Traditional piano teacher or online app – which is better?

These days there’s an app for everything.

Digital advances have long been biting at the heels of more traditional approaches but is there really any replacement for traditional piano teaching?

Here the team at Richard Lawson Pianos take a closer look.


In-person teaching

There’s something to be said for learning first-hand. With the classic teacher-led approach you benefit from having a tutor sat right by your side. Not only does this mean they can see exactly what you’re doing – and where you’re going wrong – but they can also demonstrate the correct technique, so you can be confident you’re getting it right and not developing bad habits.

Struggling with a particular chord? Not quite getting your hand positioning right? Can’t get your head around the theory? A teacher can deliver real-time assistance. No searching online for a video to help or posting a question and waiting for an answer. The solution is sat with you. And if one way of teaching doesn’t quite click, a piano tutor can try different approaches, explain from a different angle and revisit the problem until things click. Don’t quite understand with an app and, sure, you can ‘replay’ until your heart’s content – but the explanation won’t change.

Learning apps are smart and intuitive, there’s no escaping that, but there’s something to be said for the true sound experienced by playing and listening in person. Computer audio can fail to pick up on the more subtle nuances and detailing of piano playing, so to develop a keen ear, there’s no trumping a real, first-hand experience.

Do you struggle with the motivation to practise? Knowing you’ll have your piano teacher knocking on the door at the same time each week can help be a real incentive to knuckle down and keep your learning on track. It’s much harder to re-arrange a piano teacher than it is to simply not log on, so a scheduled formal lesson is a great way to stay focused and to ensure progress stays on track.

Online teaching

As with all things digital, perhaps the biggest attraction of learning with an app is convenience.

Busy day in the office? Head not in the right place? Kids after school club switched times? It doesn’t matter. When it comes to online learning it’s on tap for whenever it fits in. So, if plans change, so too can your lesson time.

All this freedom and flexibility is great, putting you in control of your learning and ensuring you do so at your own speed. You’re not fixed to a set lesson, at a set time. So if you really want to crack on – you can! Move to your next lesson whenever you’re ready, without having to wait seven days in between.

One thing that can take time, though, is finding the right app. Google ‘learn to play the piano online’ and you’ll be hit with hundreds of results – so where do you start? Check out reviews and seek recommendations. The good news is, there are plenty of free apps, meaning you can try them all out to see which you prefer.

Even if you go for a piano playing app that costs money, it’s a one-off payment and invariably a much cheaper option than the ongoing cost of in-person lessons.

Was school not your thing or are you trying to encourage a young child to play? Apps can be great for engaging anyone – young or old – who struggles with more traditional learning, and can prove to be a more effective way to develop knowledge and skills.


A hybrid approach

‘Hybrid working’ has been the buzzword of ’21 and ’22. To us, that means one thing – getting the best of both worlds. It also recognises that there are advantages to both face-to-face and digital interactions. Which is why we think, in many cases, the best solution for learning to play the piano is a combination of both. Traditional in-person teaching supplemented with additional online practice.

The definitive answer here, though, is finding an approach that suits you. Something that fits your lifestyle and your budget – and that you enjoy.

Before all this though, you need a piano, and that’s where we come in. With a great selection of new and pre-owned pianos, we have something for everyone. You can go all-out tech with a digital piano – great for hooking up to learning apps – or embody old school with a grand.

And if you’re looking at lessons because you’re just starting out, you might be interested to know we also offer a piano hire service, so you can take your time and be 100% sure piano playing is right for you before you commit to buying.

View our pianos now, or to talk to a member of the team, please get in touch.

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