Online piano lessons is a relatively new idea - and Mr. Hoffman of the Hoffman Academy has been developing his program for a few years now. As a teacher and piano player, he has researched music instruction methods and developed the "Hoffman Method" as a result of his experiences. The Hoffman Academy has over 250 students at it's Portland OR location, and now this program is available world-wide via free online piano lessons.
Here's how it works:
There are 3 units of 20 lessons. Each lesson has a video, available for free on YouTube. The videos are between 5 and 15 minutes long, and you can watch a lesson as many times as you like. As well, you can progress through the lessons at your own pace, as time and schedules permit! Accompanying the videos are extra lesson materials which include MP3 files, sheet music and activity pages to help reinforce the learning. The extra materials are available for purchase for $19 per unit, or $45 if you buy all 3 units together.
It's extremely easy to listen to and watch Mr. Hoffman! His voice is pleasant and he's very encouraging, making the children love to watch and try out what he's suggesting! In fact, although we've been mostly watching the lessons with our 5-year old, our 3-year old is picking up a few things too and wants to watch Mr. Hoffman too! :) The lessons are very accessible to beginners, so if you or your child wants to learn and has no prior experience, you can start right in! One new thing we noticed is how the lessons are presented, with a title and summary of what you'll learn in each lesson - this gives you a great overview of the program.
We found the lessons to be a nice balance of learning songs, music theory and basic piano practice and knowledge. It gave our son a really good feeling to be able to play a recognizable song after the first lesson! We've looked at the Hoffman piano lessons before, but started again this time now that Mr. D is older (and his fingers are longer!) The extra materials, while not completely necessary, do give you a chance to practice along with accompaniment, and also to start getting used to traditional music notation. Text is nicely complemented by images and diagrams to help the student better visualize and understand what is happening.
The Hoffman Method emphasizes a few different areas of music learning, and I like his well-rounded approach. It helps to keep the learning interesting and the student motivated as well as keeping the enjoyment level high. The areas emphasized are:
- ear training
- sight reading
- music theory
As someone who plays (although infrequently) and who spent many years doing piano lessons, I'm really glad to see this balance of instruction. Although I had several good piano teachers, I wish I'd had more training in improvisation and ear training, and possibly less in music theory (which was a lot of my lessons as I grew older). Now, I mainly play for my own enjoyment, and being able to play a melody I've heard and adding in some improvisation is something I wish I could do better! Already, after a few lessons, I can see that Mr. D is picking up on the sounds and copying the sounds rather than strictly paying attention to the music notation provided, which makes me very happy! I know our older son plays most of his music this way (he'll start on any note rather than the one written and play his song, adjusting for sound as he goes!)
Since we last tried out the Hoffman Method, Mr. Hoffman and his team have been busy. They've added 20 more video piano lessons and divided the lessons into units. As well, they've published the extra materials for the new lessons, and redeveloped the website. It's looking very smooth and professional now. The shopping cart feature of the website works well and materials purchased are instantly available for download, as a zipped file for PC users, or as individual pdf and mp3 files for iPad and iPhone users.
If you're wanting to learn to play the piano, now is the perfect time to start! The Hoffman Academy is offering Glimpse readers a discount of 40% off your entire cart purchase! That means that you could get all of the extra materials for $27!! Or one unit for 11.40! Use coupon code: glimpsepianodeal. This coupon expires on February 19th, 2014 and is open to everyone worldwide!!