Saturday, March 23, 2013

Adventus - Review

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Piano is quite high up in priority for us. Boo (10) and Jam (12) have been playing for nearly 5 years. In fact my husband and I agree that it is an essential part of my children's education. Little J has been asking to start piano lessons. However since he is only four we were planning on waiting a couple of years. As three children in private piano lessons is out of our budget right now.
So when an opportunity came up to review Adventus I was SO excited and so was Little J.

We have been using MusIQ homeschool it is a seven year curriculum designed for ages 4-18 years.

The curriculum is available as a download or CD-Rom option. You need a computer, the Internet and a MIDI keyboard.
Luckily we already had a full size electric piano that was MIDI compatible. We just needed an adapter to attach the piano to the computer.  I ordered a USB MIDI cable converter from Amazon and after a few issues with the settings and a couple of calls to Adventus for help and we were good to go. (We did have problems with this cable you can read about that later).

There is SO much too this curriculum that we really have only scratched the surface. However since my older children already can play Little J thought that this program should be just for him. So that is how we started.


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The Children's Music Journey for ages 4-10 incorporates a 'teach, practice, apply' method. Different animated composers lead the student through lessons starting straight away with musical concepts.
Little J is working on Level 1.



This video gives an overview of the program.



The concepts in level one cover;

1. Musical Alphabet
2. Quarter, half and whole notes
3. Sharps, flats, and naturals
4. Half rests
5. Notation of Standard C position
6. Intervals of 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th
7. Songs with chords in the left hand and melody in the right hand
8. Tapping notated rhythms hands together with rests & ties
9. Development of repertoire
10. Composing
11. Improvising
12. History

Little J loved the program straight away. Here is a clip of the very first lesson in Level one. Beethoven is the first instructor.


I love that the colors are bright and it grabs the child's attention straight away. History about composers and music is taught is a very natural relaxed way. In fact Little J did not realize he was learning history and playing the piano.


How we used it

We used this program on average four times a week. We covered roughly two lessons a week. However sometimes we would review a particular lesson more than once. For example Little J struggled (and still does a little) with playing a rhythm.
Little J has had great fun with the program.


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There are three modes that you can choose to play in free, normal, and strict. In the free mode all lessons, and games are open so that you can freely move, skip, and play any game available. In the normal mode the lessons move on one at a time as you complete each lesson.I have not had a need to try the strict mode so I am not sure what it does. I tried the free mode when I was trouble shooting some connection issues I will discuss later. While Little J does his lessons I make sure the setting is set on normal. Otherwise he would try and play games without understanding the concept being practiced. However my older children would have a great time playing the games in the 'free mode' and it could be an excellent form of revision for them.

Along with the music computer program there is lesson plans and work sheets available (sold separately). Little J enjoyed doing the worksheets and they helped to reinforce the things he learned using the program. I printed them out and put them in a folder for us to work on after each lesson. We never really used the lesson plans as I found that the piano practice and worksheets were plenty for Little J.

Little J loved the games and they were designed perfectly to complement the subjects taught in the lesson.



Problems we encountered

Things were going great until we hit lesson 8. For some reason something went wrong with the connection between my computer and piano. In lesson 8 the student is taught the concept of playing two notes at the same time. Every time Little J tried to do this the program would freeze. I even tried it and it didn't work. I called Adventus and they tried to help me for a long time. We realized that the problem wasn't with the program but with the way that piano was sending signals to the computer. I tried calling Casio (for another hour) but in the end my (wonderful) computer savvy husband helped me download a USB driver and attach a regular USB connection between my piano and computer. IT WORKED I was SO happy. My husband wondered at first why I was going to so much effort for one program. Then he saw my son playing it (his previous practice had been done while my husband was at work) and he said "Wow, that is a cool program, I can see why you like it".

Piano Suite Premier - Boo's Experience

Boo (10) had been playing with Piano Suite Premier and had been struggling with similar issues that we were having with the younger program, every time she played two notes at the same time it would say that she had played a wrong note and it would not let her past that point in the music. I had not had any problems with the program because  When we corrected the issue above she was SO happy. Piano Suite Premier software is designed for ages 8-Adult with loads to explore including;


500 + pieces of music for 5 skill levels
Music history & 150 biographies
8 Fun Games
You can even add your favorite songs from the web (I am no where near doing this.)

Boo has been enjoying playing the music. I have been doing the theory lessons. It is definitely more mature and is not childish at all (some older children may still enjoy the younger program). I have also been able to play some of the music choices even though my piano skills are very limited. The reason for this is that you can choose to play with just one hand or both. I managed to work my way through Fur Elise by first playing each hand separately then eventually adding them together.
I can see that it would take a long time to learn all there is to know about this program it is quite amazing. I could play on it ALL day. It is SO much fun.

Here's an overview...


This program can be purchased as a subscription here for $10.95 per month. There are other purchase options and bundles available here in the Adventus store.

Don't just take my word for how good this program is. Check out other reviews by clicking the link below.


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