Today I’ll be sharing my experience with PianoWithWillie
on JazzEdge.com. It will be a little different than my normal review. Usually, I share what we received, what is included in the program, how the vendor wants us to use it, how we used it, and then how we liked it. The problem I have today – is after my second review and 6 weeks of using this program several times during the week – I still don’t quite think I’ve even scratched the surface to all that Wille has put up on JazzEdge.com.
I was offered a year of Studio Access
. It is a little overwhelming what is in this ‘Learn the piano in 30 days Guarantee’ package. I can access the program from any device, personalize my plan, choose from jazz, blues, latin, gospel, funk or rock, download drum tracks and sheet music – while diving into over 3,000 lesson chapters. Those are Video Lessons folks. See where I got overwhelmed?
Willie does try to make it easy to navigate the site.
I started at my Dashboard. This tells me my recent activity and is the sort of Portal to the site. Piano Success is at the far left corner. I can click on Piano Start, and see the quick steps to customize the site to fit my learning goals.
A quick Getting Started video will help you navigate, followed by the 30 Day Success Playbook. If done as intended, these are thirty individual one page mini lessons to see where your skills are, brush up on what you learned ‘back in the day’, or evaluate what level you are currently playing. He gives advice to take a few days with each page, if needed. I knew my level was really low. I could muddle through about 20 days before I knew I was guessing. If you have troubles with the 30 Day Success Playbook – you’ll be encouraged to try Homeschool Piano. One Note – 30 Day Success Playbook is a downloaded PDF style book. There are no videos. The text is super simple to navigate. My son and I were not frustrated or left wondering if we were doing it right. Just keep trying the few bars on the piano, answer a few questions, and keep scrolling. you’ll know when you’ve hit your skill level.
If the Playbook is too simple, you can move on to PianowithWillie. I think a key feature – that I missed with the first time I tried the program, and that I didn’t look at til mid way through this time – is Step #5 in Piano Start – The Next Steps. Here you’ll go through a few short videos to learn how to create your lesson plans, create a Piano Success map, and dig the nuggets out of the site. I played around with the Piano Success, Piano Plans and took their 22-point assessment. It allowed me to talk to the data base and tell it what my personal goals were. It gave me a unique Piano Plan to achieve those goals.
I can read music that I can sing, and I can play well enough with my right hand or Treble Clef. The last time of using the program I gained a lot of proficiency of playing piano without looking at the note and then the key/finger placement each time. I learned finger placement.
This time my goal was to incorporate the left hand, and really dig in and be determined to read those bottom notes, the bass clef. The assessment dialed me into some great videos that would help me accompany during worship time, – however – it was WAY over my head. So – back to HomeSchoolPiano. This is still all on the Jazzedge.com site – and Willie is still the piano teacher. This is what is cool about PianoWithWillie
and Studio Access
I started with Book 1 – Beginners. I can move through Books 2 and 3 which will guide me to Building a Foundation and Unlocking the Pianist Within.
Clicking into Book 1 reveals 6 Units. I downloaded the pdf file for Book 1 and printed the pages I thought I’d like to have handy during the lessons.
Each Unit has several parts. Technique, Rhythm, Ear Training, Reading Music, Song, Improvisation and a Bonus Section. The Book goes hand in hand with the Videos. The first time I did this program, I did not print out the book. This time I did – and I can say, for me, it REALLY made a difference.
I had to cut back, and forget any choral training. Any messing around experience. I tried to start fresh, someone learning new. Undo bad placement or key stroke habits. I REALLY tried to not memorize the songs, faster than I learned to actually follow the notes on the sheet music.
That is where my son Jon differs. There is a HUGE place for that on PianoWithWillie. He and Willie just love Improv. Jon wants to learn a song, learn some flare, learn a few chords – and wow his friends. We were at a friend’s home this week and he stepped over and just started playing quite a bit of what he’s learned this month. The adult says, ‘Wow, I didn’t know you could play!’ while Jon played out all of his new skills.
I’ll take a side note here – Jon loved just watching the videos and imitating Willie. Two to three times PER DAY, he’d cruise over, turn on a video, and imitate it. He also used other videos on line to learn pop songs. I think Willie would approve. I was with a friend at a Mc D’s as her boys jumped all over a floor mat piano board. She kept apologizing. I asked for what, then I realized she meant the background noise – Oh, no – I assured her – This has been my life the last 6 weeks!
For each video, I had the sheet music printed, and my keyboard handy. I focused on Technique, Reading Music, Song, Improv and Bonus. Each week the song looked hard, and by the end of the lessons, I was playing them by sight! Woo Hoo!
By Lesson 3 or 4 I was getting frustrated. When will there be the This Is Exactly How You Read the Bass Clef and Play with your Left Hand Lesson? I even mentioned it to my son out loud. He just kept giving us markers of sort to know where to put the 5th or 3rd finger. Then Wilie says – Don’t be waiting around to learn each note for each finger, you’ll never be able to play the song fast enough if you rely on notes. Look at the fifth’s – Pinky to thumb placement/ 3rd finger chords. Watch how the lines and spaces work together. Get a visual site of where your fingers are going to jump. Saying, this is a G line, this is G on the piano – Press – is not going to work in playing a song well. This did help me ease up on making it too difficult.
Willie refers to this page often. I had it taped to the wall, then taped to my music stand. Then, I ran out of regular paper and only had card stock. Genius. Now the paper stands tall, and you can’t see through it (window glare). I added a few things that he pointed out that I never knew before. Ground/Fly, Fifths, and the G and F in the symbols. Don’t tell Willie, but I really do want to learn all the letters by sight. I may or may not have written Ground and Fly on the corresponding keys on my keyboard. . . .with a sharpie.
It was around this lesson that he mentioned an extra sheet in the lesson. A the bottom Right hand corner of the page is Leave a Message – and there is a Chat Box as well. I asked it the question – and POP, a live person started talking to me. Not sure if you know this, but I like to talk. I asked her questions I had, she sent me some PDF’s of helping me read sheet music to my gmail address and helped me focus on my lessons. SUPER handy. If you ever get overwhelmed with the site – I suggest to ASK.
My goal will be to work through the next two units of Book 1, then move to Book 2. Jon and I are bound and determined to conquer this keyboard! I want to simply sit and play chords and hum along.
The songs below are from Unit 4 and Unit 6 from Book one. I just sat down and played Sneaky Sue without the lesson! Woot! Slow. Painful, but yes, I could do it by looking at the notes. I like learning the Swing, Blues, and Rock. (Note – When I started to really use the left hand, I did use what he offers, sheets with only a few bars per sheet in really huge font. As I gained skill, those were annoying, so I just printed the Song Sheets. He mentioned as the lessons progressed, he’d do away with the large 3-4 bars per sheet practice pages.)
I’ve spent hours practicing my 5 finger drills. Even though I type a lot – my left hand fingers get sore with practice. He gives a good lesson on how to grab the keys so you don’t get tired, but my fingers still do. It was worth it to download the sound tracks. They are free with the program, right next to the book download. He’s right, it is more fun to practice scales with a backup drum band. More fun to practice the song, too.
I share the above graphic – as the idea is that it can be practiced anywhere, with any device. I pretty much used my desktop computer shown above – since that is where my keyboard is. For fun, and because of this review, I used my Android phone to look up lessons and to watch the videos. But I wasn’t by the keyboard, so I played my lesson in the sand or on the steering wheel. Not sure Willie would recommend that. Ha. The videos make me want to practice – so being right next to the keyboard is good.
I used this program starting as the most basic beginner – trying to learn the left hand. However, there are over 3,000 lessons – for whatever style you want, whatever skill you are looking to add, what ever goal you have in mind, I’m pretty sure there is a lesson for that. You can teach yourself piano, just like me and Jon – online. Awesome. Click the banner below to read more reviews! We also reviewed DrumsWithWillie!