There are few instruments as versatile and adaptable as the piano. From the classic compositions of hundreds of years ago to contemporary hits, the piano is capable of contributing to nearly any piece of music. However, the instrument can be a bit intimidating to approach, thanks to the eighty-eight unique keys spread across it. Luckily, it doesn't have to feel that way. With the help of the eight apps we've rounded up, those interested in learning piano can feel right at home running their fingers up and down the ivories. Maybe one day you'll be the one composing music that encourages people to take up the instrument.
The traditional way to learn the piano is through lessons, but that can be expensive, not to mention difficult to work into a busy schedule. If you could get those same lessons any time, anywhere, it would be far more convenient. That's what Learn Piano HD ($1.99, Universal) offers you. It's essentially private piano lessons that you can take with you.
Learning to play the piano can sometimes feel like a slow process, especially when you're playing music that doesn't excite you. Piano Dust Buster 2 (Free, Universal) brings some familiarity to the process and also makes it a game. You'll play on your own real piano, and the app will recognize when you hit the notes of the over 150 popular songs found within.
One of the keys to learning any instrument, piano included, is having an understanding of music theory. Karajan Pro ($9.99, iPad) is designed to train your mind and ears alike to identify parts of music before you play it. Learn how to identify and use intervals, tempo, key signature, and more. All of these concepts will come in handy as you sit down behind the keyboard.
Competition can bring out the best of us, and you can make a game of almost anything, including playing piano. PianoMan (Free, Universal) does just that, letting you go online and play in head-to-head battles using musical notes as weapons. Download new song packs to play some of your favorites and earn points as you learn your way around the ivories.
Once you know how to read music and match up the notes on the page to those on the piano, you can work your way through almost any song. Sheet music isn't as popular as it once was, but Steinway Etude (Free, iPad) brings it into the 21st century, showing you how to play along with an on-screen keyboard and a synthesizer that plays the song at a comfortable tempo.
If it's difficult for you to visualize notes from a sheet of music as you place your fingers on the keyboard, it might be worth reversing the process. You can see notes as they appear on a staff as you play them with Nota ($2.99, iPad), and figure things out in a more hands-on way. The app will also quiz you on notes to see what you've picked up on as you play.
You can think of music as a language, and there are tons of ways to learn one of those. Perhaps the simplest – and for some, the most effective – is the old flash card method. Piano Notes! ($0.99, Universal) will help you learn to associate notes in various keys for both bass and treble clefs with the correct piano keys. Play any of the three modes that works best for you.
Remember Guitar Hero? It brought the extremely identifiable imagery of notes scrolling down the screen as players waited to mash corresponding buttons at the right moment. Magic Piano (Free, Universal) captures that formula and applies it to piano, letting you tap along on a digital keyboard as notes of some of your favorite songs reach the keys.