Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Review of HomeSchoolPiano

Homeschool Piano Review

I often reflect on technology and think about Alvin Toffler's 1970 book Future Shock. Naturally, I didn't read the book in 1970 (more like 1996), but I am often struck by how right Toffler was about so many things (technological overload = psychological breakdown). I find myself longing for the pace of life to just slow down and for technology to let up already! Of course, I have selective enforcement in my little world because when it comes to homeschooling advancements and technology, I always say, "Bring it On!" (yes - in caps, no less!). I'll explore my contradictory nature in another post, but for this one I get to tell you about the best piano lessons I have seen online anywhere...and I've seen a few. HomeSchoolPiano offers the equivalent of private piano lessons in your home (minus the personal feedback, but with great customer service) at a fraction of the price of non-online in-home lessons. The HomeSchoolPiano Complete Set of Books that we have been reviewing has blown me away with, yes, its basic lessons, but even more with its emphasis on improvisation - what a novel approach!

Homeschool Piano Review

The Important Details

HomeSchoolPiano is for kids of all ages and has two different payment options, both of which give you lifetime access to all of their amazing online content, including the following:

  • CorePiano - over 30 lessons to teach you the essentials of piano playing.
  • Book 1 - for beginners, includes six original songs and lessons in how to read music and improvise.
  • Book 2 - works through music reading, technique, rhythm, songs, and improvisation. 
  • Book 3 - focuses on learning how to create piano arrangements.

Lifetime access (for 5 children) to the material costs $299, which can be paid all at once, or over the course of 3 months as three payments of $99.97 each. Each plan also includes access to all of the bonus material, which is comprised of a jam track download, sheet music (great to print out and bind as a workbook-style accompaniment for the lessons), and, best of all, the ability to download all of the material - including the video lessons!

How We Have Been Enjoying HomeSchoolPiano

I have had two kids in particular really liking this program (and another who can't wait to use it, but whose schedule is a little busier with school right now). Therese (almost 13) took piano lessons for a couple of years and was very sad to stop, so she has been quite happy to be taking lessons again. Since she has had lessons before, it has been a bit of an adjustment for her to get used to another teacher and style, but that adjustment has hardly been something that has compromised her learning experience. If anything, it has galvanized her to work more on the piano than she otherwise would. Not only has she been learning with HomeSchoolPiano, but she has also picked up practicing her previous material, so she has actually been learning piano on two fronts. She has not really had a "set" time to do HomeSchoolPiano this summer. Rather, she decides when she wants to work on it, and then she sits down and does so. I started her with Level 2, which was a hard decision. Technique-wise it was too easy, but because of HomeSchoolPiano's focus on improvisational work, it was where she needed to be. 

Michael (9) is perhaps a better look at HomeSchoolPiano in our home, simply because he started at the beginning. It's not that you can't start in the middle - you absolutely can - but I think HomeSchoolPiano is like a lot of curriculum: when you begin at the beginning, you are better able to get a feel for the curriculum.

Michael has never taken piano before, despite a sincere interest in doing so. Hence, he started with CorePiano and "scheduled" lessons. He was a little offended, as both Therese and Nicholas (11) have taught him the basics of piano (Middle C, scales, very, very basic music reading), but he wasn't quite ready for Book 1 yet (and with a Lifetime Subscription there is no need to rush! Yay!). 

With HomeSchoolPiano, Michael simply gets my iPad and sits down at the piano to work. It is completely student-friendly. Apart from printing the sheet music, there is nothing I have to do. Brilliant! Best of all, Michael really enjoys it. The overhead view of the piano keys (which I hope is apparent in these pictures) is the best way that I have yet seen to teach an online piano class. The orientation is exactly what the student needs to see. There are no distracting characters, cartoons, or cuteness. Such things may be nice for really young kids, but for kids the ages of mine, they are annoying and they result in the perceived loss of legitimacy for the program. 

Why HomeSchoolPiano is Different

There are several different options for piano lessons online, so it's important to understand why HomeSchoolPiano is different (better) than the others. First, you are purchasing lifetime access for up to five students. That makes this program almost ridiculously affordable. And these are *legitimate* lessons. You can sign up for a free lesson on the website to see what I mean, but you won't be disappointed. Second, and this is the biggie for me, Willie Myette's, the vision behind HomeSchoolPiano, inclusion of improvisation makes this program unlike any other. 

Knowing how to play music is half the battle, but how much more adept a player is the one who can sit down and take off on a song and make it their own? Learning with HomeSchoolPiano will allow your child to master that skill. It is the part of the program that Therese enjoys the most. She is really excited to learn more. I think everyone has heard someone playing a familiar song on the piano and then taking it in a new turn. Being able to do so is what sets them apart from the crowd. In order to be able to do that, you really have to understand how to play, rather than just memorizing notes. The fact that HomeSchoolPiano can teach that just blows me away. I find this program so impressive. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that my kids like it, but they would be doing it even if they didn't.

I actually do think about technology and its limits all the time (and I do recommend Future Shock - it's a funny combination of quaint and percipient and, in an odd way, timely), but when technology can bring Willie Myette and his piano lessons into my home, I'll cope with my own future shock for awhile longer.

Obviously, I'm a big fan of HomeSchoolPiano. To see what other Crew families, thought, please click the banner below.

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1 comment:

  1. From all of us at Jazzedge, we thank you for your unbiased review. Hope you enjoy the lessons!