When I first stumbled upon the product “PianoForAll,” and its promises that my first reaction was, “How can anyone learn how to play a keyboard instrument from an online program?” But, being a person who sincerely enjoys playing the ivories, I know from personal experience that it can be done. It is being done. I'm doing it! I’ve been playing for… I hate to have to admit my age, but nearly 50 years. Okay. So maybe I’ve only been playing for about 48 years! So I can actually speak about the product.
Just for the record, I’m not a terrific pianist, and actually don’t really ever consider myself in that category. Rather, I play – and even compose – for my own enjoyment, and my sight reading skills are nil. Even when I took lessons as a youngster, I primarily played by ear, something my piano teacher noticed before too long when she’d gently stop me to say, “I can tell you aren’t playing the notes on the page.”
It was true. What I would wind up doing was to WATCH her play, while listening to the tune. Because I was able to play by ear, she had no idea (at first) that this was primarily what I was doing to learn the piece assigned to me.
But what I want to point out and emphasize - because it’s tied in with this very cool program that we’re talking about – was that I would WATCH her play – I would see what she was doing with her hands and fingers over the keys, and then I’d practice that while (sort of) trying to read the notations on the page. Evidently, I am quite a visual and aural learner! I do love to read and write, but when it came to trying to figure out the notes on the staff, that’s kind of where I got lost.
What I find so intriguing and wonderful about the PianoForAll program is that in my opinion, it’s perfect for someone just like me – someone who wants to play for the sheer enjoyment of it all. I cannot imagine my life without music – and if this program and the technology that delivers it (i.e. the internet and computers) had been around when I was struggling to learn to play, I can guarantee you that I would have begged my parents to let me learn from this program instead of the tedious lessons I had to take – and didn’t really enjoy. It would have likely saved my parents a lot of money, too, since this is a one-off purchase (that is, you pay one time for the product, and that’s the end of it. No gimmicks!)
And because PianoForAll totally speaks to my way of learning, I would be willing to bet that this would be the case for many, many other people as well!
The reason I didn’t enjoy those lessons of yesteryear is because they weren’t meant for someone like me, who really did have trouble with reading notes. And even though I did gain a certain appreciation for classical music (after all, that’s what we learned and had to practice back in the day), I wanted to learn different styles. I wanted to have more fun with playing.
And that’s actually something that this particular program does extremely well. Yes, of course you will learn the notes and a little theory. But the real adventure is in learning the chord-based sequences where you’ll actually be sounding like you know what you’re doing. Hint: Practice a couple of the lessons, and get them down pat, and then surprise your friends at the next get-together and they’ll ooh and ahh because no one ever knew you could play piano. Haha! Okay, I’m kidding a little because of course you’ll need to practice.
The program recommends 20 to 30 minutes a day. Since I was never very good at the commitment to “everyday” type of practice, I sincerely doubt that even today I would be able to commit to that. But every other day? Sure. And, I think if you have limited time, as long as you commit to SOMETHING with the program, you should be good to go.
How it works is that you buy the program, and download it to your computer. It’s easiest if you have a laptop or tablet because you’ll want to “perch” it on top of your piano or keyboard. You’re going to be learning by watching and replicating what Robin Hall (the creator of the program).
Robin’s techniques are suitable for most age groups (although I’d say not really for little kids – but tweens and teens on up, certainly!). Interestingly, Robin mentions that a lot of people have a bit of a fear when it comes to learning how to play, even though they want to. I never even remotely considered that since I took to the keys instantly as a child (that’s how my parents knew I had a slight gift). But, it makes sense. When you are standing at a piano, looking down at the keys, and haven’t got a clue how to make them work together, I can understand how this could be intimidating.
But, please – I beg you NOT to be intimidated. Robin has truly been inspired to be able to put this method together. You will not feel intimidated any more if you will just sit down at the keyboard, open up the first lesson, and just TRY it. Seriously. Sit down, get comfortable, and give it just an hour or so to prove to yourself that you CAN do it, and that it’s FUN! Because it IS fun!
Can you tell I love this program?
There is so much that comes with this program – all digital. The lesson books are eBooks, and they cover various styles and techniques. The video tutorials are really key, and I found some examples on YouTube, so I’m posting one below so you can see it. And of course tons of audio recordings. Everything gets downloaded to your computer or tablet or whatever you’re using, and once you’ve got the program downloaded, you’re good to go and do not need an internet connection. You’ll need Adobe Reader, because the eBooks are PDF formatted. That shouldn’t be an issue since just about every computer these days has Adobe Reader, and if yours doesn’t it’s totally free and a very easy download.
But, if for some reason you get freaked out trying to download stuff (although Robin couldn’t make it any easier), he understands that some people just can’t for whatever reason. Maybe their internet connection isn’t fast enough, or they just like handling hard copy types of lessons. If that’s the case, don’t worry, because he offers the program in a DVD format as well. In short, he covers everyone’s needs!
If there is anything “negative” about the program – and honestly, from my perspective, there isn’t anything truly negative – but if there is something – if you don’t have a way where you can put a laptop or other device on top of your keyboard or piano, it might be a little difficult for you to follow this. Not impossible, because where there is a will, there’s a way, as they say. You’ll just have to figure something out. I don’t have that issue because I just plop my laptop on top of the piano (It might be hard if you have a big old-fashioned upright – in which case, maybe get a tray table or get a phablet that you can prop up where the music sits.).
On occasion, Robin’s site is a little slow loading, and I’m not sure what that’s all about, but then I’ll go to the site a while later, and it will be fine. It’s possible that it’s just a really popular website and may sometimes get overloaded. Which might make some sense since he offers the program at such an inexpensive price that it’s got to be a no-brainer for just about everyone on the planet who wants to learn how to play. Brilliant strategy! I figure that maybe he’d rather sell a million copies at a lesser price than sell only a few thousand at a higher price.
But anyway, those are the only things I can think of that might be a little bit of an issue for anyone.
I find this to be one of the absolute best programs I have ever seen for anyone at any skill level who wants to learn how to play.
My bottom line? I love it. Hands down, the very best. And I say, buy PianoForAll and start playing!