Pianote is an online piano course designed to be an alternative to what they call the “video-game learning” found in most other online methods.
Rather than relying on a connection between your piano and a computer or tablet to tell you if you’re playing the right notes, Pianote teaches with video lessons.
The program is fairly new and still growing, and it has a very polished, modern feel.
Are you looking for a more personal, less “video game” online piano method? Here’s a good look at Pianote.
Pianote is subscription-based, and it has a few membership options to choose from.
They offer a 90-day money-back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied with the course, or you can test the waters by checking out their 10 free video lessons first.
Unlike most online piano courses, Pianote does not require you to download software or have a MIDI/USB cable for your keyboard. After the free trial, the standard monthly cost of Pianote is $20.
Pianote students also get access to the Musora platform, which contains Pianotes sister programs for learning guitar, drums and vocals – Guitareo, Drumeo and Singeo. And this is at no extra cost!
The first thing that happened when I became a member was that I received a personalized video from Lisa, the main teacher, welcoming me to the program and recommending that I start with the “How to Use Pianote” course.
The fact that the teachers take time to welcome each and every student demonstrates their commitment to a more personalized online method.
Pianote is entirely video-based, but that doesn’t mean that it’s without variety. Here are some of the features that you’ll come across within the program.
Learning Paths – Foundations
The Learning Paths are the meat of Pianote. Under this tab, you can choose between the 2016 or 2019 versions of the Foundations Learning Path, though the new one is strongly recommended.
The Learning Path consists of ten levels with ten lessons each, which contain a video and sheet music.
First, you’ll watch a short (three to ten minute) lesson with one or two teachers where they explain and demonstrate the concept or passage.
The videos make it easy to see what the teachers are playing, with an overhead view of the keys as well as another keyboard on the screen with highlighted keys.
Next, you can move into Practice Along mode. This feature comes with another video for you to play along to with the teacher.
It generally comes with two pre-set speeds, but there are settings for speed, volume, a metronome, and even transposition.
You can also loop sections for extra practice and bring up an onscreen keyboard to show you where the notes are.
All of the settings worked flawlessly. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for the creators to achieve that considering those are normally found on software-based rather than video-based platforms.
This is a unique feature that puts Pianote a step closer to having a real-life teacher than many other online methods.
While they aren’t one-on-one, during live lessons you can submit questions for the teachers to answer on the spot.
One style of live lessons is when one of the teachers takes 20-40 minutes to teach a song, from sheet music, in its entirety. Students can follow along and ask questions about the material.
Another type of live lesson is the student reviews, which are like masterclasses. Students can submit a video of them playing, along with some info about their piano goals and weaknesses, and a teacher will watch the video in a live lesson to provide tips.
According to Lisa, this is the closest they can get to sitting next to you while you practice, but since the lessons can be viewed by all students, it isn’t for the shy.
Question and answer lessons are dedicated to answering questions that students ask in a dedicated forum thread. All previous live Q & As are archived so the answers are always available to students.
Chords and Scales
Pianote nods to the importance of scales of and chords by giving them their own section, which includes video lessons and sheet music for one octave scales and triads in 14 keys (out of 30).
I expected this to be a one-stop-shop for technique, but it excludes many of the exercises that are learned elsewhere, like two-octave scales and arpeggios. This section could be very useful, but at the moment is underdeveloped.
Previous students might be interested to know that Pianote recently updated their ‘Songs’ feature. Many of the songs now feature under the Pianote+ feature, which contains 1000 songs available to play, each of them synced with sheet music and audio tracks, with options such as adjusting speed and adding metronomes. A free trial of Pianote+ comes included with Pianote, and then costs $40 a year.
To find what you want to play, you can sort by level, artist, or style. The most populated genres are pop, ballad, and rock, and most students will recognize plenty of the songs.
Each song comes with a video tutorial, sheet music, and a chord chart, though not all have the Practice Along feature available.
Courses, Packs, Bootcamps, and Quick Tips
These are in different sections, but they all dive deep on a specific topic. Conveniently, there is an “add to list” feature so you can come back later and play the ones that caught your eye.
According to Lisa, if the Foundations Learning Path is like a semester-long university course, the Pianote courses are like weekend workshops with a focus topic.
You can filter by instructor, subject, and level. The course topics lean towards jazz and contemporary music, with titles like “The Four Pillars of Improvisation” and “Introduction to Latin Jazz.”
Packs are sets of lessons on a specific topic that are accessible to members and also available for purchase to non-members.
Right now, the Packs available are “Faster Fingers”, “Sight-Reading Made Simple”, and “500 Songs in 5 Days”.
Found under the “Student Focus” tab, Bootcamps get even more specific.
Labeled to help you select the right level, they reinforce skills that supplement the Foundations path and the chords and scales sections, like arpeggios and minor keys.
Quick tips, also under “Student Focus”, are a lot like Bootcamps, but shorter. This section is chock full of videos like “Create Drama and Intensity in Your Chord Progressions”.
New lessons and courses are added to the program on a regular basis, so it’s not like you’re stuck with the same material and there’s nothing more to explore.
I already mentioned the welcome video, but that is just the beginning of Pianote’s community feel. The program’s creators designed it to have a social media aspect, with profiles, comments, and even likes.
This makes it easy for students to interact not only with the instructors, but also with each other.
For example, a student who commented that they weren’t a fan of the lesson piece was quickly linked to the 2016 piece at the same level, and the comments section is full of tips and encouragement.
Another major community feature are the forums. Here, you’ll find threads to introduce yourself or talk about any aspect of piano or the program.
In the “How to Use Pianote” course, Lisa recommends that students create a personal practice thread to track your progress, share videos, and receive encouragement and tips from other students and the instructors.
While the 2016 Learning Path is still available for students who started it and want to finish, since Pianote strongly recommends the 2019 curriculum, I’ll go into detail on that one.
Remember, while these levels are the basis of the program, the Pianote relies on the other aspects of the program to be well-rounded.
Level One – This level is an introduction to the piano keyboard and basic rhythms. Its goal is to get you comfortable making triad “claw” shapes, playing hands-separately and together, and identifying notes on the keyboard, but does not introduce reading music yet.
Level Two – Level two is all about learning to read music. They cover the clefs, grand staff, intervals, suspended chords, and rhythmic fifths. They also introduce the concept of reading chords as a whole rather than reading the individual notes.
Level Three – This level is meant to increase your core skills and knowledge of theory. Here, you’ll start on minor keys, arpeggios, the I-IV-V chord progression, and dynamics.
Level Four – Titled “Key Signatures and Inversions”, here you’ll learn about sharps, G major, the chromatic scale, and chord inversions, before wrapping it up with the chord-heavy tune “Reaching in the Dark”.
Level Five – This level covers flats, F major, chord shortcuts, staccato/legato, rests, and contrary motion.
Level Six – Six is all about minor keys. You’ll play harmonic and melodic minor scales, use the sostenuto (sustain) pedal, play minor chord progressions, and learn about dotted rhythms.
Level Seven – This is an in-depth look at the circle of fifths. You’ll learn about the symmetry of fourths and fifths, the “sharped” circle (the right side), the “flattened” circle (the left side), and how to create moods with the different keys.
Level Eight – Eight shows you “the most fun you can have at a piano”, improvisation. It teaches basic improve techniques, like using “safe notes”, arpeggio melodies, and chord embellishments.
Level Nine – In order to get you playing the blues, Level Nine covers major and minor 7th chords, the pentatonic scale, and blues basslines, riffs, fills, and rhythms.
Level Ten – By the end of Level 10, you’ll be playing the well-known jazz tune “Autumn Leaves”. To get there, they teach you about modes, diminished 7 chords, 9th chords, walking basslines, comping, and soloing.
Pros and Cons
There are plenty of good things about Pianote , and a couple of drawbacks as well. Here are a few of them.
Access to teachers – The teachers provide tips, visualizations, and practice methods that could easily be overlooked otherwise. They also explain and demonstrate concepts in a way that is easy to understand.
Fun and engaging format – If you quickly get bored by printed curriculums or software-based programs, Pinote may be a breath fresh air with their fun and engaging video lessons that feel like you’re sitting in class with a piano teacher. Lisa’s cheerful attitude puts a smile on your face too, whether you want it or not 🙂
Can be used with acoustic pianos – Many online piano methods only work with digital pianos, but Pianote can be used by all.
Personalized content – One of the drawbacks of many online piano methods is that if you have a specific question, there is no teacher to ask. Pianote avoids this by making their teachers available for any questions that students may have.
Growing content – The live lessons mean that new content is being created all the time, and you can even influence that content by submitting questions or videos for review.
User-friendly – The course site feels sleek and professional, and there is the added benefit of not having to download software or deal with cords. Also, Lisa’s “How to Use Pianote” course lays out everything that you need to know to use the program effectively.
Practice Along feature and Playback Settings – While it’s pretty much a given when you use software-based platforms like Playground Sessions or Skoove, it’s great to have similar functionality with Pianote video lessons where you can adjust the speed of the playback, loop certain parts, turn on a metronome, etc.
Relatively small song library – With a library of less than 80 songs between seven levels, avid students will definitely need to look elsewhere for their sheet music needs. There are also no songs for levels seven through ten. However, new songs are added to the library every week, so eventually, there will be a wider selection.
Public progress – To get the most out of the program, students have to make videos and posts that are visible to other students, which not everyone will be comfortable with. Also, the student profiles show their practice progress and completed lessons.
Scattered content – Because of the various lesson styles, it can be difficult to know when/if there is a bootcamp or quick tip, for example, that would supplement what you’re learning in Foundations. It would be easier to have all the technique in one place, or links between content that relates.
No immediate feedback – While Pianote is designed to be a step away from the immediate feedback offered by other online methods (“video game” style), knowing right away when your notes and rhythms are wrong can be helpful to beginners.
Who is Pianote Best For?
Pianote recommends their platform for beginner and intermediate students. The instruction seems geared towards older learners, perhaps teens and up.
From the comments and forums, it seems that most of the users are adults, with several sharing that they are starting to play for the first time in their 60s.
The more difficult lessons and songs in this course venture into jazz and blues rather than more advanced classical music, so it’s safe to say that those wanting to play primarily classical music should stick to a more traditional method.
Pianote is good for those who want to improvise, chord, play popular music, compose, or play jazzy music.
Pianote is a video-based platform, but it manages to be so much more than just a library of organized video lessons, in large part due to the teachers.
They are engaging, accessible, and most importantly, explain things really, really well. This is truly a unique feature of Pianote .
However, it does feel like a newer method. The chords and scales section and song library are sparse, there isn’t a huge variety of genres in the lessons or library, and it does not reach a level that could be considered advanced.
Many of the features are new and there are hints at more advanced content in the future, so while it’s great now, I’m sure that Pianote will keep growing and become an even better platform for learning how to play the piano.
Thank you very much for reviewing online lessons/app, that’s really informative : D
I have had a glance at pianote and wasn’t appealed. After your article I want to give it a try : D
Thats awesome! We’d love to see you over in the members area 🙂 It is really safe to try- we offer a 90 day money back guarantee so if you don’t love the membership you can cancel and request a refund within 90 days 🙂
Thank you for this! I absolutely love your online piano course reviews! I have a question though: in your opinion, how much does the paid membership instructional course videos differ/compare to their free YouTube instructional videos?
Our paid membership has a LOT more. Step by step lessons that take you through learning in a very thought out methodical fashion so that you learn everything you need to know in order to play the music you love. Plus you get unlimited teacher support you can reach out to us anytime for feedback, encouragement and support 🙂
Do you offer one on one online instruction?
Thank you so much for this review!
We’ve got a whole learning path on technique coming out this year! I believe it will be a game changer when it comes to how people learn their scales, triads, arpeggios and chord progressions and it will include every single key signature ?
I also wanted to note that learners can send me or the other teachers video directly at any time if they aren’t feeling quite up to sharing their work publicly yet.
Once again thank you so much for this in depth review of Pianote.
Thanks for adding that info! I’m glad you liked the review and I’m looking forward to seeing the new material.
Thanks for this review. I’m in my early 50’s and used to take piano lessons as a kid, but never enjoyed it or got very far as the teacher was poor. I’ve seen Pianote on Youtube and very much like their style of teaching and quality of the videos. It’s a dream for me to be able to just sit at a keyboard and play with 2 hands! I remain to be convinced that an online course would teach me that, but I can’t afford proper lessons. My childhood lessons taught me the basics but I’m incapable of playing properly….but I SO want to, as I LOVE music so much, especially the piano. I’d need to buy a MIDI keyboard first (I only have a 25 key one with mini keys) and am extremely tempted. I’m pretty scared at the thought of having to upload videos though as I’m shy showing my fat self to others! Oh what a thought. I’d scare the teacher. 🙂 I wonder if I could still get somewhere without having to do that? I’m going to keep thinking and researching and hope someone persuades me this is the right thing for me. Thanks again for the review. 🙂
Hi! We’d LOVE to help you learn and I can assure you it isn’t as scary as one might think. You do not have to submit video if you don’t feel ready to do that – there is never any pressure. The main thing to know is that you will have supportive teachers (myself included!) that are there to encourage you and help you move forward. If you have any questions please feel free to email me at [email protected]
I am 63 and just started to learn to play the keyboard I was a apprehensive about joining pianote but I am so glad I have I love there style of teaching you can also slow the videos down so you can follow easier until competent they always respond personally to my email questions and the forum is like a family there always willing to advise with any questions or if you want advice. So glad I took the plunge I have tried other sites and this by far the best and the lessons are broken down into separate sections.
So nice to hear that you’re enjoying Pianote! I wish you lots of success on your piano journey.
As Lisa mentioned, there is no need to submit video if you’re not comfortable, and the platform has lots of value besides that! If you’re motivated to learn and put the time in, an online platform can absolutely get you playing the piano. I encourage you to try it out (there’s a 90-day money-back guarantee).
You can also check out Piano Dreamer’s articles on keyboards to help you get the right one for you, and I’ve reviewed several other online learning platforms that you may like as well.
Geoff, you can! This is for you and no one else, and what’s more, you deserve it. I never got as far as you, never learned really. Some one taught me the beginnings of the flea waltz some 50+ years ago. Thanks to all the informative content here and the support of my hubby, I started my journey yesterday after years of telling everyone how much I would love to be able to play an instrument.
Do yourself something good and go for it. Much luck in pursuing your dream.
Hi Lisa : i have been a member since 2016 under the old system and switched to the new when it came out i took a few lessons about a year when my teacher moved to another city that when I joined. I’m 85 now and this is great for fingers and mind I love the challenge help keep me going I love it thanks to all of you at pianote .lloyd
I am using Pianote now in addition to Playground Sessions, which is where I started. Impossible not to love Lisa’s cheery vibe, Canadians really are the best people, and she’s exceptional. As far as the content goes, I love it and feel it will take me towards my goal of using the piano in my singer/songwriter career (long time guitar player/singer). Playground Sessions is a great program, and have learned so much there, but I find that relying on their software to follow the music gives me an exaggerated sense of my ability to sight read, and sight reading is a real weak spot for me as a self taught musician. Pianote is a nice wake up call in that regard, it shows me that my actual sight reading skills are still at a basic beginner level, What I really like about Pianote, besides the sweet teachers, is the focus on actual playing, practical tips on how to play songs and accompaniments, and the quick bite lessons that pack a bunch of info into a short video. Nice as well is the ability to print the music from the lessons out and work from them. I have only just started with Pianote, and know that there is much there that I still don’t know about, so that’s exciting too. I will continue to use both programs for now as they both have great value. Both are amazing and the effort that went into them is remarkable. That said, I love Pianote and know it will keep me busy and happy for a long time to come.
Hi Jesse! Thanks for your addition and comparison between Playground Sessions and Pianote–each program has its strengths and weaknesses for sure. It’s great to have a new perspective on what makes Pianote such a promising online method. Good luck to you as you continue your piano journey!
Thanks for your reviews! They helped me take an informed decision.
I went with Pianote and I’m loving it.
You should do a review of Josh Wright Piano ProPractice. It´s a lot more expensive, but it seems that it`´s the complete package.
Thanks for the suggestion, Marco! Added it to our list of ideas.
Why is the 500 songs in five days? I thought there are fewer than 80 songs
Sorry, I meant what is the***
‘500 Songs in 5 Days’ is the name of one of Pianote’s courses. It doesn’t literally teach you 500 songs, but it explains fundamental concepts used in many popular songs and teaches you the chords, which you can then use to play literally any popular song you like. The course also provides 500 downloadable chord charts that you can use to play 500 songs using chords.
Thank you so much for your review. I’m glad I came across your website. I’ve learned quite a bit. I’ve had a 66 full size keyboard since high school and played by year (very basic). At 49, I finally made my mind to take piano lessons and bought the Clavinova CLP-645. I was planing on taking traditional face to face piano lessons but given the pandemic, I’m going the online route. I’m really leaning towards Pianote because I feel their curriculum is the better fit (I really want to learn to read sheet music). But, I just came across Piano TV and she seems to focus on a more traditional classical method of teaching. Plus, she seems to understand the psychology of the student. Do you have any reviews/thoughts on Piano TV?
I have seen a pianote member since April and I enjoy it a lot.
This review helped me to choose pianote, so thanks for that!
Thanks for the excellent review. I am 80 and ready for this old dog to learn new tricks.. I have a 79 key keyboard and would assume this should get me started.. Your thoughts??
Hi Robert! Thanks for your comment. Sure, 79 keys should be more than enough to get started. You can always upgrade further down the road if you feel the need for it, but yeah, 79 is almost the full keyboard (88).
I signed up to Pianote back in May in really enjoying it, so much so that I’ve just bought a lifetime membership
I have been looking at online piano lessons but have found it difficult to find the right balance between classical and what might be considered jazz standards (eg Autumn Leaves). Lisa has a very good style of teaching which seems to have an emphasis on popular music and chord accompaniment, but then I’ve only watched a few of her videos. PianoTV with Allysia is another option with what seems to be more weighted towards classical, Are there any others that might suit.
I have tried a few different piano teaching lessons: Flowkey, Skoove, Playground Sessions, books and videos. I have been a subscriber to Pianote for almost two months now. I like the new Method (I almost finished the first 4 levels). I definitely did not enjoy “game like” approaches of other teaching systems. This review (and other comments) sum up my impressions of Pianote as well. I would like to add though that the approach to teaching Lisa represents is mostly for those who love improvisation and prefer to play “by ear”. It is a bit messy and not structured at times – Lisa loves to always show you another approach to playing a song and her focus is often on chord inversions (a bit foreign approach for a guitar player who prefers slash chords). It is better for creative and enthusiastic people (if you understand what I am trying to say). I quite often long for more structured and “exact” approach to learning and playing.
Shouldn’t you mention the cost? Did not see it. Also, it says that one has to submit a video in later lessons. I don’t know how to do that. I’m retired – videos weren’t part of my job. I’ve always liked scott Joplin type music – not sure how you classify that type.
I have take a few piano lessons and have been looking for some kind of online lessons. I have tried to follow some of Lisa;s youtube tutorials but most are a bit hard for me at the moment however I am going to try out the pianote programe from next week as it seems the best fit for me out of all the online available. Hopefully I will be playing much improved piano soon.
In the review it says you should have at least an 88 key keyboard. Would I be able to learn with a 66 key instrument?
Yes the only thing is the 88 Key is further between the keys and if you are used to playing on that the 88 Key will be awkward unroll you adjust to it.
Hello I found this review while looking for the Pianote web site.
I am a member of Pianonote and have been for a little while now.
They are as good as you can get.
I started with pianote I had a pretty good idea where middle C was.
Since practicing every day and watching the lessons
And getting feed back from the teachers I am now an intermediate piano player.
And with continued practice and Piano Note lessons and assistance I plan to become an accomplished pianist.
And the teachers are very prompt with their response.
And they are very kind and caring.
I Highly suggest you don’t hesitate further if you are seriously wanting to learn piano.
I lost respect for Pianote and Musora today. Over the past couple of years they have enticed people to sign up for their lifetime membership at up to 6 times the price of annual memberships with the promise to just pay once. Today they launched add more content, as they do regularly. But this content is included for existing annual subscribers, not for lifetime members who would have to start paying annually on top of the huge lifetime payment. If they had expressed this from the start for lifetime subscriptions, fair enough. But they clearly enticed people to buy the more expensive subscriptions by making everyone to believe that future content would be included, and certainly that paying for lifetime wouldn’t get you less than paying annually. Beware, your subscription might not get you what you expect after they have your money. I’d try a different site if I had it to do over again.