In this review, I’m taking a look at Piano Marvel, one of the largest piano lesson platforms online. Piano Marvel offers a massive amount of content and is trusted by many professional music educators. I’m going to find out if it’s as good in the home as it is in the classroom.
About the author
Final verdict on Piano Marvel
I had to be incredibly fussy to find any fault in Piano Marvel! It’s a very professional platform that might not appeal to all younger learners, but it’s my new favorite. It could have the best interface, content, and arrangements, and it would be hard to find anything similar at a better price.
What I like
- Over 1,200 lessons.
- Huge music library.
- Genuine advanced content.
- Great arrangements.
- Outstanding progression path.
- Sight-reading tests.
- Instant feedback.
- Detailed reports.
What I don’t like
- It might feel too professional for some younger students.
Use these jump links to navigate to the desired section of the review.
A free Piano Marvel account provides over 200 lessons, 150 songs, over 25 video lessons, and three sight-reading tests.
When you sign up for a free account, you’ll start a seven-day free trial of the premium version. The free trial unlocks premium features and most of the Piano Marvel music library. The free trial is more than enough to decide if you want to spend your hard-earned money; no complaints here.
What I really like about Piano Marvel is that even if you don’t upgrade, a free account is more than just a preview; it’s genuinely worth having.
If you want to upgrade to a premium account after your trial, you can do so for $10.84 per month (billed annually).
A premium account allows you to access over 1,200 lessons, 200 video lessons, 26,000 songs, unlimited sight-reading tests, and more. Given the vast amount of content, Piano Marvel is below average price.
Group memberships for educators are also available.Piano Marvel: Start your free trial
Creating an account takes a couple of minutes, and once you answer a few simple questions, you’ll be ready to start learning. Piano Marvel offers different account types, so you’ll be asked if you’re learning alone, with a teacher, or if you are a teacher.
The Piano Marvel is compatible with macOS, Windows, Chromebook, and iOS. You’ll access your account via browser unless you use the iOS app, which you can download from the App Store.
Depending on your browser, you may have to download and install the Piano Marvel plugin (Google Chrome doesn’t require the plugin). The plugin enables audio playback, note detection, etc., from your browser.
I tested Piano Marvel using Safari; downloading and installing the plugin was a quick and easy process.
You can use your device’s microphone or connect a MIDI keyboard. I always recommend using a MIDI keyboard rather than relying on the microphone. It doesn’t matter which platform you use, note detection is never 100% perfect.
As soon as you connect your MIDI keyboard, a pop-up will appear showing your device’s name and asking you to confirm your selection.
You can adjust some settings, like the virtual piano volume. Piano Marvel allows for velocity sensitivity, which means you can play with dynamics. I don’t think I’ve encountered another platform that does it quite as well, if at all.
The interface is perfect; I wouldn’t change anything. Everything is easy to find with no excessive menu-diving.
Arranging so much content isn’t easy, even when you have clever search functions, etc. Some content is best displayed in a list, some in a grid, some with icons, some without, and in every case, Piano Marvel has made the right decision.
If I had to summarize the interface in one word, it would be efficient.
Everything starts from the Dashboard, which is like your home page. The Dashboard shows large icons for the four main areas of the platform: Music Library, Sight-Reading, Method Lessons, and Technique Lessons.
Above those icons, you’ll see stats for your current practice time, your streak (the number of days in a row that you’ve practiced), and your Practice Goal setter. You can set a monthly Practice Goal (number of minutes to practice), an excellent way to boost motivation.
A taskbar with a dropdown menu at the top of the screen provides various preference settings, including MIDI setup. The taskbar provides additional access to the four main areas mentioned above, along with your practice reports and account details.
The Method and Technique lessons share the same layout, with all current lessons listed on the right and a virtual trophy cabinet on the left. In the top right corner of these pages, you’ll find access to the current section as a PDF book and any relative video lessons.
As you play through the lessons, the list will display your score (percentage), the date of the lesson, and any golden tickets you’ve earned. Golden tickets are awarded for scores of 100%.
The Music Library isn’t just one of the largest, with over 26,000 songs; it’s an absolute joy to use. You can search songs by title using the search bar or by difficulty using the Easy, Med, Hard, and Pro buttons. If you search by difficulty, the songs are then graded from one to five stars within the current level.
You can also search songs by tailored recommendations from Piano Marvel. Your recommendations are sorted into four categories: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and Professional.
If you’re in the mood for a specific type of music, you can search by genre, including Classical, Pop, TV and Film, Jazz and Blues, and even Duets. You might find songs you want to learn but aren’t quite ready for yet, so you can add them to your favorites.
Whatever you’re searching for, you can view results in a grid or list format with additional information detailing which songs offer sheet music and video lessons.
The Music Library doesn’t just include songs, it includes exercises and theory books from industry-leading publishers like Hal Leonard.
The Sight-Reading section allows you to access the SASR (Standard Assessment of Sight Reading) test: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. The test page displays the average test scores for all playing levels, from early beginner to professional teachers and beyond.
It includes a helpful overview video demonstrating the test to give students an idea of what to expect. You can also access a detailed report of your last 10 tests to monitor your progress over time.
The Reports section (in the taskbar) provides detailed report cards for the last seven days and any challenges you’re participating in. Your report will log the number of minutes you’ve practiced each day to see when you are working hard or slacking off.
The iOS app is virtually identical to the browser, with a few adjustments to compensate for the screen size.
Desktop vs mobile app
There isn’t much to say about the app because it delivers a user experience that’s very close to the browser version. Since I have no complaints about the user experience in either version, the advantages and disadvantages come down to the actual devices.
The iOS version will allow you to practice anywhere you find a piano, armed with nothing but your mobile phone or tablet. However, I recommend the desktop version whenever possible because connecting a MIDI keyboard will improve performance.
The lesson interface has a lot of very handy features, including some that you won’t find elsewhere.
If you look at the top left corner of the image above, you’ll see markers for High Score, Last Score, and Play Count. The Play Count is how many times you’ve played the current lesson; even if you pass, it’s good to go back and compete against your high score if less than 100%.
The musical notation is pretty standard; there’s no gamified element. As you reach more advanced lessons, notation includes chord numbers II, VI, V7, etc.
On either side of the musical score, you’ll see a blue marker that you can drag and drop anywhere to reduce the number of measures you’ll play. This feature is great if you want to practice/loop a particular problem segment.
You’ll also find a blue tick/check before each clef (bass/treble) that allows you to switch either clef off and focus on one hand at a time. I love this feature for very small sections, but don’t go too far with one hand; that only makes things harder.
At the bottom of the page are more controls, including tempo, back/play/ next, Practice, Learn, and Mixer.
Entering Practice mode allows you to play the notes in your own time without any tempo. Practicing this way helps you get the correct notes under your fingers and prepare for performance. Practice mode provides real-time instant feedback: correct notes turn green and incorrect notes are red.
When you play through a lesson properly (not Practice mode), you don’t get the same instant feedback, but you get detailed feedback immediately after. The thing I love about this feedback is that it captures your performance precisely as you play. For example, in the image below, you’ll see many incorrect notes scattered around the score.
The reason for testing the feedback that way is that some platforms tend to snap your incorrect note to the correct beat or closest beat, which doesn’t tell you how far out you were. With Piano Marvel, you’ll know if the note was wrong, early, or late, and by how much.
Hitting the Learn button accesses the learning path section, another way to practice in smaller chunks. Rather than setting a custom section to practice, Learn offers three steps: Minced, Chopped, and Whole.
Minced cuts the song/lesson into the smallest steps. Chopped lets you practice slightly larger steps, although still small. Both of these settings involve playing each step with your right hand, left hand, then both hands and at three speeds. Once you complete all the steps, you tackle the whole piece: slow, medium, and fast.
The Mixer allows you to adjust the metronome, piano, and backing track levels. You can also change some practice selection settings.
Overall, the Piano Marvel platform probably has the most sensible and functional lesson interface I’ve ever used.
The teaching method centers around the Method and Technique lessons. Both types of lessons integrate songs and melodies into the lessons to keep everything as musical and fun as possible.
Method lessons concentrate on various aspects of music theory, starting with the basics like note and rest lengths. You’ll also learn about intervals and harmonizing scales.
A common complaint I have with many platforms is that they teach one chord at a time rather than explaining the fundamentals correctly. By teaching students how to harmonize scales and use chord numbers, Piano Marvel is developing real musical skills and not just muscle memory.
Technique lessons include lots of technical exercises like arpeggios and counting while playing. Sometimes, you’ll be asked to count with your free hand, other times, you’ll be asked to count out loud while playing.
These counting exercises are a fantastic way to develop fluency and hand independence in your playing. There’s also a lot of ear-training in this section, and I couldn’t be happier!
You’ll also work on things like chord inversions and test your skills in different time signatures.
Method and Technique lessons cover a wide range of musical concepts of increasing difficulty and provide the right exercises to turn your book smarts into virtuosic technique.
The process is the same in either section: Practice – Play in small steps – Play in full. If you feel you can complete a lesson in full without breaking it down, that’s fine.
All lessons are slightly gamified because you’re always trying to beat your high score. When you can’t get a higher score, it’s about collecting as many golden tickets (100% scores) as you can.
Piano Marvel keeps a leaderboard of users with the most golden tickets so you can compete with other users (in a productive way, of course).
You have some freedom to approach lessons differently but not so much freedom that it becomes chaotic; it’s awesome.
Courses and content
Piano Marvel offers over 1,200 lesson exercises and over 200 video lessons; it’s enormous. The Method and Technique sections each have 30 segments with 20 exercises in each segment. You will gain a trophy for every completed segment until your virtual trophy cabinet is full.
If that isn’t enough already, you can set yourself song targets to accompany your lessons. For example, you could aim to learn one new song per week from the Music Library and match the song to your current lesson level.
In addition to lessons and songs, you’ll have regular sight-reading tests and a long list of eBooks to get through. There’s far too much to cover in a review, so here are a couple of my favorite lessons.
My first pick is an entire segment of lessons: Method 1A. This segment is the very first group of lessons you’ll complete, so it’s not overly challenging, but you gain a surprising amount of knowledge quickly.
The featured lessons cover basic things like note and rest lengths and simple rhythms. Most lessons use only the C note but involve both hands.
What surprised me most as I went through this stage is that within minutes, the student is paying attention to both clefs (treble/bass), comfortably reading rhythms, completing copycat phrases, and even doing so with missing notes on the score.
The skills you gain here might not be landmark milestones, but they are the start of rock-solid foundations, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen opening lessons that achieved so much.
The next lesson I’ve picked is lesson 17 from Technique 2E. The lesson is called Ear-Training Bach, and it’s short but important. In the lesson, the student must listen to a few measures of Bach and repeat them without notation.
We aren’t talking about J.S. Bach’s most difficult two-part Inventions here, but it’s still very typical Bach phrases, and you’ll have to repeat up to four measures at a time.
Keep in mind that Technique 2E is still pretty early in your Piano Marvel journey, so it’s pretty impressive. It’s a huge psychological milestone because it shows students that they can trust their ears, and it’s not as difficult or scary as they might have thought.
Next, I’ve picked out the Arpeggio Ninja – Pro (Level 13) content from the Music Library. Arpeggios aren’t the most exciting thing when you are a beginner because they are difficult. But early investment in these exercises will transform your playing and, more specifically, your technique from average to virtuosic.
Despite the early difficulty, arpeggios become extremely fun to play when you get good at them. Although they are initially used as technical exercises, you can employ arpeggios in improvisation in many different ways.
Some of the jazz greats, like the late Chick Corea, loved using arpeggios in improvisation and would often play relative major/minor arpeggios together, which sounds amazing.
Another great thing about arpeggios is that once you get good at them, they provide an easy way to sound impressive without doing much, and you sometimes need that to fill some space in a performance.
What I like most about the content available from Piano Marvel is that it explains the fundamentals correctly. It doesn’t take any shortcuts, but it still helps you improve faster in the end because it teaches the underlying theory of each concept and not just surface-level lessons. I love it.
If I were forced to find one negative, I’d have to say that the material might not be the most appealing for kids. It’s suitable for kids, but it’s not as visually playful or quirky as some of the more kid-friendly platforms.
With over 26,000 songs, it’s hard to go wrong. As I mentioned already, available genres include pop, jazz, blues, classical, TV, film, and more.
The first thing that stands out beyond the expected genres is that Piano Marvel includes Duets and Ensemble pieces. I think the inclusion of duets is a lot of fun, and a pathway into performing with other musicians.
The best thing about the songs is the arrangements. Unlike many other platforms, when you select an advanced piece, like J.S. Bach’s Prelude in F Minor, you get a genuinely advanced arrangement with printable sheet music.
I’d love to give a perfect score here, but I’ve said so many positive things I think it’s only fair that I’m stricter in some areas.
The reason that I haven’t given a perfect score is that you can play the lessons in any order you like. Of course, there’s no advantage to doing that because you won’t yet have the skills to complete more advanced lessons. But, if it’s possible, some students will try to cut corners.
It’s a very minor criticism because the progression path is perfectly logical if you follow the lessons as they are laid out.
Piano Marvel is one of the few piano learning apps that delivers genuinely advanced content and a clear path all the way from being a complete novice.
The progression is so good that you often don’t understand how much you are learning until a lesson is complete, and you realize you just did much more than you thought. It’s very smart.
Value for money
Piano Marvel starts from under $11 per month, making it a cheaper platform. The fact that you get so much high-quality content at that price makes it an absolute no-brainer. It’s more than good value for money: it’s a steal.Piano Marvel: Get started
Compared to other piano lesson platforms
I love Piano Marvel; it’s the best online piano lesson platform I’ve tested so far. But every student is different, so here are a few popular alternatives.
Piano Marvel vs Playground Sessions
Playground Sessions might be a better option for younger teenagers because it’s a little more playful. It’s fantastic.
Piano Marvel vs Flowkey
Flowkey has much to offer, but it can’t match Piano Marvel for serious students.
Piano Marvel vs Simply Piano
Simply Piano is a popular platform, but it underdelivers in some areas. I’d go with Piano Marvel.
Who does Piano Marvel suit most?
The Piano Marvel online lesson platform suits kids, teenagers, adults, teachers, professionals, and anyone serious about learning piano or sharpening their skills.