February 24, 2014

KinderBach Online Piano Lesson Program (a review)

If you have been a regular reader of my blog, you know that I teach piano lessons. I am a small-town teacher with just about 10 regular students (age 6-16). I love teaching and while I really enjoy the successful program I have laid out for my students, I am always curious to see how others teach piano. This curiosity was sparked again upon discovering that the first company for 2014 the Schoolhouse Review team collaborated with was KinderBach, an online piano lesson program. I happily signed up to be a reviewer, because I was very interested to giving this program a try!
Kinderbach Review

What is KinderBach?

KinderBach is a video and online piano lesson program designed for children ages 3-7...an age group that most piano teachers prefer not to teach due to the child's young age, lack of reading skills and fluency, and short attention span. Karri Gregor, the creator and teacher of the program, uses colorful illustrations, fun videos and characters, songs, coloring sheets and rhythm instruments to capture the child's interest and teach about basic music theory and keyboard knowledge.

While they initially started as a DVD program, KinderBach is now offering The KinderBach Online Piano Lesson Membership with Teacher Corner. As of the date of this writing you can get this membership for $95.88 per year. Regular price is $130. When you calculate that out, it’s just $7.99/month for a year!

As a piano teacher I can assure you that you will not find that price anywhere else for piano lessons for a weekly lesson...much less for a whole month of lessons!

Kinderbach ReviewAs part of the online piano lesson membership you will get:
* Access to all web lessons (over 240 sessions!) by computer...you can also access it via iPad, Android Tablet, Kindle Fire or Nook. This means you can take the program with you wherever you go!

* All the accompanying printable pdf pages--just print and use!

* Access to all Teacher Corner materials for Levels 1 to 6...including MP3's, PDF's, teachers guides and more!

* All the miscellaneous story books, worksheets, games and song sheets the program has to offer!

A year's membership will grant you access to the full program from Level 1 to Level 6 giving your student all the information they need to start them on their path for musical fluency!

Worried about needing to know music yourself as the parent to use this program? Don't be! There is a great "parent's guide" that lays out a lot of things for you about the program--including basic items relating to the things the student will be learning. Because you have access to the Teacher Corner, you have everything you need to provide your student with online lessons--including lesson plans, a teacher aid book, a teacher guide book, a student book as well as a goal book and certificates for lesson completion! It truly is an all-in-one program for learning piano.

Don't have a keyboard or piano yet? KinderBach even includes printable piano sheets (they look just like the keys on the piano) which work perfectly well for the first several weeks before actual playing of specific notes is required...though tablets, notebooks and iPads have keyboard apps which work great too!

How did we use the KinderBach piano lesson program?

Little Britches just turned eight and Baby Britches is three; therefore, I have a child at each end of the range this program is designed for. While Baby Britches has not had a single piano lesson with me yet, Little Britches had about 8 months worth of lessons, before we quit at summertime last year. He came into the KinderBach program with some experience, but as it has been awhile since his last formal lesson, I wasn't sure how much he had retained.

We have been able to go from week #1 to week #9 in the few weeks that we have been reviewing this product. Each week of the program contains four lessons and it is suggested that you use it 3-4 times per week. Every week begins with an introduction video which preps not only the student, but the parent for what is going to be taught during the week and what supplies will be needed. This is very helpful for planning purposes. Each of the lesson videos is short. Some are no longer than three minutes, while others are about seven minutes. Because they are so short, I just had them do two lessons per day, using KinderBach four times a week. We easily knocked out two weeks of lessons per week. We'd be even further along in the program, but the boys request certain lessons to be played over and over because they enjoy them so much.

I set the boys up to do the KinderBach program together. I would log in each day to our account. You can bookmark your session you are working on with your toolbar, or you can log in and just find it in the main page for members log-in that has every lesson listed. While I was logging in, I had them get out their color crayons and rhythm instruments.

Their "instruments" were a container from my cupboard and a spatula. But each boy had his own and played it with glee.

I set up my laptop on the coffee table so that they not only had work space for any worksheets that needed to be filled out, but so they could stand up and move around as the lesson required if needed.
kinderbach piano lesson review

If they needed to "go to the keyboard" for a lesson, we simply picked up the laptop and put it on top of our piano so they could easily see it and follow along.
You can see the laptop on the left side of the piano in this photo. I kept a space cleared off for it since we used it there quite regularly. Both boys used the piano at the same time and would just decide who was going to sit where and then they'd go for it.

When you use the videos, if there is a printout needed, it will show up below the video lesson. 
You can see it here on this screenshot from a lesson we did last week. I added the arrow to show you where you would find the icon. Simply click on the printer icon and it opens a separate window showing the document. Using this, you can see whether it's a repeat or something you need to printout for use that day. You can easily go through a whole week and print them out in advance. Some of these I printed out a copy for each boy and some I didn't--I only printed two copies if it was a coloring page/worksheet.

I blocked out 15-20 minutes on the days we did KinderBach. This gave us enough time to not only do our two lessons, but to do any extras that might come with them--or simply watch the videos multiple times. (This was usually what happened. LOL!) By them working together, Little Britches could guide Baby Britches on anything he wasn't understanding.

How did each boy respond to the KinderBach lessons?

Baby Britches (age 3 1/2) absolutely adores KinderBach. He runs to the coffee table when it's time for our session. He races to the cupboard to grab out his rhythm instruments and then asks me if I need him to get anything from the printer. He would do KinderBach for at least an hour if I let him...just watching one video after another.
kinderbach review piano lesson
By the point we are at now (starting week #9 of Level 1), he easily identifies the two and three black key groups on the piano. He can play them when asked with the correct fingering. He sings both the two black key song (Dodi's house) and the three black key song (Train Station song) with glee. He can identify a "walk" note vs a "standing" note. And he can successfully play series of "walk" notes (aka. quarter notes) using his rhythm instrument. He can identify whether a sound is loud or soft and high or low. It's been a HUGE success for him.

Little Britches (just turned 8) is approaching it differently. He already HAD music training so this is actually incredibly easy for him. In fact I would venture to say he's WAY beyond anything we are covering right now, as he already can identify and read notes on music and find them on the piano...something that isn't a part of the program at this stage of the game.
kinderbach review piano lesson program
He already KNEW the difference between two black key and three black key patterns and he knew (and demonstrated memory) of the difference between walk (quarter) notes and standing (half) notes. He does enjoy the coloring pages. He enjoys the videos. But other than just one or two with songs he especially likes (the Beat Bugs!) he grows bored if Baby Britches wants to watch something over and over. Does this mean he doesn't want to do it? Absolutely not! He still enjoys it...but it is NOT challenging for him, nor is he really learning anything new at this point.

The one thing I have noticed however, is that this program, though incredibly easy for him, has rekindled his desire to play the piano! He is pulling out his old books again and playing from them without me asking him too. This is something he wouldn't willingly do at all prior to starting the KinderBach program. I am incredibly thankful for this as I was desiring to start back up his lessons.

I look forward to continuing on with the program as we finish our 6 month trial to see if things change as we move up the levels of difficulty.

What are my thoughts on the KinderBach Online Piano Lesson Program?

I'm going to share my thoughts on this program first as a parent based on our experience with weeks #1-8. This program is absolutely great for young children. It has been a gentle introduction to not just the piano, but music training in general. Even though I have a history and background in music, I would still be able to easily use it and assist my children without it. The Parent Guide is excellent and the teacher's guides and lesson plans are easy to follow. KinderBach does basically all the work for you! The parent's biggest job is to print the material that is needed and turn it on!

Notice I said young children...I believe that this program is definitely for the seven and under age range. I would even go so far as to say it's geared towards the Preschool and Kindergarten range specifically. Even if he didn't have a background in music to draw from, Little Britches would have become just as bored with it, as it goes at SUCH a slower pace. On the other hand, this makes it IDEAL for Baby Britches, who at 3 1/2 is soaking up every word and every instruction. He remembers all that he's been taught and if you ask him, he can demonstrate his knowledge.

As a parent I would highly recommend this program to someone looking to get their Preschool/Kindergarten age child into a beginning music program, as it really does do an excellent job at introducing the keyboard and music theory to that age group. If you have a child closer to the 1st/2nd grade level, I would recommend it with hesitations. If they had any background in music at all, I'd advise you to go with something else--especially if they've had piano training. But if they were a "blank slate"...I would say that this is going to be okay; however, be prepared to move quickly as they will learn it fast.
kinderbach piano lesson review

Now I want to share my thoughts on this program from the piano teacher (with over 12 years of experience) point of view, as I believe this allows me a deeper analysis of the program. Long story short--KinderBach's creator Karri Gregor is brilliant! She clearly understands children and the way that they learn, as she incorporates visual, auditory and kinesthetic aspects into the curriculum. By keeping each lesson short she doesn't have to worry about attention span issues.

Her use of characters (she has one for every note, as well as characters for remembering things like beats and fingering) and colorful images is eye catching and memorable--critical to teaching a subject like music to any age, especially young children. She fills her lesson with songs that I hear my boys singing randomly during the day. She really does offer a phenomenal program for this tricky age group.

There were several times as I was listening in on the boys lessons that I would go "Oh! Why didn't I think of that?!" In fact, I've even incorporated her use of the words "walk" and "standing" as just a quick tip for my own young students struggling with note timing.

As a piano teacher I can tell you that I avoid the 3-5 year old age group because I just don't have a piano program set up to teach that age group. This program is truly filling a need that is definitely there in the music education world. There is also a need for online piano lessons because there just aren't enough piano teachers! KinderBach's online piano lesson program is a necessity to help with this problem!

If I had to pick a word to describe this program and how it progresses, I would choose the word...gentle. There is no rush to teach a concept. There isn't a pile of information to pour into a memory to spit out later. She makes learning gentle and fun, which allows for excellent retention. That is ideal for the Preschool and Kindergarten age group!

If every child came to me for piano lessons with KinderBach as a background, it would make my job a million times easier as a teacher!

Though our review is completed, we will be continuing to use this program throughout the remainder of our 6 month free trial because the boys do enjoy it so much--and it's perfect for my 3 year old to prep him for the piano lessons I will be giving him soon.

Can you use KinderBach only as an online piano lesson program?

While my review was on The Kinderbach Online Piano Lesson Membership with Teacher Corner, this is NOT the only way you can access the program! If online lessons aren't for you, then make sure you check out the DVD and CD package! This is the perfect choice if you want to be able to use a large screen (your TV!), don't want to be tied to a computer for the sessions, or if you have a slow internet connection.

But if you have a laptop, an iPad, tablet, Nook, etc...the online lessons really are a great way to go because of the convenience! Remember that as of the writing of this review you can get The KinderBach Online Piano Lesson Membership with Teacher Corner for just $95.88/year--which works out to just $7.99/month. If you compared that to a even small-town piano teacher like me--well, you are looking at an average savings of about $32-42 per month just in lesson costs (at $10/week)--not to mention NO book fees and NO gas expense!

I also want to add that if you are a Preschool or daycare teacher and interested in using this program, there is a classroom version that is available!

If you are curious to see how this program will work for your own family, why not head on over and check out the FREE LESSONS? Yes, you can have access to the first two weeks for FREE to see how it works! There is even a 30 day Money Back Guarantee for the program! I really think that it's worth the try if you have children in the 3-7 age group and are looking to introduce music to their day!

Do you use Facebook? You can follow KinderBach and stay in touch with updates and new material!
Got Twitter? Follow KinderBach!
Don't forget to follow KinderBach on Pinterest too!

I hope that you have found my review of this music program useful! I know that there is a great need by homeschool families to have a good music program and many would be interested in online piano lessons. Make sure you click the banner below to go see how this program worked for other Schoolhouse Review Crew families!
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Have a beautiful day! And keep stopping by this week as I will have more curriculum reviews to share!

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