PianoWithWillie From JazzEdge

Last year we had the chance to review HomeSchoolPiano so when we were offered a new program to review from JazzEdge, I was excited! This time it was ME who had the chance to try out the program, PianoWithWillie. I was given Studio Access to review.

The reason why I chose to review this program myself is I started taking piano lessons many moons ago when I was just 10 years old but hadn't had formal lessons since. I only took lessons for a year or so but went on to continue to self teach in not only piano but saxophone and flute as well. In fact, I went on to play all 3 instruments at competition level in high school.

Once I left home, I no longer had a piano to play for hours at a time like I used to. Fast forward to 5 years ago, and I finally bought a small upright to grace our living room with for not only me to play but to teach my children on as well. My older kids learned a lot through HomeSchoolPiano last year. So I was excited to brush up my skills with PianoWithWillie.

This program is very easy to access. You can log in on your laptop, iPad or mobile device. I first set up my account on my laptop but when I went to watch the videos, I used the iPad so I could sit at the piano to practice with Willie as he taught the lessons.

I was at first overwhelmed at all I could do with this program. I could easily dive into the over 3,000 lessons on the site. Or I could've started with the "getting started guide" or "30 day success playbook". While I checked both of those out, I realized I was beyond those skills already.

BUT if you are an older student, say 10 years and only starting out playing piano, those lessons would be the perfect place for you to start. While I wouldn't recommend this program to a young, new to piano lessons child, an older child could start with this program no problem.

Let me back up and explain just how unique this program is. Each lesson is a video lesson from Willie himself (and he is a fun teacher, easy to listen to and follow along with!) What I love about each lesson is that it is a split screen. There is the video in the lower corner of Willie talking while he is explaining what he is doing. Then there is the video of his keyboard that shows his hands as he plays and right above that is the screen of the keyboard simply highlighting the notes he is playing. That really brings to life just what he is playing. I loved being able to see his fingering. It's one thing to read a book or read what your fingering should be for a certain chord, but seeing it being playing really helped a lot.

Since I was beyond the beginner program, I decided to take his 22 point assessment that asked me a lot of questions about what I already knew and what I was wanting to learn. I realized I could've answered a lot of different ways as there are many things I'd like to learn more about such as improvisation and gospel playing for church. I took the assessment and it custom tailored me a lesson plan based on my answers. So that is what I started with in working on this review. It gave me "Church and Worship Performance Advanced". (just a note, I could've retaken this assessment and gave different answers and gotten a different result. You can have more than one tailored lesson plan on going as well.)

The 4 lessons highlighted were:

  • Preacher Chords (Vol 1)
  • "Precious Lord, Take My Hand"
  • "Blessed Assurance (Easy and Contemporary)
  • Contemporary Chords and Progressions

I started out watching the first video with the iPad while sitting at the piano. I loved the ability to be able to pause the video while I practiced the lesson. If I decided I was done working on the lesson, it automatically saved the video where I left off at and started me there again when I came back to work on it.

There are so many things you can learn under Willie's skillful guidance. He covers many genre's, theory & skills,  how to play certain songs, etc. In fact, most of his lessons also include the ability to print out sheet music to songs or skills you are trying to work on.

Honestly, I know I only scratched the surface of all he has to offer. I tried to practice 3-5 times a week during this review but since I don't always have the hours a day to play like I did as a teen, I know I haven't even begun to cover all his lessons afford. Definitely worth taking a look at as he offers many different memberships that you can tailor your schedule to. I appreciated the fact that I can work on my lessons at my own pace. And if I have to repeat a video, well, so be it! I could tell that my improvise skill as well as fingering skills improved after watching his lessons and practicing. I look forward to further honing in my piano playing in the months to come!

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