Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Review of Rocket Piano -Ebook
I bought Rocket Piano so I thought I'd do a review of the course to help anyone who's thinking about purchasing it. I'm going to tell you what you get, what's good, what I didn't like and I'll also tell you about a fun little bonus you get with course.

So here's what you get in the Rocket Piano course. You get a series of structured lessons and exercises that take you from the basics right through to advanced techniques, all broken down in small easy to follow downloadable lessons. You get PDF files, mp3 files and videos in mp4 format. If you're a newbie like me you'll probably want to start with the 6 part introductory course which will give you a short taste of what's in the main "Ultimate Learning Kit". This covers the basics such as how to sit correctly, what fingers to use, hand positions, what the keys mean, the musical alphabet, time signatures, rhythm, intervals, chords and some basic musical symbols.

These 6 beginners' lessons are not downloadable lessons. They are short lessons and each is viewable on its own web page that you can access from inside the members area. You'll even get to play simple songs right from lesson one and to make sure you played them correctly you can click on the link provided which will play the mp3 so you can hear what it should sound like. The main part of the course is called the "Ultimate Learning Kit" it consists of 57 video tutorials, bonus software, jam tracks and sample tracks and 7 e-books: Beginners, Intermediate, Advanced, Introduction to Jazz, Introduction to Gospel, Fingering Technique & Exercises and Advanced Learning Techniques. There are also audio downloads to accompany each e-book. The e-books are all PDF files that you can download to your computer or E-reader.

Start with the Beginners e-book even if you've had previous piano lessons or have done the 6 part introductory course first. You'll go through the first part of it quickly and it'll refresh your learning. The beginner's module starts with some interesting piano facts and history of the piano as well as how the piano works. You could skip over this if you wanted to get straight on to the lessons but they're interesting and it's only a few pages. Although it's called the beginner's book, it is 167 pages and has 90 songs to learn so by the end you will have progressed your playing to level where you'll be able to read and understand music and play fairly complex pieces of music. There is also a revision test at the end of the beginner's module to recap what you've learned.

I'm still on the beginner's e-book (there's 7 in total right up to advanced), each book is comprehensively written with the appropriate skill level in mind and they all have easy to understand helpful diagrams. Incorporated throughout each eBook are icons that prompt you to either play a video or play an mp3 track associated with that particular lesson. So you read a bit of the book to get an overall understanding then watch the relevant video when prompted that explains it and shows you or lets you listen to a song example.

There's a lot to love about this course.

- It's structured in incremental lessons which mean you are always moving towards being a better piano player and each lesson builds on the previous lessons.

- There is a progress tracker included at the start of the Beginner's eBook that you can check off as you learn each concept and technique so you know how far you've progressed in the course and to keep you on track. I really liked this simple feature, it helps keep on track and because I'm a visual person, I love to be able to see how I'm progressing.

- The videos are professional, nice to watch, easy to understand and only 1-2 minutes long so they get straight to the point and show you in a simple way what you need to do.

- All the audio, video and workbook files are standard type mp3, mp4 & PDF files which are downloadable and compatible with any computer, iPad, iPod, tablet etc. This means all your lessons are portable and available on demand so you don't have an internet connection every time you have a lesson.

- You get professional jam tracks (with and without piano part muted) to play along with and sample tracks to hear correctly what you should be playing.

- Rocket Piano comes with some (PC & Mac compatible) bonus software that includes a metronome, and interactive games to improve your learning on pitch, chords and keys.

- And my favorite a very simple but cool music theory game. This is the fun bonus that I mentioned earlier. It's a visual game a bit like space invaders; you open and play it on your desktop or laptop computer. It's quite addictive; you can choose the skill level and game options and compete to get a high score. The great thing I love about this is that you almost don't notice you're learning as you play. It's a totally different way of learning than traditional methods so it really helps cement in the lessons on music theory. I highly recommend playing this game as part of your piano learning lessons. I'm not a particularly fast learner so unlike formal lessons, I love that I can go at my own pace and take all the time I need to watch, read and listen to each lesson as many times as I need to. It was hard to find things I didn't like about Rocket Piano but one thing I discovered and at times found to be a little inconvenient was having to go back and forth to my keyboard/piano to play an exercise because the information was on my computer in a different room. There is an upgrade version of the course available in the members area which is the hard copy edition of the course, so that's one way around it but there's nothing to stop you printing the PDF yourself so you can easily read it in front of your keyboard/piano. Also, if you have an e-reader, just use that to read from at your piano, that's what I ended up doing.

Another thing I think I would like to see differently is the music in the songbooks, I would have loved to be able to play some contemporary rock and pop songs but having said that, there are copyright implications which might require licensing and that could be expensive. Once you learn to play, you can of course choose what you enjoy playing and I know my local library has loads of song books available that I can't wait to be able to pick up and start playing. So remember your local library as a music book resource. Apart from those couple of things, there wasn't anything about it that I didn't like because, honestly, I really loved the way the learning was delivered, the content and how the lessons are structured. In short, if you put in the effort and follow the training then this course will teach you everything it promises.

It's is a great way to get started if you have never before played the piano or if have taken piano lessons in the past and just want to pick it up again. There are plenty of exercises and advanced learning techniques so these lessons will easily help you get to a level where you can play piano for fun or take your playing to a professional level.

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