Can You Learn to Play Piano by Watching YouTube Videos?

Can You Learn to Play Piano by Watching YouTube Videos?

Whether it’s possible to learn to play piano by watching YouTube videos is a question my college piano professor would shudder to even think about.

But it’s a fair question for anyone who struggles with traditional piano lessons.

Carving out time every week to attend lessons is time-consuming. Not to mention the practice time required to avoid guilt or embarrassment due to not practicing at said lessons.

Learning online, at your own pace, and for free seems like a fantastic alternative to traditional lessons.

But is learning to play piano by watching YouTube videos possible?

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at this very controversial question.

This post may contain affiliate links. As affiliates of the Amazon associate program, Modacity, Dr. Josh Wright ProPractice, Musicnotes, Playground Sessions, and Piano Marvel, I may receive a commission at no extra cost if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information and privacy policy. I take no credit for the images appearing on this page. All photos are courtesy of Canva.

What skills do you need to develop to learn piano?

To answer the question of whether learning piano is possible by watching YouTube videos, let’s start by exploring the skills you need to develop to play the instrument.

Note Identification

Playing a song on the piano requires you to play specific notes in a particular order. And this means you have to know which keys to play.

Whether you’re playing from sheet music or by ear, you need to be able to identify the notes on the keyboard in front of you.

The great news is that you can learn note identification from YouTube videos. There are also apps and books to boost your skills in this area.

YouTube is also the perfect medium to learn chord progressions and improvisational skills.


Playing the piano has its risks. Proper technique is vital to avoid strains and other injuries from tension and repetitive motions.

Although good technique at the keyboard is essential regardless of your level, it’s crucial for playing advanced classical repertoire.

Luckily, there are many great YouTube videos out there that cover technique for beginner to advanced players.

My favorite YouTube channel is from Dr. Josh Wright. He’s a wealth of information about playing pieces from the piano repertoire.

Another great teacher of effective piano technique is Graham Fitch, a Pianist Magazine contributor. I’ve improved my technique by watching free YouTube videos from both instructors. I highly recommend their channels to anyone who wants pointers.

Dr. Wright and Graham Fitch post helpful videos regardless of whether you’re at a beginner skill level or consider yourself an advanced pianist.

Although many resources for piano technique are available online, the best way to learn this skill is by getting feedback from an experienced piano teacher.

So, if you aspire to play classical piano, it may be best to seek a qualified instructor rather than attempt to teach yourself.

But if you simply want to have fun at the keyboard by playing your favorite song, YouTube can be a great option! I love playing classical piano but have recently gotten interested in playing covers of different songs.

And YouTube tutorials are a great resource for learning covers of country and pop music!

Hand-Eye Coordination

This next one is trickier. It’s not enough to know the notes. You must also play them in the correct order.

It requires a fair amount of hand-eye coordination.

Mastering this skill takes time and practice. It’s not necessarily something that can be learned from watching YouTube.

But seeing videos of someone playing the song you’re learning can help you start to piece things together for yourself.

Many budding pianists struggle when it comes to playing both hands together. And even advanced pianists sometimes have to practice a passage or two with the right hand first before adding the left hand.

It may be time to invest in a few private piano lessons if you’re consistently struggling with getting your hands together and are feeling frustrated.

Sometimes, it only takes a bit of patient guidance to get you back on track.


There’s so much more personal growth to learning a musical instrument than you’d guess. Although playing the piano is rewarding, it’s also tricky sometimes.

You will make mistakes and feel like giving up on piano playing sometimes.

It’s completely normal to feel this way. But the important thing is to commit to never giving up.

Commit to trying your best and being flexible about accomplishing your goals.

If you’re struggling, play something more accessible. Take your learning backward to find a sense of accomplishment to help drive you forward.

There’s a ton of phenomenal personal development content on YouTube. Whether you find inspiration from watching videos of your favorite pianist or from motivational videos, YouTube has it all!

Effective Practice Habits

When it comes to piano, talent only gets you so far. Solid practice habits bridge the gap between talent and goal accomplishment.

And there are online videos devoted to this topic. I have also read several excellent books on the subject of effective practice.

You can find them on Amazon if you’re interested in delving deeper.

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And if you’re looking for more inspiration on developing the perfect practice routine, take advantage of my recent post on the topic.


If your piano goals involve playing in front of other people, you will need a whole different set of skills for performance situations.

It’s important to realize that everyone sometimes gets nervous when playing for others. But you can learn to cope with your nerves and still have a great time playing for others!

YouTube has many great resources available when it comes to overcoming performance anxiety. It can also be a great place to practice playing for others in a non-threatening way.

There is also at least one Facebook group I’m aware of that is dedicated to people with performance anxiety. It’s a positive, non-threatening environment to post videos of yourself to gain experience playing for others.

And you can choose to either record yourself and post or go live in the group.

Either way, you’ll get encouraging feedback from people who fully understand the stress of playing for others.

Music Theory

Some people love it, and some despise it, but learning the basics of music theory will help you progress faster in your piano studies.

Playing a musical instrument is similar to learning another language. And similar to sentence structure, there are rules for how music is put together.

For example, by learning key signatures, you won’t have to spend extra energy remembering to play a C# and F# for a piece written in the key of D.

You’ll be able to see the piece is written in D and automatically know that any C or F needs to be raised by 1/2 step.

Learning music theory can help you when you’re sight-reading and improvising. And it’s crucial if you want to learn to play music by ear.

There are several helpful free videos on YouTube about music theory. You can also find books and apps to help you master this area.

One of my favorite music theory online learning resources is SkillShare, a learning platform where you can also find classes on painting, photography, and personal development.

Click the SkillShare link if you’re interested in trying it out for yourself.

Can you learn to play piano by watching YouTube videos?

Although it may not be a popular opinion among private teachers, learning to play the piano on YouTube is possible.

YouTube offers a vast array of learning options for playing the piano.

Although I grew up taking piano lessons every week, I wish YouTube had been around back then because it would have helped me have more fun with the instrument.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve(mostly) loved the instrument from day one. But a certain freedom comes from playing songs you hear on the radio.

And nothing beats being able to pull up videos about any topic and feeling like you can understand something much deeper than you did before.

Even after years of private lessons and a baccalaureate degree in music, I still have much to learn about playing the piano. And I absolutely love the wealth of information found on YouTube.

Certain aspects of learning are easier than others. As noted above, technique can be trickier because assessing your own playing is challenging.

You can undoubtedly watch videos of others, but getting feedback on your own technique comes best from a piano teacher.

It’s possible to post videos of yourself and ask for feedback. Still, I’ve learned that advice from internet randos isn’t beneficial.

And in some cases, feedback from internet randos can be utterly disheartening.

Learning to play the piano has been such a blessing in my life that I want to encourage others interested in pursuing it.

And YouTube can be a very economical option for learning to play the piano.

What are the best YouTube channels for learning to play piano?

Classical Music

When it comes to playing classical music, I have two favorite channels. Both offer incredible free resources for aspiring classical pianists.

The first is Dr. Josh Wright. I found his free information incredibly valuable and ultimately invested in his paid  ProPractice course.

I continue to see huge benefits from this course and enjoy the Facebook group which accompanies the course. Dr. Wright is reasonably active in the group, and it’s a very positive and uplifting group.

You can read more about my experience with the ProPractice course by clicking here.

The second channel I’ve found helpful is Pianist Magazine. Many videos on the channel feature Graham Fitch, an active and accomplished concert pianist and teacher.

Although I have yet to invest in Fitch’s programs, he has an active email list and various piano teaching programs.

Resources for beginners, improvisation, having fun at the keyboard

The next category is very broad, but it’s challenging to fit this channel into just one topic.

Zach Evans is the man behind the Become a Piano Superhuman channel, offering a ton of value in free resources.

He breaks things down in a way that’s easy to understand and is always very encouraging. And he might love the piano as much as I do! 😉

More importantly, his mission is to encourage people to learn this beautiful instrument.

His videos are entertaining, engaging, and highly actionable.

If you’re just getting started with the instrument, start with Zach.

Blues, Jazz, and More

Another channel with a little bit of everything is Piano with Jonny.

Although I’m not as familiar with Jonny as I am with the other three, he also offers a vast array of videos for all playing levels.

Jonny does a bit more with jazz and blues than Zach, so if that’s your interest, he’s a great one to follow.

Similar to the other pianists, Jonny offers his own paid programs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need to have an actual piano to learn to play piano?

Although I’m all for experimenting with different learning options, including free YouTube videos, I recommend investing in a piano.

It’s easier to make consistent progress with a piano.

I prefer acoustic pianos for their sound and touch. But sometimes, a digital piano is a more realistic option for beginners.

Digital pianos are sometimes cheaper, and they are definitely more portable than many acoustic instruments.

I recently wrote a review of several budget digital pianos perfect for beginning piano students.

There are generally many cheap or free acoustic pianos for sale online. In many cases, these instruments need way more repair than they’re worth.

Find a piano technician in your area if you prefer an acoustic piano. They generally know how to get the best bang for your buck while avoiding the real trainwreck pianos.

And remember that older does NOT always mean better, especially when it comes to pianos!

Do you have to practice every day?

If you want consistent progress in your piano playing, devoting some time daily to practice is best.

When I practice daily, I remember what I worked on the day before much better than when I skipped a day.

Your sessions should be short to start with because your brain is processing so much at once.

And it’s best to stop when you’re itching to keep playing because then you’ll want to keep at it the next day.

Avoid playing to frustration because you won’t want to pick it up again tomorrow.

Make practice a fun and stress-free part of your day, and you’ll soon see your progress skyrocket!

Can you teach yourself to play the piano?

With all the resources available online, teaching yourself the basics of the piano is possible.

This is especially true if your goals are to have fun, learn a new skill, or impress your friends.

But if your goals are to study classical music or pursue piano as a profession, include private lessons as part of your learning process.

Online courses, apps, and YouTube videos can be fantastic supplemental learning modalities when you need to fill in the gaps.

Are there benefits of learning to play the piano?

Yes! Research shows improvements in fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination thanks to learning the piano.

Playing the piano is a complex interaction between the brain and body, which promotes positive changes in the brain. These changes can fight brain aging, anxiety, and depression.

And if you can play music with others, there are also positive social benefits.

Plus, learning a musical instrument feels much more productive than watching Netflix.

Is it too late to learn to play the piano?

It’s always possible to learn a new skill! I know people in their 70s, 80s, and beyond who enjoy learning the instrument.

Even if you had a bad learning experience when you were younger, there is always time to try a different way of learning.

Final Thoughts

Learning to play the piano can be incredibly rewarding. I’ve spoken with so many people who regret never learning to play.

And with all the different ways to learn to play piano, don’t let one of those people be you!

Consider a private teacher or online courses if you’re serious about learning.

YouTube is full of excellent channels for beginners and beyond. There’s so much to learn, and many talented teachers share their knowledge on this incredible platform. So, start taking advantage of it all now!

No matter your goals, I wish you the best of luck in your musical journey!

And for piano tips, tricks, and inspiration, sign up for my email list. Motivational piano-inspired emails go out once a week, and I can’t wait to see the incredible progress you make by staying motivated!

If you’re looking for more inspiration, make sure to check out my previous posts:

The Best Ways to Learn Piano in 2023

The Best Ways to Learn Piano in 2023

Learning to play piano as an adult has never been easier than it is today in 2023!

Gone are the days when the one teacher in town offered only classical piano lessons, and if you didn’t like it, you didn’t learn to play.

Thanks to technology, you can learn any style of music from any teacher, regardless of where you live.

And suppose you’re more of an independent learner or have a busy work schedule. In that case, there are several great self-paced learning options, two of which are included in this post.

Learning to play the piano has the power to boost your mood and improve your brain function. And it’s one of the most fun skills to learn!

So, what are you waiting for?

If you are ready to take the plunge into the world of music and start playing the piano, here are some tips on how to get started.

This post may contain affiliate links. As affiliates of the Amazon associate program, Modacity, Dr. Josh Wright ProPractice, Musicnotes, Playground Sessions, and Piano Marvel, I may receive a commission at no extra cost if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information and privacy policy. I take no credit for the images appearing on this page. All photos are courtesy of Canva.

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    Overview of Piano Learning Options for Adult Students

    Whether you’re looking for a course, program, or private piano lessons, there are plenty of options from which to choose. It’s essential to consider your desired learning style and goals when deciding what kind of lessons best fit your needs.

    Here is an overview of the different types of piano learning options available for adult students in 2023:

    1. Private piano lessons: A private instructor is a classic approach to learning the piano. You can find teachers who offer in-person and online piano lessons. Private in-person or online lessons provide one-on-one guidance from an experienced teacher. They can be tailored to meet your individual needs.

    2. Group piano classes: Many piano teachers offer group classes. These classes provide a fun, social learning environment that can help you stay motivated and engaged in the learning process.

    3. Online piano courses: You can also find an online course for any level of player, from beginner to advanced. Many of these programs come with video lessons, downloadable PDFs, and audio recordings so you can practice at your own pace and in your own time.

    4. Piano apps: Mobile apps are becoming increasingly popular for piano learning. These apps often include features such as interactive games and tutorials to help you learn quickly and easily.

    5. YouTube lessons: If you prefer a more self-directed approach, there is an abundance of great free lessons available online. YouTube is an excellent resource for learning the basics of piano technique and offers helpful tutorials on specific pieces.

    No matter your learning style or preferences, there is an option to help you learn the piano as an adult in 2023. With all these choices, now is definitely the best time to start mastering this new skill and enjoying all the benefits that come with it!

    Private Piano Lessons

    Private piano lessons provide structure, accountability, and personalized guidance from an experienced teacher.

    A great piano teacher can tailor their instruction to your individual needs and goals, which is especially helpful for adult learners with limited free time or special interests such as jazz, classical, or gospel.

    Plus, having someone else assess your progress with the musical instrument is a great way to stay focused and motivated.

    Consider private piano lessons if:

    1. You are an absolute beginner with no idea where to start when learning to play the piano.
    2. Your goals involve becoming a concert pianist and someday performing at Carnegie Hall.
    3. The thought of navigating an online piano course on your own is overwhelming.
    4. You need accountability from a teacher to make progress.
    5. You’re looking for a solid foundation in piano technique.

    Skip private lessons if:

    1. Your work schedule is erratic, and consistent practice time is limited.
    2. You prefer a self-paced learning approach.
    3. Your foundation in the piano is already strong, but you’re returning to the instrument after many years.
    4. You’d prefer not to play in front of anyone.
    5. Your piano goals involve learning to read lead sheets, play pop songs by ear, or learn improvisation.

    The above lists are incomplete, and you may have other reasons why studying with or without a teacher is the best option for you.

    If you still need to decide whether you need a piano teacher, check out my previous post on whether it’s possible to learn piano without a teacher.

    And if you’re ready to delve into private piano lessons, check out my resource page listing online teachers with openings for new students.

    Group Piano Classes

    Group piano classes are the best way to learn with other musicians, stay motivated, and get feedback from an experienced teacher.

    These classes are also more affordable than private lessons, so they can be a great option for adult beginners on a budget.

    Consider group classes if:

    1. You love learning new things in a group setting.
    2. You need guidance from a teacher, but you can’t commit to regular private lessons as a busy adult.
    3. You’re looking for connections with others who share your interest in the musical instrument.
    4. You are motivated by having an audience, and you don’t mind playing in front of others.
    5. You’re looking for something fun and affordable to do in your spare time.

    Skip group classes if:

    1. Learning a new skill in front of others feels intimidating
    2. You’re easily discouraged by the progress of other people around you.
    3. You find group settings to be a little bit distracting.
    4. You’re looking for one-on-one mentorship.
    5. You’d love to play classical pieces and want a solid foundation in piano technique.

    Although some teachers offer group piano lessons online, you may find one who provides this learning option right in your town.

    Either way, group piano lessons offer an outstanding way to connect with others who are also interested in learning the instrument!

    And when it comes time for the yearly studio recital, you’ll already be used to playing in front of other people and will feel less intimidated when your solo rolls around!

    Online Piano Courses

    Online piano courses offer an affordable and convenient way to learn the instrument at your own pace.

    These courses involve video lessons, tutorials, and written materials and sometimes even offer progress-tracking tools.

    Consider online piano courses if:

    1. You’re comfortable learning independently and have strong self-discipline.
    2. You need a flexible approach to fit into your busy life.
    3. You’re looking for an affordable way to get piano instruction without paying for private lessons.
    4. You already have a solid foundation in playing the piano.
    5. You’re searching for tutorials on specifically classical music.

    Skip online piano courses if:

    1. You need the structure of live classes or private lessons to stay motivated.
    2. You have difficulty understanding and executing new skills from video lessons.
    3. Your unique piano goals aren’t well-suited to the individual program.
    4. You want direct and individualized feedback on your skills.
    5. You’re not sure which genre of music you want to play.

    In short, online piano courses are an accessible and affordable way to learn the instrument if you don’t want or need private lessons.

    Although I studied with a private music teacher through high school and college, I wanted to continue my musical journey after graduation.

    Unfortunately, my busy schedule wasn’t conducive to regular private lessons. After some searching, I found Dr. Josh Wright’s ProPractice program, which was a perfect fit!

    I adore classical music and am always working on expanding my repertoire. Dr. Wright’s course covers various popular classical piano pieces at the beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.

    If you’re interested in this course, read my complete review of ProPractice.

    And if you’d like to learn more about Dr. Josh Wright, check out his YouTube channel. He’s an exceptional pianist and a great teacher!

    Piano Apps

    Sometimes, a few helpful apps are all you need to get started in learning to become a piano player. Plenty of free and low-cost apps available for iOS and Android devices can teach you the basics of playing the instrument.

    Consider using piano apps if:

    1. You’re just starting with piano and aren’t sure you can commit to regular music lessons.
    2. You need to balance learning piano with a busy life.
    3. You feel motivated by being able to track your progress.
    4. The thought of learning from method books bores you, and you want to have fun learning songs you recognize.
    5. You’re nervous about playing in front of anyone.

    Skip piano apps if:

    1. You need the guidance of a teacher to stay focused and motivated.
    2. You already have some experience with piano and want more advanced instruction.
    3. You feel uncomfortable learning from an app or online course.
    4. You’re interested in playing pieces from the classical repertoire vs. learning to play your favorite songs.
    5. You want individualized feedback on your playing.

    Piano apps are a great way to learn piano basics and get comfortable with the instrument without making a long-term commitment.

    Although piano apps typically provide less detail than an online course or one-on-one instruction, they are great for getting your toes wet. And some apps do a great job of teaching music theory as well.

    One of the most famous piano learning apps out there right now is Playground Sessions. Click the link if you’re interested in checking it out.

    YouTube Lessons

    If you’re an auditory learner, YouTube might be the best option for you to start learning piano. Many video lessons are available on YouTube from talented and experienced teachers.

    Consider YouTube video tutorials if:

    1. You’re looking for free instruction.
    2. You want to learn to play your favorite pop songs by ear instead of reading sheet music.
    3. There are specific songs or techniques you want to master.
    4. You already have a solid foundation in playing piano but want to supplement your learning.
    5. You take private lessons, but your teacher doesn’t cover pop songs or how to play by ear.

    Skip YouTube video tutorials if:

    1. You want more comprehensive instruction on an instrument or genre.
    2. You need guidance from a qualified teacher to develop specific skills.
    3. You want individual feedback and help with technique.
    4. You prefer guided coursework as opposed to teaching yourself.
    5. You struggle with independent learning.

    YouTube tutorials are excellent for supplementing your existing playing. For example, suppose you already have a solid foundation in classical piano and want to learn jazz or pop music. In that case, YouTube can give you the basics to get started.

    However, private lessons may be better if you need beginner instruction or comprehensive feedback on your playing.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Do you need to have a piano to learn the instrument?

    Yes. Although some apps offer an electronic keyboard, having a piano is the best way to make consistent progress.

    Is an acoustic piano better than a digital one?

    Not necessarily. Digital pianos are often smaller and more mobile, making them a better investment if you have a small space or are wondering whether you will continue playing the instrument.

    And a high-quality digital piano often has a better sound than many low-quality acoustic ones. If you’re interested in checking out digital pianos in a budget price range, check out my review of several options.

    How much do you need to practice?

    It depends on your goals. Small, daily practice sessions are better than longer sessions that are sporadic.

    When starting, aim for 10-15 minutes of daily, uninterrupted practice. And if you’re looking for accountability, check out this review of the best practice app for meeting your practice goals!

    What’s the best way to structure a practice session?

    Start with a short warm-up. Tackle tasks that take the most brain power next. Follow up with anything else you’re working on, and end with something you love to play!

    And for an in-depth guide on practice strategies, check out my recent post about how to set up the perfect piano practice routine!

    Can you teach yourself to play the piano?

    Yes! It’s possible to teach yourself to play the piano. I wouldn’t recommend this approach if you’re serious about playing from the classical repertoire. Still, if you want to learn a new skill and have fun, you don’t need a teacher.

    Check out this post if you want more information on learning piano without a teacher.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning piano as an adult has unique challenges but can also be incredibly rewarding. Anyone can enjoy the instrument with the right approach and practice techniques!

    Remember that you can combine any of the above options to create an even more solid approach to learning the instrument. And by tailoring the options that fit best into your learning goals, you’ll become an even more efficient learner.

    So why wait any longer to learn? Start today, and you’ll be playing your favorite songs in no time!

    If you’re looking for inspiration and learning resources, join my email list for motivational posts delivered to your inbox.

    And if you’re looking for more great content, check out a few of my past posts.