This is my updated review for 2023 on one of my all time favorite online piano courses, the Piano Man Approach by pro pianist Steve Lungrin. Now I did do a full review on this course a couple of years ago, but the format, and package options have actually been changed a fair bit, and there are some very cool new features and offerings, so I thought it was time to redo my review in full, so . . . let’s check it out!
Piano Man Approach – Background
So I first took the Piano Man Approach course in 2019, and I have to say it was completely game changing for me; it improved my playing significantly, taking it to a whole new level. So who is this course for? This course is great for total beginners, it’s great for people with prior music experience on other instruments, and it’s even great for someone who took traditional piano lessons that wants to learn how to play modern music, because traditional piano lessons really do focus more on classical music.
Why Is The Piano Man Approach SO Effective?
The Piano Man Approach teaches you how to play piano using chords, which is by FAR the fastest and easiest way to learn how to play. So you won’t see any sheet music in this course, so you do NOT have to learn how to sight read; and as I’ve said many times before, you don’t NEED to be able to read sheet music to learn how to play the piano, especially if your goal is to learn how to play modern rock, pop, country, blues or jazz songs on the piano. So if you’re BRAND NEW to music and you’re not quite sure what I’m talking about with . . . learning with chords instead of sheet music?
Well; think about a guitar player you may have seen busking or at a café, or even around the campfire who takes requests, quickly looks at something in a book or nowadays an iPad or iPhone – then suddenly they’re happily strumming away and singing a new song; that person is doing that by playing the song using the chords for the song, which will look something like this:
Nice and simple, and easy to read – you can think of that as the basic structure of the song. Now compare that to the SHEET music for the SAME song, which is basically showing you every SINGLE NOTE as originally played by the artist, which is a FAR more difficult way to learn how to play a song:
Learning to play a pop or rock song with sheet music would take me weeks or months; learning the same song with chords can be done in hours or even less as you gain experience. Now, if your goal is to play traditional classical piano pieces, then you would be better off looking for a course that does include sight reading.
What Sets The Piano Man Approach Apart?
Now, there are a LOT of other chord based piano courses out there, but there are a couple of things that REALLY make the Piano Man Approach . . . stand out from the crowd. The biggest difference, and the one that really elevated my playing to a new level was the emphasis on left hand rhythm patterns or “feels” as Steve calls them, that match the genre of the song. Now in a lot of the other chord based courses that are out there, the left hand is often kept VERY simple, often just playing a single note or notes at the start of each measure. So for example, in the video below I’ll play through a common chord progression with the simpler left hand that many of the other courses have you play:
Now that’s fine when you’re just getting started, and that IS how I got started, but I quickly noticed that . . . all my songs . . . kind of sounded the same; you couldn’t tell from my playing whether I was playing a rock song, a blues song, a pop song or a country song!
Now what Steve teaches you in the Piano Man Approach is how to use your left hand to play a rhythm pattern that mimics the rhythm of what the bass and drums would be doing in a band; and by doing that, you’re now matching the genre or “feel” of the song you’re playing much more closely, so those same chord progressions suddenly sound WAY more like the song you’re trying to play.
I used to play bass in rock bands when I was MUCH younger, so I can definitely relate to how the bass and drums keep a song moving along.
Now the other main thing that really sets the Piano Man Approach apart from a lot of the other courses out there, is that it is in my opinion, the most straight ahead “meat and potatoes” course out there. There is little to no “fluff” in this course – pretty much every single thing Steve teaches you is super useful and will improve your playing. This really is one of the most time efficient courses you can find for learning to play the piano quickly and effectively.
How Does The Piano Man Approach Work?
When you sign up for the Piano Man Approach you get LIFETIME access to his main course which he calls “The Crash Course”; so this is a one time payment, there are NO recurring subscription fees or charges which is awesome. This is a 28 lesson online video based course that will take you from complete beginner to being able to play piano with chords, include genre appropriate rhythm patterns, and then spice up your playing with different improvisation techniques. The course is divided into 6 modules:
- Essential Fundamentals: this gets beginners started with the keys on the piano, intervals and the major scale
- Basic Chords & Rhythm Patterns: this module introduces you to basic chords and your first left hand rhythm patterns
- Second Level Chords, Rhythm Patterns and Improv: this module is where the course really gets going – it introduces more rhythm patterns and more complex chords, and gets you started with some simple improv techniques to spice up your playing
- Learning Songs: This module is the reason most of us start learning an instrument – SO WE CAN PLAY SONGS! Steve will go over his 5 step song learning process which he still uses himself; this is a super efficient process to learn a new song quickly
- Modules 5 & 6 then go into some more complex rhythm patterns, chords and improv techniques, as well as some wrap up comments
What Do The Lessons Look Like
For each lesson, Steve will have a brief intro going over what you’ll be learning in the lesson . . .
and then the video will switch to an overhead view for the lesson itself so you can see what he’s playing.
Then, for lessons that are a bit further on into the course, you will get a song learning example that reinforces the topics that were covered in the lesson. Now these are NOT “note for note” song tutorials where you just memorize how to play a song, these tutorials show you how to apply what you have learned in the course to be able to learn songs on your own.
And Steve has a real knack for picking songs that are perfect real world examples that reinforce what you’ve being taught, and he also manages to find ones that are from all sorts of music genres. And this really shows how his approach and lessons can be applied to rock, pop, country, blues, songs from the 50’s 60’s 70’s and right up to today.
Ok so I mentioned at the start of this review that the format and package options have changed; it used to be that you could choose to just buy the crash course, or you could buy what Steve called his “deep dive” which was a huge depository of more specific lessons that he had accumulated over the years.
That was great and there was a ton of material in the “deep dive”, but what Steve has done now, is pulled out the most popular and useful lessons from his deep dive and organized and packaged them into individual courses, that he is now including with the crash course. So this is actually really cool, because it makes this extra material much easier to access by organizing it nicely into individual courses.
Extras INCLUDED with the Crash Course:
And for these new courses, Steve has incorporated one of those digital keyboards that lights up the notes and the pedals as he plays, so that’s pretty cool. And as with the crash course, these optional add on courses are also lifetime access with a single payment, but you do need to have purchased the crash course before buying any of the add on ones.
Now some extra features with the Piano Man Approach; one would be the Facebook group where Steve posts announcements, new courses, short YouTube video tips etc, and students can post progress videos, ask questions, that kind of thing. Steve also does regular online concerts a few times a month (on both Facebook and YouTube) which are super cool to watch if you have time.
So the last but by no means least important feature with the Piano Man Approach is . . . Steve Lungrin himself. Steve is a SUPER talented pro pianist who has been performing and teaching piano full time for most of his adult life; he is a very laid back, friendly, encouraging and super approachable guy – he has a knack for being able to explain topics (even complex ones) very clearly, and in a way that beginners can easily follow, and his lessons are super casual and tons of fun.
Piano Man Approach – The Verdict
So the verdict on the Piano Man Approach course? This course is absolutely fantastic; it is well organized, efficient, well taught and easy to follow, and it can take you from never having touched a piano to being able to quickly learn and play your favorite modern songs, and the left hand rhythm patterns and the right hand improvisation techniques that you learn will enhance your playing significantly. As I mentioned at the start of this review, this course was a total game changer for me, my playing improved dramatically as a result of taking this course, and my play is continuing to improve with the new courses Steve has been adding. And, since you get lifetime access to the course with a single payment, there’s no ongoing fees or subscription to worry about!
To me it’s an absolute no brainer – this course is a MASSIVE value for the small one time payment that it costs, so I would HIGHLY recommend that you give it a go!
So that’s pretty much it for this review, thanks a bunch for taking the time to check it out. If you want to check out the Piano Man Approach further, please click on the “Get Started” button below. I hope to see you in the Piano Man Approach Facebook community!
Thanks again, happy piano course shopping and have an awesome day!