without music theory lessons? Yes, it is possible to learn the piano on your own, without music theory lessons and even without a piano teacher... but... because there is a "but"... it is important to equip yourself with a piano and a good learning software to help you progress.
Unless you are a genius like Mozart, learning the piano on your own and without having any knowledge of music theory is possible but it is not an easy task. To help you, many software and mobile applications are available on the market for this so-called "imitation" learning technique. Some are free, others are paid. Some use the playful video game method and others adopt a more educational approach with a learning system adapted to the level and pace of the user.
It is with this in mind that we have chosen to present the software and mobile application to you: flowkey. It is positioned rather in the last category, with learning in educational imitation and adapted to the user. It also offers the possibility of learning to play on the musical pieces that we like.
flowkey, a piano learning app ©flowkey
You can download and install flowkey on your Android smartphone or tablet, iPhone and iPad, but you can also use it on any PC, thanks to its online service. The music application interface is available in several languages including Spanish.
Why use flowkey?
Flowkey is a free software and app that guides you step by step in learning piano. Whatever your age and level, flowkey is aimed at all audiences. From the beginner to the more experienced musician, it adapts to each user, and above all it allows you to free yourself from music theory and the compulsory reading of the musical score.
Indeed, flowkey is based on the principle of imitation. For each piece, the user can see the piano keys color as they activate, so as to reproduce the same note on your piano, because yes, to learn to play the piano with flowkey, you need a piano or a synthesizer. Here, no learning with a virtual piano, you need a real piano or keyboard to practice. Using your computer or mobile device's microphone, the app "listens" to the notes you play. It is also possible to connect your MIDI keyboard. When the score scrolls, the pianist's hands are also visible and make it possible to better locate the keys played.
The other particularity of flowkey is its large catalog of songs. It thus allows each user to find music adapted to their level and, in addition, which they like. From Charles Aznavour to Claude Debussy via Hallelujah by Léonard Cohen, there is something for everyone and learning becomes a real pleasure. Several levels of difficulty are offered for training adapted to the pace of the user.
The service also integrates advanced features and specific settings that facilitate the assimilation of songs by giving itself the mission of always adapting to the rhythm of the user.
Getting started with flowkey
From your first use, it is important to create an account. Via a synchronization system, you will be able to find all your parameters on all user platforms: PC, smartphone or tablet, laptop, etc. And resume your lessons where you left off, for example.
Flowkey seeks to learn more about you and your level of learning. It asks you first if you are a beginner or if you have already learned to play the piano, if you have a piano or not and if so, if it is an acoustic piano or a digital one. If you are a beginner, flowkey offers you to first go through a few lessons before moving on to practice, although this is in no way a prerequisite.
The first stages of the theoretical learning offered by flowkey begin with the basics of the instrument and in particular the posture of the body and the position of the hands. The early videos also explain the black keys, the C position, and the root position. Then come interactive exercises where your microphone must be activated (or your instrument connected to your device via a MIDI/USB cable) so that the software “verifies” that the notes played are the correct ones.
Progress with online courses accessible anywhere ©flowkey Note that the first 3 lesson chapters are free: Piano Posture, C Position and Beethoven's "Ode to Joy".
On the other hand, flowkey is not refractory to music theory and musical reading. On the contrary, among the courses provided (with Premium subscription), there are lessons in deciphering sheet music, courses on the value of notes and on rhythm and many others. These technical skills may come in handy later, when you feel comfortable with the first chords.
Once the first lessons are assimilated, go to the Songs menu where you can enjoy the catalog of more than 1 classic, pop, popular, jazz, romantic, etc. titles. You can get carried away by the different recommendations and categories available or search directly for a particular song to practice. Four levels of difficulty are available to carry out a first sorting of the pieces. To easily identify the level required for each song, a color code is in place: from green for the easiest songs, to purple for the most complex. Note that some music is available in a version for each level. This is particularly the case for the ode to joy of Beethoven or the music of the game The Legend of Zelda by Koji Kondo.
Choose to learn the music you love ©flowkey
By clicking on the thumbnail image, you can listen to the entire chosen song without launching the Learning mode. If you like the music, just click on the heart icon to add it to your favorites, which can then be accessed in the My songs menu. It is also in this tab that you will find a history of previously learned music.
Find all your favorite songs in the My songs menu ©flowkey
How does flowkey work?
Now let's get down to business and learn how to play the piano with flowkey.
Once you have found the song you want to learn the piano, click on the orange button to start learning.
The tutorial will then launch and you will notice that the screen is divided into 2 parts. The upper part displays the piano keys which will color as the music progresses, as well as the notes played. The lower part accommodates the scrolling score.
Piano learning interface with flowkey ©flowkey
Several features are available to help you learn to play the piano at your own pace.
Play with one hand
If you are a beginner and you cannot yet play with both hands, flowkey offers you a progressive learning process, by first clicking on the central icons representing the left hand or the right hand. The music and all notes will play in full, but only the keys of the selected hand will be colored. When you feel ready, activate both hands by simply clicking on them. Note that if you pause the music, the control commands appear. If you change them, the new settings will be automatically applied and you won't have to start the song from the beginning.
Gradually learn to play the piano with one hand ©flowkey
Slow or standby mode
By clicking on the icons of the hands, you will have noticed the deployment of 3 additional adjustment modes.
The 50% Speed and 75% Speed modes reduce the scrolling speed of the music to give the pianist time to locate the keys and notes in order to better assimilate them.
Waiting mode is also widely used by beginners and for learning new songs. Again, the microphone on your computer or mobile device is used since this feature follows the rhythm of the song, but waits until you have played the right note to continue.
If a passage is more difficult, the loop mode allows you to select a part of the score and play it in a loop until it is assimilated.
Using the flowkey loop tool ©flowkey
To do this, click on the icon in the center of the score and drag the right and left arrows until you select all the notes to work on in particular. To remove your selection, simply click on the cross.
Creation of a loop of a few notes ©flowkey
Learning the piano by imitation is therefore possible provided you have good educational software. Having the freedom to free oneself from music theory for a more playful approach with songs that we love, is the objective that flowkey has set itself. The use of the software on different platforms with the synchronization system makes it possible to continue the lessons anywhere, and is a positive point to highlight.
Flowkey is available for free for smartphones and tablets and accessible online on desktop. This free version limits the number of lessons to 3 chapters and offers a selection of free songs, with no time limit. To take advantage of the entire catalog, several Premium subscription plans are available.