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Can apps teach you how to play an instrument?

Updated: Aug 15, 2022

Due to smartphones, tablets, and the like, digitization has become an integral part of our everyday lives. But what has that got to do with music and how to learn an instrument? Quite a lot, in fact, if you look at the multitude of music app providers and their different approaches. In this article, you’ll find out if an app can help you learn an instrument.

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Learning an instrument with an app

What types of music apps exist?

Making music with an app: With these apps, for instance, a piano keyboard is displayed on your screen. Depending on the app, the keys are colored, or dots appear one after the other on the keys, which you are then supposed to tap. There are also similar apps for guitars or sound pads that play entire sequences upon tapping the individual keys.

Learning an instrument via an app: Other apps are designed to show you how to play the instrument of your choice. With the help of short videos, you are supposed to imitate the posture and handling of your own (real) instrument. In this way, you can teach yourself how to play the instrument and even learn it for real.

Tracking progress via an app: If you are currently learning an instrument, there are also apps that can “listen” to your playing and then point out any mistakes you make. Such apps are designed to help you improve your playing and offer both video sequences as well as the chance to keep track of your progress. Especially for instruments like the piano and the guitar, such apps are comparatively helpful, because they show you how you should position your fingers and can also give you immediate feedback if you’ve made a mistake. Moreover, you don’t have to come up with your own fingering for the selected piece, which makes it easier to learn.

Instruments as an app: So-called “sound mix apps” allow you to create different soundtracks of different instruments, which you can then play together. You won’t learn to play an instrument, but with a little practice, you can create impressive compositions.

What do you need in order to use such apps?

That depends mainly on the type of app you’re using since some apps require you to have your own instrument, for example. This is especially true if the app is supposed to support you in learning or show you how to implement certain fingering. If you choose an app with an integrated instrument, you only need the app itself as well as the proper device (smartphone, tablet, laptop, computer). For a better listening experience, it is recommended to use headphones with some apps so that you can also hear finer nuances.

learn to play the piano with an iphone

What are the advantages of using apps to learn an instrument?

It’s definitely fun to use such apps, and if you’re familiar with using a smartphone and the like, you’ll not encounter any significant issues in the process. Furthermore, you can record quick results since the playful approach allows time to fly by. This automatically results in longer practice times that help you make rapid progress.

Some apps even provide additional motivation by offering various challenges, and they also offer a huge selection of songs to choose from, depending on your mood and/or musical tastes.

Music learning apps can make it much easier for you to start learning an instrument. You can already practice the first techniques and get a feeling for the chosen instrument. Maybe after a short time, you discover that you are completely hooked and want to improve your skills, or perhaps you come to the conclusion that you don’t enjoy it at all and drop it again.

Are there any disadvantages to learning an instrument with apps?

Since you don’t have an actual teacher, corrections are mainly limited to the sound rather than the playing technique itself. This is one of the big drawbacks when it comes to learning apps: If playing errors arise from technical inadequacies, the app can’t detect that, leaving you clueless as to why you always keep failing at a certain point.

Especially with apps that include the instrument itself, you quickly get the impression that you can actually play the instrument. However, such apps simply cannot convey the required pressure and the actual feel of the instrument. If you then switch to a real instrument, you might end up disappointed, since you first have to get used to the new playing experience.

Depending on the instrument you choose, the selection of apps can be relatively small. There are plenty of options especially for popular instruments like piano, ukulele, and guitar, while the selection is much more limited for instruments such as harp or bassoon. When in doubt, just do your research.

The cost of music learning apps

Many apps advertise that you can get music lessons for free. However, most apps have both free content as well as a (much larger) paid section. Such offers are tempting and usually allow you to achieve your first success quite quickly. As soon as you want to improve your skills, however, you have to pay, whereby the costs depend on the chosen app and the desired scope of services. Many apps start at CHF 0.99 per week, while the sky’s the limit. For example, the annual subscription for a piano learning app currently costs around CHF 64.

However, many apps offer a free trial period during which you can try out all the functions without any restrictions. Pick a time frame during which you can really test the app to get to know its features and find out if you want to use it.

online learning music teacher

So, is it possible to learn an instrument with an app?

That depends on your needs. If you want a quick first impression of the instrument, using an app is certainly a good idea. Even if you just want to have fun and simply create sounds, then apps are the right option for you.

But if you truly want to learn an instrument, you should seek the help of a qualified teacher and book lessons with them, since they can help you when it comes to posture mistakes, technical challenges, and also with creating the right sound. That’s something none of these apps can provide. At best, they can tell you if you played something wrong without actively figuring out the cause of those mistakes.

A good balance is important

A qualified teacher is the best option if you want to learn an instrument or how to sing. Particularly in private lessons, instructions are based entirely on your abilities, and you will make great progress with only a bit of practice. However, music learning apps can provide excellent support and can be a great way to encourage you, especially when you’re feeling low on motivation. For example, if you get stuck on a song, you just use the app to work on it and become more relaxed again. Because getting stuck on your sheet music will only lead to frustration in the end.

Music apps can also help if you just want to brush up on your skills a bit because you haven’t practiced for a while. After all, you’ve already mastered the techniques and will find it easier to get back into the swing of things.

During the Corona lockdowns, many music schools resorted to digital lessons. To conduct group lessons, many worked with Zoom and similar video conferencing tools. For individual lessons, some teachers sent out video footage and students responded with their own results. During these challenging times, the music learning apps were able to demonstrate their potential, because students who suddenly had to play on their own at home remained more motivated.

If you don’t want to pay for apps, you can also use the content on various video platforms, where many professional musicians share their advice, enabling you to refresh and even expand your knowledge. Maybe this will teach you something you’ve always wanted to know from your idol, such as how that person creates a certain sound.


How should you feel about apps that help you learn to play an instrument? As long as you focus on the fun side of it all and think of the apps as a way to support your efforts to learn an instrument, they’re a really good idea.

However, keep in mind the limitations of such technical tools. You won’t learn all the techniques and skills related to the instrument by using them. At best, you will have a lot of fun and are able to pass the time between lessons.

Should you have any questions about our offers and teachers and would like some advice, feel free to contact us. The teacher you choose can then also help you find useful apps so that you can be sure to get the best results.


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