Friday, May 29, 2015

PianoWithWillie ~ A Crew Review

Many of you will remember last summer when Emily and I reviewed HomeSchoolPiano, this year Emily had the opportunity to review another great product from JazzEdge, PianoWithWillie. This  is an รก la carte style program for vastly improving your piano playing skills. The online piano lessons at PianoWithWillie allow you to pick and choose from over 3500 lesson chapters on various styles, techniques, concepts, or songs.

PianoWithWillie is ideally designed for students with at least some previous piano experience, but it could be used by brand new piano students if they are of an age where they are committed to focused lessons and daily practice time. For this review Emily used a Studio Membership. PianoWithWillie is for a single student per account, and can be paid monthly, quarterly, or annually. This is a program you should wait to purchase until you are ready to use it, as it will automatically renew each term unless you give three business days' notice to cancel your account.

If you, or your child, desire to learn from quality piano lessons on the topics of YOUR choosing, instead of following a traditional program that adds another bite  of learning each week, this could be the answer you are looking for! 

PianoWithWillie Review

There are many options to choose from, but two best places for most people to start with PianoWithWillie. If you are still a beginner level student, or it has been many years since you've played, we would suggest you begin with the Piano Start option and work through the 30 Day Success Playbook. With this option you are choosing to focus a month of watching lessons and practicing to either learn or re-learn the basics of piano to set a solid foundation for future lessons. This 30 day focused approach can help you learn about 6 months to a year's worth of traditional weekly lesson materials.

If you have been playing recently, or are moving into the intermediate or higher levels of piano skills, Emily and I would suggest you take the 22 point assessment and have Willie and his staff suggest a Piano Plan for you to follow. Since Emily had such success with HomeSchoolPiano learning the basics, we chose for her to take the assessment. With her answers, they pointed to a plan entitled Performing Rhythms More Accurately. Emily thought she would want to work on specific genres of music eventually but she knew this focused time on rhythms could make so many other techniques easier to learn, so that is where she started.

Once you've finished your Piano Plan, you can retake the 22 point assessment and have the staff at PianoWithWillie point you towards another plan, or you can browse on your own. With a Studio Membership you can always browse on your own, but we found the concept of them helping Emily select specific lessons towards her individual goals a great idea. 

Emily's first Piano Plan included 4 lessons of 8 minutes, 7 minutes, 39 minutes, and 80 minutes. Because you can view your lessons on any internet-enabled device, Emily decided to watch the longer lessons in sections and then go practice the rhythm techniques on our keyboard before moving on to the next part of the lesson. Sometimes she watches the lessons on my laptop, sometimes on the girls' iPad. I think watching on the iPad is her favorite method because she can place it on the music stand, hit pause, and practice right away. The 80 minute lesson really helped her focus on syncopated rhythms. I can tell by listening to her play that she is understanding the music better, and thus playing it more closely to how it was written than before beginning PianoWithWillie.

PianoWithWillie is for students who want to focus their attention on piano TODAY, not just someday in the future. From Emily: One of the great things about PianoWithWillie is the ability to pay for lessons month by month, so if you have to skip a month for work or sports or some other such thing you don't miss out. You can pick up right where you left off. That, plus the assessment test to find out your proficiency level make learning piano fun and hassle free. Willie is great in his lessons about understanding that not everyone learns at the same pace. Since the videos are all pre-recorded, there is none of the embarrassment of asking the teacher to repeat something over and over again, you just rewind and watch it again yourself. Plus there are a lot of offers to take extra lessons on topics like music theory, and even chances to win free Skype lessons with Willie.

If you're just not sure where to start, you can choose between Foundational (rhythm, technique, or reading,) or Fun'dational (song, style, concept,) lessons to help you sort through the lesson library. The complexity of each lesson is tagged under the categories of Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, or Professional. Each lesson also has tags that divide them into categories of focus under style, concept, or technique. 

A typical day has Emily logging in and watching the next lesson or section of a lesson, then practicing on our keyboard. You need a keyboard with at least 61 keys, or an actual piano to work with PianoWithWillie. The beauty of the keyboard is that Emily can listen through her headphones and not wake anyone up with her playing. Since Kurt has been working nights and sleeping during the days, this is key! I like that when Emily logs in it takes her to her dashboard where there are three main options for her to choose from: PianoStart which has the 30 Day Success Playbook, Piano Plans, and News from Willie. This third section features blog posts from Willie, Paul, Kerry, and Larson, the teaching team at PianoWithWillie. Emily likes to check this section for new posts to read, as we have found they are often based upon other student's questions.

If all of this information about PianoWithWillie seems overwhelming, perhaps you want to consider the program some of the other Crew members reviewed, Easy Piano Basics, which is a lifetime subscription and can be used with multiple students. Some brave parents also had their children try DrumsWithWillie.

If you're ready to learn more about PianoWithWillie, you can sign up for a free trial, or go ahead and purchase a monthly ($49,) quarterly ($99,) or annual ($399) subscription. One more quick thing to consider: maybe you just have one favorite song you would love to learn to play?! PianoWithWillie can teach you all you need to know to play a selection of several famous songs from a Minuet by Bach to What A Wonderful World. Many of these longer lessons are even available to purchase on DVD, you really should go check it out!

Connect with PianoWithWillie:

JazzEdge Review

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