Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Online Music with Simply Music - A Review

This month, we had the opportunity to use and review the beginning course Music and Creativity - Foundation Course offered online by Simply Music. 

Simply Music  
Music & Creativity - Foundation Course

This introductory course is available to anyone free of charge. As someone who has never had formal piano lessons, I was intrigued by the claims made in the promotions for this course on the website.

"It has students of all ages improvising and playing great sounding blues, classical, contemporary and accompaniment pieces - immediately - from their very first lessons." 

I did take guitar lessons as a child. I was taught by, what Neil Moore describes as, the reading-based approach. I learned to read music in those lessons and gained some basic musical exposure and understanding. I enjoyed learning to play but, I did really want to play more familiar and popular songs sooner than that approach allowed. The most fun I had with guitar at that point in my life was the mini concerts my neighborhood girlfriend and I put on for, well, no one! We sang our hearts out though, I strummed along and thank goodness there wasn't a video or phone wielding mom around every corner at that time in history!

As far as my piano skills, my musician husband has shown me a few piano basics here and there. He has also given basic lessons to our children when they showed an interest. I invited my husband to participate in reviewing this product with me for the Homeschool Review Crew which he graciously did. As a teacher of music himself he was interested in the teaching approach and the online lessons provided.

The Simply Music; Music and Creativity - Foundation Course, includes 19 lessons. In each, Neil presents the lesson. His lectures communicate each concept simply and clearly. The foundation course is geared toward beginners. I appreciated his easy to understand explanations of what to do and how to practice. The lessons also include quality recorded sound tracks for play along participation. Amazingly, it really does only take a few lessons to actually be able to play along with those sound tracks to some degree. The fun of experiencing actually playing along provides the motivation to continue more lessons and practice that is often lacking for students.

There is also a reference book that includes simple diagrams that provide a visual aid offering another way to understand the material presented. Given what the objectives of the course are; to get a student playing along fairly quickly, it probably isn't necessary to include traditional notation but, it also probably wouldn't hurt to have that in the reference book as well. A downloadable practice pad is also provided but I am certainly glad we have our piano to practice and play on.

My husband and I viewed some lessons together but watched most separately.

His notes are as follows:
Learn without notes first.
Learn slowly but multi-sensory.
Speak, vocalize through what you are attempting to do, to really know it.
Very methodical.
Play along with orchestrated recordings (Sound tracks)
Get into playing songs quickly, not scales or technique exercises.
Combined piano playing with sound tracks is fully orchestrated.
Re-interprets pieces in a new style and tempo for a challenge.

An 84 page e-book is included that goes into more detail about Neil Moore's insights and philosophy of music education. In it he shares his thoughts on how to create opportunities for more participation and enjoyment of music by more students. He poses some intriguing questions about music participation in our culture and how he believes the approach he has developed, to teaching music addresses concerns he and others may have. Based on my own experience and working through about half of the Foundations course, I do think the teaching in Music and Creativity - Foundation Course addresses the issue of impatience or boredom that can accompany a reading music and technique first approach that causes many students to quit pursuing an active involvement in music.

It is not clear if additional courses on the Simply Music site may provide more instruction in specific technique and reading music. This Foundation course has been fun to participate in. Given that it is offered for free, the course only requires that a student follow along and join in, it is an opportunity to discover the joy of playing piano. The reward provided by actually playing along in this course makes it definitely worth the effort. And who knows where it might lead a beginning student.

To read more reviews by the Homeschool Review Crew of Simply Music's Music and Creativity - Foundation Course click the banner below.

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