I have musical children. I’m not talking Beethoven, here, but I have two children who seem naturally-inclined. It runs in my husband’s family. His cousins and nieces are exceptional, and sometimes professional, musicians. Regardless of expense, or the cacophony of sound in my house during “practice” time while I’m trying to finish that ONE last work email, we have gone all-in to support them in this. Guitar, recorder, trumpet, keyboard…if they ask, we’ll find a way to make it happen.
So, through some amazing twist of fate, when a neighbor asked if we wanted to borrow/house a piano for a year or two, we jumped at the chance. Not because we had room, which we don’t. Not because we actually know how to play, because we don’t. But, because it was free (even if temporary), and we wanted the kids to have a chance to explore.
However, in the middle of the summer, finding group lessons is virtually impossible. Private lessons cost a small fortune. And, I just wasn’t sure if the kids were excited enough to invest the time during the summer in practicing.
So what do you do when you have a piano, kids who cannot wait to play but are distracted, and limited options for lessons?
Look to technology! After a little online research, we discovered the JoyTunes Piano Maestro app on iPad. First, I found a great review on Common Sense Media – our go-to on all things TV, movie and technology-related. Then, I started finding the personal reviews. Teachers love it and could speak to its quality.
(Note: This is not a paid endorsement. This is simply an amazed parent…and student)
This app can literally “hear” the kids playing the piano notes and then essentially turns practice into a game. It’s Guitar Hero but as a real teaching mechanism.
The kids actually advance in levels, and it has turned an intro to piano a fun competition for the kids and me. As I watched them enjoy it, I decided that I’d “play” too.
In the app, you can follow the “Journey” of basic learning to just having fun in the Library and more. They actually featured country anthems during the Olympics this month.
The lessons progress based on your performance on songs in each level. And the songs range from classical music to Top 40 hits.
And as you play, the model really does mimic Guitar Hero. You hit the notes as the background music in the song plays on. There are simplified versions in the beginning but they get more complex. However, unlike Guitar Hero, the app focuses on education. You have to learn the notes and read the music to score well.
For those that don’t have access to piano, you can learn the keyboard work on the iPad only. Or, to get started, you can apply the same lessons to an electronic keyboard.
Note, PianoMaestro won’t replace formal lessons with a teacher. But, it was a phenomenal way to inexpensively test if fascination translated to committed interest in learning.
For any of you, adult or child, with easy access to a piano or keyboard, check it out. It is so much fun!