If you’re in the market for an online piano method, you’ve likely come across Pianoforall.
With over 450,000 students, Pianoforall is a popular online piano course that uses a chord-based, “play first, ask questions later” approach that gets you sounding like a pro right away.
Creator Robin Hall says that his e-book course will teach you to “play piano by ear, improvise, create compositions, and then eventually read piano sheet music,” with each “bite-sized” lesson planned to move you from one skill to the next in a short period of time in a logical way.
So, how does Pianoforall work? Can it live up to its claims? Keep reading – I’ll cover everything you need to know to decide whether or not Pianoforall is the course for you.
What You’ll Need
“Piano for all” is quite flexible in terms of what you’ll need to use the course, but a piano or keyboard is obviously non-negotiable.
It’s much better to get a 61-key keyboard and start practicing than to not have a keyboard at all.
However, I’d still recommend upgrading to an 88-key digital piano with fully weighted keys as soon as possible if you’re serious about learning the piano.
In terms of tech, you’ll need to download the e-books onto your Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad, or Android. They’re in the .epub format, which contains the text and videos, so you’ll need something capable of opening and reading those.
Pianoforall suggests the ‘Kotobee reader’ app for Windows and Android, and the ‘Books’ app for Mac products, both of which are free. However there is also a .pdf download option.
This downloadable format does give the option of working offline, which is great, but unfamiliar users may find the .epub format fiddly.
The Pianoforall website has detailed instructions and links for the downloads, as well as a thorough troubleshooting section for when the set-up isn’t going smoothly.
The current price of the course is $49, marked down from $79. For this one-off purchase you’ll receive:
Nine e-books plus one bonus book – These comprehensive e-books take you through various styles of piano music with chords, tunes, and exercises, teaching you just enough theory for each lesson. I’ll go into detail on each book below.
24.5 hours of video lessons – Embedded in the e-book itself, these videos reinforce skills with explained keyboard demonstrations by Robin Hall.
He plays the lesson on a lower keyboard while an animated keyboard above shows you which notes he is playing, making it clear which notes you should play, what your hands should look like, and how it should sound.
Hundreds of audio tunes and exercises – These are beside each exercise to show you quickly what it should sound like. Auditory learners especially will benefit from hearing each exercise before attempting it.
What’s really nice here is that unlike most other piano platforms out there, Pianoforall is a one-time purchase, which is a lot easier on your wallet in the long run compared to a subscription-based model.
Each e-book covers a different aspect of piano playing and builds on one another so that you are putting the skills you’ve learned into practice. Except for Book Nine, which can be used at any time, you should read the books in order.
Pianoforall recommends spending 20-30 minutes at a time with the course, so how fast you complete each section will depend on how fast you read, and how fast you grasp the concepts!
The books also feature ‘Student Q&A’ sections, answering common questions students may have, and ‘checkpoints’ – a list of skills and knowledge Robin advises feeling confident on before moving to the next section. This is a handy way to track progress.
Book One: Party Time – Rhythm Style Piano
The first book is an introduction to both the program and the keyboard.
It begins by stating the primary principle of Pianoforall – that it’s important to lay a foundation of chords and rhythms before building improv, melody composition, and sight-reading skills beyond that.
It also gives some tips on piano posture, equipment, and stressing the importance of practice and repetition – including some tips on the sustain pedal, which is a nice and oft-overlooked touch.
It introduces you to the notes on the keyboard and then jumps immediately into playing some basic three-note chords, reminding you that, like learning guitar, it’s more important to play than to worry about the theory at this early stage.
Book One also introduces musical notation, including rests and basic rhythm.
While most traditional curriculums spend a while on note-naming and rhythm exercises, this section moves quickly, which will be a problem for some who may need to keep revisiting it.
The rest of the book progresses by teaching you a family of chords and introducing various rhythms associated with popular music, which you can use with the chords to play a song.
All in all, you’ll learn 15 rhythms and 11 basic chords in Book One.
The rhythms also include other time signatures, such as 6/8 and 12/8, more ‘shuffling’ feels. You largely stay in the key of C, though other chords and keys are included too. The song examples are a lot of traditional songs and older 50s/60s/70s standards, which may frustrate younger learners.
The chords are taught with the assumption that you will be reading chord symbols in songbooks, like guitar players do, and shows you what to play when you encounter seventh chord or slash chord symbols.
This is a smart acknowledgement, as even many piano players have ended up on guitar chord sites trying to work out a song!
By the end of the book, you should be able to play the chords and rhythms of several popular songs while you and/or a friend sing the melody, and you may even feel brave enough to improvise a bit!
You should also be able to play the short and lovely “Amazing Broken Chord Ballad.”, introduced as one of the ‘melodic interludes’ to break up the learning.
There’s a huge amount of material in Book 1 which will take some learners up to a year – this could be intimidating for some, but it does provide a comprehensive introduction to chords and rhythm, and hopefully makes the rest of the course much easier for you!
Book Two: Blues & Rock n Roll
Book Two builds on your knowledge by teaching you blues rhythms to use with the chords you already know.
It emphasizes the concept that you should practice left hand rhythms much more than the right hand, until you can play them in your sleep.
This book is brief compared to the first one, but it still teachers seven blues rhythms and how to play a twelve-bar blues in any key.
Book Three: Incredible Inversions
Book Three is another updated part – after feedback from his students that they were struggling to understand inversions, Hall dedicates a lot of time to it here.
He introduces the concept of chord inversions, then integrates them into previously introduced songs from Books One and Two.
If you get the hang of inversions quickly, you may not need this whole book, but it’s good for those who need the practice.
You’ll also encounter the “cycle of fifths” (commonly called the “circle of fifths”), a concept meant to encourage you to practice all of the keys, teach you the relationship between them, and help you understand the general structure of music.
Book Four: Chord Magic
Book Four is very heavy on chords, teaching you chord theory and almost every single major and minor chord there is!
It consolidates the lesson via making you play previously covered songs in different keys.
It’s a good lesson for those particularly interested in transposing songs – perhaps guitarists – but many might find this section draining.
Book Five: Advanced Chords
This book continues to teach you how to play chords from chord symbols found in songbooks, starting with a “magic formula” for bluffing a few more advanced chords.
A Barry Manilow-inspired piece called “Manilow Mood” will have you learning new musical devices before you attempt to write a Manilow-style composition of your own.
It helps consolidate the learning, though younger students may be thinking, ‘who?’
Diminished chords and cluster chords come next, and the book finishes strong with a lesson on Beatles styling and a long list of Beatles songs, which you can play with the rhythms and chords you know.
Book Six, Seven, Eight, Nine: Styles
Books Six through Nine focus on different styles, respectively: Ballad, Jazz, Advanced Blues and Classical Piano. There’s useful tips to be found in each, but you may prefer to focus on your preferred genres.
Book Six approaches ballad-style playing by introducing a step-by-step method for creating your own ballad-style songs.
This book is all about learning how to improvise, giving ideas for the melody, left-hand pattern, and chord progressions.
The book includes sheet music for some beautiful ballads, which you’ll likely enjoy playing – these are the first full-length pieces in the course that can really stand on their own as solo piano pieces.
Book Seven is content-heavy, but you’ll come out with a great jazz and blues foundation. It starts by teaching you how to get a “bluesy” sound using the blues scale, blues chords, and other tricks, before moving on to jazz.
Rather than learn to read complex jazz rhythms, you’re encouraged to learn the rhythms by listening to and copying the audio clips – definitely a more natural approach.
The book gives you lots of tips and tricks for jazz improvisation, and serves up many cool practice progressions.
Book Eight builds on Book Two by adding your advanced chord knowledge and fun new right-hand chord riffs to the blues rhythms that you learned.
The second part of this book teaches you about stride piano — both fake and real, the difference being the length of the “stride” your hand is taking.
You get to apply your knowledge with “the song you’ve been waiting for” – “The Entertainer” ending the section on a high note (pun intended)!
Since Book Nine largely relies on sheet music, it begins with a recap of musical notation and a quick lesson on key signatures, new symbols, and musical language.
Hall teaches you to sight read music “the Pianoforall way,” which means watching out for familiar chords and motifs, and that the notes that are sharp or flat due to the key signature are given in red for easy spotting.
You’ll then get into playing classical piano pieces, including big names like Beethoven, Bach, and Chopin.
If you have a goal of playing more pieces from sheet music after the Pianoforall course, I recommend spending quite a bit of time on this section, practicing your skills in reading music, pedaling, and tone.
Book Ten: Speed Learning
Hall was clever with the name of this book, which is all about scales, triads, and arpeggios.
If my piano teacher had referred to this area as “speed learning,” maybe I would have been more eager to practice!
Incorporating these elements into your regular practice is an important way to improve your playing.
The book gives you an example ‘practice routine’ in C major, then reiterates it in many other keys as well.
The routine includes traditional classical scales as well as blues and jazz workouts, which is thoughtful.
Pros and Cons
Now let’s sum up some of the pros and cons of the “Piano for all” teaching course.
Jumps right in to playing. You’ll feel like you’re making progress from the first session.
Uses well-known songs. Not only does this make it easier to play by ear, you’ll enjoy being able to play songs that you recognize.
Promotes musicality. Playing by ear, improvising, and composing melodies are often mostly ignored in piano methods for beginners.
Pianoforall teaches these skills thoroughly, giving you a solid base of musicality and ensuring that you’ll always have something to play.
Makes you use your left hand more than traditional piano curriculums.
As is the case for many piano players who take the traditional approach, I was accustomed to focusing on the right hand. As my pieces got more complex, I had to devote a lot of time to practicing the left-hand parts alone.
Since Pianoforall encourages you to practice more with the left hand than the right, students of this program will be less likely have a “lazy” left hand.
Well thought out videos. The side-by-side keyboards showing real playing and notes makes everything very clear.
Avoids reading music. Even in the books that rely more heavily on sheet music, the names of the notes are usually provided, and sometimes you’re given the option to improvise.
Therefore, even though one of the goals of the course is to teach you how to read music, it would be easy to come out with a less-than-stellar grasp of this skill.
Leaves out many piano notation symbols and terms. While the amount of terms and symbols this curriculum covers is adequate for those who want to improvise, play by ear, or play basic sheet music, students wanting to go beyond may find themselves perplexed by unknown markings.
Visually plain. The layout of the material is clear, but plain, and it’s easy to feel like you’re just staring at walls of texts and diagrams. A more exciting visual style can make a world of difference!
Who Is This Course Best For?
Pianoforall is geared to complete beginners. However, its style of teaching is so different from most traditional piano programs that even those who have some basic classical piano knowledge may find it useful for learning how to play by ear and improvise.
Given Pianoforall’s emphasis on blues, jazz, rock n roll, and other styles of popular music, it’s safe to say that this course is not meant for those whose primary goal is to play classical music instead.
While Book Eight does teach students to sight read some short classical pieces, this course will give you a foundation on which to increase your knowledge of playing classically rather than merely teach you itself.
Though the content is different, Pianoforall’s head-first, dive-right-in approach to playing the piano is one that is usually found in courses for adult learners, such as Faber’s Adult Piano Adventures series.
Adults are determined to learn, and they’re usually not content to play simple children’s tunes for the first few months. For this reason, Pianoforall is good for adults and teenagers alike who want to make real music ASAP.
The songs chosen for this course are also aimed at adult learners.
While they’re great tunes familiar to many – and certainly better than “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” – let’s just say that older generations might get more excited about the selection than younger ones.
Pianoforall makes big promises, but for the motivated student, it just might be able to deliver. As long as you understand what the course will and won’t teach you, Pianoforall can help you reach your piano goals.
This course does not prepare students for advanced classical music, but you will come out with many skills that are useful for playing in bands, taking requests, and sitting down at the piano and being able to just play.
In addition, your skills will give you a great foundation for exploring the kinds of music that you want to play.
The value of understanding chords, progressions, keys, and the structure of music cannot be understated for any style of music.
Hall likens his course to learning the alphabet so that you can write whatever sentences you want. It’s an apt analogy.
Piano for all truly builds your skills from the bottom up, giving you the building blocks necessary not only to play other people’s music, but also to play your own.
It’s a unique approach that often feels like putting the cart before the horse – but it works.
guys piano for all changed my life and the way they teach you step by step is just exhilarating.. i am more confident in myself than ever. now i play piano everyday for my kids and i think i am getting the hang of this thing 😛
the tutorial is a guide for beginners to Masters try it out. i hope it helps.
Hi Albert, I’m so glad you are enjoying Pianoforall and piano in general so much! Thanks for your lovely comment 🙂
I’m 62 years old, and just started taking piano lessons 2 months ago, even though I’ve always wanted to learn, now I have the time and drive to do it. I appreciate your review, showing both pros and cons of this course. I think I will invest the $39 and give it a try. Thank you
So pleased to hear that you found my review helpful, and that you’re fulfilling a lifelong ambition! I’m sure that you’ll make progress with Pianoforall, especially in combo with lessons. All the best on your new piano adventure!
I was considering buying piano courses and looking for pianoforall reviews because it seems very popular. So, thanks for your article !
I have one question though :
Is is still worth it for people who are not really into ballad and dislike blues and jazz ?
Absolutely, blues and jazz are only a few of the modules included in the course. Pianoforall teaches you how to play by ear, improvise, play classical pieces, and more. Many music concepts taught in the course are fundamental and universal, so it’s not like you’re gonna be limited to two or three genres after finishing the course.
Thanks for your answer!
Iin the meantime i subscribed to pianote, but i’ll definitely check on pianoforall.
Hello! I was thinking of trying PianoForAll, as it seems to tick most boxes, has great reviews, and mainly, because the whole course costs as much as on month subscription in any other of the main online courses. I have a few questions, though:
Up to what point or level will this course get me and how long will it take if I practise around 1h daily? Will it give enough foundation to get me up to an intermediate level?
After finishing it, I could consider having a few lessons with a teacher to correct posture and technique. After that, is there any course you recommend for more classical playing and more theory or is it just practice?
Hi Pedro, sorry for taking so long to get back to you.
It’s hard to compare this course to more traditional piano methods and the level system they use. Pianoforall will definitely give you a solid foundation that you can then use to learn more advanced concepts and techniques (if that’s your goal).
With that said, this course doesn’t just teach you how to read sheet music and play chords. It teaches you how to improvise, play by ear, and understand the underlying structures of the music. I would say it’s definitely enough to get you to an intermediate level of playing, though it obviously takes more than just finishing this course (hint: practice, practice, practice…:))
After you finish the course, you can re-evaluate your skills and go from there. If you decide that you need more theory or practice (particularly if you’re interested in playing more advanced classical music), you might want to check out Piano Marvel. They are pretty good if playing classical music is what you’re after.
Is this course EXACTLY the same as his course listed on Udemy? Thanks.
The material is the same but on Udemy you have to be online to use it, and you view the videos and books separately. Also, there are no audio files.
With the main downloads (if you buy the full course) you can access the materials offline. The ebooks are in EPUB format with embedded video and audio that open from the page of the book.
Hi Giselle and Lucas,
I played alto sax for years and have returned to music, (Playground Sessions member now). I find PgS good for some things, but it doesn’t really engage me since I love jazz, r&b, pop, and classical, in that order). Would Piano for All be a good supplement to PgS?
Thanks for taking the time to post a review and for answering my question.
Hi Pete, for Jazz, definitely, and while the other styles you mentioned are not the main focus of Pianoforall, you can definitely get some value out of it (there are dedicated books for some of those styles) and learn things that may not necessarily be covered in Playground Sessions.
I recently purchased Piano for All and I am loving it! I am almost done the first book and I’m progressing nicely. The thing that o really like about this course is it explains everything really well and starts with the basics to ensure you learn the fundamentals of learning the piano.
Another thing I’d like to mention is that this course is really comprehensive and equally important, it’s very affordable! I don’t think this was mentioned in your review but I think it should be noted because some other courses on your list are VERY EXPENSIVE, one is priced $497, some a bit more, and I saw one of the courses on your list that sells for $699! Piano for All isn’t nearly that much and to me has proven to be excellent value. So glad I chose Piano for All!
Glad you’re enjoying the course 🙂 Good points, Piano for All is indeed one of the most affordable courses out there and it’s fairly comprehensive as well, which explains its popularity.
I’m in the UK 64 almost 65 and have retired. Always wanted to learn the piano. Now is the time ( still awaiting a piano delivery). Reading the reviews your course seems right for what I would like to achieve. Cen I download an android and a Windows version for a one off payment or would I have to pay twice.
Hi Michael, great to hear you’re considering learning the piano! Is your question about the Pianofoall course? If so, one payment will include all the versions, no need to pay anything extra for that. Also, to clarify, we’re not the creators of the course, we just reviewed it. The creator of Pianoforall is Robin Hall. Hope this helps.
Piano4All is awesome and changed my mind on how I look at learning music. Its exciting and fun at the same time. I feel like I am playing the piano instead of working the piano. I loose time when Im using Piano4All and before I know 3-5 hours has passed. Thank you for allowing me to comment. Robin Hall did a magnificent job with learning and teaching in the course. I wished I stubbled on this course awhile back. Thank you Piano4All and Robin for the tutelage.
Best Regards and Cheers to everyone playing!
Hello, I ordered Piano For All from an ad on the CNN website, and I have to access it via an app called Stackskills. I can download each PDF to my ipad, but I can’t see a way to download the entire course in epub format. Do you know if this is a limitation of using it through Stackskills? Thanks!
Hey Linda, I’m not sure about Stackskills as we only tested the version available on the official website. As far as I know, versions available on other resources may have some limitations, but I would contact the Pianoforall creators directly to double-check.
I am interested in this course. You write in your review about the need to have Flash Player installed to watch the videos and hear the audio clips embedded in the e-books.
Adobe no longer supports Flash Player since December 31, 2020 and blocked Flash content from running in Flash Player beginning January 12, 2021.
Do you have any information whether the provider of this course migrated the video and audio to another technology? I contacted Pianoforall via their webform but did not get an answer on this question. So I assume that video and audio will not work anymore.
The issue with Flash Player is solved, since I found this: “with Adobe Flash Player being discontinued, there were implications for the Piano For All course. The videos in the PDF’s could no longer be played. Fortunately Robin Hall had modified the course, replacing the PDF’s with Ebook format books. I’ve downloaded the new Ebook format books to my Ipad and now I can view the course at my piano and play the videos as they appear throughout the books.” (source: https://pianoforallreview.co.uk/piano-for-all-review-updated-2021/)
Please update your description about the system requirements under the headline What You’ll Need to avoid unnecessary confusion about the requirement of Flash Player.
Thanks for the heads up, Gernot! Just updated the information.
Is a Korg PA700 61 key keyboard okay to learn piano on.
I have a similar question to John above. Do you have any recommendations about a good starter keyboard? I have Logic and Ableton Live Suite, so I could good for a midi controller. Or I could get a stand-alone. I guess my budget’s under $200. Thanks for the review. I’ve just started Piano For All and am loving it. Udemy runs special offers and you can pick it up for the price of a few beers sometimes. Amazing value!
The books mentioned are they interactive and to get the best experience is to view them on a device? Are they even printable? I’m old fashion and love paper.
You can download each chapter of the course as a single PDF, and print it out if you want to. Obviously the video content will need a screen.
I use an iPad and view all the material on that.
Thanks for the information
Yes it’s worth the hype. It’s well taught and gives you a background in piano especially when you get to the 2nd and 3rd book. For the price you can go wrong either. Give it a try and you will see.
I ordered Pianoforall a couple weeks ago & can’t figure out how to access it. Ads keep coming to me describing how to order it, but I already have!
Your comment just popped up on my email. Go to the Udemy website and log into the account you created when you bought the product. You’ll then see a section (at the bottom of the page on my iPad) that says ‘My courses’. Your course will be in there.
There’s also a Udemy app which is quite handy for managing and accessing your courses. Hope you get it sorted.
This review was fantastic, thank you. So much detail and great explanations of the pros and cons. You’ve convinced me to give it a go. 😊
I was undecided about whether to purchase Piano for All, but this review really helped me make up my mind as I would like to learn all about chords. All the comments and answers are helpful too, so thank you everyone.