Online Piano Lessons: Piano With Willie (Review)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

I have a confession to make: 
 Once upon a time I used to play the piano.  
I don't write about that much...maybe ever... because I've been so slack in maintaining my skills. It's been ages since I've done anything but plunk out a song now & again, but during my growing up years I was blessed with parents who paid for many piano lessons for myself & all my sisters too (I had 10 years of lessons).  Although I've never been the musician a couple of my sisters are (one is studying at the Qld Con), I have always loved sitting down & spending time playing the piano.  However, since having children the time I've had to spend doing this has greatly reduced. Then moving here, taking on a farm, deciding to homeschool & everything else involved in this chaotic life has reduced my practice time even further.  So when I was offered the chance to review PianoWithWillie by JazzEdge I was excited.  This was the perfect excuse to get back on the piano & enjoy playing it again! 

JazzEdge  Review
PianoWithWillie is a collection of online piano lessons designed & presented by international performer & clinician, Willie Myette.   PianoWithWillie is designed specifically for piano students who have had previous piano experience. It complements the beginners course Easy Piano Basics which is recommended for those who are just beginning their piano studies. 

 I received  Studio Access to PianoWithWillie for 12 months.  This allows me free access to an enormous lesson collection which includes over 3500 videos!  This lesson collection contains lessons for students with many different levels of experience.  There is a large range of genres covered within the lessons & many different techniques are taught.   The lessons can be either chosen by the student themselves or they can be matched with a specific plan by taking a 22-point assessment which will automatically generate a piano plan unique to their requirements and skills.
JazzEdge  Review

Each lesson contains multiple videos covering either a piece of music the student would like to learn or a specific technique (such as improvisation).  For example, I chose to learn Moon River by Henry Mancini.  There were 6 chapters (videos) within this particular lesson.  Each video was between 3 to 10 minutes long depending upon what was being covered.  I began the lesson by downloading & printing the sheet music which is fully supplied on the lesson's page. The first chapter included the piece being properly played by Willie himself & a generalised introduction.  The further chapters covered the song section by section including the techniques, fingering, notation and any helpful hints.  The lesson ended with a video on how to practice this particular song & what to focus your practice on.  

The video lessons are displayed on the screen with a split keyboard.  The bottom section of the keyboard videos the actual teacher's fingers as the lesson is being taught.  The top will guide you as he plays the notes.  In the bottom left corner is the video of the teacher himself teaching the lesson. Each lesson is very thorough & Willie is a fantastic teacher.  He is passionate about his music & very upbeat in his presentation of the lesson contents.  

Each PianoWithWillie video streams directly over the Internet, which allows it to be displayed on a variety of devices.  I was able to use it on my Ipad sitting next to the music on my piano. I was worried as our Internet can be rather slow, but I had no trouble with the video streaming of this program.  I did keep the video quality on low though.  
I used PianoWithWillie over the past 6 weeks.  I began by taking the 22-point assessment to get a specific piano plan for me. I will admit that I was a little frustrated as some of the terms used are different to what I was taught over here in Australia.  Once I sorted out what they actually mean ( I took the assessment again after doing a couple of lessons when I realised that it was far too easy),  I was able to generate a more appropriate plan.  I will admit, though, that it wasn't until I found the Lesson Archive that I really appreciated this program.  I loved scrolling through the many lessons available & choosing what I hope to learn ( & still hope to learn as time allows).  I guess I like to learn a variety of music so having to choose a specific genre to learn from didn't completely suit me.

I personally think that PianoWithWillie makes piano lessons fun.  While I'm sure they teach the techniques every musician needs, they certainly don't focus on taking piano exams (which is what my many learning years were all about) and having to learn books of very boring songs for these very stressful exams (so, maybe I have issues.....).  I find that so refreshing.  The PianoWithWillie lesson content is very clearly taught & explanations are thorough.  The student has the ability to stop & start videos as they practice what is being taught.  This is excellent as it means the teacher is always with the student rather than them simply having one lesson a week & trying to remember what you were taught.

PianoWithWillie is available from JazzEdge

 It can also be found on:

JazzEdge Review

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