Online piano lesson platforms are often the most convenient way for beginners to learn to play the piano. In this review, we are looking at Skoove, one of the most popular choices for budding pianists.
We will discuss everything Skoove offers and try to answer any questions potential users might have.
While covering all of the main features and functions, we’ll give our opinion on value for money and whether or not Skoove provides a clear route from beginner to advanced.
Our verdict on Skoove
Skoove is a good platform and potentially one of the best for complete beginners. It could be a great platform, but it comes with too many little quirks and inconsistencies; anyone beyond beginner level is likely to find it a little irritating.
It has some excellent content that shouldn’t be overlooked, but in trying to condense the journey from beginner to pro into a relatively short trip, it misses too many stops along the way.
Skoove should focus on beginner content, which it does very well; otherwise, re-think the course structure.
Most users will want to try out some free lessons before committing to a paid subscription, so here’s a taster of what you can expect.
We won’t get into specific lesson content yet, but we can tell you that Skoove provides free lessons from various courses and differing skill levels.
While we love that the free lessons cover a decent range of content, they offer no progression; they are single lessons that make up a very small part of a premium course.
Potential users won’t get much more than an idea of how the system works and a little bit of fun from the free lessons. That might be enough for some, but we would have loved seeing a free mini-course or just a few consecutive lessons.
Enough for users to see a difference after some progression that justifies spending hard-earned money. It’s not a huge complaint, but we think it would serve Skoove well to go down that path.
Skoove has, in the past, offered free courses and hopefully will again.
A 7-day free trial of Skoove is available, as well as a 14-day money-back guarantee.
Skoove offers three membership plans:
- Monthly: $19.99
- Three months: $39.99
- Twelve months: $119.88
We won’t spend too much time on this, but it’s worth mentioning because some services can be incredibly tedious just to get started.
Creating a Skoove account was quick and easy; you are good to go after confirming your email address. Alternatively, you can sign up with Facebook.
Upgrading to Skoove Premium was also a speedy process, which, of course, requires your credit card details, but there are no convoluted or intrusive forms to fill out.
One of the coolest things about Skoove is that you can use different types of keyboards. You can use digital pianos, portable keyboards, MIDI controllers, and even acoustic pianos. We used the M-Audio Hammer 88 keyboard controller.
If using an acoustic piano, your experience may depend on the quality of your device’s microphone. However, a modern smartphone or tablet shouldn’t have any problems. Of course, you’ll have to ensure your piano is in tune!
Connecting any digital keyboard is quick and easy. Skoove will detect your connected (USB/MIDI) device(s) and ask you to play the lowest and highest notes on the keyboard.
It will then ask if you use a keyboard with built-in speakers, a controller, or headphones.
If you use a keyboard controller, the sound you hear when you play is generated by Skoove.
The interface should play an important role in choosing the best online piano lesson platform because you will have to interact with it regularly.
When we talk about the interface, we include the website/app’s general design and the interactive piano lessons.
With that in mind, we have some positives and negatives to discuss.
Let’s start with the desktop version; the website is clean, simple, and easy to navigate, even for younger learners, and that’s important; big thumbs up.
One benefit of using the desktop version is that it features the Skoove Magazine, a blog filled with handy articles on all things piano.
When setting up our account, we started on the Safari browser, and Skoove prompted us to switch to Google Chrome for a better user experience. It wasn’t a big deal for us, but many Mac users prefer to stick to Safari; some don’t even install Chrome.
We wouldn’t expect to be warned of browser issues when dealing with any of the most used/popular browsers.
The app is also straightforward; switching between beginner, intermediate, and advanced content is easy, and the lessons are laid out in order.
Using the app on a mobile device allows you to practice anywhere, making it even more convenient.
Desktop vs. app
The website and app are incredibly simple, and that’s how they should be. We can’t fault the interface in terms of layout and design, and there are no major fundamental design flaws, in our opinion.
The app seems to be a more polished product in some respects, despite both platforms being similar. Many lessons on the app open with a short video/voiceover that explains the coming content, whereas the browser version only has some on-screen text.
A more significant difference between the two is that the app appears to display some musical marking and recommended fingering that isn’t present on the web version. Even more significantly, the app seems to offer crucial feedback on your performance that isn’t available in your browser.
The app also offers far more adjustable settings like turning the metronome on/off, changing the tempo and looping difficult parts of a lesson.
Maybe most users prefer the app, and the developers focus on enhancing the app experience, but it wouldn’t take much to make the experience identical.
Comparing the desktop version to the app discovered more inconsistencies. Before you get into any lessons, Skoove will ask what your current piano experience is and provide a few options.
We started on the desktop version before moving to the app, and when using the app, we noticed that the lesson order had changed on some courses.
A potential reason for this could be that Skoove arranges courses differently for players with different experience levels. However, we would assume that having created our account via the website, then signing into the app would mean all settings are identical on both platforms.
We are speculating on the possible reason, but if it’s the case, then maybe it’s a technical glitch and won’t be the same for every user.
If the order of lessons in some courses differs from website to app at all times, it seems an odd and unnecessary decision from the developers.
We have one more inconsistency to discuss, and again, the experience may not be the same for every user.
While using the Skoove website, you’ll often see pop-ups on your screen offering free trials; we saw this a lot before upgrading to Premium.
There’s nothing wrong with a freebie, but quite often, the pop-up would appear off-center, and when it does, it renders the screen unresponsive.
The only way to remove it is to refresh the browser, and sometimes it would take a few tries before it stopped appearing in the same position.
The lesson interface is very well designed; it’s simple and doesn’t clutter the screen with stuff you don’t need. The top half of the screen shows the musical notation with a playhead that tracks the progress of the music. The lower half shows a teacher’s hands playing the notes on a piano.
Although it may sound like a very basic interface, it has everything the student needs to see. The visual feedback from watching the teacher’s hands will help students connect the piano to the written notes much easier. The moving playhead encourages students to follow the notation and understand timing.
Lessons are split into manageable steps that you can repeat as often as you like before moving on to the next.
We have a couple of minor issues to mention. Firstly, the interface displays one line of music at a time. So, in any given lesson, you’ll see the treble and bass clefs (right/left hands) and around five bars of notation.
In many cases, that’s fine, but let’s say a lesson is 20 bars long, and you are struggling on just the last five bars. You can loop the problem section on the app, but you’d have to keep repeating the entire thing on your browser to practice the tricky part.
It’s not a terrible thing, Skoove isn’t the only platform with this approach, and there are some benefits. For example, beginners might be more anxious with more notes on the screen at once, and it encourages practicing lessons as a whole. But, if the option to show more on the screen isn’t available, the web version should allow section looping, too.
Our second issue with the lesson interface is, unfortunately, another inconsistency. During lessons, a correct note will be highlighted in blue, and an incorrect note will be red. On several occasions, the correct note was showing red, which prevented moving past that part of the lesson.
Skoove employs the listen, learn, play approach, which works exceptionally well. Before getting your hands on the keys, users are invited to listen to the song as often as they like.
As you listen and watch the notation and teacher’s hands, you should start to make connections between written notes and sound (the difference between crotchets and quavers, and so on).
This step is is called “Get to know the song”.
Once you’ve heard enough, the next step is to learn the notes, and we really like this step.
We like it because the playhead waits for you to find the right note before moving on. So, the music won’t leave you behind even if you fumble around a bit.
You can stay on this step until you are playing the right notes from start to finish.
Skoove separates the right and left hands for the first few steps and allows you to learn them individually before putting them together.
In the context of these lessons, it works well, but as a general tip, never learn a whole song, or most of it one hand at a time; it will be harder to put them together in the end. Always break it into small sections, and don’t move on till you can play with both hands.
The next challenge is to play in time; again, it starts with the right hand, left hand, then both together. This step is crucial as it develops your understanding of timing and note and rest lengths. It’s also our biggest complaint when it comes to browser versus app.
The app provides real-time feedback by placing a green dot above notes that you play on time and a red dot above any that are out of time. It also provides a score at the end to let you know how many notes you played in good time.
The web version doesn’t give the same feedback, doesn’t provide a score at the end, and the teacher continues to play throughout, which will be incredibly off-putting for some beginners. It also makes it difficult to tell how good or bad your timing is.
The image below shows the browser version giving “Cool as a bell” feedback without detailed information. Meanwhile, the app image (small screen) shows that 25/25 notes were played on time at 80% tempo.
Many lessons start with the Finger Gym, and as a fun extra, some finish with a band play-along, a great way to enhance timing and encourage beginners to listen to what the other instruments are doing. Or just feel like part of a band, and that’s pretty cool.
Lessons and courses
As we mentioned, the material is labeled as beginner, intermediate, or advanced, and each level is color-coded. Here’s a list of all courses and their levels.
- Beginner 1
- Beginner 2
- Beginner 3
- Intermediate 1
- Intermediate 2
- Intermediate 3
- Advanced Classic
- Advanced Pop
- Reading Sheet Music (Beginner)
- Blues & Boogie Woogie (Intermediate)
- Chords & Scales (Intermediate)
- Keyboard For Producers (Advanced)
- Beginner Songs
- Intermediate Songs
- Advanced Songs
- Beatles Songs (Intermediate)
- Queen Songs (Intermediate)
- Soundtracks (Intermediate)
- Christmas Songs (Intermediate)
- Florian Christi Songs (Intermediate)
- Remme Songs (Advanced)
Now, let’s take a closer look at the type of content in each difficulty level.
The beginner level is where Skoove shines because it keeps everything so simple.
The first few lessons in the Beginner 1 course will get you playing simple melodies and learning note names and values.
We are jumping ahead a little to lesson 9, which is called Good Vibrations & Note G. In this lesson, you play a repeating pattern with both hands in unison.
We picked out this lesson because it’s the first step towards developing hand independence. Before you can establish true independence in both hands, you need strength and control in both hands.
What we like most about this particular lesson is that it includes whole notes, half notes, and quarter notes. The change in rhythm means the student has to concentrate harder on note length, timing, and playing at a consistent volume/velocity throughout the lesson.
Skoove doesn’t mention volume/touch here, but one of the things that beginners struggle with, even when playing scales, is controlling their touch from one note to the next. It’s typically one note quiet, one good, one too loud, and so on.
That’s why we think it is an important early beginner lesson, and who doesn’t like The Beach Boys?
As you progress through the beginner 2 and 3 courses, you’ll learn more songs, but more importantly, you’ll develop the skills learned in part one.
You’ll tackle tricker unison playing featuring eighth notes; you’ll work on harmony using whole notes, half notes, and chromatic steps in the left hand.
By the end of the beginner course, you should also have a basic understanding of harmony (left hand root notes), various significant intervals, and lots of fun.
Moving onto the intermediate level brings a more challenging group of lessons. It will build on what you learned as a beginner, focus more on accidentals (sharps/flats not in the key signature), and introduce new time signatures.
You’ll learn songs from famous artists like Lionel Ritchie and Coldplay, plus some epic TV soundtracks. As the songs get more complicated, you have to deal with rhythms and phrasing that you didn’t see in the beginner section.
We’ve picked out lesson 11 of Intermediate 2 because it deals with the 6/8 time signature. The 6/8 time signature is important to many musical genres like the Blues, and it’s good for students to understand the difference between 3/4 and 6/8 as early as possible.
The lesson starts by asking you to play the notes from a few minor triads while providing only the root note.
Next, you move on to the melody in your right hand, which has an interesting rhythm featuring quavers and semi-quavers.
Another thing that we liked about this melody is that it goes from C minor to C major, a distinct sound that’s good to know for any budding composers.
Once you have the notes and rhythm down, you will add some harmony by playing a perfect fifth in the C position with your left hand.
You’ll notice that the bass clef is showing tied notes, which means you play the first perfect fifth, but not the one it’s tied to. Instead, you hold the notes for the combined duration of the first notes and tied notes, which, in this case, is two whole bars of 6/8.
Unfortunately, while there are many important things to learn from the intermediate section, it’s where we start to see some holes. The content is good for the most part, but some important aspects of musicianship aren’t highlighted enough or completely overlooked.
As soon as you say the word advanced, it seems like an enormous challenge. This section can be pretty straight to the point because Skoove says it will take you from beginner to pro, and that’s not the case.
There are some challenging lessons in this section, and perhaps they should be considered advanced relative to the beginner/intermediate content. But, outside the realm of Skoove, not much of this content would be considered advanced, and you certainly won’t be at a professional level when finished.
We see more gaps and shortcuts that gloss over or ignore essential milestones in your musical learning.
We have picked out lesson 7 of the Advanced Pop course, All Of Me III & Chord Symbols.
The lesson starts by discussing power chords and octaves and asks you to play the correct notes for the displayed chords. It then uses the broken chords to create a left-hand pattern. You are playing the notes melodically (consecutively) as broken chords rather than all together.
We really like this part of the lesson because patterns like this are the cornerstone of comping your way through Pop songs. You can use the same or similar patterns on many songs, which is ideal for accompanying singers.
A slight theme throughout Skoove is the use of language that isn’t piano-specific, like power chords.
Power chords refer to a perfect fifth, which applies to the piano, but it’s much more of a guitarist term. Pianists typically talk about playing fifths in the left hand, not power chords.
The other thing we liked about this lesson is combining chord symbols, dotted notes, tied notes, and many moving parts. It’s the kind of thing that will be satisfying for a student to master for the first time.
However, we also chose this lesson to show that while it’s more challenging than playing the accompaniment only, it’s just not an advanced piece with advanced techniques.
You can probably tell where this is going, but for us, Skoove doesn’t provide a clear path from beginner to advanced.
The courses come in the order we’ve listed above, and if you were to work through Beginner 1 to Advanced Pop, you wouldn’t get a complete picture.
Besides anything that we might think Skoove has missed, there are lessons from the “optional” Reading Sheet Music course that would help you more if included in the main beginner courses.
The same applies to the intermediate Chords & Scales course, which also comes after the primary courses.
No one tells you to check out those courses before completing the main courses, and even if they did, it would be confusing to jump around the content so much. We think Skoove needs a better-defined structure and more accountability than it offers.
The app offers more feedback than the web version, but you are still left to your own devices. Students would benefit significantly from defined targets, more accurate feedback, and harsher penalties for mistakes.
Of course, when we say harsh, we just mean play it right before you are allowed to move on.
We would also like to see it become stricter as the difficulty increases; we understand beginners need more allowances. As it is, students can and will bounce from one lesson to another without direction.
We want to point out that Skoove offers some content you won’t find on most other platforms. The best example of this is the Keyboard for Producers course.
There is still a fundamental disconnect between online piano lessons and learning how to play in a band or produce music. We absolutely love that Skoove tries to bridge that gap.
The example below uses Teardrop by Massive Attack to discuss voice leading.
Value for money?
Yes and no. If you are a beginner who needs piano lessons to work around your schedule, Skoove is worth the money. Likewise, if you are buying lessons for younger children, Skoove could be a great choice.
The content is valuable; it’s just not as structured as it could be, and it’s not at a level the wider world would call advanced. So, if you’re already some way into your piano learning, it probably isn’t the best value for you.
Who does Skoove suit most?
Skoove suits absolute beginners most. It will serve you well enough to an early intermediate level, but accomplished intermediate or advanced players have little to gain.
- Straightforward design.
- Easy keyboard/piano setup.
- Can use acoustic piano.
- Some fantastic content.
- Great for beginners.
- Free trial.
- Lack of accountability and structure.
- Many important techniques/concepts missed.
- Not suitable for most beyond beginner level.
- Browser and app experience are too different.
- Glitchy website at times.