Monday, March 25, 2013

Review of Adventus MusIQ

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Every so often a review opportunity comes along that is truly too good to believe.  MusIQ Homeschool from Adventus is one such product.

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What is MusIQ?

There is so much to this program that it almost defies description. In this case, a bullet list would best serve:

  • Children's Music Journey, Volumes 1, 2, and 3 is for children ages 4-10. $69.95 each volume.                                                                                                                     This major component of the program is comprised of 95 interactive lessons taught by famous musicians (or their cartoonized caricatures - see below), including Beethoven, Chopin, and Mozart.  There is a corresponding practice session for each interactive lesson.  There are 150 songs to learn to play, along with games and tons of opportunity to composing and playing with other instruments.  Make no mistake - these are full blown piano and theory lessons.  

  • Piano Suite Premier is for ages 8-Adult. $89.95

Piano Suite will teach anyone how to play the piano. It starts at the beginning with note reading and music theory, making it perfect for beginning piano players, but it also includes a library of 500 songs, making it wonderful for experienced piano players.  There are 5 skill levels to accommodate those who have had some piano lessons before, and there are 150 biographies of composers, making it perfect for homeschoolers looking to round out their music curriculum.  This video provides a short, but complete, overview of how Piano Suite works:

  • Ear Training Coach Ages 8-Adult. $34.95 per volume

Ear Training Coach develops both ear training and sight reading abilities.  It develops skills specifically in rhythm, melody, intervals, and sight reading.  The program follows the Royal Conservatory of Music Syllabus.  

How We Used MusIQ in Our Family

The Twins (8)

Music lessons are one of those things that I want all of my children to have, but they just aren't in the budget.  My father is generous enough to provide my two eldest children with piano lessons, but my youngest two haven't had any formal instruction yet.  For that reason alone, I was very excited about receiving this product!

It is necessary to have a MIDI capable keyboard in order to use MusIQ software.  You can either purchase a MIDI keyboard from Adventus (they are very reasonable, especially when purchased as part of a bundle), or you can check the keyboard you already have.  It is possible it is MIDI compatible, as mine was.  If so, all you need to do is plug it into the USB port on your computer.

I decided to have my 8 year-old twins start with Children's Music Journey, Volume 1.  I hooked my laptop up to the TV so that they could both see the lesson with no problem.  After watching it, they both took turns in the practice room with Miss Melody.  CMJ starts off very gently.  Probably too gently for 8 year-olds, but I didn't want them to miss anything! Children don't have to know any notes to start learning music.  Notes above middle C are described as bird notes; notes below middle C are whale notes.  That concept would be very cute for 4 year-olds, but my 8 year-olds were definitely ready to learn something meatier!

Fortunately, meatier things were just around the corner.  Very quickly, my twins started learning about sharps, flats, quarter notes, and intervals.  They were hooked because they were playing music! I think I was a little more entranced with their famous instructors (I loved Beethoven!), but they didn't think the concept was strange, and they didn't resist practicing with Miss Melody.  What kid doesn't resist practicing the piano? My twins are using CMJ 2-3 times per week for about 1/2 an hour at a time, and they will continue to do so.  They are really enjoying it.

(Therese - 11)

Therese was *very* excited about using Piano Suite. She has had piano lessons for a couple of years, but I still made her start at the beginning.  She was able to move quite quickly through the first part of the program, as it really does start at the beginning.  She didn't mind, though, because I let her have access to the library of 500 songs to play, and she really enjoyed watching the notes turn green as she played them.  She experienced some frustration figuring out how hard she had to touch the keyboard keys to get the notes to register with the software.  If she didn't press hard enough on the keyboard, the program didn't register that she pressed the note correctly, hence, it would "go red" and not count.  

The format of the lessons is easy to follow, and individual lessons are not too long.  Therese usually chose to do more than one lesson at a time (primarily because she has not yet hit new material for her - I am a stickler for laying the foundation in a new program), and I love the flexibility of this program for allowing you to do as much or as little as you want to each day.  The lessons look like the screenshot below:

You can always go forward or backward as necessary.

My Thoughts:

I think this is a great set of programs.  Piano lessons are tremendously expensive, and yet research shows repeatedly that knowing how to read and play music is extremely beneficial to kids.  On its face, the MusIQ suite of programs seems expensive, but when compared to the cost of piano lessons, especially if one has multiple children, it's really a great deal! It's also a lot of fun.  Finally, the program is very complementary to a homeschool education.  The included biographies make it easy to use it as composer study along with music lessons.  The included games make it easy to use computer game time as extra music reinforcement time (without your kids realizing that they are actually doing more school!).  There is so much to this program that you really need to explore the website to get a real feel for what is included.

The Cost:

Individual prices for MusIQ are provided above.  You can subscribe to the full suite of programs for $10.95 month.  There are also several bundling options available. The Crew was provided with downloads of all of the programs listed above as a bundle, which would retail for $319.70.

The Crew has kids of all ages who have been using this program, so be sure to click on the banner below to read their reviews!


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Laus Deo,

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