Pros / Piano Marvel breaks down piano lessons into small, manageable segments.
Cons / You don't learn about finger numbering in the first lesson.
Verdict / Piano Marvel is an inexpensive, fun and comprehensive way to learn piano on your own. The game-like format helps keep you engaged.
Piano Marvel includes interactive piano lessons that break down learning piano into simple segmented lessons so you aren't overwhelmed by information. To gain access to all the lessons within Piano Marvel, you pay a monthly subscription or an annual fee. You can use lessons either through a downloadable desktop icon or by launching the application via the Piano Marvel website. Either way, you will need to be connected to the internet to take advantage of all the features this software has to offer. This program also offers a library of songs that feature both classical pieces and modern music that you can download and learn.
One of the best ways to stay interested in playing piano is to start playing right away. Some introductory piano lessons are long and explain a lot of information to you before you even get to touch a piano key. Piano Marvel gets you playing the piano in the very first lesson, which teaches you what whole notes are, and how to play them.
The fact that these online piano lessons can track your progress via MIDI-compatibility is impressive. Once you plug your MIDI controller into your computer, you will be asked to configure it with the software, which just requires you to hit the lowest key on the keyboard followed by the highest key. Once your keyboard is configured you can start taking lessons and keeping track of your progress.
These online piano lessons are broken up into 20 lessons per section, and there is usually a video tutorial above each lesson that that summarizes the skills you'll be learning. There wasn't a teacher present within the first few lessons that we took, just narration and illustrations.
In the first section of lessons you learn about note values and how to combine and read whole notes, half notes and quarter notes. In the second lesson you learn about finger numbering and other notes on the keyboard. The finger numbering should come sooner in the lesson plan. It is a bit counter-intuitive to start playing before you learn about finger placement.
The big motivational factor within this software is earning trophies. The lessons are set up like games, and when you play the correct notes they are highlighted in green – wrong notes are highlighted in red. At the end of a lesson your score is calculated into a percentage. An 80 percent and above gets a bronze trophy, 90 to 95 percent receives a silver trophy and 96 percent and above will earn you a gold trophy. Earning trophies is the student's motivation and encouragement.
As you make your way through the lessons, you will learn classic songs like "Hot Cross Buns" and "Old McDonald." You can also go to the song tab to learn other beginner songs, but there really aren't any popular (top 40) songs within the beginner realm.
The lessons within this piano software are broken up into two categories – method and technique. The method training is where you find all the lessons for theory, musical notation and learning different songs. The technique section focuses on different playing styles and teaches you how to play by ear as well as improving your site reading.
One of the newest features found in Piano Marvel is the Standard Assessment of Sight Reading (SASR). The SASR scores and tracks your ability to sight-read sheet music. Your score is compared with other users and your progress is tracked so you can see your improvement over time. We appreciate that Piano Marvel focuses on multiple facets of learning, including a heavy focus on playing by ear and sight-reading.
There are a wide variety of songs within the music library that you can download for free. Most of the free songs are classical songs that include video tutorials and sheet music. You can purchase popular songs for a small price. The songs within the library are from all genres including jazz, blues, classical, holiday, popular and rock and roll.
All of the lesson music needed to learn is provided right within the online piano software. If you scroll through the library and can't find a song that you want to learn, you can click on the Make a Request tab at the bottom of the screen. This will take you to the Piano Marvel website where you can request a song via the email forum. Piano Marvel is also connected to Facebook and Twitter so you can share your progress and lesson scores with your social media community.
This software can also be useful for educators. Teachers can keep track of their students' practice times and progress. This can be helpful for educators who are teaching large groups of students at once.
Help and Support
Piano Marvel offers multiple ways to get ahold of the technical support staff. You can call the company or use the email forum for any questions or concerns. You can also take a look at the FAQs section for solutions to common questions.
Piano Marvel is a powerful piano lesson tool for both students and educators. There are hundreds of lessons that break piano playing down into fun, learnable segments that don't overwhelm students. Our overall experience with the lessons was positive– although self-motivation seems to be a key factor in continuing these lessons, the game-like format keeps you trying and improving to achieve a gold trophy. It's also much less expensive than monthly lessons from a teacher, and you can learn at your own convenience.