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30 days with Yousician: Can an app turn you into a rock star?

Fancy becoming the next Hendrix, Adele or Beethoven? This app gives you a start

Surveys show how important parents think it is for children to learn an instrument. Millions of adults are keen to learn too – and yet relatively few do. However, with today’s technology, learning to play can be easier than ever.

In this article, I see how far I can get with a month of Yousician – a ‘gamified’ app with lesson plans that cover guitar, bass, ukulele, piano, and singing.

Yousician guitar

Yousician’s interface feels friendly and almost game-like.

Yousician pricing

A free version of Yousician gives you a taste, but limits play time and features. Premium plans open up more levels, challenges, lesson time, instruments, songs, and access for family members.

Premium costs $14.99/£7.99 per month or $89.99/£59.99 per year, and gives you unlimited access to one instrument.

Premium+ costs $19.99/£13.99 per month or $139.99/£89.99 per year, and gives you access to all instruments, and a wider range of lessons and songs.

Premium+ Family costs $29.99/£20.99 per month or $209.99/£134.99 per year, and allows four family members to use the service.

For this feature, I used a Premium+ subscription I paid for myself. Yousician can be downloaded from the App Store.

About the student

I’ve played music for over 30 years, but am self-taught with many bad habits. My approach has been to learn what’s required to record a song I’ve written.

In being familiar with guitars and keyboards, I wanted to broaden my capabilities there. And I was keen to strengthen my voice, along with gaining confidence in vocals – and actual skills!


Premium+ gets you way more content to try.

30 days with Yousician: the diary

Day 1

Ambitiously, I try a bit of everything. Singing starts by getting you comfortable and ‘gliding’ to notes. The app encourages you to take things slowly.

Guitar introduces tuning and strings, using color-coding to help you play. The main interface’s scrolling view resembles Guitar Hero spun 90 degrees. You need a real guitar, but an acoustic worked fine with my devices.

Piano uses a separate app and kicks off with an absurdist song about a ball bouncing. You can use an external keyboard with its own speaker(s), a connected MIDI USB keyboard, or an on-screen keyboard. The last of those is sub-optimal – but we had some issues with MIDI.

Day 2

Vocal exercises continue. The app’s bite-sized nature builds confidence, and it recommends good habits (warming up; shortish sessions), and replaying sections to reinforce skills.

In guitar, I learn basic riffs and am invited to play simple songs. I try Seven Nation Army. After a few loops, I realize I’ve played the entire thing in half time. Having until now been a chord strummer, that feels fantastic.

In piano, the app suffers when you start moving your hands. It’s unclear when and how to. I feel lost, because I’m trying to do everything properly.

Day 5

Since I’m on Premium+, I start getting tempted by songs rather than exercises. I try a level-three Rod Stewart track and fare poorly. I do better with Tears For Fears and REM, but discover the app sometimes has trouble tracking sustained notes. Still, I must be getting into it, because I’m warned I’ve been singing too long and should take a break.

Day 8

I ‘abandon’ piano, not because Yousician is bad, but because I want to focus, and am having more fun singing. The app takes me through analyzing building blocks of music and singing what’s in my head. Increasingly, I feel mic input is more precise with guitar than vocals – but that might say more about my voice than anything!

REM in Yousician

REMming it up.

Day 12

Guitar takes me through chords I’m familiar with – a chance to confirm the teaching’s solid. Occasionally, the app misses a played string, but impressively notices when one is wrongly muted. Vocals dig into awareness of how muscles and tension affect singing. I’m learning techniques I wish I’d known years ago.

Day 17

Over halfway through, I’m focusing more on vocals. The lack of hassle helps – just putting on some AirPods, rather than grabbing a guitar. I’m getting a lot out of it – my range and accuracy has noticeably improved.

Day 20

Perfect scores on two REM songs! Admittedly, this happened by going over some parts several times, rather than in one take. But it was a big confidence boost.

Day 30

Having had a horrible cold for days, the advantage of a multi-instrument subscription becomes apparent and I tackle more guitar (power chords) and even use my keyboard again.

Yousician certificate

Proof that I was actually doing something.

30 days with Yousician: verdict

There’s no substitution for human tuition, but Yousician feels human in its approach, with regular video snippets from teachers. Moreover, it means you needn’t battle self-confidence issues of performing in front of someone else, and can fit in bite-sized lessons whenever you like.

After one month, I’ve made a lot of progress on my weakest instrument: my voice. Guitar improvements have been palpable too, and the app’s gamified elements – high scores; stars to win; emailed certificates – provide boosts, even if you know they’re ultimately frippery!

The annual subscription isn’t cheap, but even the Premium+ Family sub is the equivalent of five or six hours of one-on-one real-world tuition. Here, you can learn and play as much as you like, for an entire year. Good value, then – if you’re prepared to put in the effort.