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.
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.
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!
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., ,
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.
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?
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.
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
- Why Routines are Better Than Resolutions
- How to Set Realistic Piano Goals and Accomplish Them
- Secrets to Setting Yourself Up for Success in 2023 and Beyond
- The 30 Most Famous Classical Piano Pieces of All Time
- How to Tell When You’re Overwhelmed
- Why You’ll Never Regret Enrolling Your Kids in Piano Lessons
- 5 Simple Reasons You Should be Calling Yourself a Pianist