One of the questions I often hear in the piano business is “Can I teach myself how to play the piano?”  Whether you’re struggling to find room for piano lessons in your schedule or your budget, we have more – and better – options than ever for at-home learners.  Is a self-directed, at-home piano lessons program right for you?  Well, stick around and find out!

My first recommendation is simple:  Keep your expectations realistic.  Don’t start piano lessons thinking you’ll be playing Beethoven tomorrow! It may take time to learn the basics, but the musical foundation they give you will reap rewards for many years to come. You’ll start out like we all do – learning one-handed songs and basic melodies – before you move up to more complicated works. This is a good thing!  If you jump into a piece that’s above your skill level, you’ll likely get frustrated and have the urge to quit.

a modern piano lesson

Today’s piano teachers are making piano fun and accessible for a new generation of future musicians.

My second recommendation is:  Make sure you absolutely can’t fit an in-person piano lesson into your life.  A piano teacher can make learning the instrument easier by establishing good habits from the start. A large part of playing the piano successfully is learning the correct muscle memory, posture, and movement. While working under the instruction of a piano teacher doesn’t guarantee you will become a skilled pianist, it can help you avoid frustrating bad habits. Also, a piano teacher will help you learn the correct fingerings and hand movements to prevent stress or even muscle damage over time. You may not realize your own mistakes without the help of a piano teacher by your side. This one-on-one feedback is impossible to get from a textbook or online tutorial and is unbelievably helpful – especially to students (of all ages!) who need motivation and support as well as instruction.  We always recommend building a life-long relationship with a piano teacher.  It is one of the great joys piano playing offers.

My third recommendation is:  Find the right practice instrument.  This is vital as – believe it or not – it is the number one reason people quit piano lessons.  This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to spend thousands of dollars on a piano.  You could consider a good used piano.  You might want to try a rental program.  You might even consider a good digital piano.  Whatever you decide to do, make sure you get an instrument you like or you won’t want to spend time on it!  If the keys don’t all play, it doesn’t feel like a regular piano, or if it’s horribly out of tune, there’s just no incentive to practice.  You’ll quit.  Guaranteed.  In fact, here is a list of the minimum features you need for your practice instrument.  Need more help?  Contact us for a FREE copy of our Piano Buyer’s Guide!


Can You Teach Yourself to Play the Piano?

Of course you can.  Should you?  Well, that’s something only you can decide.  Working with an experienced piano teacher certainly makes learning to play faster and more fun, but if you simply can’t do that, here are some tools that can help you learn to play on your own:



Pianote is our favorite online piano lessons app.  With Pianote, you can learn the style you want – the way you want – at your own pace with direct access to live piano teachers any time you have a question! They will even build a custom lesson plan just for you!  …and the low monthly fee is about the price of a single piano lesson so Pianote will fit perfectly into just about any schedule or budget.  You can even get a FREE 90-day membership when you purchase a Roland Digital Piano from Riverton Piano Company!


Faber Piano Adventures Player

Faber & Faber is the number one piano lessons course in the world.  They outsell all other series combined.  What most people don’t know is that Faber has a fantastic learning app called “Piano Adventures Player!”  This app allows you to purchase your lesson books right from home (for a VERY low fee) and practice with a full band anytime you want!  This makes learning faster and more fun because you can see what you’re supposed to play and compare it with what you are playing!  It’s a great way to practice even if you’re working with a teacher, but – if you don’t have a piano teacher – it’s a great way to learn on your own!  There’s no monthly fee.  The app is free.  You just have to purchase the music as you go.



Flowkey is another popular “learn at your own pace” piano app.  Practice notes and chords interactively and receive instant feedback.  Play hundreds of your favorite songs no matter your skill level!  Flowkey is a rewarding app for people who want to learn a ton of music from the tv, movies, radio and more.  …and with its video instruction, you’ll learn these songs faster than you thought possible!  Even better!  Purchase a Yamaha Clavinova from Riverton Music and get a 90-day FREE membership to Flowkey!


Piano Maestro

I have seen this app delight more kids than just about anything else on this list.  Full of fun and addictive music, Piano Maestro turns piano lessons into a video game.  Practice with a full band and get a point for every right note!  The app even evaluates your rhythm skills and timing!  You’ll get a score at the end so you can see your improvement in realtime!  …and PianoMaestro is FULL of great music!


Piano Marvel

Especially if sight reading is your goal, Piano Marvel is an amazing tool.  Test your sightreading skills with their assessment test and then watch your progress as you play along with the app!  Piano Marvel also hosts a ton of fun challenges to keep your piano learning experience fresh.  Works on iOS, Windows, Mac and Chromebook!


My final recommendation is:  Take your piano lessons seriously.  Don’t just play along with YouTube tutorials.  Choose a program that works for you and stick with it.  You CAN learn on your own, but – just like everything else – there is a right way and a wrong way to do it.  If you learn the wrong way, you may learn bad habits or lose interest entirely.

So make sure you work with the teacher or app that will motivate you and inspire you as you work your way through the basics.  Have fun and remember that the time and resources you’re investing in this endeavor will leave you with an incredibly relaxing and satisfying lifetime skill!  Believe me.  It’s worth it!