Thursday, March 21, 2013

Adventus: An Excellent Piano Program {A Review}

We have been so blessed to get to review MusIQ HomeSchool from Adventus. It is a wonderful piano program and we've had amazing results!  Children learn technique, how to read notes, how to play by ear (ear training), music appreciation, how to listen and repeat rhythm, about composers, and some compositions of great musicians.

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Adventus has been in use for 8 years. It is an award winning program and professional musicians were consulted in its creation. It is broken into different age brackets.

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Early Childhood (4-10) includes 3 volumes of Children's Music Journey. The Multi-level curriculm, for ages 10 through adult, starts with Piano Suite Premier. It includes beginning theory. Students are asked to read music and work on skill building. It shows where the mistakes are made in playing and gives feedback based on performance (even including a percentage). After a year of Piano Suite Premier, the student can add Ear Training Coach 1 and 2 (There is an Ear Training Coach 3 and 4 as well.).

I worked in Piano Suite Premier myself and the kids worked in Children's Music Journey (CMJ) Volumes 1 and 2. There is a collection of videos about the program. The video I've provided below gives a tour of CMJ.

We specifically received the download for the program. It can be added to single computers (window and MAC). A Midi keyboard with adaptor is necessary, but you do not need the software that comes with the keyboard.  

Jo-Jo is working on Children's Music Journey Volume 1.
Recommended for ages 4-6.
What You'll Find in CMJ
On the student dashboard, there are several icons. The teacher is the composer and presents each new lesson. The icon for it is the composer/conductor. This is where the child starts.

Then it is off to the practice room with Miss Melody. The practice room provides additional review, music history pieces, and practice. The icon is the chalk and eraser.

After both the lesson and practice are complete, games are next. It is represented by a hand controller. The games are based on lessons and practice. When each game is mastered and no longer challenging, it turns off.

The library (book icon) has pieces by the composers, pieces saved from the improv room, practice songs, and a lesson book.

The music note icon is for the improv room. Here children can blend their own choice of music with the music provided. It can be recorded and saved to the library.

What I Like
I like that any gaps in music learning are filled in. I have been teaching myself how to play the piano now for several years with lots of starts and stops. Needless to say there are gaps. I've started playing in the Piano Suite program and I can already identify places that I can improve.

The entire program is interactive. Famous composers present each lesson. The lessons are a joy for the kids. No one complains about working on piano.  It isn't something that they have to do, but something that they love doing.

We can use the program in our home and don't have to run uphill and down dale for lessons. Everyone in the entire family can have lessons at their own levels and speeds for only $10.95 a month. The program can enroll up to 20 people per family with everyone having their own username and password (in CMJ children can chose their own icon).

Ceesa working on Children's Music Journey Volume 2
with Jo-Jo hanging out to hear an extra lesson.
It is recommended for 7-9 year olds with the first five lessons
being review from CMJ Vol. 1.

The program runs smoothly with little required of the parent. It is recommended initially to stay close for the first week or two. Then to listen to your child play once a week.

The program works in small steps and in the settings for each student you can adjust the lessons for different modes. Normal modes build skills as needed and work in a progression. You can also set the mode to free and it will allow you to move through any game in the program.

There are parent guides/manuals that help you plan and assess. Each lesson includes: a teaching plan, summary, practice guidelines, a mix of activity sheets, coloring pages, crosswords, composer information pages, word searches, review suggestions, historicial timelines with composers, musical alphabet flash cards, 5 line staff pages, and vocabulary terms.

Once you have downloaded the program on your computer, you need to have the internet connected. It requires very little usage while online which is a bonus for us because we have a limited allowance each month.

What the Kids have Learned
Jo-Jo knows how to put her hands on the computer and how her fingers are numbered. She's learned the difference between high and low notes and how to find middle C. She's learned the musical alphabet and where her fingers go on the keyboard. She plays quarter notes, half notes, and whole notes. She repeats rhythms, identifies similiar sounds, and blends her own notes into pieces.

Ceesa is working on the grand staff and is reading and playing music for both the treble clef and the bass clef. She writes her own pieces both with the program and for our piano. She listens to and identifies rhythms. She plays quarter notes, half notes, half note dot and whole notes.

Little Man is a fan from the first lesson.
The Kids' Response
Ceesa and Jo-Jo have just loved their lessons. They request them first thing every week day and on the weekends. They want to play it for LONG periods of time. After the first week of working over 45 minutes a day, I began setting a timer so that they would do other school work during the day, too.

They both get so excited about a new teacher and will chase me down to tell me who it is and something interesting about the person. Just today at lunch, Ceesa said, "Amy Beach is my teacher now. She wrote her first composition when she was 4 years old."

Little Man is a bit young yet for piano lessons, but right away he started playing in the Improv Room. After a week, he insisted that he should play some games. Then after a couple of weeks, I started him on the first level. I had to do it. He was going up to the piano playing the rhythms and counting..."1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and."

When I started it for him, he said, "No Momma, not Beethoven, I want the games." I told him he had to listen to his lesson before games, so he did. The sound game is a bit difficult for him to always pick out if there is a high or low note. He has been so interested, I couldn't help starting him. He isn't really completing the program yet, but listens to each of his sisters' lessons and has almost figured out how to find middle C. He's mastered Bird and whale notes.

Little Man sitting down to his first official lesson.

Some Helpful Tips
If you choose to use the downloadable software, be sure to allow some time for your download. We have country high speed and the files are large, so it took awhile.

When starting up, you must have your keyboard turned on and plugged in. The first time you enter the program you have to go to the wrenches on the far right, click on sound set-up, set the Midi input and Midi output, and click apply.

The rhythms seemed to be one of the most difficult parts for the kids, but clapping or repeating the pattern before trying to play it was extremely helpful for them.

There is a blog that has additional resources. Although we haven't printed them yet, we are going to start using the blank grand staff so they can transpose the pieces that they compose during their practice sessions.

What's Our Plan for the Future
We are definitely all in with these lessons and will continue with them for 20 minutes 4-5 days a week. I hope to plan a recital for them in summer.

Wishing you homeschool blessings,

The software and the Midi keyboard are available for purchase individually. Early Curriculum Bundles and Multi-level Bundles are available as well.

Click here to read more reviews from Schoolhouse Review Crew.

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Deborah said...

I loved reading your review. :o) We also love the Children's Music Journey.

Bethany said...

Thanks! Your review was great, too!

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