Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kinderbach Review

For several years I have been looking for a program that will help my little children learn to play the piano.  Most programs are geared toward older children, but I knew that I wanted them to at least get a feel for making and reading music at a young age.  So I was very excited to see that we were going to be reviewing an online program designed to do just that.  Kinderbach is geared for ages 2-7, so I thought it would be perfect for us.  It is essentially a series of video clips, with accompanying activities and printable.  The subscription price is $19.99 monthly, or the much cheaper yearly version which is $95.88.  There are four lessons for each week, and most lessons have a worksheet or coloring page of some kind to go along with it.  There is also a DVD option available, and levels 1-3 start at $112.75.
PhotobucketKinderbach starts out teaching the basics.  Rhythm, with spoons, clapping, or whatever you feel like using is taught during the first 12 weeks and beyond.  A few simple music terms are introduced and practiced, and everything moves at a very slow pace.  The very beginnings of key identification is covered, using fun stories.  Instead of using stickers or similar devices to identify the keys, the child learns the name of each key for himself, using it’s location in connection with the black keys.  For example, the two black keys are the home of the little donkey named Dodo.  Dodo’s house is very small, so he can’t play in it.  Instead, he comes out of his house to play on the white key in front of it, and that key is called “d”.  It is an ingenious and child-friendly way to introduce the piano keys and music theory. 
The children all enjoyed using Kinderbach, but they liked the stories the best.  They all had differing levels of comprehension, but I think the age range is pretty appropriate.  Baby Girl is two, and I really don’t think that she is getting that much out of it, but she does enjoy the rhythm instruments!  Bop is at the upper end of the age range, and she thinks the lessons are a little boring, but she enjoys the music.  CJ likes the rhythm and music, but doesn’t enjoy the coloring so much.  They have all struggled some with the lack of piano playing and the very slow pace.  It seems to cover everything but actual keyboard instruction during the first weeks, as it builds a foundation.  (We are working around week 12.)  We have learned a little about the quarter and half notes, the piano and forte symbols, ‘stepping up’ notes, a tiny bit of key identification, and quite a bit of rhythm. 
I am a little puzzled about the structure of the program, as the lessons seem pretty randomly designed to me.  I am sure that it is an organized spiral method, but my brain is just not set up for that approach.  It seems like it could be better organized to fit into the child’s natural desire to actually start playing music, since weeks pass with only a few notes ever being played.  I was also a little surprised by how short each lesson was.  We easily fit a whole week’s worth of lessons into one session, thought we didn’t do music each day.  The lessons themselves are about 5 minutes long, and if you did one a day it could take months before your child was actually learning the keys of the piano in preparation to play music.  This could be either a good feature, or a frustrating one, depending on your child’s age and ability.
Overall, we enjoyed Kinderbach, and the kids learned some music theory and rhythm in the last few weeks.  There is a lot of neat things about this method, not the least of which is the child-friendly approach to learning difficult abstract ideas.  We had to tailor it a bit to make it fit for our family, but every homeschool mom I know is already an expert at that!
Visit The Old Schoolhouse blog to read more reviews on Kinderbach.
Go to the Kinderbach website for a free trial and a lot more information. 
I received this product free of charge
as a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew,
for review purposes. I promise to be honest
and fair in my reviews, and I received no
other compensation in exchange for my review.
You can visit The Old Schoolhouse Crew blog
to read more reviews on this product.

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