Recently, members of the Homeschool Review Crew have been spending time using a free, online introductory piano course from Simply Music. It is called Music & Creativity and I’ve been having a lot of fun with it! It’s their foundation course and is taught by Neil Moore, who has passion for helping students of all ages learn to play and enjoy music.
The Moore family created this course in Australia, their home country, and came to the U.S. more than 20 years ago to continue working, improving and promoting these amazing music lessons. There are 21 lessons available in this introductory course. Whether you are a complete beginner or if you have some musical training, you will be able to use and enjoy these lessons to improve your skills and enrich your experience playing the piano. It is self-paced, allowing you to move a slowly or as quickly as you wish, and re-visit previous lessons as needed.
The Music & Creativity – Foundation Course (MAC) includes:
- video-based instruction
- downloadable soundtracks
- three pdf documents (a practice pad, a reference book, and Music and the Art of Long term Relationships, an outline of his theory behind playing music.)
These piano lessons are not like any I’ve ever seen. Rather than the monotonous, plunk plunk plunk of boring scales and nonsense songs, students jump right into making music with simple finger patterns on the keyboard along with beautiful accompaniment soundtracks produced by the Simply Music team. Students of all ages (children, teens, adults and seniors ) are able to sit down and find themselves playing a variety of music like blues, classical, contemporary beautifully!
This is because the Simply Music approach uses ‘playing-based’ approach rather thatn a ‘reading-based’ approach. It’s similar to how a toddler learns to walk or talk. it comes naturally and slowly, moment-by-moment, day-by-day. It’s a complex process, but they don’t think about it. They just do it. Trial and error, building on success and learning from what didn’t work. And mimicking – they also repeat and copy what they hear and see. That’s how these lessons work — we are shown how, we hear the sound, we are encouraged to copy and try for ourselves. Simple.
How long is going to take before I can actually play, you ask? Neil Moore’s answer is: It’s going to take as long as it takes! Great answer! With the videos and practice sheets he gives you the tools and instruction needed to play piano (or keyboard) with a great deal of ‘musicality’ right from the start. How quickly or how far we progress is up to us.
The finger positions and patterns are explained and demonstrated, and also drawn out on pages in the downloadable reference book. Watching the video, listening to the instruction, using the reference chart and then putting it all together myself on my own keyboard produced amazing results!
Mr. Moore speaks in a positive, encouraging manner. He uses simple illustrations that help you see and hear what it is he is asking you to do. He understands we all want to jump in and just play – his approach actually makes that seem possible. We are encouraged over and over to go slowly, to stop the video and practice. He even tells us to step away from the lesson and try things out, experimenting to see what we can come up with ourselves.
An introduction to this program is given in the video below:
When talking about rhythm, he uses nursery rhymes we’ve all known from childhood (Humpty Dumpty, Hickory Dickory Dock) to explain how the beat of the song and the rhythm of your fingering on the keys can add personality to what you are playing.
At first I was a little unsure about this method. I have a little piano background. I can read music. I was used to the traditional ‘reading-approach’ to learning. This free and open way of learning and practices was strange to me. But, once I got over my initial inhibitions, it’s been a lot of fun!
The lessons on the website are easy to use and follow. I click on the lesson number I’m working on, watch the video, then practice with the soundtrack and take a look at the recommended resources for that lesson. When I am ready to move on to the next lesson, I mark the lesson as complete and move on. On the right hand side of my screen (I am using a laptop) I can see my progress, which lessons I’ve completed and what is yet to come.
It is recommended you use earbuds or headphones for practicing with the accompaniment soundtracks, so an electric piano or keyboard is the best option. having the ability to ‘plug in’ my laptop to my electric piano means I can even have my own recording session – that’s why the kids and I will be doing once our busy summer season is over. The Music & Creativity Foundation course has opened up a whole new, creative and artistic world of music for me.
Remember: This Foundation Course from Simply Music is offered completely free of charge. All you have to do is register on the website and you are given immediate access – no credit card is required and no further purchase required.
To see how my fellow Crew Mates are using this great piano course, just click on the image below and you can visit them all!