With two older sisters learning to play piano and a brother who also plays, Strawberry has been clamoring for piano lessons of her own. I was offered the chance to review The KinderBach Online Piano Lesson Membership with Teacher Corner from KinderBach. KinderBach online membership is intended for children ages 3-7 and costs $95.88 per year at the time of this review. Normally it costs $130 per year. A membership to the KinderBach online program includes 6 levels of video lessons, each with 10 weeks of 4 lessons each (about 240 lessons), appropriate workbooks, and the teacher corner. KinderBach videos are viewable on many different platforms. I only used it on my PC but according to the website, the videos associated with the online membership are also viewable on iPad, Android Tablets, Kindle Fire, and Nook. The lessons are taught by the KinderBach founder Karri Gregor.
KinderBach teaches six areas of music ear listening skills, note reading, rhythm, hand position, singing, and composition with incremental and age appropriate music, pictures, and stories. Ear listening exercises include activities like discerning high or low pitch as well as loud and quiet and recognizing and duplicating rhythms. Note reading includes recognizing patterns, simple chord symbols, notes on a staff, and knowing the letter names of the keys on the keyboard. Note reading progresses from reading pictures on a set of stairs to reading notes on a staff. Initially, KinderBach uses the Piano Pals for note reading. The “Piano Pals” are cute characters to help a young pianist learn where the notes are on the piano and get to know the keyboard more fluently. Eventually, these characters make way for actual notes. Rhythm lessons includes recognizing the beat value as well as how to count the beat and time signatures. Hand position lessons includes numbering fingers, left and right hands, and proper hand position. Singing helps with learning to play by ear and is also included in some of the lessons. During the time of the review, Strawberry experienced all areas of music except the composition area. Each of the lessons include activities like coloring, singing, clapping, dancing, and playing the keyboard.
The Teacher Corner allows a parent to download all materials for a class easier. Included are manuals, worksheets and workbook pdfs, and other resources. In order to utilize KinderBach, it is essential to have at least a keyboard with regular sized keys, rhythm instruments of some kind (but this could be a plastic cup and a spoon), glue, scissors, crayons, paper, cardstock and a printer.
The Teacher Corner is not something I really used. It is primarily geared to those who want to teach KinderBach to more than one student. Some of the resources includes a Lesson Plan Book (about 25 pages), Teacher Aid Book (color pictures and charts to print and use in your lessons), Teacher Guide, Audio MP3 files, Student book, goal book, and certificate. Not every resource is available for all levels, and nothing is yet available for Level 6, but they are being added. There are also some resources available for Level 7, although there are no videos for level 7 in the lessons. Additionally, there are coloring pages, music, and story books available to download and use. The coloring books and storybooks include the stories about the piano pals and excerpts from lessons. The music will allow a child to play music right away, even before he or she knows how to read music.
Overall I really like KinderBach. I like that lessons are really short- usually under 5 minutes. This is perfect for a preschooler. It also allows them to repeat a lesson several times without taking too much time. I like that all of the lessons are engaging and hands on. The music and songs encourage involvement and most of them didn’t grate on my nerves the way some preschool music does.
The first day I opened KinderBach, Strawberry asked to do several lessons in a row. Some of them multiple times. Every day she asks for her piano lessons.When B comes home, she proudly shows off her coloring pages and tells her dad what she has learned.
Each time we did a lesson, we clicked on the appropriate lesson and Strawberry participated. In the following picture, she was practicing discerning high and low pitch with her body. When the music was high pitch, she stood high. When it was low pitch, she crouched low. Frisco, the character seen in the picture also danced to the music to help the child see what to do.
I love that each lesson has both the associated worksheet with the lesson as well as what the lesson purpose is listed underneath the video. This helped me to know what materials would be needed as well as to get the right pages printed even though I didn’t print every single page. Alternatively, the entire lesson book is available to print from the Level screen if you desire to print the entire book and bind it. Since I found that it was not necessary to print every single worksheet, I preferred the option to print from the lesson.
The attention to details is fabulous. Each week has an intro where all the materials for the coming week are noted as well as what will be covered. Then there are four lessons during the week. One great example of the attention to detail was found in an exercise where the children were distinguishing loud and quiet sounds. There was one bubble left in quiet and none in loud. The host pointed out that she could still do something loud and then the child would need to draw a bubble in the loud side. I loved that since it helps to keep kids engaged and not just assuming the right answer.
I also like that when the kids are asked to do something, KinderBach gives ample time before revealing the answer. Strawberry felt like the teacher was really talking to her and would answer the teacher’s questions during the lessons. I also like that many of the materials needed are common. For example, when rhythm instruments are needed, it can be as simple as two sticks or pencils or in the picture below, a new unsharpened pencil and Strawberry’s hand. The teacher in the video used a milk jug and stick to make music in addition to more traditional rhythm instruments.
The biggest con I found was that initially the videos are small and sometimes when they are blown up to full screen they are a little blurry. This isn’t true for all of the videos, but for quite a few it is. I also would have liked to have an easier way to remember where we were in the lessons. The lesson area does not keep track of progress at all.The first two weeks of lessons are available for free to try. We have really enjoyed KinderBach and will continue to use it for music practice. I am really grateful that we were given this opportunity and give this product a thumbs up!