Saturday, December 7, 2013

Product Review



 -- Online Piano Lessons --

Intrigued by the concept of online piano lessons, I was thrilled to connect with Angela Hoffman of HoffmanAcademy.com who agreed to have Unit #1 of their piano lessons sent my way as a review project back on Oct 18. I downloaded Unit #1, consisting of lessons 1-20 on Oct 21st but didn’t have a chance to start delving into it until a week or so later. The download process was very easy to do; it came in a zip folder that landed on my desktop including several files. There are a couple of different types of download choices, by the way, in order to satisfy varying needs with the myriad of devices out there. For me, it was just a simple zip folder as I was using my trusty office computer for this.

This package included:
Complete Materials for lessons 1-20
Guide to using, listening and practice CDs
A parent guide
And both a Listening CD and Practice CD for each of the songs learned in this unit.

There are several unique aspects to this program – first: combining teaching and technology in the comfort of each student’s home, second: focusing on children… and third: using art and reading as part of the music education curriculum. The organization also has free video lessons for students and their mentors to watch whenever the mood strikes them. Hoffman Academy has an active social networking circle available for anyone to follow along with at: http://www.facebook.com/FreePiano & http://pinterest.com/hoffmanmusic/

I think this program would be perfect for homeschoolers; parents – here in Canada at least – are allowed to claim any music or art lessons on their annual income tax. Parents, homeschool teachers, music teachers and grandparents can use this program to find a fun way to teach music and bond with children in their lives at the same time. In fact entire families can make use of the units, with individuals printing out their own copy and progressing at their own pace. Each unit (consisting of 20 lessons) costs only $20 US.

According to the Hoffman Academy (hoffmanacademy.com) most children respond best when they do 2-3 lessons per week, about every other day. It might sound like an awful lot of effort and time, but in fact the lessons are quite short – probably taking less than 15 minutes for most students, although the student may want to color some of the images on the pages (if you have printed them out) as an art project. I read a book once on study techniques and the author claimed that studies show that we learn best in short bursts like this. You can always go back and review lessons or songs in each unit as the student progresses through the online program.

Did you know that children or youth who have had exposure to instrument lessons develop a myriad of mental and interaction skills? It’s true! They also become life-long learners and have more success as an adult in their careers. In fact we did a special episode on our radio show with an expert explaining this concept - check it out at:

You might also want to check out this interview on how music can bond families:

Or some of our Musicians Making a Difference segment series simply by scrolling through the archives at: http://www.brummet.ca/radioarchives.html

For me, personally, I had some interesting emotional responses to taking on this review project. When I was a pre-teen I was in a agriculture-based vegetarian boarding school for a couple of years due to an unstable home life – and there, I was given piano lessons to the level of grade 2 before being sent to live with my newly-divorced mother again. Sadly I didn’t have a chance to keep up on piano, but always looked back at my time with the instrument fondly. My mother was a very good piano player in her youth, I didn’t know this until she bought an old cottage piano in her retirement years and I heard her playing… and that opened up dialogue between us. When I started this review project some of these memories came flooding to the surface and this means a lot to me since my mother has been gone 3 years as of this December (she committed suicide in Dec ’10 a few days after Xmas). I even remembered a couple parts of songs I had to play in public at the boarding school. As it happens my husband recently purchased a good quality keyboard, and it invites me to continue my interest. I find myself feeling grateful for having the chance to take on this review project. 


Find Dave and Lillian Brummet, excerpts from their books, their radio program, blog, and more at: http://brummet.ca * Support the Brummets by telling your friends, clicking those social networking buttons, or visiting the Brummet's Store - and help raise funds for charity as well!

 



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