I always hated both languages and music lessons when I was at schools. I am much more comfortable with numbers and was always a much stronger student with STEM.
I also hated school in general and found most teachers unpleasant. This led me to be quite anxious and stressed when having to be taught something I am not good at. Similarly, I failed my driving test at 17 and didn’t learn again until my 30s.
Back when I was at school, the Internet was only just gaining traction, and the most advanced mobile you could buy was the Nokia 6110, allowing you to play Snake. If you wanted to learn something by yourself, you had to go to the library and get a book.
Thankfully those days are over, and one of the best things about the Internet/Mobile is the access to educational material and the ability to learn remotely.
Duolingo has famously simplified learning languages, and Skoove hopes to do the same with the piano.
Platforms you can use & hardware you require
Skoove offers multiple ways to do their lessons, and they all require some sort of physical keyboard, either MIDI or acoustic. There is no onscreen keyboard option, which is something I was expecting, but in hindsight, there are probably too many keys on a piano to be practical to show on a tablet, let alone mobile.
You can also learn via a web-browser. This offers different ways to learn:
- You can plug in a USB or MIDI keyboard, with the MIDI keyboard requiring a MIDI to USB adaptor.
- You can use an acoustic keyboard requiring you to enable the microphone on your computer so the app can hear the notes
- It is possible to use your normal QWERTY keyboard to do the lessons, but I imagine this is less than ideal. I briefly tried it and found the finger positioning to be extremely cramped and awkward.
- The main app is on iOS, but they have just launched a beta version of the Android app, which is what I mainly used.
The main app is on iOS, but they have just launched a beta version of the Android app, which is what I mainly used when on mobile.
As I have a large desktop set up with a massive monitor, I found that I preferred the browser-based app. In particular, the finger positioning looks clearer compared to mobile. The mobile and browser-based lessons offered the same overall experience.
The beginner lessons are about as basic as it gets, which is just what I need.
All the lessons take a similar format and get progressively more complex.
Lean On Me & Finger numbers will start off teaching you with the finger positions with the finger gym practices, as the lessons progress, these will be dropped, and instead, the lessons start out with “get to know the song”.
Later they will also introduce the music concept of sheet reading the music, which is helpful because as a beginner, it made literally no sense at all.
Lessons are generally broken down into right and left hand.
I found that all the initial parts of the lessons were quite easy, but the play the band section highlighted how poor I was at music. My ability to play the keys as fast and with the correct timing compared to the band was very poor indeed. I struggled with the early lessons with one-handed use, let alone with the lessons that require both hands at once. Practice makes perfect, though.
Skoove has a free and premium plan.
With the free option you have 25 piano lessons with no time restrictions, so it is a good way to try it out.
The Premium plan is £17.99 PCM, but you can drop this down to the equivalent of £8.33/month if you take out a 12-month plan.
The premium plans include over 400 lessons, taking you from beginner to advanced. There are new monthly lessons and songs, plus one-on-one support from the Skoove music instructors.
Overall, I have been impressed with Skoove. I know most people suggest getting a teacher when you are a beginner, but I find this quite anxiety-inducing. I also have an unusual daily schedule, and having to set aside specific parts of my day does not work for me. So, learning via an app in my own time suits me perfectly. I also think I am better off learning by myself just so I can train my brain to use both hands independently.
I have no doubt that this method is not perfect, I am sure I may pick up a few bad habits on the way, but getting over the first hurdle is the most important. Once I feel a bit more comfortable with the piano by myself, I can look into a teacher and likely continue to use the app to get some additional practice in between lessons.
Skoove is definitely a great way to start out with piano lessons, especially, if like me, you get anxious at the thought of in-person lessons.
Posted by Mighty Gadget Blog: UK Technology News and Reviews