coming soon in a couple of weeks.
This is an unbiased review. I will receive no compensation from Improv piano tips and these views are my own and based on my experience.
Credit card or PayPal.
(All prices at the time of writing)
30 day money back Guarantee – refund.
Either piano, keyboard or midi keyboard.
Either PC, MAC or Tablet to watch the videos and view the PDFs..
What you get in the package?
- 3 lesson videos totaling over 60 mins.
- 2 tutorial videos of song examples totaling 15 mins.
- 3 application videos totaling 35 mins.
- Sheet music for all the lessons.
- Highly efficient and good quality videos.
- Unique method, not covered anywhere else.
- Will develop finger and hand independence.
- Tutor is talented musician presenting material in an effective manner.
Suitable For: Beginners, intermediates and advanced.
Course content : ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Tutor knowledge/skill : ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer support :⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Value for Money : ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Acumen rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
What is Rhythm techniques for you?
If you’re wondering what is the best online piano lessons for the money, then this could be it. I’ve talked about Nikolas Nunez before and I’ve reviewed his free piano lessons for beginners.
I enrolled on this course about a year ago and I can safely say this course is a little different and well worth the money.
There are 10 challenging exercises.
Video one is composed of three exercises starting at a basic level. There’s an assumption that you are not a beginner and if you are, the teacher suggests you follow his free beginner lessons, before starting this course.
The first exercise is a simple 4 chord progression played with chords played with right-hand and simple rhythm in the left-hand and this should be practiced until this is under your fingers.
Then exercise two brings in a different left-hand rhythm with the right-hand playing the same chords.
Finally, exercise three adds a rhythm to the right-hand with the left-hand playing the same part as exercise two.
It’s a good video to begin the course as it’s a good challenge without being too difficult. The parts are built logically and each part should be mastered before moving onto the next. If you have difficulty playing each hand independently, you will soon find the benefits of this course and a hint about what’s to come.
Nikolas’s tuition style is excellent. He is relaxed, speaks slowly and offers good advice and encouragement. There is sheet music included with each video.
Exercise one is based on a I IV vi V chord progression. Don’t worry if that doesn’t mean much to you, but your ears will certainly recognise it if you haven’t come across it before.
It’s in the key of C and the left-hand plays a similar rhythm to video 1. The right hand now is playing up the first 5 notes of the C major scale over each chord, but in a specific rhythm which is slightly different to left-hand. This is building the right-hand to play something different, while the left-hand is playing a straight rhythm. This sounds daunting, but is quite simple, when you give it some practice.
Exercise 2 is a useful method of playing scales. The right hand-hand is playing a one octave scale up and down, while the left-hand plays only two notes, but these notes are played once, then twice, then three times and then four times each, before coming back down again. It’s difficult to explain in writing, but this is a great way of practicing your scales and counting your left-hand, which will build your independence. A clever exercise and a good warmup routine.
Finally, exercise 3 is a simple comping rhythm as played in many songs, but most recognised in John Lennon’s Imagine. The left-hand is playing a similar rhythm to video one. This is a nice 8 bar piece, which has a tricky move with the left-hand to keep you interested.
First Application videos.
These video are based on the chorus from Bruno Mars – Just the way you are. This is a “real world application “from Nikolas on how to apply the techniques.
The first video teaches you the basic part. The left is playing three chords, again based in the rhythm you have been learning in the first two videos. The right hand-hand is then playing the main melody.
The part should be mastered before moving onto the next video, which now adds some embellishments in the right and left-hand. The right hand-hand is playing extra notes from the key to make the piece come to life. The left-hand rhythm that you have been learning is also expanded with new notes and some tweaks.
Finally, the third exercise from video 2 is added to add extra rhythm with the right-hand. He also talks about syncopation and avoiding playing in straight rhythms.
All in all, a simple piece, which is progressively built up into something more complex. Nikolas makes this look easy and plays very well, but I don’t find this easy to play. It’s still something I need to work on.
At the end of the first application videos, the exercises are showing their worth. You have some excellent practice toold and an example piece in how to apply them.
This video starts with nice 4 bar piece. The left-hand is playing a similar rhythm as seen before, while the right-hand is playing a more complicated part. Again each video is building upon the last adding the difficulty only slightly, but aiming to improve your skills. I like this piece and it highlights’s Nikolas’s talent. He emphasizes the need to play along with a metronome or backing track.
Exercise 2 is a little tricky and I found the most difficult. It plays a repeating part with the right-hand and the left-hand comes in with a simple part, but at different speed. This is teaching you to play each hand independently and you will find a sense of achievement when you nail it. It’s important master each hand on it’s own before bringing it together.
Exercise 3 is another good piece which is playing a syncopated right hand part playing on the up beat, with a straight part for the left hand. This is again moving the student away from playing straight rhythms.
He gives you an improvised example of playing on the upbeat which is incredible, again highlighting his talents.
Finally exercise 4 is the most tricky one so far, so tricky that it’s not written in the music PDFs. This is a challening part with each hand playing indepently of each other. Each hand on it’s own is fine, but bringing them together is difficult. it took me a few weeks to master, but as before this is rewarding and worth the effort.
Video 3 really moves you on with some nice, but challenging pieces concluding all 10 exercises. They teach you complete rhythm independence.
Final application videos.
This video looks at Vince Guaraldi’s version of “O Christmas Tree”, where you will learn part of the song and apply some rhythms to “bring the song to life@. in the first 8 minute video, Nikolas teaches you the right hand part and basic left hand rhtym part.
The final video is about 19 minuteslong an brings together every thing you’ve learned. The previous videos and exercises have been challenging and have “conditioned your brain” to seperate your hands.
So the right hand is playing the melody part, which doesn’t vary too much. The concentration is with the left hand. Nikolas plays a basic rhythm to begin and then adds to it, making it more compliacted, but also much more pleasing and interesting to the listener. He is emphasising playing on the “off beat”
He explains this concept quite well using some illustrated music tablature. His passion for getting this important information accross is admirable and is the essence of this whole course. Why play in boring straight rhythms, when these concepts will bring any piece alive.
Althought this is a 20 minute video, there is a lot of work to be done here. I am only scratching the surface, but Nikolas’s Facebook community will provide a good base to watch him and other students who are mastering this style.
Here’s an old video of Nikolas playing some of his concepts.
Should you buy this course and why is it different?
This course is a bit different and not a traditional curriculum like “Learn and Master” or “Playground sessions”. Saying that the free beginner course will give you most of what you need to progress onto Rhythm techniques for you.
I think this is aimed more at beginners and intermediate players who are looking to improve their hand indpenedence and left hand rhythms. The lessons build up adding your skills in a measured manner. They are challenging in their own right and some are good to come back toas warm up exercises. Nikolas’s style and aptitude is inspiring and ecourages you to progress.
I think the cost is worthwhile as these day’s that would buy you 3 one-to-one lessons – certainly where I live. I’m looking to try ssome of his other lessons, as it’s clear Nikolas is a huge talent and has a desire to share his knowledge and teach.
“HDpiano is a great learning platform. High quality HD videos of many songs from a wealth of artists, presented in a clear and informative manner, make this a valuable tool for learning songs on the piano.”
Please note I have no affiliation to HDpiano and will receive no compensation for my review. These are my unbiased views and experiences.
Price: $15 a month or $97 a year.
Payment : Credit card or PayPal.
Guarantee – Free 30 day trial. Will refund subscription if contacted within 7 days.
Requirements: Either piano, keyboard or midi keyboard. PC, MAC or Tablet.
What you get as a subscriber? : Many hours of Songs split into parts. Videos can be looped, slowed down and skipped to chosen sections.
- Highly efficient and excellent playback quality.
- Modern and classical songs.
- Wealth of material from many artists to suit all ability levels.
- First part is available free on YouTube.
- Search function makes it easy to find songs or artists.
- Can search by difficulty, genre, decade, song title or artist.
- Access to sheet music if desired at a small cost.
- No need to read music.
- Some well-known artists such as Billy Joel, Elton John, Abba are not present, although permission from the artists being sought.
- Aimed more at learning songs, a few lessons on YouTube. If you are a learner, you may need separate tuition elsewhere.
Suitable For: Beginners, intermediates and advanced.
Course content : ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Tutor knowledge/skill : ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer support : ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Value for Money : ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Acumen rating : ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
What is HDpiano?
If you’ve searched for piano music videos online or via YouTube, there’s a good chance you have come across HDpiano hybrid piano lessons. It started in 2012 inspired by a computer game.
They use a Synthesia style tool which is a scrolling conveyor above a keyboard. The lights on the conveyor show you the keys to press and the length of the light represents how long you hold the note. If you’ve seen dancing arcade games or have played rockband on the xbox/PlayStation you may be familiar with the concept.
It’s different from Yousician as you are seeing the notes appear vertically instead of horizontally. It may not suit everyone’s taste, but I find it very effective. I regard myself as an intermediate player, so when I see an advanced piece with lots of notes, I do feel a little daunted. This is natural, so dont set your sites too high initially and be put off.
Similar to Shawn Cheek’s webpiano teacher, each song is broken down into parts. Sometimes these can be as simple as the intro, verse, chorus and bridge. Part one, usually the intro, is available free on YouTube and if you want to learn the complete song, you have to enroll as a member. There are many YouTube videos of their lessons, so why not subscribe to their channel to see what’s on offer. As I write they have over a million subscribers on YouTube.
What do you see when you log-on?
Once you have logged in, you are presented with a dashboard, which includes a menu to the left and videos on the main page. The first time you log on, the videos are the latest lessons of songs to be published. When you have browsed some videos and saved some favourites, you will also see a video history of your previous visits. This is useful if you want to jump straight back in to a lesson.
The menu includes a home option to get you back to the dashboard (this can also be accessed at any time by selecting the HDpiano logo at the top left).
The history and favourite options do what you would expect taking you to a list of previous videos.
You have the option to view and edit your account preferences, such as changing your email or password.
Resources include a welcome tour video, instructions on how you can loop or slow down the videos as well as study tips and technical tips such as turning on subtitles.
Finally, there is a FAQ and contact page. The FAQs are worth a quick read to familiarise yourself with website and their policies.
What is included in the content?
As I write there a 901 song lessons, so take a look at the diverse artists available.
- Alicia Keys,
- Sam Smith,
- David Bowie
- Erik Satie
- The Doors
- The Fray
- George Ezra
- Johann Sebastian Bach
- John Legend,
- Nina Simone and
- many more.
I guess I’m showing my age, as there were quite a few artists I hadn’t heard of so, there should be plenty for everyone.
Note there are some omissions from well-known artists such as Adele, Elton John and Billy Joel to name a few. From what I’ve read on their site they are seeking permission from the artists to reproduce their material Although this is slightly frustrating, it does promote a legitimate, honest quality to the site and their teachers. They respect license laws of music artists.
When searching you can filter by
- Teacher and
These can be sorted alphabetically, by publish date or by popularity.
I had a quick browse and searched for Queen. I’ve recently had a desire to learn “We are the Champions”, so I was pleased to see this included as well as 7 other Queen songs at intermediate and advanced level.
The quality of the video was excellent. The intro was played at normal speed and then the piece was discussed with notes on the rhythm of the left hand and the basic chords. I was very quickly playing the chords and getting a feel for the song and had the first phrase down very quickly with some practice.
The tuition quality impressed me – It’s relaxed and friendly, but quite serious tuition. “We are the Champions” is an intermediate piece, so will take some time and effort to learn.
Check out the video yourself on YouTube.
About the teachers.
The site is co-owned by Dan Collins. I hadn’t come across him before, but he has been playing the piano since the age of 6. He is a talented, experience musician in his own right and a few recordings of his own playing. I had a listen on Spotify and his talent is clear.
Go here to see a bio of Dan Collins.
As I write there are 18 teachers including Dan. They are on the site in first name terms only, so it’s difficult to get any bio on them. From those I have experienced, they are all very competent and teach in a similar, friendly and effective manner.
They follow the same approach in the website – i.e. breaking down songs into sections and going through each part slowly bringing it up to speed.
The social media element is also very good. In addition to the YouTube channel, there is a Facebook page, a Twitter following and an Instagram page. The teachers try to to engage the social media when they teach and feedback is shown on the page you are on, with comments under the tuition. This is a nice little touch. You could ask a question to another member for example or the teacher will get back to you or engage in a group conversation.
Should I buy/upgrade to a full membership?
I saw a criticism of the fee while researching the site, which I felt was quite harsh. Why pay the monthly $15 fee, when there are free versions of many of the included songs on the internet or YouTube. Fair point, but you won’t necessarily get the quality of tuition from others (with no disrespect to some teachers on YouTube).
The quality of the teaching, video playback, ability to loop or slowdown won’t be found on a standard YouTube video. The quality of the musicians and the accuracy of the music is very impressive to me.
And for $15 a month? How much would a private teacher cost in your area? And for the content available, I think it’s could value. How much does a piece of sheet music cost these days? How much does a song book from a musician cost? If you put into this context $15 a month is good value to me.
I highly recommend HDpiano as a resource for learning songs, especially as an adult. I would always encourage children to learn to read music if possible, as this is a great skill to have, but if reading music is not important to you and you just want to learn songs, this is great. I’ve only given four stars for content as there are a few artists missing, but it’s a minor niggle. There’s so much material here, it will keep you busy for some time.
Good luck. Happy to respond to comments.
“Yousician offers an interactive platform for learning the piano. It’s main strength is accountability and assessment. In effect you have a virtual teacher with you monitoring your technique (hitting the right notes) and timing.”
Price: Free to download on Apple app store/Google Play With limited access & adverts.
Premium upgrade – no restrictions or adverts : 1 instrument. 1 month $19.99, 1 year $119.99.
All instruments (piano, guitar, bass, ukulele) : 1 month $29.99. 1 year $179.99.
(All prices at the time of writing. Other currencies may vary). Monthly rates are recurring until cancelled.
Guarantee – Apple may offer a refund – not guaranteed, so be careful. Google play for android may issue refunds within 48 hours. After that you will need to contact the developer. Check these links on how to get refunds for each platform.
Try the free app before upgrading to premium is the answer.
Requirements: piano or keyboard. PC, MAC, tablet or smartphone. A built-in or external microphone.
Mac OS X 10.9 or later;
iOS 8.4 or later;
Linux Ubuntu 14.04 (64 bits) or later;
Windows 7 or later;
Android 4.4 or later;
What you get with the app?
Free access gives you 20 minutes (including adverts sometimes 30 seconds long each) every 24 hours. Limited access to songs and lessons. Good for a beginner to get started.
Premiums access gives you full access to over 1500 lessons, 100s of videos covering various skills including sight reading musical notation, theory and technique.
Pros: Accountability – get instant feedback on your timing and technique. Colour coding of piano notes transitions into reading notation. Structured course content with the addition of song lists and challenges. Leaderboard of other users. Can be a fun learning process.
Cons: Songs can sometimes seem corny. Settings may need adjusting to allow for delay in sound from your piano/keyboard. Difficult to use headphones – your tablet or PC will need to hear your instrument. Not for everyone, some may prefer traditional non-computer methods. Tends to be weighted towards pop and classical. Not as good value as other tuition material out there. Free version has annoying adverts and limited access. Lack of scope for advanced players.
Suitable For: Beginners to intermediates – children, teens, adults.
Based on the free version
Course content : ⭐⭐⭐
Tutor knowledge/skill : ⭐⭐⭐
Customer support : ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Value for Money : n/a
Piano Acumen rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Based on the premium.
Course content : ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Tutor knowledge/skill : ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer support : ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Value for Money : ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Piano Acumen rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Yousician an app based platform that can be downloaded from their website, the apple app store or the google play site for android users. You can then access the content though your PC, Mac, tablet or phone once you have registered and chosen your desired instrument.
If you are familiar with the computer game guitar hero, you may recognise the process and format of the app. For those not familiar, the lessons scroll from right to left with a bouncing ball that lands on a note with the idea that you hit the note on the piano at the same time. You won’t be required to read music initially, but this will be introduced and built upon as you progress.
For the basis of this review, I will examine the premium subscription and whether it’s worth the upgrade.
Course Content and Structure
Before each song is played, Yousican asks the student to play the relevant notes on your piano or keyboard so the app can hear correctly – this is a kind of soundcheck. I had issues when I first played the app with a delay between me hitting the note and the app hearing it. This can be adjusted through the settings. All has been fine since this adjustment.
The platform is split between missions, songs and challenges.
The missions represent the main syllabus and backbone of the learning experience. This section also has a series of workouts split into scales, chords, technique and licks.
A daily goal is shown which is aimed at the student achieving a minimum number of stars each day or setting a personal best for the amount of stars they can achieve. The stars are awarded after each lesson or song and provide an assessment of how well the student has performed. Although this is a little childish, it does work. Being assessed is a good measure of performance, which you won’t receive from learning solely from a book.
Lessons and songs can be slowed down enabling the student to practice more difficult pieces until they become proficient.
When you start the main Yousician syllabus, an introductory video shows you three notes – C, D and E, which leads into another showing you some tips on hand position and body posture. Then you dive into your first song using the three white notes. The keyboard is then explained in the next video and the section finishes with the student accompanying “Fur Elise” with the three notes that you have learned.
The syllabus then branches off to three areas – Classical, knowledge and pop. The student can choose their path and come back to complete all three branches or study them alongside each other.
The classical section starts by looking at the notes on the musical staff, followed by looking at different keys with a song example – Mary had a little Lamb. I said in another review, that I’m not a fan of learning children’s songs, but that’s just my taste. They have a purpose and get the student playing basic notes.
Following that lesson, there is an assessment which will unlock the next level, providing you pass the test. You don’t have to be perfect to pass and you have the opportunity to re-take the assessment and improve your score. There are 15 levels currently on my course. At the time of writing, I am up to level 6. If you are an intermediate pianist, you can skip the content and go straight to the assessments to unlock each level. Looking ahead at the advanced sections, an intermediate player may have less scope to learn much from this course.
The course continues building on the fundamentals. The classical section includes
- four note melodies,
- playing with two hands,
- famous folk songs,
- playing in the D minor position,
- playing Bach,
- theatrical melodies and
- recital favourites.
The song section in Yousician has various pieces that can be learned, practiced and performed. When learning you can adjust the speed until you become adept. The performance of your song is assessed and scored, which gives you some motivation to improve your score. As with the lessons, if you make too many mistakes, the song finishes early.
The song sections are split into different styles as well as a “top100”, “trending” and “hot” section. You will also find some workouts here.
I tried an advanced version of Ave Maria and failed miserably. It struck me while attempting that when you try a difficult song, you don’t have the whole song in front of you (as in a piece of sheet music), due the scrolling process. Therefore when practicing, the ability to slow the piece down and (more importantly) using the pause button to get each bar under your fingers is advisable. This may not suit some students.
What is clear is my poor standard of sight reading! This will improve with time.
Challenges are small pieces for one or two hands with varying difficulty. They are placed on the app weekly, but you can try any by looking at the history. As with other lessons, there is the ability to practice and slow down the pieces to become proficient. I recently tried a blues piece that had a cool Pink Floyd feel with nice guitar solos in the background. The piece was available with just the right hand and two hands. After a couple of attempts I was ranked 452nd on the leaderboard!
– About the tutor and support
I had an email issue with the Yousician app – I had two emails assigned to my account, which caused problems with my log in. The team were quick to come back and corrected the issue. Good, attentive service in that respect.
The teaching team deliver the course in a relaxed and professional approach, speaking slowly and clearly.
Yousician offers an interactive platform for learning the piano. It’s main strength is accountability and assessment. In effect you have a virtual teacher with you monitoring your technique (hitting the right notes) and timing. Be aware that the app is no substitute for a good human teacher who can also develop a player’s dynamics – their feeling, amount of pressure on the notes, fluidity etc.
I do enjoy using the app, as I am a fan of computer games and gadgets. I find this technology useful and the arena is expanding – I will be reviewing similar courses in the future.
Will you learn from Yousician? Certainly, although it appears the scope is limited when getting to an advanced level. It should take the beginner quite a while to get to that standard, so there are plenty of skills, techniques and songs to learn.
Although you have the freedom to choose your path and choose songs and challenges, this may not work with everyone. Some may prefer a more rigid syllabus, but others may prefer this flexible approach.
The daily goal is ok, although I don’t find myself achieving the goal every day. This approach may work for others – some days I just like to play without opening the app.
I don’t think this will appeal to everyone – some may prefer more traditional methods. I’ve seen some reviews where the student struggles with the technology to work properly, but I’ve had no issues apart from tweaking the settings a little. The support is good and I’m sure they would respond to any difficulties.
The cost of $19.99 a month is high and there may be better value out there. Saying that, trying the free version and maybe the premium for a month will not put you out of pocket by much. I wouldn’t advise subscribing for a year until you’ve had good experience of the app.
Is the upgrade worth it? If you like the free Yousician app and feel that the course would benefit your learning, I think the upgrade is ok, but maybe for a short time. If you paid just $19.99 for one month you could progress quite quickly and then get a feel whether to continue. I like this flexibility. Remember to cancel your subscription and note you will be billed until the billing cycle has finished.
Some useful links.