Monday, July 18, 2016

Learning the Piano, One (Online) Lesson at a Time! {A Product Review of Hoffman Academy}

Hi Friends!

I'm back today with a review of Hoffman Academy....a website designed to teach piano lessons all online!

If you've been reading my blog for long, you know I love music. I'm always listening to music in the background while I work, and I use music in my speech therapy lessons every single day. I just simply can't do life without music!

I grew up playing the piano. My grandmother was a piano teacher, and my mom plays as well. But children don't always learn well from their parents, so my dad lovingly paid for about 12 years of my piano lessons. I enjoyed playing, but I didn't always love practicing. I had tons of things going on, and I didn't always put in the time I should have. Nevertheless, I managed to become pretty good at reading music. But I never learned to play by ear. Not even a little. Ok, maybe I could tap out the melody to songs I knew, but that was about it. No chords. Certainly no inversions. Just the melody! Because of this, if I didn't have piano music in front of me, my playing was virtually useless.

Fast forward about 10 years. I was in the work force and a new mom. I was super busy all the time. But I needed "me time." I wasn't playing the piano regularly. I didn't even have a piano at the time. I missed playing, and I wanted to start playing again. But this time, I wanted it to be different. I wanted to fill in all the "gaps" in my knowledge, and learn the theory, learn the harder rhythms, learn the chords and inversions so I could play by ear. I wanted to be able to play the praise songs from church and sit around and play while my husband was playing the guitar, just for fun!

So I started taking piano lessons again. My current piano teacher plays the keyboard for our church. She's incredible. I love listening to her play, and I love her ability to hear something and effortlessly recreate it on the piano keys. I've been taking again for about a year, and it's one of my favorite parts of my week. We're working on reading harder music, but she's also teaching me about the piano chords, inversions, and improvising....things I never learned before and things that definitely don't come as easy to me. I've thought often before about how if I had learned these things from the very beginning, it would have been so much easier than having to learn them now.

Me in my happy place!

Ironically, a few months after I started taking lessons again, Hoffman Academy contacted me about doing a review of their FREE piano lessons on my blog. In the art of full disclosure, I was hesitant at first. I had always thought it necessary to be sitting right beside your piano teacher....but I decided to do a little more research on The Hoffman Academy to see what it was about first.

The Hoffman Academy website is wonderful. I loved how it explained who Mr. Hoffman is (there are simply too many accomplishments to list here), his story, his teaching method, and his teaching philosophy. One of the first things I read was Ear Before Eye, and I was instantly intrigued. The website went on to explain that The Hoffman Method works on ear training, rhythm, sight reading, technique, improvisation, and music theory right from the start, so he can develop the whole musician. The comprehensive approach helps children (and adults) to truly comprehend music, not just play it. How much easier would it have been for me if I had learned this way from the beginning?!?! I instantly wanted to learn more and write a review!

Hoffman Academy is a website where ANYONE can go to watch short video lessons by Mr. Hoffman FOR FREE and truly learn to play the piano. There are 7 "Units" (the higher the number, the harder the lesson), and there are around 20 lessons in each Unit. The lesson videos are free for anyone to watch. You can purchase supplemental materials, including worksheets and music files for each of the units to dive deeper into the lessons.

 A sample of the information from Lesson One. 

Many lessons have worksheets included as supplemental practice! 

The videos are short and engaging...perfect for both children and adults!

My friends at Hoffman Academy supplied me with the supplemental materials for Unit 1, and I went through each lesson one by one. The lessons in Unit 1 do a wonderful  job of introducing the piano keys and notes, teaching beginning theory, and even teaching you to play a song! The lessons were simple, easy to follow, and fun. Mr. Hoffman is very engaging, and the supplemental materials made practicing fun!

Research shows music is very important for children. Music helps them learn. Music fosters creativity, critical thinking skills, character development, and much, much more. I often use music to reach the children I teach with special needs, and I am making sure to foster a love for music in my own 2 year old as well. Although my little one at home is a little young yet to start piano lessons, when she gets a little older, I'll let her start working through the lessons in The Hoffman Academy. Even if we still decide to use a traditional piano teacher, these lessons are wonderful supplements. Even I plan to continue working my way through them, as I'm sure there is plenty of material I can glean from the lessons even as a more experienced pianist.

Bottom line: I love what Mr. Hoffman and his team are doing at The Hoffman Academy. He had a heart for finding a way to make it possible for everyone to be able to take piano lessons, and he has done just that. Anyone can learn piano through his engaging, comprehensive,  and rigorous lessons! Even more so, I love that he is fostering a love for music in children and adults all over the world!

Want to give Hoffman Academy a try? Enter below to win a copy of Unit 1!

You can also check out Hoffman Academy online to learn more!

Do YOU play an instrument? Do YOU use music in your therapy lessons or classrooms? I'd love to hear how!