The piano, first invented in the late 17th century, is most often associated with Western classical icons Ludwig van Beethoven and Johann Sebastian Bach. Certain stereotypes equate expensive, time-consuming piano training with increased intellectual prowess.
While it does take an extraordinary amount of effort and commitment to master the 19th century’s most popular instrument, anyone can learn enough in their spare time to adequately perform a few songs. The costs involved in learning the piano are dropping, as well. As a consequence of mass production, some pianos cost as low as $3,000, and nowadays you can often find a piano for free on Craigslist, provided you’re willing to help move it.
But the most significant cost to new piano learners is the cost of lessons. Unfortunately, most piano teachers charge an hourly rate, which makes learning the instrument an impossibility for those without expendable income. Zach Evans, the creator of the Become a Piano Superhuman YouTube channel, realised the piano teaching market lacked affordable lessons because he couldn’t find them himself.
Of course, plenty of YouTubers offer lessons on how to play specific songs on the piano, but the technique behind those songs is left out. Evans filled that gap. Speaking on the issue, he says, “Everything out there was just about memorising songs, but there was nothing that was truly teaching the essentials behind the songs. The technique, the music theory – that material is so important. You can learn songs for a while, but ultimately you’re going to get jammed, and that’s where my course comes in.”
Evans learned piano through lessons with his grandfather, Dave Evans, and on YouTube, learning the songs that other pianists offered. After a sports injury in his freshman year of college, he decided to take his love for piano seriously, switching his college major from mathematics to music. He studied classical technique under world-renowned music professor Dr Eli Kalman.
Growing up poor, Evans knows how difficult it is to learn an instrument without proper lessons. His dad was a gym teacher, and his mother stayed at home to take care of Evans and his five siblings. It was difficult for him, but it built a sense of grit and determination. And he understood that there were a lot of people out there that couldn’t afford in-person piano lessons. So he created an alternative.
Evans offers free and affordable content on YouTube and in his free course, Become a Piano Superhuman. Instead of simply teaching how to play songs, he teaches his students and viewers the techniques and basic music theory behind those songs. Most importantly, his product works.
Evans insists, “It all comes down to having a product that actually gets results for people. If your product doesn’t work, people will cancel [or stop watching the videos] after the first month. Yeah, you can run more ads, but it’s like filling up a leaking bucket. But if your product actually works, it’s only going to speed up the growth. It’s amazing how the market rewards stuff that actually works in real life.”
In the current internet-based marketplace, offering cheap lessons to thousands of people generates more income than offering expensive lessons to a few people. Evans took advantage of this basic principle, innovating the music industry. He fixed a problem that he had to deal with growing up to make it easier for the rest of the world to learn how to play the piano, and he does it in a fun and creative way.
Evans first YouTube hit was a cover of Lil’ Wayne’s “Lollipop.” He doesn’t subscribe to the notion that piano must always be serious and proper. Speaking on teaching piano in such a fun and creative way, Evans admits, “Sometimes I do get a lot of pushback because on a lot of my lessons I say stuff like, ‘Oh, this is the faster or easier way to learn piano.’ A lot of people say, ‘Oh, there’s no easy way,’ but I think there absolutely are strategies that absolutely can help you learn stuff faster.”
His growing fanbase seems to agree. Become a Piano Superhuman is over 100,000 subscribers, his Instagram is over 100,000 followers, his enrollment in Piano University is in the hundreds of thousands, and his earnings eclipsed the $1,000,000 mark. Over his lifetime, he will help thousands of people who want to pick up a new hobby. From Bach and Beethoven to Lil’ Wayne and Justin Beiber, Evans offers something for everyone.