Have you been seeing ads for an app called Yousician popping up everywhere?
The Yousician ads looked pretty interesting. Guitar Hero mixed with a real guitar on your phone.
So being a curious guitar teacher, I wanted to see how Yousician teaches guitar.
Here is what I found.
What is Yousician?
Yousician is an instrument teaching app for your phone or tablet, so you need to download it from Google Play or the Apple App Store.
You can also download a Mac or PC progam to display the app on your computer monitor as well.
By the way, it used to be called GuitarBots a while back, but they rebranded into Yousician.
After you install the app:
- You will be asked which instrument (Guitar, Piano, Ukulele, Bass, Voice) you want to learn. I chose the guitar.
- How well you play it already.
- You'll be shown a 3 part video on how to use the Yousician app.
After this, you can start learning with Yousician.
Yousician method of teaching guitar
Yousician teaches the instrument in a structured format, which is nice to see.
It spreads its lesson tree into 3 main parts:
- Lead - All sorts of techniques needed for playing lead guitar, including alternate plucking, slides, bends, etc.
- Knowledge - Ear training, musical alphabet, keys, notes on the fretboard
- Rhythm - The skills you need to play rhythm guitar, so mainly chords and strumming. Fingerpicking is taught here as well.
The main premise of Yousician is that it teaches guitar through gamification.
It picks up the sound you make with your instrument.
The display runs in tablature format, which is good (I remember having tried Rock Smith, it had a Guitar Hero style "music sheet" running which is weird for a real guitar player).
You are essentially sight-reading guitar tabs while listening to the backing track of the song. You are shown what to pluck/strum.
The app lets you know whether you played in-time and on-pitch. If you hit the correct notes, you collect points and pass the level.
With each lesson, you need to play through the material at an ever increasing speed.
So in essence, Yousician is a metronome with ears that gives you kudos if you're good.
What I liked about Yousician
In theory, Yousician could be a good thing:
- Gamification is trendy, so collecting points for playing well is nice.
- The software is accurate, it picks up your instrument's sound well.
- It only lets you advance if you hit the mark.
- The competitive aspect probably helps in keeping you on the app, as you can see how many points other people score and try to beat it.
But for me, it got boring quickly.
What I did not like about Yousician
Other than the billing department (see below), there are several things I miss from Yousician:
- Even though the lessons are structured, they don't do a good job of really getting the student deeply involved. The lessons touch a topic, then move on never to revisit it again. The correct way would be to have more exercises/songs on a skill, so the student gets ample practice time.
- They don't have enough lessons. I don't think a beginner could learn guitar with this app without having huge holes in his/her knowledge, so I think this app can only be a supplemental practice method to go alongside a primary guitar lesson source.
- The songs you play don't sound good. They are like exercises, not a song.
- I missed the personal aspect. There is no teacher to look up to, as with video lessons.
- The app focuses on the correct notes, but there is so much more to playing guitar than just hitting a note. Vibratos, slurs, etc., so the feeling of grooving is not something Yousician can teach.
- Besides the monthly subscription, you need to pay extra to play popular songs (premium+ as they call it).
Perhaps, with time, Yousician will become better. This review of Yousician was conducted in 2020, so right now, these are my issues.
Is Yousician for free?
You can test Yousician for free, but you only get limited access to its lessons for 15 minutes a day. Basically, the free version of the app is there so you can try it out and see whether you like the idea of learning an instrument with it.
There is no free way of learning any instruments with Yousician in the long run, not if you are serious about learning the instrument. 15 minutes per day is not enough to learn the guitar.
You will need to purchase a monthly or yearly subscription to unlock the lessons/songs in the app.
Yousician pricing - monthly, yearly subscription and premium+
Let me break down the price of Yousician for you:
Normal pricing for 1 instrument
With the normal pricing package, you get access to lessons on 1 instrument:
- $19.99 per month or
- $119.99 per year
Normal pricing for all instruments
With this package, you get access to the lessons of all instruments:
- $29.99 per month or
- $179.99 per year
With premium+, you get access to lessons on popular songs, and all instruments. This package is not available in all countries. I'm guessing it's because of song copyrights.
- $29.99 per month or
- $179.99 per year
Have a look at Yousician's Trustpilot reviews before signing up as well.
I tried the 7-day free trial with Paypal and canceled before the 7 days were up, so I was not at risk of auto-rebill.
After trying Yousician for a few days, I feel there are better ways to spend your money if you want to pay for guitar lessons.
For a lower price, or even for free, you can get more thorough lessons that will do more to advance your guitar knowledge. Learning the guitar is not just about learning the correct notes, but also the stylistic elements, the feel, and groove of the guitar.
Check out this list of the best guitar sites and youtube guitar channels.
For example, GuitarTricks and Jamplay are great sites with countless lessons and tools to help you learn guitar, plus they cost less than Yousician.
To practice and learn songs, you can get GuitarPro, download the tabs to any song ever written, and play along with it at any BPM you set. As Yousician does, you start out with a lower BPM, and work your way up from there.
Yousician vs GuitarTricks vs JustinGuitar vs Jamplay
The difference between Yousician and traditional online guitar lesson sites is obvious.
First of all, GuitarTricks, Jamplay and JustinGuitar are video guitar lesson websites. They've been around for many years, and have loads of video tutorials on everything guitar related.
GuitarTricks and Jamplay are paid-for sites while JustinGuitar is free, so they obviously have way more lessons/tools than JustinGuitar. But the premise behind these sites is similar.
With video guitar lesson sites, you choose a course to follow, choose a teacher, and you learn. You get the personal experience of the teacher, along with the tabs and backing tracks to help you progress. There are many courses for beginners, then you can advance to blues, rock, funk, country, etc.
With Yousician premium, you end up paying more, but get less. You get the basic lessons, which are not explained in a way a guitar teacher would explain them to you. You don't get deeper explanations, or a chance to learn the essence of playing with feeling. Why would you? Yousician is a metronome with ears.
If you are thinking about paying for a Yousician membership, I would recommend you have a look at these guitar sites first and decide afterward.
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