Are you interested in piano lessons for your children, but the cost is prohibitive? Or is the time/travel for driving to lessons an inconvenience? HomeSchoolPiano offers online piano lessons for beginning to intermediate students. All you need is a computer to watch the lessons, a printer to print out the lesson books, and a keyboard or piano. The program can be used with any age student.
We received HomeSchoolPiano - Complete Set of Books for review. This $299 program offers lifetime access for up to 5 students to all program components—Core Piano, and 3 “books.” Lessons can be viewed online or downloaded. Many lessons include online quizzes, and student progress is tracked.
Four levels of HomeSchoolPiano are available:
- Core Piano
- Book 1
- Book 2
- Book 3
Core Piano teaches all the basics—33 lessons worth, from finger numbers and how to sit at the piano to chords, key signatures, and major and minor 5-finger scales. Absolute beginners to the piano should start here before starting the Books. Students may access these individual lessons when needed to review concepts. (I went back and watched a couple of lessons when I had a question about a concept while working through Book 2.) Most lessons are 5-10 minutes long.
Each book contains 6 units. Within each unit are 7 lessons—technique, rhythm, ear training, reading music, song, improvisation, and bonus. . A downloadable lesson book for each book is included. I printed all the books and put them in a binder before we began. Some lessons are video-only, but many make use of printed materials.
The early lessons teach fundamental skills that prepare the student for the actual piece of music taught in the “song” lesson. For example, the rhythm lessons have measures of music to be clapped, chanted, and or played. Each improvisation section includes multiple pages of exercises that help the student make alterations in the song. Often, music scores are provided for the student to write out new melodies or rhythms.
Once the song is mastered, the improvisation lesson offers ideas for embellishing the song. An optional “bonus” lesson is also included. This lesson teaches more concepts or techniques, and is ideal for the more advanced learner.
Everything is presented in small, incremental steps that make the process easy.
The lesson screen shows the teacher in a box at the side, the keyboard that he is using (you can see his hands on the keyboard as he plays) and a virtual keyboard, just above the teacher’s keyboard that lights each note in red and labels the note name as he plays.
The program can be watched on tablets and iPads, as well as computers This makes it convenient to sit at the piano for the lessons and play along with the instructor. It’s also not a problem to use a computer in a different room, watch the lesson, then move to the piano for practice time.
Homeschool Piano emphasizes that learning the piano takes effort and practice. Students usually take 18 months or more to progress through all the materials. Lessons can be viewed as many times as needed until a concept is mastered.
When I learned to play the piano, I was taught to read music. I learned the notes in the sheet music and on the piano. I learned timing, dynamic markings, key signatures, and other concepts that were needed to play the songs. That’s pretty much where my education ended. So, now, I can play written music, but I can’t play by ear (other than a simple melody line and trial and error to figure out what “sounds good.”) I don’t know how to improvise—to make up my own melodies or to alter other songs. For this reason, I was intrigued by the emphasis on improvisation in HomeSchool Piano and excited to try it out.
I started in Book 2. The actual music was very easy for me at this level. Some of the music concepts were very easy. But I learned about chord theory and different ways to dress up and change a song once I had learned it. This was a lot of fun! After seriously neglecting any kind of piano practice for years, I’m really enjoying my lessons and practicing new techniques.
Emily started in Book 1. Again, the music was a little easy for her, although she did need the review after having not played the piano for many months. She’s enjoying having a teacher that’s not Mom. She tells me that she finds it very helpful the way the teacher breaks everything down into small steps, shows her what to do, and has her do something physical (snap or clap) while she is learning.
We found the lessons very beneficial because this approach is so different from traditional piano lessons. In every lesson, Willie first teaches the basics. Then he encourages the student to play around with the concepts—to experiment with different notes as you practice the rhythm exercises, to “mash” two songs together, to alter the notes and rhythms of a song, and so on. If you or your child has had some piano experience, I think you will find this a wonderful way to take lessons or to supplement existing lessons. If you are totally new to piano lessons, it might be a bit harder to begin without the feedback of a live teacher. But go read more Crew Reviews for HomeSchoolPiano because many other families are trying the program out who don’t have prior experience, and they can give you a better idea than I can of how the program works for beginners.
HomeSchoolPiano’s “Success Package” which includes unlimited life-time access to HomeSchoolPiano, including downloads, jam tracks, and sheet music, for up to 5 students sells for $299. (Payment plan of $99.97 for 3 months is also available.)