HomeSchoolPiano™ lessons are presented online by Willie Myette on either a monthly or yearly subscription basis. A subscription gives students access to lessons for all four courses in HomeSchoolPiano: Core Piano, Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. It should take about two to three years to complete all four courses. A free 30-day trial period lets you try it out before subscribing.
HomeSchoolPiano is for students at all levels. An introductory video that runs a little more than an hour explains the course. Students and their parents should both watch this before they start the lessons, whatever their beginning level. Beginners need to start with the Core Piano lessons, spending as much time as they need on the basics. Students with some experience can start at Level 1, going back into any of the Core Piano lessons that might be helpful. Students who have previously taken lessons will probably benefit from a number of the Core Piano lessons to acquaint them with Myette’s teaching style.
With HomeSchoolPiano, students learn the keyboard, fingering techniques, and how to read music. Students also develop listening skills, so they can recognize notes, tunes, and rhythms. Ultimately, Myette wants his students to be able to improvise and make music without reliance on memorized pieces or sheet music from which to play. To that end, he teaches chords early in the course material, and he frequently teaches improvisational techniques.
Myette also teaches his own vocalization system that he created to help students understand rhythm. He uses nonsense syllables such as dah for a quarter note and doo-oo for a half note. It might sound silly, but it really helps.
One aspect that I really love about this program is that Myette teaches students scales, chords, and techniques through practice pieces that are fun to play. Many of the tunes students will learn to play were written by Myette. He introduces different musical styles, including jazz, rock, and classical. Myette will introduce students to the notes of a particular scale, then have them practice with an interesting rhythm. Or he’ll have them play either the individual notes or multiple notes of a single chord in different patterns and rhythms that are musically interesting. Then he encourages students to switch the notes around and experiment for themselves. In addition, he provides pre-recorded drumbeats and accompaniments that students can play as they practice working with the notes of each scale. Practice time should be much more interesting for students than if they were to simply practice scales in a traditional manner.
Students log into the website to watch the videos which range in length from a few minutes to about 15 minutes. Ideally, students should have the video lessons available to them on a tablet that they can set in front of them while they work on their keyboard. Students or parents need to download PDF files that have the sheet music or illustrations for each lesson, since students need to see it during their lessons. (PDF files can be downloaded and printed either for an entire course at once or lesson by lesson.)
In the videos, Myette plays on a keyboard, and a virtual keyboard displayed above his actual keyboard uses an easily visible, dark orange color to identify the keys being played. Students might stop and practice a tune or technique during many of these videos, and sometimes they will just play along with the lesson at the appropriate points. The videos have an option to show closed captions for those who need them. Students also have the option of either speeding up or slowing down the videos.
Myette has an excellent teaching manner. He tells students to gradually increase their practice time rather than demanding long practice sessions from the very beginning. He suggests different ways of doing things that might be easier for some students. He encourages persistence, yet he also tells students that if they just aren’t getting something after trying a few times, they can skip it and come back to it later.
The Core Piano lessons present a progression of individual lessons that cover basic material and skills as well as some lessons that go beyond the basics. Levels 1, 2, and 3 are each laid out in six units. Each unit consists of seven parts: technique, rhythm, reading music, song, improvisation, bonus, and a quiz. Aside from the quiz, each part has an instructional video and assignments for the student to practice or study. The optional bonus sections offer extra lesson material for students who are ready for a bit more challenge.
These quizzes are ingeniously designed to actually test a student's ability to read music. For instance, one quiz has an audio recording of just one measure of music. Then the quiz shows two different measures of written music, and the student has to identify which one they heard. You can see from the content of each unit the comprehensiveness of Myette’s approach.
Even though these are not live class sessions, Myette keeps in touch with students through a Facebook® page. (There are workarounds for students without access to Facebook.) Myette also offers live training sessions at no extra cost. The live training happens every other week and all students are welcome to attend to get feedback on their playing. This ensures that students are on the right track and have a teacher available to answer their questions.
HomeSchoolPiano should work for students about first grade and up. Students up through about third grade should have an adult on hand, but older students should be able to work independently. While the lessons work for children, they are also suitable for adults. I took years of piano lessons a long time ago, but I found the HomeSchoolPiano lessons far more engaging and helpful than my original lessons.