At a glance, Pianote looks to be one of the most comprehensive piano lesson platforms online. I decided to try it out for myself to find out just how good it is.
This Pianote review will discuss the available content, teaching method, progression path, and much more. I will highlight the good, bad, and everything in between, so if you’re trying to choose the best platform for you, you’re in the right place. Let’s get into Pianote.
About the author
Final verdict on Pianote
I wish there were more interactive elements, and students had more direct feedback and guidance. But, working with guided video lessons makes that difficult to provide. Despite that, there are multiple things I think Pianote does best, such as content selection, production value, delivery, song arrangements, I could go on.
Pianote has an incredible library of content, excellent teachers, and a supportive community. It puts more responsibility on the student to practice smart, but even so, it’s potentially the best video-based lesson platform right now – it’s fantastic.
What I like
- User-friendly design.
- Consistent user experience.
- Outstanding coaches.
- Teaches musical elements most platforms ignore.
- Free trial.
- Huge content library.
- Great song arrangements.
- Live events.
- Encouraging community.
What I don’t like
- No interactive lessons.
- Limited practice feedback.
- Lesson path could be clearer.
Use these jump links to navigate to the desired section of the review.
Pianote has a vast YouTube community with well over one million subscribers. It has so many subscribers because it offers a large and diverse collection of helpful videos, which are free to watch on YouTube.
The amount and quality of content justify my high scoring, but there are positives and negatives to consider. Let’s start with the positives.
Pianote’s YouTube content covers everything from technical lessons and song tutorials to motivational videos designed to encourage a passion for music.
I love Pianote’s enthusiasm for piano education, and while other platforms show a love for music, they don’t all provide the same sense of fun in their videos.
Enthusiasm is contagious, and although progressing from beginner to pro takes dedication and hard work, it should be fun too, and Pianote gets that balance right.
In addition to the enthusiastic presentation, the production is higher than most competitors.
The downside of YouTube is that it’s too easy to drift from one video to another with no sensible progression, which usually means working on the wrong things and developing bad habits.
This problem is more severe when going between different channels, but it exists to some extent within the Pianote community. For example, you might choose a playlist like “Piano Scales” to provide sensible continuation, but the playlist goes from a blues scale to a melodic minor scale to a harmonic minor scale, and so on.
The sequence of videos in the playlist doesn’t make sense for beginners, and although YouTube offers a taster of the paid course, it could still be arranged into clearer playlists.
Overall, Pianote’s free content is more valuable than most, and I love the continued commitment to free content.
Pianote isn’t the cheapest platform, and I know that’s a deciding factor for many budding musicians.
- Monthly: $29 per month
- Annual: $16.42 per month, billed annually as $197 per year
Each membership type has a one-month free trial and the option to cancel anytime. You won’t be billed until your trial expires.
I suggest not focusing purely on the numbers; good value comes from what you get in return. So, finish this review, check out Pianote’s YouTube, and take a free trial before deciding.Pianote: Start your free trial
Getting started with Pianote is quick and easy after a few setup questions. Pianote will ask about your piano experience, and as I do with all platforms, I chose to enter as a complete beginner to understand the process better.
You’ll also be asked which topics interest you most (Improvisation, Sight Reading, etc.) and to choose your coaches.
Since Pianote is video-based and doesn’t take the gamified interactive approach many other piano learning apps do, there’s no keyboard/piano setup to go through.
I previously found that some platforms didn’t like specific web browsers (notably Safari), but Pianote performed the same regardless of the browser. It’s fair to say that other platforms with more interactive content are more likely to encounter browser issues.
I encountered one issue on multiple browsers: a “Page not found” error. This issue didn’t influence my score much because it happened persistently over a period of time, but when it stopped happening, it never came back (I’ll discuss more below), and all websites have technical glitches.
The Pianote interface is pretty similar to the YouTube layout, and for a video-based platform, it works well. I’ll look at both the browser and app versions and discuss any significant differences.
Before going into more detail, I love the Pianote interface because it feels familiar, making it easy to get around.
The home screen has a menu down the left-hand side to access all areas of your accounts, including Method (piano foundations), Songs, Courses, and Bootcamps.
The rest of the page displays new videos, recently watched videos, content from the coaches you’re subscribed to, and more (very much like YouTube here).
Navigating the interface is extremely easy, and even new/young users should be able to find their way around or way back if they get lost easily.
One of the main reasons it’s so easy to navigate is that the page structure never changes much. The menu is always visible, and the content is always listed clearly with descriptive thumbnails.
The Pianote app is very similar to the web version in that it’s easy to navigate. As we’re dealing with a smaller screen while using the app, you can expect some additional menus and tabs, but it’s very well put together.
Again, Pianote has followed the YouTube blueprint with the app, and it works. The app has the right balance of maximizing screen space without becoming messy and limiting tedious menu-diving.
Desktop vs mobile app
There will always be reasons to use one version over the other, depending on your situation/location, but the goal is to provide the same excellent user experience on both.
As I said above, both versions are easy to navigate, and that’s a good start. Both versions also provide a virtually identical experience while working through a lesson (difference in screen size aside). So, looking at the user experience’s two main aspects, browsing and learning, I have nothing negative to say.
With all things being equal, I prefer the web version because of the larger screen on a laptop/desktop computer. But it’s worth remembering that Pianote has loads of content that doesn’t require a piano, like podcast episodes or rhythmic lessons that you can tap out anywhere. The app could be a great way to turn any spare time (traveling, etc.) into more learning.
Although I have no complaints about the layout and user experience similarity, I did encounter a few minor issues. Firstly, like my “Page not found” error problem, I had an issue with progress not being saved for a period. I would work through lessons and mark them as complete, but each time I signed out and back in, my progress was gone like I hadn’t started.
I experienced this issue on different browsers, but it stopped after a while and didn’t happen again, so I can assume it’s a rare glitch rather than an ongoing problem many users will suffer.
Secondly, while the platform is easy to navigate, the order/structure of some content could be better. For example, if you look at the image from the app below, you can see the “All lessons” list. I use this example because it’s on the home page and is often seen.
The lessons are listed by upload date or popularity, which means content type, and skill level can vary significantly from one video to the next. Beginners are likely to click on videos they aren’t ready for yet.
I see this issue throughout the platform to some extent and will discuss more in the Progression path section.
Pianote’s lesson interface is perhaps the most straightforward of any platform I’ve seen so far. I’ve already mentioned the similarity to YouTube a few times, and it’s not negative; the same can be said of the lesson interface.
When you begin a lesson, you’ll see the current lesson in the large video player with “Related lessons” in a playlist on the right. You can switch to full-screen mode, adjust the playback speed (half speed to double speed), and download additional content like PDF scores.
Under the current video, you’ll find buttons for the “Next lesson” and the “Previous lesson”, and you can mark it as complete when finished in exchange for XP points.
You’ll also see a comments section that often gives you an idea of how other users got on with any particular lesson. The comments can also be a great source of encouragement.
I have one slight issue with the lesson interface: you must mark lessons as complete manually without being prompted.
As Pianote lessons are video-based, I understand that students might need to watch the same video multiple times before moving on, which rules out an automatic step to the next lesson. However, I can see some users forgetting to hit the “Mark as complete” button, going straight for the next lesson, which could confuse later on.
My suggestion would be to have a pop-up message when each video ends, asking the student if they are ready to move on or need to restart.
On the whole, it looks good, and it’s easy to use; a job well done.
Pianote’s teaching method is built on guided lessons, primarily video lessons, but also includes live events. You can find video lessons in various areas of the platform, so let’s cover each one briefly.
Method is where it all starts, covering everything from choosing a keyboard/piano to sight reading and composition.
Most lessons come with assignments that involve putting what you’ve learned into practice in creative ways. Pianote provides a printable practice tracker to plan and stay on top of your daily routine.
The practice tracker covers five categories: Warm Up, Technique, Sight Reading, Songs, and Improvisation/Free Play.
There are things I love about the Method pathway like it aims to develop a broader sense of musicianship. Traditional piano lessons can sometimes be a little too serious, dated, and lack a modern, practical application of theory. Pianote introduces students to chords, songwriting, and improvisation early, which is fantastic.
I love that the Pianote Method walks first-timers through things like good posture, making practice fun, and blends formal teaching with super-helpful piano hacks.
There are 10 levels in the Method pathway. Each level has multiple stages, and each stage has any number of lessons. So, there’s a lot to go through, and students will have learned a lot by the time they reach the end.
Pianote has done a fantastic job in choosing and creating excellent content. My concern is that it’s tough to cover every variation with video-based tuition.
For example, students will learn the C major scale early; they will learn to apply power chords to popular progressions and improvise over them. Students will also learn about intervals, building scales, and chords/ triads.
While it’s easy to encourage students to practice in all keys, it’s unlikely that most students will do so when videos can’t hold them accountable. Students who practice in one or two keys only turn into very limited musicians.
I must stress that Pianote has content that covers different keys; I just think it’s likely that students will go too far down the path with certain skills before needing to double back and almost relearn them in different keys.
Creating the right progression with video courses is extremely difficult, and I’d like to see some interactive elements for instant feedback/ accountability.
Assignments often include downloadable/printable test/answer sheets, where you’ll have to do things like circle the correct notes to build major and minor chords.
I wish the assignments were interactive; it would limit students from taking shortcuts and ensure the information is absorbed correctly before moving on.
Pianote produces some of the best arrangements of popular songs I’ve seen from any platform, especially for beginners. Songs come with awesome tutorial videos and PDF scores. Awesome!
Packs dive deeper into specific skills and interests you chose during your account setup. There’s some amazing content here, but some Packs are much more advanced, so pace yourself.
Courses cover a wide range of skills and piano goals and range from beginner to advanced levels. You can search for courses by skill level, instructor, topic, upload date, etc. Again, there’s some top-notch content.
Bootcamps offer more intense lessons on very specific goals.
Another major part of Pianote is live events, which you can tune in to if the topic interests you. You can also subscribe to the live event calendar to never miss anything.
Live events are good for a few reasons. Firstly, you can ask questions in the chat, and the coach will address as many as possible. Secondly, you can interact with other students, and my experience gave me a positive sense of community.
Some students will benefit massively from the encouragement given by their peers.
Student Focus provides another way to interact with your teachers by submitting videos of your practice/performance for feedback. Any constructive feedback helps, but I’d still prefer to see some level of interactive feedback during lessons, as your chances to be reviewed by the coaches are few and far between.
If you’re not comfortable sharing your practices for others to see/hear, you can always take notes from watching others be critiqued. Pianote has a forum packed with interesting and helpful discussions and a podcast that’s well worth checking out.
I’ve given a lower score than I’d like to here, and it’s because I value instant feedback so much, and Pianote doesn’t provide that.
When a student has completed every lesson and amassed a vast amount of XP points, it confirms that they watched all the videos and clicked the “Mark as complete” button often. It doesn’t tell us how much attention they paid, how much they understood, if they didn’t realize they were making mistakes, or if they developed any bad habits.
It’s my biggest complaint about Pianote by a long way. But, Pianote is no average collection of videos, and its effectiveness will depend largely on the student.
Courses and content
I said Pianote is no average collection of videos, and now I get to highlight why it’s so good.
Pianote has the best collection of content that I’ve seen from any piano tuition platform. It offers lessons on just about every aspect of piano education from exceptional teachers in a highly motivational environment. Most importantly, it teaches the importance of understanding music as an arranger, composer, and songwriter, not just as a pianist.
The knowledge gained from Pianote will help students become versatile players who know how to work with other musicians/vocalists.
The pacing of some content might be slightly off in terms of spending too much time on some videos and not enough on others, however, there’s so much content it’s not a huge issue.
Usually, I’d list the beginner, intermediate, and advanced courses now, but Pianote has too much to list. So, I’ve picked some of my favorite examples from each skill level.
I’ve chosen the “Creative Covers” course from Jordan Leibel (Beginner level 3). The course teaches students how to play creative cover versions of the following songs:
- “Free Fallin” – Tom Petty
- “Sounds of Silence” – Simon and Garfunkel
- “Californication” – Red Hot Chilli Peppers
- “Your Song” – Elton John
- “Game of Thrones” – Theme
It’s a beginner course, so the songs aren’t harmonically complex, and you can play them with a few chords.
As a beginner pianist, simple songs sometimes become difficult because you don’t know how to fill the space.
If we take a three-chord song on the guitar, it’s perfectly fine to strum the same chord for a couple of bars. But, on piano, it would get boring fast if we were to play chords as a constant quarter-note pulse.
Jordan Leibel teaches how to make simple songs more interesting with techniques like the Alberti bass, arpeggios, chord inversions, and voice leading.
I wouldn’t particularly expect a beginner at this stage to discuss the origin of the Alberti bass or the principles of voice leading, but Jordan teaches in a way that is easy to digest, and students will learn more than they realize immediately.
The songs aren’t important; it’s the skills the students can transfer to any other pop songs.
I’m focusing on Summer Swee-Singh’s “Creating the Perfect Piano Arrangement” course. This 10-lesson course explores key aspects of arranging, like harmony, melody, and more complex left-hand accompaniment.
In particular, I want to highlight the “Discovering Reharmonization” lesson. Although the lesson doesn’t go too deep into reharmonization, it introduces the use of chord substitutions, turnarounds, and parallel minors.
Reharmonization is a significant steppingstone toward developing a unique musical voice through experimentation.
As we become stronger players, the temptation to overplay or use every trick at once is always there. Reharmonization, when done tastefully, is fantastic, but when it becomes needlessly complex, it can sound obnoxious or forced.
This lesson provides skills that you can apply to any piece of music and encourages you to think about when to use or not use everything you’ve learned about harmony.
Pianote has a wonderful team of coaches, and I appreciate them all, but I must highlight Jesús Molina here. He is, perhaps, the coach to get most excited about; he’s as elite as it gets.
His “Improvisation & Musical Freedom Pack” features nine lessons covering genre-specific improvisation and practice plans. You won’t find such in-depth content from Jesús Molina on YouTube for free, and listening to him discuss musical concepts is as engaging as hearing him play.
Lesson 4 focuses on jazz improvisation and Jesús’ reharmonization of “Happy Birthday”. As expected, the arrangement altered chords and quirky rhythms, but the emphasis is on learning it in all keys.
Learning intricate pieces in every key is often daunting, even for talented pianists, while players like Jesús make it look easy.
Taking a familiar song like “Happy Birthday” and applying some jazz harmony is the ideal way to approach playing in all keys.
The familiarity should make the process less intimidating; before you know it, complex voicings in all keys will be at your fingertips for instant recall rather than having to stop and think.
As with the other courses I highlighted, this one provides skills you can apply to everything you play. It teaches you that improvisation is more than choosing the right notes; it’s about how you choose to play them.
Pianote offers a wide range of songs from more musical genres than I’ve seen elsewhere. You get everything from classical to Christmas songs and pop to hip hop.
As I mentioned, Pianote provides lovely arrangements, and when beginners feel like they are playing something beautiful, it builds confidence and motivation.
Scoring this section has been difficult because the content is so good, but I can’t ignore that the progression isn’t as straightforward as I’d like.
If we focus on beginner content only, we find it in several places: Method, Songs, Courses, Bootcamps, etc. As you journey through the content, you might realize that something you learned from a beginner pack could have helped you on a previous beginner course. But there’s nothing to tell students where to go next other than the obvious Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced sequence.
If you have Beginner Level 2 content in more than one place, it would help students to guide towards which would be most beneficial to learn first. It’s natural for students to explore with so much content on offer, and finding the perfect structure is a challenging task, but, for now, it could be better.
Some students will find it easier to stay on track than others and see a real progression from using Pianote.
Pianote is strongest in taking players from beginner to intermediate levels; the content in those ranges is vast and high-quality. There is far less content in the advanced range, but the coaches continue to add new material. However, I can confirm that Pianote provides some genuinely advanced content, which I’ve struggled to find on some other platforms.
Value for money
Pianote feels like more than a typical tuition platform. I saw people interact through chat during live events in a way that created a musician’s hangout atmosphere. The supportive nature of other users is something that adds immeasurable value.
The easier answer is that the existing content, live events, and commitment to new content provide more than enough value for money.Pianote: Get started now
Compared to other online piano lessons
Pianote is a fantastic online piano lesson platform, but it doesn’t offer interactive lessons, and that’s important to some students. Here are some alternatives that do.
Pianote vs Flowkey
Both platforms are great, but they teach in very different ways. If you prefer interactive lessons, go with Flowkey, if you prefer video lessons, go with Pianote.
Pianote vs Playground Sessions
Playground sessions can’t match the supportive online community of Pianote, but it more than makes up for it in other ways. I prefer the interactive content and instant feedback from Playground Sessions.
Pianote vs Simply Piano
Simply Piano has some way to go before it’s as good as it could be. Until then, Pianote gets my vote.
Who does Pianote suit most?
Pianote suits all skill levels, but beginners who can set and follow a practice plan consistently will get the most out of it.