Friday, October 12, 2012

Schoolhouse Review: Kinderbach

Gesserine just loves music!  What kid doesn't, right?  Well, Gess has been learning to make music with Kinderbach, our latest Schoolhouse Review.  Kinderbach is an at home piano instruction program for kids Pre-K through early elementary grade levels.  While Gess is 10 (almost 11) and in the 4th grade I found it to be a good fit for her due to her special needs. 

Gess actually has some sound sensitivity issues and doesn't care for most loud noises...except when it comes to music.  She can crank that very loud and loves to try to sing along.  She also loves to play her toy instruments as well.  She has drums, keyboards and guitars but because Gess has Down syndrome and has struggled with her fine motor skills I had not yet tried to teach her how to use them properly.  However her motor skills have improved greatly and when I was given the opportunity to review Kinderbach I was anxious to see her put them to use.

Kinderbach supplies you with just about everything you need to actually teach your child at home, except for an actual piano of course!  for the program you will need to have access to a piano or a keyboard that has the regular size black and white keys.  You will also need some rhythm instruments like drums, cymbals or you can make your own out of pots, pans, spoons, or even just throw beans in a jug.  Then you need crayons, paper, pencils and other items to complete the activities and of course a printer to print off the worksheets.  From there, Kinderbach supplies all the rest and does a great job teaching young kids how to play the piano and understand music theory.

Kinderbach focuses on six areas of musical development: Ear or listening skills, Sight or Note reading, Rhythm, Hand Position or technique (actually playing the piano), Singing, and Composition.  That sounds like and awful lot to teach a preschooler or young child but they do an excellent job of making it fun.  Gess would often want to repeat her lessons because she enjoyed them so much.  They really were entertaining but covered a great deal of important material.  There is also a section on music theory in the parents guide to help you understand it as you assist your child in the lessons.  Don't worry, nothing is left out!

Kinderbach offers their lessons online or via an Ipad app.  I reviewed the online lessons which came with the Parent Guide that I have already mentioned.  It is very helpful in explaining how the program works, what you will need for it, and covers some basic music theory for the parents. From there you just log on and complete your lessons.  The instruction is all done by video online so you don't have to prepare or actually teach anything to your child.

When you first log into the program you are taken to a screen that shows all of the levels.  Each level has 10 weeks worth of lessons for which there are 4 lessons per week.  The great thing is that you can work at your own pace.  We generally did 4 lessons each week but sometimes we hung out a little longer simply because Gess enjoyed the lessons.  I really want her to grasp and understand them so I am not in a rush and I am glad we have the option.  When you click on your lesson for the day this screen pops up.



Notice that there is a print button below the lesson.  This means there is a worksheet that goes along with it.  You will want to print that before the lesson because the child will do the worksheet as they do the video, it is not something you do later. (You can print the page right from the button but there is also a link at the bottom of the main page to the entire Activity Book for that level.)

Here is how one lesson worked.  In this lesson they were beginning to teach the finger numbers so you know which finger to play each piano key with.  To teach it you sing a song with the video.


Then it stops and tells you to color each finger a different color.  It will say "color finger 1 green."  The video teaches which finger is which number.  After you sing about finger 1 it pauses to let you color it.  Then it goes on to the next finger.


On this day it only focused on the first three fingers.  Here is her sheet after she finished the lesson.  She loved the song so much she did this lesson often which really helped her learn the numbers.


The videos are a lot of fun.  They mix in cartoon characters that help explain the piano with a lively instructor who teaches you your lesson each day.  Here she is singing a song about their donkey Dodi who lives between the two black keys.


And here is Gess playing the Dodi song herself.


Now, you might notice the piano is not near the computer where she did her lessons.  There are two ways you can do this.  One is to put the computer near the piano so you can use the piano (or keyboard) at the same time.  That is not an option for us so we do it the other way.  There is a printout of a section of the keyboard in the Parent Guide.  We printed that out and lay it next to the computer.  She will use it while she watches the video and then comes to use the piano when she practices the lesson on her own.


Gess is learning pretty well.  I am actually amazed at how easily she is adapting to it.  I do need to mention that I had already scheduled Gess to start piano lessons in September before I found out we were doing this review, so she has extra weekly instruction but I think she would do well with just he video lessons.

Of course I have only been doing this for a month and we are still in the early stages.  I cannot say for sure if she will progress all the way through or not but I do know that she loves doing the lessons and by the end of them has learned what was taught.  While she is struggling with rhythm because of her special needs I think the activities in these lessons are helping her tremendously.

The Kinderbach Online program is $19.95 a month or $95.88 a year.  You can even purchase a one day pass for $5.95 which allows you to access the entire program so you can really look and see if this is something that might work for you.  The program is also available for the Ipad and they offer a DVD version too.  Right now they are offering 30% off any order for homeschool, classroom, online or DVDs.  To get the discount enter the coupon information below:

Coupon Code:  TOS_crew2012
Expires: 12/31/2012

To learn more about Kinderbach visit their website or why not see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about both the online program and the Ipad app by clicking on the banner below.

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Disclaimer: As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew I received a 6 month subscription to Kinderbach for giving my honest opinion and assessment of it in my review.
Note: All pricing is current at the time of posting and is subject to change.

1 comment:

Leslie said...

So glad she liked it. She is adorable!

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