In perhaps the most comprehensive, in-depth Musiah review yet, adult piano student Kate Buttons from London in the UK compares Musiah's online piano lessons to dozens of alternatives.
She has literally tried more online / software-based piano lesson products than anyone else I have ever come across, so she really is a font of useful knowledge and has a great deal of insight to share in this area.
Which products fared well and which ones flopped?
Read on to find out more...
I always loved my music, got interested when I was 11 years old (after seeing someone play keyboard in my school) and started playing electronic keyboard and piano a year later and the flute, but a house move changed my life and I eventually gave up the piano and flute due to some difficult personal circumstances.
In the last 4 years, I felt like I was ignoring a big part of me. After a few big life events I just screamed out for what I loved — music.
I have searched everywhere for tuition for piano lessons online, even purchased piano suite premier software where you can use midi files and it shows you how to play to an extent with any music/song after you scan and convert it to midi but it doesn't teach the rhythm perfectly, it doesn't contain staccato or triplets, or double clefs.
Within months I had looked at so many options. Shawn Cheek’s Piano lessons, iplaythepiano, pattern piano, 30 days to playing piano, the Piano Academy online, piano marvel, master the piano, “piano in a flash”, Pianowithwillie, emedia piano for dummies — to name a few… Oh, I searched so long!
Many were just plain ‘copy me’ videos with no sheet music, no timing.
I tried the “piano in a flash guy", that was terrible, very limited, very expensive for only a few videos even if it is a year’s subscription and you get some stuff posted to you. You can send him a video for him to comment on, but he is just teaching a fraction of what is in his books. No classical music is played, waa!
I thought Pianowithwillie sounded like a good deal; but I found it not for me personally because there is no classical music, and it’s expensive if you want to download some videos. You get unlimited amounts of midi files / accompaniments included once you join but the subscription is expensive if you want to download videos (limited amount).
Piano marvel receives good reviews but lets the student get away with playing the wrong timing in places, whilst Musiah is much more strict (in a good way) and encourages accuracy and perfection, requiring music pieces to be played to a high standard.
So, Musiah helps you to learn and master the really hard bits and this in turn makes reading complex rhythms elsewhere easier, so it’s definitely worth the effort.
The Piano Academy online is based on sending your videos of you playing the piano and waiting at least a week for a reply. They give you certification if you play several pieces of music, some by memory but it involves spending a surprising amount of money on books with each level. Tuition is based on video footage of a teacher playing the piece at slow/fast speed and demonstrations of the etudes, scales, etc. The student teaches themselves (i.e. is left to their own devices) with a lot of the purchased books.
Again Musiah beats this by going through the timing (shawn cheek’s lessons go through the timing but no feedback that you’re playing like he is) so Musiah’s artificial intelligence, providing feedback, catering for the needs of every individual is key to Musiah getting a high star rating with me.
… None of the others help me to keep focused and none really give me any feedback on the timing except for piano suite premier, piano marvel, and Musiah.
Having said that, only Musiah is thorough and nearly as good as professional piano lessons
So while you [Brendan] SLOGGED AWAY FOR 4 YEARS writing an important life changing program, many others spent much less time and effort on making a few videos of themselves playing the piano (copy-cat game)
Other options are Skype lessons (from a plethora of teachers, some self-taught, some that think they’re great, some semi-trained and will teach beginners/intermediate and only certain types of music, i.e. gospel, blues, jazz). They charge the same if not double the usual piano teacher costs but they can't even see your pedal / wrist action, finger positions unless you have a friend with a camera whilst you play with the laptop or other camera. You could just have a camera on a stand, but it doesn't really work like that with Skype. So a lot is missed as the teacher must have a very good ear for all the mistakes whilst Musiah has no problems here due to midi and artificial intelligence, and unlimited lesson time not just 30-60 minutes.
There are loads of piano books now with CDs, DVDs and software made available which helps to slow down the CD without altering the pitch so to learn how to play it (like they used to, when they did not have anything decent on the market). Music books may discuss dynamics and explain rhythm, have a CD with demonstrations but I can never be sure I am playing them properly.
Other software is limited like the emedia piano for dummies/basic/intermediate, and Musicalis interactive piano workshops. I tried out Playground Sessions and did not like it much, tried using Sibelius to slow down music and try playing it on piano to get timing right.
Musiah’s great strength is the structure, discipline and that it teaches you the timing properly.
In all honesty, before I joined Musiah, I was unsure if it would be suitable for me as I had already taken lessons previously so I thought it would be mainly basic and not so good for intermediate players.
However, on joining, I had a really good trial during which I had the opportunity to try many different levels, and this enabled me to build interest. Sure, at first I felt it was too basic… perhaps too strict, but it was fun and the best learning method.
In one song where I had some problems (Jingle Bells), I was so frustrated I could have given in. But your [Musiah inventor, Brendan Hogan’s] friendly and open approach and willingness to help me as much as possible encouraged me to stay, as you made me feel welcome and important.
I thought I might have been one of the thousands of students and I would never be able to talk with you — just admin staff — believing you might have been too busy to care talking to me.
Your friendly attitude, answering questions and not making me feel a burden helped me cope at times when I got frustrated.
Then, as lessons advanced they became more and more interesting to me and I felt I was accomplishing something. I think the discipline, and high expectations (having to get 95%) in most pieces helped me really pay attention and learn in the lessons.
There are so many aspects of Musiah I really like… the easy set up with lots of colour, precision and it loaded fine, midi worked, and the design, one to one approach, a teacher that never gets exhausted.
So I could be as keen as possible, and the teacher would not tell me to take a break. I could be up any time of day or night working very hard with my headphones on (great for keeping kids off computer games and TV and learning a skill I suppose).
The lessons are locked so you can't just go all over the place in a disorderly fashion, and this gave me the incentive to keep going as I wanted to see what was coming up next.
I love the rhythms, great new synth sounds, which makes my piano sound great. I love playing with the other aliens and do not feel alone in Musiah — it is like a classroom set up. Every so often I move on to new planets, perform and see the rocket fly to my new destination. I am an adult learner and I can have fun like a kid, LOL.
Musiah enabled me to go through the pieces several times in a way that properly taught me to play, this is not possible from a book, video lessons and most of the tuition online as you do not get the very strict and thorough tuition which ensures your timing is truly correct.
A lot of other online piano lessons / midi programs do help you to acknowledge when you have played a wrong note which accelerates the speed at which you can progress BUT the timing tends to be ignored.
Musiah uses artificial intelligence, adapting to the needs of each student, ensuring that their individual needs are met. This might mean working on a particular few bars of music that may only have only 8 notes but have very difficult rhythms or very low or high notes you have not learnt before.
I would definitely recommend Musiah, because it works!
It teaches and improves your piano playing. If you can't leave the home or if you have not got the money, or teachers are too far away for piano lessons, or you’re too busy, it can fit into your life!
Musiah is for the serious piano player who really wants to learn properly. It may seem fun, like an adventure game but at least at the end you have learnt an important skill to impress your family/friends with.
Musiah has helped me to appreciate that playing the piano doesn't come instantly but involves working very hard on a piece of music over some time, getting it right, speeding up the rate at which it can be played properly before moving on… this is the way to learn.
If this is done, you feel good about yourself, more confident and grateful to have piano lessons.
Generally, with online / software piano lessons it is tempting to just play lots of music for fun and variety but with the likelihood is that the speed at which you can play a piece won’t develop.
By contrast, Musiah forces the student play properly (the main function of having a teacher) and encourages regular practice (the incentive to do this is usually lessened without a teacher).
Musiah ensures a goal / aim and a straight road is given just like having a real teacher. That’s why Musiah, in my book, is the best!
PLUS, being a student with Musiah is like joining a family as the founder Brendan is so helpful and goes out of his way to please to such an extent that this alone was one more incentive why I stayed with Musiah.
Your [Musiah’s] customer service is outstanding!
I should purchase a foghorn and tell everyone of Musiah!!!
Thanks so much!
(Adult Piano Student)
WOW! A BIG Thank You Kate for the time and thought you have put into sharing your valuable insights in this area, and for your wonderful support of Musiah. It is greatly appreciated.
The extent of your product knowledge is truly impressive... Even I found your article very educational and a real eye-opener.
I hope you too (dear reader) found Kate's review helpful.
If you are currently weighing up which piano lessons are right for you, I encourage you to take our FREE Online Piano Lessons 14 Day Trial.
There's absolutely no risk, and it's a great opportunity to discover the best online piano lessons available anywhere.
Thanks for reading, and please feel free to comment.
Til next time,
Piano Teacher & Musiah Inventor
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