Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Homeschool Piano {Review}

I have always wanted to learn to play the piano. I love hearing melodies being played and gentle worship warms my heart.  My dream is to one day be able to sit at the piano and worship.

We purchased a piano 10 years ago and I started traditional piano lessons which lasted all of two months and then I had to quit as I became to sick to continue (Morning sickness does that sometimes). 

Recently an opportunity presented itself to learn to play the piano with piano teacher Willie from HomeschoolPiano.  For our review we were given  HomeSchoolPiano - Complete Set of Books

What we received
  • All Online Access benefits (unlimited, lifetime access to HomeSchoolPiano.com)
  • Tracking and quizzes for up to 5 students
  • Unlimited lesson streaming to any device
  • Unlimited music downloads
  • Unlimited lesson video downloads
  • Jam Track CD (download version)
  • Core Piano - 33 lessons
  • Book 1 -  6 Units
  • Book 2 - 6 Units
  • Book 3 - 6 Units

Lesson Structure
Homeschool Piano covers six different areas and includes advanced tips as bonus material. It also works with the N

The six areas covered are:
Technique - Willie gives practical advice to help you improve with each lesson
Rhythm - He teaches incidental theory to help you keep in time.
Ear Training - Each lesson helps you learn to hear your music and therefore understand melody, chords and more.
 Reading - Willie encourages you to be patient with yourself and through incremental steps helps you conquer reading music.
Song - The songs you play are loads of fun and make learning the piano something you and your students will want to do.
Imporvisation - Willie encourages you to have fun and be creative. In fact Sir N was so inspired after his first lesson that he sat at the piano for a good half an hour trying to work out a melody he had heard. You can see a clip of him doing so on Instagram.
How we used it

I started off with creating an account with Homeschool Piano.  Once logged in creating a student account was simply a matter of adding their name, user name and password.  Once a student account was created the student then logged in and chose their lesson and continued.  They only have access to their own accounts.  As the main account I had access to all their records as well and could see at a glance their progress.


Once Sir N was  logged in we selected which program to work through. We clicked on the drop down menu Piano Lessons and choose one of four options


CorePiano = absolute beginner
Book 1 = beginner, maybe brushing the dust off and coming back to piano
Book 2 = beginner to intermediate (starts incorporating more complicated concepts, songs and improvisation ideas)
Book 3 = intermediate (toward the end of this book we are getting into concepts like syncopation, voice leading and more advanced scales for improvisation)

Sir N has used a few piano programs over the last year with the crew and he has never been taught by a teacher before I decided to start off with CorePiano for him.  It's been ten years since I had lessons so I too started with CorePiano.


On this page you can see which class you are in on the right beneath where it says:  Where You Left Off. From here you can continue your lesson at the click of one button. Even if you have only completed half the lesson it takes you straight to where you were.
On the left you have the option of choosing the page your lesson is on or clicking straight on a selected lesson shown below. The advantage of this is that you can review a lesson as many times as you would like.
 Below the Where You Left Off box is the resource box. Here you will find your music book to download and print for the set of lessons you are working through.

Once we printed off our book I had it ring bound at Office Works with a plastic cover for durability.

Records

As you can see the tracking of classes is quite comprehensive.  You can select your students name and see at a glance how far they worked through the lesson.  No cheating here the records speak quiet clearly of just how much the student has done in each lesson.  You can see the name of the lesson, date started, how much of the lesson was watched and the date completed.

The Lessons
One of the things we've enjoyed the most about Homeschool Piano is that it streams to any mobile device.  We have streamed our lessons to my Samsung Galaxy S3 phone,  Galaxy Tab and our home television.

It's so portable and easy to use.  Sir N loves to watch his lessons on our television.  We both have enjoyed seeing our lessons in larger  than life size. 

The lesson  screen is divided into three areas.
The top of the screen is a digital keyboard that highlights the note being played in red and gives the note name above it.
The middle area is a live view of Willie's keyboard showing a live feed of his instruction
The bottom left shows an insert of Willie from the side and from here he teaches you his student.

We would watch our lesson on the television and get an over view of the lesson.  Then move to the piano and take the tablet with us and redo the lesson with practical hands on at the piano.

Initially I thought we would work through a lesson a day but since starting our music journey with Willie we have moved considerably slower as Sir N has struggled to use both hands together at the piano.  Since we have lifetime access to Homeschool Piano there is no pressure to get to the next level in order to complete our lesson.  This is something I have come to really appreciate in the program. Sir N is able to watch the lessons over and over until he fully comprehends what he is learning. He can simply watch them for fun outside of our official music time slot.

There is no fear we are going to run out of download.  We can pause the video at any point and apply what is being taught.

Cost of Homeschool Piano**
The cost is $299.00 for the complete program with two payment options
  • A single payment of $299.00
    Unlimited life-time access to HomeSchoolPiano along with all bonuses (downloads, jam tracks, sheet music) for up to 5 students
  • Payment plan -  $99.97 per month for three months.
    Unlimited life-time access to HomeschoolPiano along with all bonuses (downloads, jam tracks, sheet music) for up to 5 students
**All prices are correct at time of review.  The vendor reserves the right to change the price without notice.  Please check all prices before purchasing.

Recommended Age Range
This product is for use with all ages.  If your student is old enough to sit and be tutored and follow directions then they can begin lessons with Willie.  The best part with life time access is you can repeat any lesson as often as you like.

Willie is an excellent teacher and explains as he goes along and as an adult learning to play I have enjoyed all my lessons with him.

Connect with Willie at Homeschool Piano

Facebook Google+ Pinterest Twitter YouTube Blog
Here are some really helpful articles by Willie



Final Thoughts
Sir N loves Willie's sense of humour and his passion for playing the piano is infectious.  Sir N is also practical in his approach to learning so Willies practical suggestions have been very helpful for him.  We have been loving our music journey with Willie and are looking forward to growing in our ability to play the piano.

Blessings
Chareen

Click to read Crew Reviews

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

To My Firstborn Happy 21st Birthday


21 years ago Today ...
God chose to give me a 21st birthday gift,
He gave me you ...

You are my first born.
You have taught me many things.
You are special.


Today 
May God bless you
May He watch over you.
May God shine His face toward you
May God show you favor.
May God be favorably disposed toward you
May He grant you peace

May you always remember 
the four pillars of manhood and be REAL
Reject passivity
Engage with God
Accept responsibility
Lead Courageously

I pray that you will be
A tender Warrior
Willing to fight for what is right
Always be Gentle and kind

May you
Do justly,
 love mercy, 
and walk humbly.

Remember to 
Lean on and be confident in the LORD
Acknowledge Him in ALL your ways
Revere and Worship the LORD
Pursue Wisdom daily

You are a young man who is deeply loved.

Happy 21st Birthday Son

All my love
Mom

Celebrate




 My sister made this gorgeous cake. You can see more of her cakes on Facebook.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Google Plus Basics {Resource List to get you started}

For a while now I've had a Google Plus profile but have had no idea why or what really to do with it until this week. I was recently challenged to find out more about Google Plus.  I'm so glad that I did.

It all started when I watched a YouTube clip and grew from there.  

So how does a Google+ post differ from a Facebook post ?
There are a few differences in how you post to Facebook verses Google +.

Dustin Stout shares a great tip page on the Anatomy of a Perfect Google+ post that is well worth taking a look at. He has a great info graphic for you to download for reference.

So How Do You Post on Google+ ?
I started off by watching a YouTube interview with Jimmie Lanley.  During this interview I learned a few of the ins and outs of Google+ for bloggers and just why we should be using Google+.

I discovered this list of tips called:  How to Post on Google+

Ultimate Google Plus Posting Guide
Want to Increase Social Signals?
Link Litter Makes Me Wanna Puke a Little
6 Ways a Formatted Google+ Post Will Increase Engagement and Interest
Why Keep Promoting the Fake Mystery of Online Content?
Five Easy Steps to Bake the Perfect Google+ Post
How To Create The Perfect Google+ Post
Google+ Posting Guide [Infographic]
The Anatomy of a Perfect Google+ Post
This Changes Everything: Social Signals, Your Website, and Google+
Pro Tip: The Proper Way to Share Your Post! Great YouTube clip on post structure.

So What's with the +1 and Sharing on Google+?
Dustin Stout decided to do an experiment along with a few friends to find out the impact of +1's and sharing on Google Plus and how this relates to his blog's content.

This Changes Everything {Social Signals, Your Website, and Google+} is an interesting read and gives you a better understanding of why and how to plus one and share.

Should you tick that box ??
Mark Vang shares a concise what Not to do on Google+ called: The easiest way to get BLOCKED on Google+

Too Many Emails!
Anthony Idle has a good walk through YouTube clip showing you how to stop all those emails from flooding your inbox.

Google+ University
Google+ University

A good place to begin your Google+ education if you are an information geek is with Mike Alton.

He has started the Google+ University post. Mike has divided up the links into the following topics:


Introduction to Google+
Getting Around the Plus
Growing Your Bussiness
Advanced Plussing
Tools & Comunities
Google Authorship

I am still working my way through the links but so far I've learned what I've wanted to know.


More Links to Info on Google+ ?


What about the Cover?
If you prefer to use a template when making a cover photo Google Plus For You has a free one available.

What about a Hover Card ?
This is your calling card and your first impression announcement when people hover with their mouse over your name.   Here is a walk through on Editing and the anatomy of your Hover Card.


What about Images ?
Google + is mainly an image driven network.  We visually feast with our eyes on this platform.  Matthew Shuey shares a great post on Best Practices For Sharing Images on Google+

Google Plus Etiquette
  • Be very careful of accidentally becoming a spammer on Google+ avoid link litter and circle sharing.
  • Use the plus key on your keyboard and tag the person whose content you are sharing.

It's been a fun week unwrapping Google Plus.  I will be updating this post with links and information as I learn more so be sure to come back.

Looking forward to meeting you on Google Plus



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