Today a customer asked if they need to be involved in working with their kids with Piano Wizard Academy, or if the kids can learn on their own. Here is my answer.
"Thanks for your question, the answer is really yes and no. The game does the heavy lifting, i.e., they learn by doing, and the game keeps them focused and moving through the song without effort on your part. You do need to set it up, and then set them up with the process, so that they know they are to not just stay in the game, but graduate to playing the piano. This happens in minutes with the game, literally if you follow the guidelines carefully they are reading sheet music on a song they did not know 15 minutes ago.
With kids these days though, they figure out the software faster than we do, and then race ahead. You mainly need to slow them down so that they go through each level and song or they quickly load songs they like that are still beyond them.
The key is like anything else, they will pay attention to what you pay attention to. If you reward their successes with star stickers on every level, they will move through the levels to get the star stickers. If you make a big deal about them playing from the sheet music (level 5) they will strive to please you and perform from the sheet music at the piano. If you praise every completed song, they will move through the curriculum with pride.
The surprise is that this involvement is not onerous or burdensome, it is joyful and bonding. We suggest you celebrate everything, and they will too. They will remember having fun learning piano together for many years to come, and so will you.
Our goal is that the game acts like "training wheels" for the piano, that they blossom, move off the game, onto other teachers, instruments etc, with a deep love of music and an intrinsic natural understanding of how music "works" from the inside out. Any new song can be loaded into the game, a forgotten one remembered, it is a music learning program for life, but kids naturally progress to other levels in and out of the game from it.
One of the reasons this works so fast and so well is we are following the natural language learning process that helped us learn our mother tongues. We speak first, then read words we know, and only then study the grammar to refine our knowledge and skills. In the Piano Wizard Academy system we play first, then read songs we already know how to play, and then introduce theory to explain and deepen our understanding of songs we have already mastered.
Traditional piano lessons have to start with theory to decipher the written code so they can try and play. Let's face it, it hasn't worked well for most of us in that sequence .
We also assumed zero previous musical experience for either the parent or child, so the theory part moves very slow at first. What the videos do very well is set the tone of joyful exploration and success, you will fall in love with Don and Delayna Beattie who created the videos, they will hold your hand and inspire you with the best ways to let the game work for you, and when to come in and add some secret sauce to their playing.
We consider the video lessons to be for you so that you know what the "secret agenda" behind each song, i.e., teach them fingering, teach them the musical alphabet, all of this as supplemental to learning the song. We set you up not as the "teacher" but as their "coach." You guide them to learn themselves. If you have any training at all in music the first lessons can seem like just the obvious.
We had the same problem with piano teachers, they couldn't bear to watch the videos, at least the starting ones, so we added all the notes from the videos to the back of each song's sheet music, so they can skim the lesson, see what aspects we are focusing on with that song, and only need to pull up the videos for clarification or to see some new game feature like fingerings or note labels.
But the course is deceptively easy, there is a LOT of theory being shared as they go, it is just bite size and added value, instead of an abstract prerequisite with no context. I love music theory, I find it fascinating, but it is not necessary to master an instrument at all, so we leave it as a tasty extra instead of feeling like they have to eat their vegetables before they get dessert. That said, kids absorb it naturally because it makes much more sense after they already know the music.
Please understand the value, there is a 2 year children's curriculum embedded in there, that many master in less than half the time, that ends with Beethoven's 5th symphony arranged for 2 hands, plus another couple hundred songs, and the ability to import virtually ANY other music and learn it as well, in the form of MIDI files.
Compared to $20 a lesson just once a week for one child, and in the first 2 years you have saved $1600 and got a free keyboard as well. If more than one person in your family learns, double and triple those savings. Many people end up doing both, as they get excited and actually practice now for their lessons, and double their progress, but the lessons are no longer wasted or forced, they are a source of pride and joy, and the game can import their practice songs so they can use it as well.
This is truly a music learning system for life, teaching you and your family the language of music, more comparable to a Rosetta Stone product level of teaching rather than just some software alone. It's as deep as music itself, because that is the infinite content you can now unlock and play. I hope you find a way to experience that along with your family. Just let us know what you need next."