Music is very prevalent in our family. My husband plays a number of instruments and I like to think that I can play piano. I grew up with a piano in the home and began lessons at a young age. When there are no other adults in the house, I often sit down and play a few songs and sing at the top of my lungs. (My neighbors probably hate me, ha!)
As a result, a few of my children have been trying to talk me into teaching them to play the piano. Driving them to and from lessons would be really difficult as we are a one car family right now, and while I know how to play the piano… Like I said, I’m not good at it. So when I heard about a piano curriculum software that would put me in control, could be done at home, and would teach my children to play piano effectively, relief came over me. What I didn’t expect was for MusIQ Homeschool to be more than just another computer software hooked up to a keyboard.
Adventus MusIQ Homeschool is an award winning complete curriculum for learning to play the piano. If you were to start at the very beginning, it would entail 7 years of instruction, completing over 20 levels. It is appropriate for ages 4-18 (or older), can be started at the beginning or at a higher level, and covers much more than just learning to tickle the ivories. It is broken down into volumes as follows:
For ages 4-10, running on Windows 7/Vista/XP/2000 or Macintosh OSX
- Children’s Music Journey Series Volume 1
- Children’s Music Journey Series Volume 2
- Children’s Music Journey Series Volume 3
For multi learning ages 10+, running on Windows 7/Vista/XP/2000
- Piano Suite Premier
- Ear Training Coach 1 & 2
- Ear Training Coach 3 & 4
When it comes to purchasing the product, you have options. The first option is to buy the curriculum one series at a time on CD-ROM. The second option is a subscription service. For $10.95 a month you are given the ability to download not one, but all 7 years of lessons at once. In my opinion, this is the best option as you can have family members using the software at different levels and only have to pay a small fee instead of purchasing multiple levels. (You will have to have a working internet connection on the computer you use for your piano lessons though.) If you would like, you may also purchase lesson plans that have descriptive objectives, activity sheets, and more.
In addition, you will need a MIDI keyboard or a MIDI adapter. Adventus does offer keyboards for sale. We bought the lowest priced keyboard (M-Audio KeyRig 49) from them and find it adequate to our needs. It only works while connected to your computer via USB and will not work standing alone. Since we own a piano this was not a concern for us so it worked out to be the perfect option.
Obviously, we have yet to do more than a few weeks of this amazingly broad curriculum, so for the remainder of this review I will focus on the only series we are currently using, Children’s Musical Journey Series Volume 1.
Starting out, we hit a few glitches. Our computer and the keyboard didn’t want to recognize each other. Adventus offers technical support, but before calling them I asked my husband (a technical engineer) to look at it and he figured it out and had it fixed in a few minutes. Later I realized there were instructions for this sort of issue, so if I had only been patient and read a little I would have prevented this problem. Lesson learned… 😉
Once we had all the bumps smoothed out, I created a profile for Tommy. Then the next day, I created another profile because I had forgotten what his password was. (Yes people, I am REALLY that ditzy. I’m telling you, I am seriously letting you all in on way too embarrassing stuff about me lately!) This time I let him pick out his password since I figured Mr. I-forget-nothing would be able to help me if I ever forgot again. Anyways, in the profile you have parental settings that can be adjusted for free play, normal, or strict lesson flow. Here you also have the ability to see what lesson your child is on and how far they have completed it.
Now we were all ready to get started. You begin with “rooms” to choose from: There is the library, where you can listen to different pieces of music, go back to old lessons, play music, or listen to music you yourself have composed. The game room where you can play lesson enforcing games that are unlocked based on how many lessons you have completed. The lesson room, where you meet with the composer you are working with. The practice room, where Miss Melody encourages you to practice. And last there is the improvisation room for you to compose your own music. Being that the suggested use of the curriculum is 1-2 lessons a week and practice daily, in our family we begin with the lesson and then do each of the other rooms the remainder of the week, being sure to visit the practice room at least twice.
Remember how I said this was more than just learning to play the piano? I’m finally going to explain that! The lessons are actually taught by cartoon caricatures of famous composers, and guess what?! They aren’t annoying! The program begins with Beethoven for the first 5 lessons. Right now, Tommy is learning from Bach. During the piano lessons, they mention little tidbits of their lives, music, and compositions… Meaning that Tommy is learning music and composer history without having to purchase a separate curriculum. At the beginning and end of each lesson, the composer plays a piece of their own music. I was surprised to find this was one of Tommy’s favorite parts.
The lessons are far from the same style I was taught, but I believe this way may actually be far more effective. To begin, the children are taught that there are “high bird notes” and “low whale notes”, using cartoon animals and an ocean to differentiate the two. Next they are introduced to “Middle C”, which is a man on a boat. Pretty cool, right? As of today, Tommy is learning rhythm and has started learning to look at notes as dots instead of animals. It has amazed me with how well this program has taught him so far. The way the characters explain the lesson is very clear, precise, and easy to understand making it very simple to retain. Each lesson is probably about 10-15 minutes, which is just right for Tommy’s attention span.
In case you didn’t notice, I’m impressed! So much so, that I’m going to be using this program myself soon, so obviously we will be continuing our subscription service once our review period has ended. I can’t say enough great things about this curriculum! Adventus MusIQ Homeschool is probably my favorite curriculum right now.
Right now Adventus MusIQ Homeschool is offering a free 7 day trial, the perfect option if you already own a keyboard and are still not sure. But take my word for it, you’re going to want to keep it going!
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