After Teaching Millions to Play the Piano, flowkey App Gets Attention from Tim Cook
When a young musician couldn’t find a good way to learn the piano online, he created an app of his own—flowkey. Years later, he was chosen to present it to Apple's CEO. Here’s the story of how it all happened.
by Matthew Unicomb
Inside a busy Apple Store on a rainy September morning in Berlin, a familiar tune emerged from the hum of chattering journalists, photographers, and die-hard Apple fans.
A pianist had begun playing the opening notes of the world's most famous ringtone: that oh-so-familiar melody from the Apple iPhone.
The musician hunched over the keyboard was Jonas Gössling, co-founder of flowkey, a piano-learning app so popular that it was selected to present to Tim Cook during his recent visit to Berlin.
"I wanted to show him the power of music and how it creates these powerful emotions," Gössling said later, reflecting on his encounter. "I was so nervous that my hands were shaky, but I could still manage to play the ringtone that I hoped would put a smile on his face."
From university project to more than 10 million users
The high-pressure setting in the buzzing Apple Store was a long way from the eight-square-meter office space on the campus of Berlin's Technical University, where Gössling founded flowkey in 2015 with two friends, Alexander Heesing and Ahmed Hassan.
The trio met while studying, coming together to launch flowkey after Gössling had tried—and failed—to use YouTube tutorials to get back into piano, which he had played for years as a child. He was frustrated by the online options he found: YouTube tutorials needed to be constantly paused, rewound, and repeated, because the pace of the video was either too slow or too fast.
Gössling was convinced there must be a better way to learn, so he set about developing one of the world's first piano-learning apps.
In the years since, flowkey has become a leading platform for learning piano, with more than 10 million users worldwide. And not only Apple loves it. The app has collected tens of thousands of five-star ratings from both Apple and Android users who’ve achieved things at the piano they never thought possible.
It's never been easier to play your favorite music on the piano
With thousands of other courses and tutorials available online, what's the secret that has brought millions of players from around the world to flowkey?
Users love the app's thoughtfully designed courses and tutorials that make it easier than ever to learn new songs on the piano
flowkey's innovative technology empowers beginners to start playing their favorite songs immediately, even without knowing how to read sheet music. Experienced players also benefit from this learning method, which allows them to start playing their favorite music faster than with books or other online tutorials.
What Users Say:
"I've only been playing the piano a year. Before using this app it took me months to learn a new song. With this app you will learn in a third of the time, or less.” - Emma
"I'm an older adult (73 years old) and new to piano. I decided to try flowkey and learn on my own. It was the best decision I could have made. There are tons of selections for every level, plus courses for learning scales, chords, and more” - Apple Review
“Great program to learn piano. I especially enjoy the ability to slow down songs, scroll to certain points. The best part is that you can highlight a specific section that keeps on looping to master it before continuing.” – John D.
Subscribers get access to a library containing thousands of songs in every genre, from classical and modern pop to film soundtracks and '60s rock 'n' roll. A team of professional pianists arrange every song, usually in four difficulty levels, from beginner to pro.
This means learners can move onto a tougher level of their favorite song after mastering the easier version. Players can even choose which hand they'd like to focus on: right, left, or both at once.
Step-by-step lessons to learn the basics and acquire new skills
In addition to a song library that stretches from Mozart to Lady Gaga, a series of courses teaches all the music theory you need to become a well-rounded piano player. Bite-sized videos explain scales, sheet music, improvisation, and chords with courses written and recorded at flowkey's studio in Berlin.
More advanced pianists can choose their own path through the courses, perhaps skipping the theory they already know, like, say, rhythm practice, to focus on something new, such as building chords. flowkey puts control in the hand of the learner, allowing them to repeat lessons until they perfect them.
Try flowkey for free today
If you've always wanted to get into—or back into—the piano, or if you're an experienced player who wants to learn new songs, now is the time to try flowkey for free.
Just download the app, pick a song, and start playing.
Header Photo Credit: Apple
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