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How to learn piano from free online videos

Mizue Murakami

piano practicing with tablet

I constantly hear from people who are trying to learn how to play the piano online for free:

  • "I'm not improving from free online videos."
  • "The keys (on the virtual keyboard) are moving too fast."
  • "I don't know what they are talking about."
  • "I've learned this song on the virtual keyboard on YouTube. But I forget all in a few days." 

Yes, I hear you all. First of all, learning how to play piano from a teacher in person is a lot better way than learning from online videos. But I know that there are a lot of people who can't afford the piano lessons. So, those of you end up trying to learn it from online videos such as YouTube videos.

But before going into how to learn from online videos, let's break down these videos into 2 types of videos. They both are usually called "tutorials."

  1. The video that shows piano keys and shows you which keys to press first, 2nd, 3rd, etc. until the song ends. It only shows you how to play a particular song. You can see a colored line coming down to hit a specific key. Usually, this type of video is called "virtual keyboard." 
  2. The video that actually shows you how to learn the piano basics. In this type of videos, you can see a teacher talking, explaining things, and showing items such as music notations, not just keys. 

If you are not interested in learning how to play the piano, but only one specific song, then, the first type above would work fine. But even with that, what you "memorized" visually may only stick to you for a few days. After a few days of not playing the piano, you'll forget the order of keys that you are supposed to play because you only memorized the order visually. 

If you are interested in learning how to play the piano and keep improving your skills from free videos, I would recommend you to use the 2nd type above. But if you are a complete beginner, how can you know which video is good or suitable for your situation? You wouldn't know. There is no reference point from your past experience. Also, there are too many videos by too many channels on YouTube to pick from. Don't think that popular channels with more subscribers are better. That's not a case at all. I checked many of them. Plus, even if a video was good for what it is for specifically, that particular video may not be somewhere, you should start. Therefore, I highly recommend you to find ONE channel that covers the vast areas for piano basics in details, instead of hopping around different channels. The good channel also needs to be step by step instead of many different (popular) topics all over the places. You also need to learn from a channel that organizes all the lessons in proper order for you in its playlist. And each playlist should have many videos on it. It should because the piano basics should cover vast essential areas. You can't learn piano basics from just one long video. 

I've found a kind of a channel that I had been looking for. Now I can recommend this channel to people who are looking for free piano lesson videos on YouTube. It's called Hoffman Academy:

Joseph Hoffman created detailed step-by-step videos and organized them all in his playlist. There are primer level, Level 1, and Level 2. Each level contains about 80 videos. Each video is about 10 to 20 minutes. My recommendation for how to use his channel is to take one step at a time. Don't keep hopping around and skipping some videos. Learn from 1 video and incorporate it in your practice. Don't start the next video right away. You need to digest what you've learned first from the video that you've just watched. Be patient with your progress. There is no short cut for learning piano basics. 

(By the way the URL of Hoffman Academy says "PianoLessonsForKids." But his videos work for both kids and adults. They may actually work better for adults.) 

There may be other channels that provide organized and well-explained videos like Hoffman Academy. I haven't found one so far. But if you find one, you can let me know.

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