Yousician is one of the first names that comes to mind when thinking of online music lessons. It’s a platform that’s been around for a while and continues to grow. In this review, I’ll discuss what it offers and give insight into my Yousician Piano experience. Let’s get started.
About the author
Final verdict on Yousician Piano
Yousician is a big name in online music education, which gave me high expectations. Sadly, for me, Yousician Piano is a little disappointing. It provides some fantastic content, but in trying to appeal to everyone, it ignores some small but crucial details. It’s ideal for aspiring hobbyists, but for anyone more serious, there are better options.
What I like
- Easy-to-use interface.
- Massive song selection.
- Ear-training games.
- Instant feedback.
- Video content.
- User challenges.
- Quick start.
What I don’t like
- Needs more detailed feedback.
- Song arrangements aren’t great.
- Not enough advanced material.
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There are two ways that you can try out Yousician Piano for free. The first way is to create an account and verify your email address. Once your email address is verified, you’ll have a free membership, which gives you limited access to songs and course material.
The second way is much better, but you must add a valid payment method. Once you add a payment method, you’ll start a seven-day free trial of Yousician Premium. During the trial, you’ll have full access to every lesson and song Yousician offers and more than enough time to decide if it’s the right platform for you.
I’ve said it before: I wish all platforms offered a full-access free trial; it’s the fairest way for potential students to make the right choice.
Adding a payment method puts some people off initially, but as long as you cancel at least 24 hours before the end of your trial, you won’t be charged a penny.
Yousician offers three membership plans:
- Premium – $7.49 per month ($89.99 billed annually)
- Premium+ – $11.66 per month ($139.99 billed annually)
- Premium+ Family – $17.49 ($209.99 billed annually)
Premium and Premium+ memberships are intended for single users only, while a Premium+ Family account allows up to four users.
As you can see, the cheaper Premium membership provides significantly less access to content than Premium+ and Premium+ Family. It also limits your account to a single instrument, which might be fine for some users, but the clearer value for money comes from the mid to top level memberships.
A family plan is an excellent way for families to learn together and save some money. Each user has a dedicated progress tracker, which means everyone can learn at their own pace.
In comparison to other platforms, the pricing is low to average.Yousician Piano: Start your free trial
Like most good piano lesson platforms, getting started takes little more than a few minutes, and you should be on the first lesson.
During your profile setup, Yousician asks some questions, starting with which instrument you want to play (I’m working with a Premium+ membership). You can choose from five instruments: piano, guitar, bass, ukulele, and singing. You can change your instrument at any time, so keep that in mind when considering the pricing.
You’ll also be asked about your experience level, how often you will practice, and musical preferences. You can choose the genre of music you’d like to learn most, from pop, rock, blues, classical, country/roots, and metal.
Once you’ve gone through the basics, you are ready to download the Yousician app, and there’s a handy walkthrough video guide for new users.
As you start your first lesson, the Yousician app will ask permission to access your microphone. If you’re using an acoustic piano, your device’s microphone will allow Yousician to detect the notes that you play.
Note detection is very good, although many things, such as device quality and external noise, can affect consistency on any platform.
I suggest using a MIDI keyboard for more accurate results. If you’re using a MIDI keyboard, just plug it in and press any key. When you hit the first key, the app will ask if you want to use the MIDI device.
When it comes to a good interface, simple is always best; it must be easy to use and easy to navigate. If students can’t quickly find everything and understand how each element of the interface works, then it’s too complicated.
Yousician has a fantastic interface because it’s clear and concise. The interface has three distinct sections: Learn, Songs, and Challenges.
The Learn section is where you’ll find all the lessons and courses. The section has two categories, which are Path and Workouts. The Path is the progression from Basics to Level 9, the highest Yousician offers.
When you open the Path, lessons/courses are laid out from left to right in order of difficulty. I’ll discuss the actual progression path and structure below, but in terms of clarity, you couldn’t ask for more. You can clearly see what lessons you’ve done, how well you did, what’s next, and what’s ahead.
Yousician allows you to open and play any lesson, even if it’s far beyond your current level. Of course, Yousician won’t encourage you to do so, but I know students are quickly bored sometimes, and the temptation to rush is always appealing.
I’d prefer to see more advanced lessons locked until students complete everything below them, but since they aren’t, I want to stress that skipping steps, however tempting, won’t bring the best results.
Workouts feature tutorial videos and technical exercises covering jazz chords, common licks, scale types, ear training, and more.
The Songs section allows you to search tracks by name, genre, and difficulty and includes collections arranged by upload date and most popular. The layout resembles any popular streaming site where every song is displayed by name and thumbnail/cover.
This section is where you can find the latest challenges issued by Yousician to all students. Challenges are play-along songs set for a specific instrument, and upon completion, you’ll see where you place amongst other Yousician users. The interface also provides a basic overview of your activity.
Some platforms indicate their primary target audience by the tone of the interface, which you can determine by the language and imagery used. Yousician stays very middle of the road by ensuring everything is easy for younger kids to follow, but nothing is too childish for older students.
I like the Yousician interface and can’t find any serious fault. However, it would have been nice to see some extra features, such as a detailed dashboard that displays individual aspects of your progress, like how many perfect/imperfect/incorrect notes, etc.
Desktop vs mobile app
All I look for when comparing mobile and desktop versions of any piano lesson app is a similar user experience. If we forget the physical differences between devices, I want the functionality of each version to be as similar as possible. In that regard, Yousician has nailed it.
As you can see from the examples above, the mobile layout is virtually identical, which makes finding your way around on any device a breeze.
The lesson interface is similar to many other piano lesson platforms but has one or two interesting features that most don’t.
Let’s start with the basics: the lesson interface displays notation above an interactive keyboard. The displayed notation can include treble clef, bass clef, or both. A play head moves from left to right, indicating the current position of the exercise/song.
You’ll notice a small ball on the play head that rises and falls as you work through the notation; this ball is a clever timing aid. The ball falls as the next note approaches, and the moment the ball meets the note is perfect timing. Before you know it, you get used to watching it and, more importantly, feeling each beat.
When you pause a lesson, additional tabs appear at the top of the screen. These tabs include Restart, Practice, Mixer, and Options.
Yousician has two play modes: Perform mode and Practice mode. In Perform mode, the app will grade your performance. If you aren’t quite ready, you can enter Practice mode to adjust the tempo between 25-125% to correct recurring mistakes. Practice mode also allows you to loop a specific section of the lesson/song.
The mixer allows you to adjust the level of the piano against the backing track. In the Options tab, you can change various audio and notation settings, including the metronome and lead in (count in).
One of the rare features is that Yousician allows you to change the notation format between Enhanced, Sheet, and Colored Sheet.
Enhanced notation is what you see on a lot of YouTube videos and gamified platforms. It uses color-coded bars that indicate the pitch, note duration, and correct fingering, and it’s a good place to start. Colored Sheet notation is regular notation, but it’s color-coded to indicate the correct fingering.
A hand diagram at the bottom of the interface displays the color-coded system for both hands. Sheet is regular notation without any color-coded assistance.
I’ve mentioned in previous reviews that some students might prefer an interface that displays more than a few bars of music at a time. The reason for saying that is that as you get better, it’s common to look ahead in the sheet music, and you can’t do that here. But it is standard for most platforms now, so I won’t bring it up again in the future.
The teaching method revolves around the following three steps: Listen, Practice, and Perform. However, it comes with a healthy mix of video content and gamified learning.
Yousician breaks things down into smaller parts and leads you towards putting all of the parts together to create a complete skillset or song. For example, a typical song or lesson might be split into several parts that you can practice and perform individually.
After a performance, you are awarded up to three stars, depending on how well you did. It’s wise to practice a little before attempting a graded performance, but there will be times when you feel confident enough to go for it the first time. If you don’t do as well as you hope, you can practice and then retry to collect any missing stars.
White stars are a pass, and gold stars are a perfect pass. Adding a star-based merit system (gamified learning) is an excellent motivator for younger students.
One of the things I like about the Yousician approach is that you can choose whether to attempt a single part or the entire lesson/song. I think it’s best to start by tackling one part at a time, but as you develop, it will be beneficial to tackle an entire piece in one take. It provides a more challenging experience that requires the student to stay focused for longer.
Not all lessons include video content, but a teacher narrates most to some extent, and this is better than overloading the screen with text.
The ability to choose different notation types is also part of the teaching method. The color-coded system is an excellent way to build confidence early on, as long as you move on to regular notation when able.
Yousician provides instant feedback, and that’s vital to any good platform. For example, as you play, the app will tell you if your timing is perfect, good, or bad, if notes are early or late, etc.
I love the instant feedback, but my complaint is that it all comes quickly, certainly too fast for beginners to catch every time. The solution would be to give a detailed performance breakdown at the end of each task, showing how often you were perfect, late, and so on.
I hope Yousician implements this idea in the future because, while the star ratings are good, they aren’t enough.
Yousician emails users activity reports that show how many stars you’ve earned and notes you’ve played over a given duration, but it still needs to be more detailed. That brings me to another slight issue: if you get something wrong, Yousician doesn’t stop the lesson to make you play it again.
In some ways, I like that it allows students to flow without interruption, and you can pass without being perfect. However, it also paves the way for students to do well enough to pass but continue making the same mistake that becomes a bad habit.
Allowing some imperfect timing to pass is OK, but the lesson should be stopped for incorrect notes and more significant errors.
Students need more in-depth data and feedback. The teaching method is good because it’s simple, but a few tweaks could make it great.
Courses and content
The main courses come from the Path section, and additional content comes from the Workouts section. I’ll briefly cover some content from the Workouts section before highlighting a couple of my favorite lessons from the Path.
Videos and exercises from the Workouts section are like side missions you can take on whenever you please, but you should never take on too much at once. If you’re learning about basic triads (chords) on the main path, there’s no point in practicing advanced jazz chords elsewhere; you’ll only overcomplicate things.
Try to stick to videos and exercises that will help you understand content from the Path more quickly until you are more advanced.
The quality of the video content is good, although the delivery is a little dated.
The exercises are great for the most part, although some of them could explain fundamentals better. For example, rather than providing II-V-I chord progressions in every key, I’d prefer Yousician to explain the concept and underlying theory more. Understanding the underlying theory helps students develop skills they can use in any context rather than simply playing something from memory.
I’m starting with the Left Hand Action lesson from Essentials 2, Level 2. I love this lesson because it gets the left hand moving very early; most platforms don’t do that. Most platforms include root notes and very slight movement in the left hand, but rarely this much for beginners, and I love it!
It starts by introducing the student to the left hand C position, where the hand stays most of the time. Once you have the position, you will play through three songs that get increasingly harder.
The first song is Antonin Dvorak’s New World Symphony, which has a reasonably relaxed tempo but still makes for a challenging introduction to playing bass lines.
The second tune is the traditional Italian tune Tarantella, which is quite lively. The last tune is Surprise Symphony by Joseph Haydn.
By the time you play all three tunes, you’ll have played whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, and eighth notes. You’ll also have played intervals like major and minor thirds, perfect fourths/fifths, and octaves.
While playing all this, you’ll also deal with different kinds of musical rests and reading the bass clef. Completing this lesson at full speed is a significant achievement for a beginner. It might not feel like it if you aren’t overly impressed by the song selection, but being so active with your left hand so early in the musical journey will bring nothing but good things.
The next lesson I’ve picked comes from Level 4, Ear Training: Half Steps. I chose to highlight this lesson because ear training is a massive part of building good musicianship and is often ignored.
You don’t need to have perfect pitch to be a good musician, but there’s no excuse not to develop good relative pitch. Good relative pitch is when you can identify a note with another note as a reference point.
For example, not every good musician will instantly identify a B-flat note if played on its own. But most good musicians would identify it if the G note below was played first because they know what a minor third interval sounds like.
Having good relative pitch isn’t just helpful in musical quizzes, it helps you learn and improvise faster and easier as a professional musician.
The lesson consists of four mini-games asking you to identify or rearrange notes based on pitch. The games get progressively more challenging from start to finish.
The games are like puzzles and offer clues: when asked to place notes in order, icons will tell you if the next note in the sequence should be higher, lower, or equal in pitch to the last. That might sound quite easy, but the sequences are complex enough at this stage.
Once you reach the last game, Note-Finder: Minor Scale, you’re up against the clock. This game asks students to identify notes in the A minor scale after hearing it once.
What I love most about this game is that, when under time pressure, students start to rely on their ears more than their eyes. Before you know it, you’re developing relative pitch, and that’s a game-changer.
Yousician has thousands of songs, so there really is something for everyone. The song library covers many genres and eras; it features Woodstock hits from the 1960s, rock classics from bands like the Eagles, and modern pop tracks from artists like Finneas.
Songs are available in different versions, from simple melodies to basic and full accompaniments. While I’m impressed by the amount of material and song selection, I think the arrangements could be much better.
Here’s where things get confusing. As I stated earlier, the layout of the interface is very good, and at a glance, the progression path looks to be in good order. However, when you start to play through the lessons, it becomes evident that there are some issues.
I was very pleasantly surprised to see so much left hand activity in Level 2, and to be fair, Yousician keeps that up throughout the entire course. What surprised me more is that you can go from playing relatively tricky basslines in Level 2 to just learning an F major chord in Level 4.
With Level 9 being the highest, it’s fair to assume that Level 4 is entering the intermediate range, and there’s no justification for not already knowing major triads at an intermediate level.
Most of the content is delivered in a fairly reasonable order, with some exceptions, as I’ve just pointed out. The bigger issue is that the intermediate and advanced content isn’t realistically intermediate or advanced; it’s beginner verging on intermediate at best.
There is a lot of excellent content, but it needs minor structural changes and should be more appropriately categorized.
Value for money
Yousician has a lot to offer the correct user. It’s not the most expensive platform, but it’s far from the most in-depth. If you’re looking for a platform that will take you from beginner to advanced, it’s not great value for money.
If you want to learn a little as a hobby, it’s excellent value for money, especially when you consider you could do the same with all five instruments if you choose a Premium+ membership.
Honestly, it’s a mixed bag; it depends on what you want to get out of it.Yousician Piano: Get started
Compared to other piano lesson platforms
Yousician offers a decent online piano course for anyone looking to learn piano as a hobby. But here are a few alternatives that you should consider.
Yousician vs Flowkey
If you want to learn multiple instruments, choose Yousician. If you’re serious about piano, Flowkey is better.
Yousician vs Simply Piano
Simply Piano has the potential to be so much better, but it has too many faults; stick with Yousician.
Yousician vs Piano Marvel
If your ambition is to gain a new hobby, go with Yousician, but if you plan to reach the upper levels of musicianship, Piano Marvel is miles ahead.
Who does Yousician Piano suit most?
The Yousician online piano lesson platform suits younger beginners or anyone wanting to learn a little piano as a hobby.