For the last several weeks, my family has had the opportunity to review an online piano program called KinderBach in exchange for an honest review. Our use of the program is time-limited, and no other compensation has been given.
|Once they knew what to do, the children could easily move through the lessons on their own.|
|The favoured rhythm instruments -- loud ones!|
What is KinderBach?
KinderBach is an online program that teaches basic music skills to preschoolers. (Children expecting to learn how to play the piano right away might be frustrated. They do learn to play it -- but there's far more instruction in music than actual piano playing. It's best to present it as a music program that they will enjoy:) There are over 240 lessons that are accompanied by downloadable pdf. files which support and reinforce the concepts being taught. Lessons are divided into weekly units, with each week having four sessions. Yearly subscriptions can be purchased monthly or -- more economically -- for a one-time fee.
As the website specifies:
The Year Membership gives access to 6 Levels [a 7th is almost ready] of entertaining music education for 3 to 7 year old children through about 22 hours of video and interactive coloring pages. Miss Karri introduces preschoolers to the keyboard characters, as well as the Grand Staff clefs. Kids will enjoy playing simple songs, identifying music direction, learning new rhythm notes and their beat value. [Levels 1 to 6] cover proper hand and finger positions for the music scale, as well as staff note reading by pattern for voice and keyboard.
$7.99 per month billed in a one-time annual payment of $95.88 OR $19.99 per month billed monthly for a year. The first two weeks of lessons are available for free trial.
All you need is a computer with internet access, a piano or basic keyboard, and the printed booklets (available for download from the website). It is definitely easiest to download each whole booklet and print them than it is to print each lesson's pages separately from the screen. (Ask me how I know!) It is assumed you will have access to crayons and rhythm instruments -- which can simply be pots and pans, pencils to bang together, or homemade shakers.
How did we use KinderBach?
I expressed an interest in KinderBach with DS4 in mind, but showed DD8 (at the time -- she just turned 9 two days ago) the website and asked if she would be interested in it, too. Indeed, she was! It was at least a week before I heard whether or not we'd been selected to review it, and every day DD8 asked if I had "got the email yet"! She was keen to get started! Once we did receive it, KinderBach was all she wanted to do!!!! For hours on end, she did lesson after lesson. DS4 wore out long before she did -- but that was OK. She was happy to go back and do the lessons again with him! She did at least 8 weeks worth of lessons -- twice! Clearly, she loves it! (And is sad our subscription will soon expire.) DS4 wasn't quite as enthused, but he truly enjoyed it, too -- as you can see from the pictures.
We did not use KinderBach every day, though it would be easy to integrate into any schedule. Instead, we would have KinderBach marathons -- usually until I said it was time to do something else because of time constraints.
|Learning to use the correct fingers|
- The program is very child-friendly. While older children and adults might quickly tire of the syrupy sweetness of Miss Karri, littles adore her candy qualities and lap up her enthusiasm, which is, after all, geared to appeal to them. Miss Karri uses her musical, educational, and dramatic training to full advantage in the professional videos that really do appeal to little people.
- Besides watching the videos, children are given lots of opportunities to be active -- marching, walking on the spot, playing instruments, practising on the keyboard, colouring, and cutting. There are also some optional online games (to which we did not have access). This, of course, supports a variety of learning styles and enables the children to be -- well -- busy-bodied children.
- Because the program involves things like numeracy (counting), decoding (recognizing different kinds of notes), tracking (eye movement from left to right), fine motor skills (colouring and cutting), and aural discrimination (distinguishing high and low sounds), it not only helps to develop music skills, it also supports the development of skills in reading, writing, and arithmetic. (Click that link to see an article that more fully outlines the relationships in skill development.) Truly, it is a cross-curricular program that benefits many aspects of the young learner.
- Not only is it simple to use (even a 4 year-old with some computer skills can navigate through the program), it is simple and gentle in its approach. Children are not bombarded with flashy images and fast-paced sounds. Instead, concepts are presented with simple characters and images and catchy tunes.
- Children can move through the program at their own pace with or without adult accompaniment. Of course, adult supervision is required -- but constant direct involvement is not necessary.
- Repetition of concepts enables children to grasp the content and skills.
- The program is leveled, with each step taking the child through a well-organized curriculum. (Click that link to see a break-down of the curriculum.)
- No musical background is required to implement this program. (Good thing! I learned stuff, too ;)
- Activities are simple but engaging for early learners.
|They really do have clothes that fit them (and match!) -- they just choose not to wear them ;)|