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HoffmanAcademy.com is a completely free online resource for learning piano. It contains 120 lessons, beginning at the very basics and slowly increasing in difficulty. It also provides practice schedules and techniques from one session to the next, providing a comprehensive, free service for anybody.
This system is probably best suited to beginners and intermediate players. It’s primarily designed with young people in mind, but it’s still very useful for adults. You essentially follow a lesson per week (or faster or slower if you prefer – it’s good to go at your own pace). These lessons are provided on short videos (generally 10-20 minutes) and have been shot well to show you exactly how to move your hands.
Once a lesson is over, you can turn to the practice lessons. These give you details about how to continue the lesson in your own time, until you’ve mastered the particular elements of that class. If you like, you can also purchase materials which aid your practice and lessons, which offer pretty good value if you’re struggling.
The full materials for all lessons (1-120) costs around $85, or you can purchase them in chunks. The full 120 lessons are broken down into 6 units, so if you are doing fine up to unit 4, for example, you can just use the free online resources and then purchase unit 4 materials to get that extra bit of help.
Material packs include PDF books and MP3 albums. You receive full sheet music with practices, music theory worksheets and activity pages, plus play-along versions of songs and a parents’ guide. The parents’ guide provides tips on how to support your child as they learn the lessons, which can come in useful if their dedication is waning.
Teachers or small learning groups can purchase multiple copies of the materials, making this a useful resource for private classes. Alternatively, of course, you can simply direct your students to online lessons and let them try it out for themselves without the materials.
The site’s blog is updated every month or so with product reviews and new bits of useful information. You can also check the top posts or find posts based on categories you’re interested in. Bonus lessons are also available with fun tunes such as the Imperial Death March from Star Wars, or festival tunes at the appropriate time of year.
The Hoffman Academy provides complete music education which covers improvisation, sight reading, technique, solfege (used to teach pitch and sight singing), rhythm, music theory and ear training. The site goes into some detail about their philosophy and what each of these things means, as well as how to improve them with regular practice.
In particular, HoffmanAcademy seems proud of its approaches to young people. They express just how much kids enjoy learning using their online lessons. If you go to a lesson you can also view comments from people who have tried it out, who sometimes say how great it is or comment when they’ve struggled. Users can then reply to other messages to offer support or share their views. This also shows that the site is genuinely used by a lot of people, many of whom appear to be children.
HoffmanAcademy.com provides primarily free piano learning resources, though you can purchase additional resources to help you learn. That said, they’re very reasonably priced, so you never feel like you’re being ripped off. Whilst the site doesn’t contain heaps of features and little tools to help you, the lessons are clear and improve your level at a decent pace, with potential support from other users. If you’re just starting out, or want to brush up on your piano skills, Hoffman Academy is certainly worth trying out.
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