Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A TOS Review: HomeSchoolPiano





I started piano lessons when I was young thing. And then when I was a little older. My piano playing today mostly involves plunking chords. My music reading skills have always been pretty spiffy (thanks to those early lessons, Jr. High Band and my many choir escapades), but I have had a desire lately to brush up on my piano technique. 

Music lessons, in my opinion, are an important part of a young person’s education. They can, however, can be quite a commitment for a family. It often takes time and resources that are hard to come by. I had a stint several years ago as a music instructor in an elementary school. Later I gave piano lessons out of my home. I could only take my students so far, but I know firsthand what kind of dedication it takes. 



http://homeschoolpiano.jazzedge.com/


When Josiah and I were given the opportunity to review HomeSchoolPiano I jumped at the chance. We received a lifetime subscription for up to five students to HomeSchoolPiano - Complete Set of Books. Yay! This not only provided a way for me to provide Josiah with piano lessons (other than myself), but also gave me a way to work on my own piano skills.

What is HomeSchoolPiano?

http://homeschoolpiano.jazzedge.com/


HomeSchoolPiano is a subscription program that provides access to online piano lessons. The beauty of this program is that the student can move at his or her own pace. It includes all the lessons for beginners through more advanced students.  HomeSchoolPiano uses a six step cycle that includes technique, rhythm, ear training, reading music, song and improvisation. 

http://homeschoolpiano.jazzedge.com/


The instructor for the course is Willie Myette, himself a graduate of the Berklee College of Piano.
The complete set is comprised of four books. All lessons are offered by Willie. One of the neat features if the videos is that not only can you see Willie, but you can also see his keyboard up close and personal. Josiah would occasionally remark, “I can see his hands!” He thought that was a pretty cool deal.

http://homeschoolpiano.jazzedge.com/

As I mentioned before all the lessons are self-passed. Each video is only 5-10 minutes long. You can repeat as needed or move along quickly. The books are as follows.


CorePiano: This is the very basic piano skills are introduced. These are the kind of lessons that I would teach in the very first few weeks and months to a beginning piano student. How to sit properly at the piano, the five finger scale, note names, key signatures, chords and rhythm are al included in CorePiano.
 

Book 1: This book is for beginners who have had some piano (or music) exposure. They understand basic note reading and technique, but they need a little reintroduction to the piano.

Book 2: This book is for beginners to intermediate students. More complicated concepts, songs and improvisation skills are covered.

Book 3: This is the final book in the program. This is for the intermediate student. Syncopation, voice leading and more advanced scales are introduced. 

There isn’t a set age recommendation for HomeSchoolPiano. The student simply needs to be willing and mature enough to listen and practice.  You need a trusted internet connection and a way to print off PDF files. 

Here are some of the pricing details. 

HomeSchoolPiano has two payment packages and the pricing is as follows:

1. Success Package (One payment of $299)
Unlimited life-time access to HomeSchoolPiano along with all bonuses (downloads, jam tracks, sheet music) for up to 5 students.

2. Payment Plan (Payments of $99.97 per month for three months):
Unlimited life-time access to HomeSchoolPiano along with all bonuses (downloads, jam tracks, sheet music) for up to 5 students.

How We Used It

My purpose for this review was twofold. Josiah is presently taking guitar lessons with my Mom (with some practice help from my husband). I love not being his music teacher. I know this sound horrible, after all this is a subject I know a little bit about. I just feel he needs another or different mouth talking to him. On the other hand, I want him to learn to read music. He learning basic chords on his guitar, but I want him to know music theory. Or at least be aware of it.

I am not expecting Josiah to become a piano prodigy. I just want to expose him to the structure and discipline (not to mention the beautiful music) that comes with the piano. My concern was (and still is) that two instruments at once is a bit much. I was afraid it might become too overwhelming for a boy who would rather spend his day constructing space ships and swimming laps.

My other goal was for me to be able to wander through the lessons personally. Thankfully, I didn’t have to sponge off of Josiah’s piano time because you can add up to five students to your account. Each student is assigned an individual account and you can start where you left off. I have to say that Josiah and I used one account more often than not. 

This review time was very busy for us, but because of the self-paced nature of the program I could sneak our lessons in whenever we had opportunity. 

My piano currently resides in my storage building. It has for the past few years. Sadly, we don’t presently have room for it. A year or so ago, I was blessed with a midi piano that can easily plug into my laptop. I don’t have to have special software (other than a USB chord). This made set up for Piano lessons easy. 

We were able to watch the lessons a few times a week and practice in between time. I didn’t feel like the pace was outrageous. It was certainly doable. The lessons are playable on a phone, tablet or computer. I like being able to see so we played our lessons on my laptop. 


Each Book comes with a downloadable PDF book.  I sent the CorePiano book and Book 1 to Staples to be printed. I also asked for the spiral binding option. I wanted something that would be durable. 



I have to say that Josiah responded very well to Willie’s instruction. He liked having a “dude” showing him the piano ropes. Because he is dyslexic I often (overly so) worry that I am overwhelming him. The printed book was easy for him to read and to follow. I am not sure how it is going to play out the farther along he gets in his lessons, but for now he is enjoying himself.
I certainly am enjoying my reintroduction to piano technique. I don’t think I appreciated my opportunities when I was young. I think we can all say that about a lot of things. However, if you are thinking about stepping into the world of music lessons yourself, I want to assure you that this course begins at the very beginning. You do not have to have any prior music experience. I also appreciate the fact that I can do this at my own speed. Some weeks are just harder to devote to piano instruction. I can also pencil in my piano lesson when it’s convenient for me. I am not at the mercy of a piano teacher. Other than Willie and he shows up whenever I log in! 

Something that I think is unique to HomeSchoolPiano is the introduction to improvisation. I know my early piano teachers frowned upon such activity. When I was in High School, my piano teacher was a preacher’s wife who made it part of my weekly lessons to play “church music” with only the chords to guide me. I was excited to see Willie make improvisation a key part of his lessons. 

Just a few other thoughts. Willie is a fun and accomplished teacher. He is easy to listen to and to follow. I would also think that you don’t have to be a Homeschooling family to take advantage of this program. 

I do think that younger students (pre-readers) would have difficulty with this program. Learning to read music is a big part of it and some young ones just aren’t ready. On the other hand, we are able to repeat lessons as often as we would like. This made the biggest difference with Josiah. He needs repetition.  

I am not quite sure how this program would be for those who had no one in the house with any kind of musical training. I just can’t speak to that. I think Willie is thorough, but some of us need just a little more feedback and personal instruction. This would have to be something you consider. Beyond that I feel that HomeSchoolPiano is a really great option for families who have multiple children interested in piano lessons. 

Just the fact that this is a lifetime subscription is a big plus for me. It might just take a lifetime for me to get my act together!

You can connect with HomeSchoolPiano via the social media outlets below. Click on the banner to read more reviews. 
















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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!

    ReplyDelete

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