Piano Marvel Product Review
Being a piano teacher has its challenges, some of which include:
- Getting students and keeping them
- Choosing a method and music to meet needs of individual students
- Motivating students to PRACTICE!
- Keeping open communication with parents
- Making lessons FUN for both teacher and student
Piano Marvel is a creative online piano lesson app that helps me with many of the not-so-fun aspects of running a piano studio so I have more time to do the things I am good at. I’ve discovered it to be a pretty mean piano-teaching machine.
To use it, you need:
- A computer (Windows, Mac) or iPad
- A MIDI enabled digital piano/ keyboard (or an acoustic piano)
- A MIDI cable
- An active internet connection
What Students Like About Piano Marvel
- Piano Marvel has video-game appeal. The interactive feedback keeps them practicing until they get it right. A score is given after each play-through. Mastery of a song earns a star on a chart. When they complete all songs in each level they earn a trophy in their trophy case.
- It encourages friendly peer competition. Teachers can purchase a large poster-size copy of the trophy case and display students’ pictures on them. This adds a dimension of friendly “competition” to the atmosphere in the studio and is supremely motivating for many students.
- All songs have accompaniments. It feels like you’re playing with a “band” which is so much more fun than playing by yourself!
- Piano Marvel has a vast music library. Besides the music in the Method and Technique levels 1-6, there are songs in many genres in all levels of difficulty.
- Pop (Hal Leonard)
- Holiday music
- Solos, Duets and ensembles
- And more!
Piano Marvel has teamed up with the Hal Leonard and the Alfred music publishing companies to provide lots of current and popular music that appeals to students of all ages. Teachers can even upload their own compositions, arrangements and exercises into the library.
- Students are free to try any song at any level. When a student independently decides to tackle a piece in a harder level than they are currently working, it can do wonders for self-esteem.
- The chance to be famous on YouTube! Students can enter the Annual YouTube Competition where they submit a video of a performance of any song in the Piano Marvel library and have the chance to win cash prizes. Unlike a regular competition or recital where they only have one chance at a great performance, students can keep recording until they are satisfied with one they will submit. This alleviates a good deal of performance anxiety. They also love looking back at their performances over the years and seeing their progress.
- Piano Marvel organizes other challenges with chances to win prizes, like an iPad! Great motivation to practice.
Love using technology in your studio? Why not check out our top ear training apps for teachers?
What teachers like
- Saving time by having music online. I love not having to spend hours perusing at the music store trying to pick just the right music for students and then more time charging for books and collecting payments. Also, never having to hear the familiar phrase, “I left that book at home” again – it’s all online!
- Reports section gives useful feedback. Detailed logs give insight students practice habits. These tools help me know when to reward my students and how to plan for their needs.
- It’s a great method for group teaching. Many colleges worldwide have adopted the Piano Marvel curriculum for their piano labs. It can be a profitable option for teachers who wish to teach multiple students at the same time.
- Promotes Sight Reading. The SASR (Standard Assessment of Sight Reading) is a great tool for measuring student sight-reading ability and progress. You can learn more about the SASR here.
- Great teacher training and support. Yearly teacher conferences and trainings are held in several locations in the US. I always get friendly and fast tech support whenever I need it.
- The thing I like best. The smiles on my students’ faces and excitement in their eyes when they can’t wait to show me what they accomplished during the week with Piano Marvel.
What parents like
- It’s affordable. There is a 30- day, no strings attached trial available to anyone. During the trial period, you have access to nearly all the features of Piano Marvel. After 30 days, certain features continue to be free (eg. all of Level One Method and Technique songs). To continue to have complete access, a subscription is just $15 per month/ or $99 per year.
Challenges to overcome
Being realistic, using an online lesson system isn’t all a bed of roses.
First, there’s the investment in the equipment as well as some tech savvy required. But digital pianos/keyboards are much more affordable these days. And most student families who are seriously interested will find technical help as needed.
Then there are the modern issues we all face when using technology.
Some days the internet, computer, app or keyboard just doesn’t play nice. But my experience over time has been that using Piano Marvel is worth the trouble. I always keep a few non-techy backup lesson plans on hand for off-days. There are plenty of help videos and a troubleshooting list online. If I have serious issues, Piano Marvel has a very supportive staff that respond quickly to help me.
After using Piano Marvel for several years, I can’t imagine teaching without it. I can honestly say it’s getting better all the time.
As a teacher, I feel my feedback and suggestions are requested and taken seriously. Each year, I am impressed with the new features added and improvements made.
A few changes that might be coming soon include:
- Improvements to the Piano Marvel app for iPad
- A feature that allows the app to be used offline
- A new and improved library that is even easier to navigate
A couple of items from my very own wishlist for Piano Marvel are:
- A way to communicate assignments and comments directly to students in the program.
- An easier way to enter my own work into the library
- Having more music companies (like Faber) allow Piano Marvel to use their music.
For more information and to start a free thirty-day, no obligation trial, visit pianomarvel.com.
Piano Marvel has given me a Promo Code for my students that I am happy to share with you as well. Enter the Promo code FERRELL to enjoy a 20% discount on a regular monthly subscription.