Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Learn Piano at Home with HomeSchoolPiano {A TOS Review}

Homeschool Piano Review
Music is something both my husband and myself want our children to love, both listening to and being able to play it. I know one of the reasons he hesitated when I suggested homeschooling our children was that he wanted to make sure they had the same opportunities we had for learning music. I knew I wouldn't be able to teach them, as my musical skills are almost non-existent, even though I did take trumpet while in band. Fortunately, even though the children's musical future was up in the air, he agreed to let me start homeschooling. Though he has been pleased with our homeschool experience so far, I am sure he has still been concerned about their musical future. This was confirmed, in my mind, when he jumped at the chance to review HomeSchoolPiano for the Schoolhouse Review Crew. We were given a LIFETIME subscription for up to 5 students to HomeSchoolPiano-Complete Set of Books
We can access the online lessons on our computer or on a mobile device, for us, that would be our Android tablet. In addition to a computer or mobile device to stream the lessons you will need a piano or keyboard with at least 61 keys, plus a printer and ink to print out the lesson pages. 
Let me share a little more about what HomeSchoolPiano is.

This self-paced online program uses a 6 step cycle that helps meet the National Music Standards. 

There are 3 levels of books, in addition to the CorePiano level for absolute beginners or those needing a quick refresher. 

  • CorePiano is a great place to start, especially if you have no piano experience. The 33 lessons begin, well, at the beginning, teaching Notes of the Piano, Low and High Notes, The Musical Alphabet and even How to Sit at the Piano. Toward the end of CorePiano the student will be learning about the Major 5 Finger Scale and the Minor 5 Finger Scale, along with Chord Symbols and Key Signatures. 
  • Book 1 is also designed for the beginner. The student is taught proper technique, along with learning rhythm with vocalizations, ear training, reading music and expanding into creating their own music. 
  • Book 2 helps to build a foundation by continuing where Book 1 left off. More advanced techniques will be taught.
  • Book 3 allows the more advanced student to create rich piano arrangements using original musical pieces.
You can read more of the details on each book at the HomeSchoolPiano site.

Each of these books (except for CorePiano) is broken down into 6 units, the lessons of which follow the 6 step pattern with an additional bonus lesson to equal 7 lessons per unit.

Each lesson teaches:
  • Technique
  • Rhythm
  • Ear Training
  • Reading Music 
  • Song and
  • Improvisation 
HomeSchoolPiano is like having a piano teacher right in your home, ready to teach at the pace you are comfortable going. Willie Myette teaches directly to the student as he sits at his keyboard. As he plays, a virtual keyboard lights up and labels the note played. These lessons are augmented by pages of the book we have access to in PDF format. We can download and print out the same pages Willie is sharing on the screen. 

Each of the children (except little Harold), plus myself and my husband, has an account which will keep track of which lessons have been completed plus the results of the quizzes taken. When a student first logs in, they will be given the choice of which book to work in. This screen also shows where the student left off. There is also a tab to click on to manage the student accounts if it is the parent account.

Once the student chooses the Book they are working on, they will be prompted to choose the unit they are working on. Again, the student could just click on the "Where You Left Off" tab. From here I can download the PDF pages and Jam Tracks.

The unit is laid out for the student to work their way through by reviewing each lesson and taking the quizzes where applicable.

Each student also has access to their records that show which lessons have been completed plus the results of the quizzes. 

As a parent I have access to all of my students' records. 

These records can also be printed out for record keeping purposes, such as inclusion in a portfolio.

How did we use HomeSchoolPiano in our homeschool?

HomeSchoolPiano is for use with all ages, though younger children will need more supervision. We have been using the program primarily with Tabitha, who is 7, and myself. We both needed to start in the CorePiano section, though we didn't quite finish it before starting Book 1. Amelia didn't show much interest in the lessons until just recently. Perhaps it was listening to her sister actually playing a song that piqued her interest, I am not sure. I allowed Tabitha to watch the CorePiano lessons by herself, and I think that was my first mistake. I think if I had been in the room with her, she would have been more focused. Partway through we started watching the videos together and I made sure she was following along with the printouts. 
Each lesson is up to 10 minutes long. As Willie teaches the lesson, we play along when prompted. We use the lesson pages we printed out to follow along. Speaking of which, I am so thankful that those are included, it would be very hard to follow along with the small page shared in the corner of the screen.  

After the streamed lesson is over, Tabitha and I work together on the lesson, using the pages I printed out. I have been sneaking time here and there to work through my own lessons.

Here is Tabitha playing her first song, Steady Fred.

What is my opinion of HomeSchoolPiano?
This is a great, affordable way to offer a family piano lessons. Up to 5 people can have accounts with this program and each one can go at their own pace. Though the way I remember learning about reading music is a bit different, following along with Willie has been educational. There are times what he is teaching is above Tabitha's head, but the wonderful aspect is, you can replay the videos as often as you need to in order to truly understand what is being taught. The short quizzes have gotten her to focus on reading music, rhythm and training her ear to hear the melodies.
We have had problems with videos not playing, and sometimes I have to log out and log back in to make them play. However, I think that is our internet connection, and nothing to do with the actual program.
You can purchase unlimited life-time access to HomeSchoolPiano along with all the bonuses (including downloads, jam tracks, and sheet music) for up to 5 students for one payment of $299. They also offer a payment plan of  three monthly payments of $99.97.
You can find HomeSchoolPiano on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
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  1. I am in LOVE with this program and will be using it for myself as well. Such a bargain, especially with up to 5 people being registered in the family account.

  2. I really loved this program. Tabitha did a fantastic job play her son. I haven't had time to sneak any lessons in but I plan to. We started in the core program and that is still where we are. What I really like the most is that the videos are so informative. For example: he went through the good and bad posture showing what each looked like. I also liked how he introduced the grab technique.

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


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