Online music lessons – spurred on by the pandemic – are thriving. Adults used the time in lockdown to learn new instruments or practice long-abandoned ones; a July 2021 report by UK Music found that one million adults had picked up an instrument during lockdown. Families also began learning instruments together.
It’s easier than ever for newcomers to start playing the piano at their own pace, aided by a torrent of Online piano apps features step-by-step video lessons, comprehensive tutoring, and hundreds of tutorials on popular songs. Many are paid, but are still significantly cheaper than in-person tuition would cost.
It was sent to us Roland FP-30X digital piano to review, which includes three months of free tuition courtesy of the online platform Piano. We’re not at Josh Groban’s level yet, but for the past few weeks, our home has been filled with music, laughter (and some learning, too). My 6 and 8 year old kids especially loved the keyboard and the lessons and enjoy teaching me scales. Here’s what we thought…
Roland’s FP-30X Digital Piano: What you need to know
Roland is a leader when it comes to instruments, especially digital pianos, and 2021 was a record year for the brand, with keyboard sales up 60%. In February 2021, Roland launched its latest digital piano series FP-X. FP-90X, FP-60X and FP-30Xthe entry-level model we played.
At $799.99, the FP-30X is the most affordable of the bunch, although to call it affordable would be an overstatement. If you’re looking to invest in a piano for the whole family, it’s a top quality instrument.
Available in black or white, this piano is a real statement piece, but it’s still compact and, at around 30 pounds, easy to transport (we’ve moved it around so the kids can tap on it on the floor or follow a lesson around a table ). . One feature that sets Roland’s digital pianos apart is the touch and feel of the keys, which exhibit a sensitivity typically found on much more expensive acoustic pianos. Like Roland’s more expensive piano models, the FP-30X has 88 full-size keys with “hammer action” for a more realistic playing feel.
As my friend, a piano teacher, tells me, “Roland’s digital pianos are great for making music and the soundbank is superb.” The sound quality is rich and expressive, whether the kids are practicing their lessons on pianote or with the different sounds (piano and not -piano) that are available on the keyboard. It also scores with ease of use, Bluetooth connectivity (Bluetooth MIDI can be used to connect to apps for anyone who wants to jump into the composition) and has two outputs for headphones.
Overall, this digital piano is simply a joy to play (and display), for a novice or more experienced player, and is suitable for children aged four and six, as well as tweens and adults. Interestingly, although it’s against the rules in more traditional settings, having the keyboard on our living room floor for several weeks (our model didn’t have a stand) got our kids to approach the instrument in a different way. They were much more relaxed and experimental with it and played it a lot more regularly than more formal keyboard setups (we have a Yamaha P45 for beginners; they like this keyboard a lot more).
Three months of free piano lessons
Roland is also offering a tempting incentive for anyone who buys a digital piano by 6/30/23: three months of free lessons from Pianoan online piano learning platform that has doubled its membership in the past year.
The offer isn’t available on all Roland models, but you’ll find you can access it by purchasing any of over 100 Roland digital pianos and keyboards, including the FP-30X we reviewed and the (less expensive) GO series of compact keyboards from Roland.
It’s very easy to set up pianote lessons once your piano arrives. Simply register the piano here shortcut and get a code to access live lessons, step-by-step sessions, song tutorials, and support from any phone, tablet, or computer. There are several teachers of pianote, but the most important is content director and keyboard artist Lisa Witt, who has been teaching for nearly two decades. Her style is playful, friendly and engaging, and she has a stunning voice too – check out her version of Bette Midler The Roseone of the songs you can learn with the app.
Pianote offers a comprehensive learning experience for those who have never played the piano, with videos starting with the real basics, such as how to sit at the piano and recognize notes on the keyboard. Students can then continue with chords, music notation, and learning about different styles of music. There is a lot of content that should also complement more experienced players.
Each step of the method is broken down into multiple bite-sized videos, so you can learn at your own pace or use Pianote to supplement what you already know. That’s exactly what our eight-year-old did – picking up right where she left off in her last face-to-face class two years ago. There are live lessons where you can get feedback on your game, and you can always ask questions via email or chat. There are also extensive bootcamp and fundamentals videos covering everything from left-handed patterns to riffs and runs, so every aspect of learning the piano is covered.
Pianote’s teaching method is much more fun and flexible than a traditional facility. You can skip around with the lessons or ignore them altogether to start practicing a song you want to learn (there are over 100 to play including hits by Ed Sheeran, The Beatles, Lady Gaga and Olivia Rodrigo as well as kid basics like ” Happy Birthday”). You have the option to choose whether to learn songs using chord charts or sheet music. Pianote is also gamified. You earn completion bonuses and points as you complete each level.
For more experienced players there are some interesting courses to try, such as Jazz, Songwriting and Brett Ziegler’s fun Cocktail Piano for Beginners. The instructors are engaging and easy to follow. We were amazed at how enthusiastically our children followed the lessons. However, we won’t pretend they made them in any order! Videos also deal with practical topics, such as impostor syndrome and whether studying music is worthwhile or not.
Pianote’s website estimates that a year of private piano lessons costs $1,700, while Pianote costs $197 per year (there’s also a 90-day challenge for $49), but you get one with the purchase of a Roland -Klaviers also three months free of charge. Even during school, we found that our children were much more willing to practice with Pianote as it was pressure-free and easy to use at any time of the day or night. This online course is good value for money, especially when compared to others we’ve tried before. There are also downloadable resources such as the 500 Songs in 5 Days chord chart, which is 1423 pages long.
Our six-year-old, a total beginner, enjoyed Pianote the most by watching certain videos repeatedly until she mastered them. She is now learning scales.
The verdict on Roland’s FP-30X digital piano with pianote lessons
There are undeniable benefits of learning piano online, anytime, anywhere that works for you. Platforms like Pianote also encourage our kids to practice more than we’ve ever seen them practice before because it doesn’t feel like work (and we don’t force them to go through it systematically, lesson by lesson). So while they no doubt enjoy the creative side of learning an instrument much more, we have no doubt they miss out on some of the technical insights, although that’s more our problem than the app’s.
We can’t fault the Roland digital piano either. It’s a piano for life with an amazing tone and feel, perfect for musicians and families alike. Unlimited piano lessons at your fingertips can take someone from a total beginner to a fairly confident student with consistent use for three months. The biggest downside is the cost: $700 is a lot for a beginner piano when you can get a working version starting at $250.
That is, the LUMI buttons, a fun, backlit keyboard with just 24 keys, costs $299 for a kit that’s a fraction the size of a full piano. However, the LUMI Keys are a cool tech toy. It scores with its portability as it can easily accompany families on trips or on the go. The LUMI app includes 40 essential songs (from nursery rhymes to classics) and 60 interactive lessons. Or save $50 on a LUMI Complete Pack (now $29.99) with 600+ contemporary and classic songs, 200+ lessons, and new material added monthly.