All of us have been in the point where we turned our attention towards learning the piano. Many of us, like me for example, have started learning it as a hobby that we do in our spare time. Others maybe started learning it in a professional ambiance, with a qualified teacher to guide them from the baby steps to the playing of complicated piano sheets.
I remember the first time when I saw a piano. It was a strange big object, with black and white keys, and some even stranger pedals. Curiously, I pressed a key (I think it was black), and to my surprise, a sound came out. Driven further by this, I continued to press the piano keys, and more and more sounds came out. After that, I thought proudly that I’m a piano artist. Yes…I was wrong.
Btw, looking for some free piano sheet music? I’m using sheet music from FreePianoSheets.net. Give them a try. It’s absolutely free and they’re cool.
Going further, I started listening to more and more piano songs. I shortly realized that I was a long way from being a piano artist.
So, step by step, with the aid of the Internet, I started reading more and more materials related to the piano.
I started to understand the strange symbols, meaning the musical notes. I got a grasp of what they mean and what their purpose is. I started to understand the sheet’s elements such as the staff, the treble and bass clefs, the notes’ head, stem and flag, the time signature, and so forth.
Although I found (until a point) pretty much info about what I was looking, one of my biggest frustrations was that it wasn’t all in one place. It was scattered all over the net. As the web is a pretty volatile place, you can understand that some of the tutorials went offline from various reasons. Then yes, the frustration grew.
As I started handling the piano quite well (in my opinion at least), I started experimenting with various songs that were more complex, and of course, more impressing. It’s like learning how to drive a car. At first you are pleased for getting a parking done right, and the next you know, you dream yourself in Need for Speed.
This was the point that I decided I want to dive further into learning the piano. I decided that I should try to get some professional help to put me on the right path.
I started looking for piano teachers. I found some pretty good and experienced ones. Also, students are an often good idea. It depends on their dedication and knowledge. But, if you search long enough, you’ll find a “diamond in the dust”.
Anyway…I got in touch with several teachers. Because it is a hobby, the piano teacher thing wasn’t in my best advantage. Why? Firstly, because I also have a full time job and do the piano stuff as a hobby, my schedule (as of 99% of that doesn’t lay around all day) wasn’t fixed. Meetings and other non-job related things tend to come up and “we’ll meet every Thursday at x o’clock” is not such a good idea for many of us. Also, teachers cost per hour. At prices between 20$ and 90$ per session, it tends to build up quite and expense. You could buy a car in a year with that money!
So, while I was brainstorming after a solution to keep me on the fast track to being a “piano master” and that could also allow me the flexibility that any hobby needs, I came up with a very good (at least for me) solution.
I decided to try out some piano learning software. So I started digging around the web after some. I made a list with what I considered interesting. I started to use them to see which one would best fit my needs.
I won’t bother you with all of them. So, to cut to the chase, I’ll jump to the one that met my needs.
Great! Another piano learning software (Yawn!). Let’s go to Facebook now.
That was my first thought. But please, bare with me. It saved me a lot of time, headaches and…money. I want it to do the same for you to.
So, what really impressed me?
As I downloaded it, I wasn’t very optimistic. I’m often skeptical to new software. Shortly, it came to impress me. Why? Well…it has over 300 different piano lessons. You can find versions for beginner or intermediate.
So let’s take a look at the beginner version for example. What does it teach you? Well, some of what I learned by spending time and digging around the web. So…why should you use it then? Because…to my surprise, it teaches you things that you don’t think about, such as the correct sitting positions, the hand placement and many other things that you tend to miss when you build up your skills using scattered sources. If you don’t think they matter, you’re going to find yourself in a situation that will make you understand they do. It also has other interesting stuff included, such as ear training exercises that make you better develop your “piano ear”, for example to understand when the sounds go up or down. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The financial advantage was a big plus. All of this costs as much as about two hours with a piano student and less than a session with an experienced teacher. And, for the piano learning software you pay once, not weekly. I’m not going to dive further into this. Convince yourselves here.
An interesting feature that it has, is the so called instant feedback. You can hook up your laptop to an electronic MIDI-compatible keyboard and start playing. This can also be done with the PC’s microphone. The staff will light up green when you hit the right keys and tempo, and red when you don’t. This is useful when you are trying to correct your style.
Another thing that really impressed me was the finger tracker. An animated keyboard pops up and shows you in real time what keys should be pressed with what fingers.
And now about the learning material. A piano sheet that you can purchase online costs about 5$. Usually more. This software comes with a build in bundle with 300 piano sheets to practice. Yes. Built in, meaning they’re free. Make a short calculation. How much would the bundle alone cost?
Another thing that impressed me were the 70 piano lessons videos. I know I searched hard for some quality video tutorials. I know, you’ll say that there and dozens, maybe hundreds of them laying around the web. Yes, there are. But can you trust that they’re correct? I mean, you are learning, how are you supposed to know that? And how can these be trusted? Well, firstly, this software has several awards in its portfolio. Secondly, they’re made by Irma Irene Justicia, M.A. from Juilliard School of Music.
Other features are included, such as the Interactive Evaluation Feedback. But I’m not going to go further. I’ll let you see it for yourself.