TOS Review Crew: KinderBach

Does your preschooler have a musical bent or want to take piano lessons like their older siblings? If so, today's review is for you! This one is perfect for any parent, homeschooler or not, with little ones! Try it out to see if your kids would be interested in or would benefit from more formal lessons later on.

Company Information: If your preschooler is interested and/or ready to learn how to play the piano, KinderBach has a wonderful solution. From the comfort of your own home (or anywhere if you use the app!), you and your child can learn the basics of music together. Created by Karri Gregor, KinderBach teaches your little ones the fundamentals of playing the piano in a fun, age-appropriate and creative way. Even if you do not know how to play the piano or own one, that's not a problem. The app has a miniature keyboard right underneath the video screen to use. (However, if your child is interested in learning more, you may want to invest in a full-size keyboard or piano!).

Product Reviewed: I reviewed the  Classroom KinderBach School version. This app includes Levels 1-3 of the entire KinderBach program that you can use when you're on the go. Each level has 10 lessons, divided into 4 video segments. Each segment takes about 10 minutes to complete. Short and sweet if your kids have limited attention spans! There are also six games that your child can enjoy to reinforce the skills they have learned. Your kids will need to work into these games though!

If you'd like to try a sample, check out KinderBach: Simply Discover Piano in the App store, which gives you two free lessons and the first game.

Price: $26.99 in the App store. According to the site, it sounds like you can purchase them a lesson at a time or in a discounted bundle. If you do not have an iPad but are interested in the program, you may consider checking out the online or DVD options. The bonus to the app is that it is yours. (On the contrary, the online subscription is good for a year before it expires.)

Age Range: 3-7 years old

Parental Preparation: Depending on how much you have set up your iPad, you will have varying levels of preparation.

Aside from downloading the app, if you do not have your printer connected to print from your iPad, you will want to do this so that you can access the corresponding worksheets that go with it. It took me awhile to figure this out as I do not have an AirPrint printer. Each lesson usually has a worksheet to reinforce or practice the skills taught in the video. If you do not have this capability, you can always have your child follow along on the video and pause it so they can answer, as she goes through many of the worksheets step by step with the kids.

Some of the pages can be printed on cardstock for durability and laminated if desired. This is noted in the directions on the page, so check it before printing. Another alternative is to glue the page onto cardboard if you do not have cardstock readily available.

Also, the "Introduction" video of each lesson gives you some things that you may need to gather beforehand so that the lesson goes smoothly. In one of the lessons, you will make rhythm instruments at home with your child, but many of the supplies needed for this can easily be found at home without any extra purchases.

A couple of tips:

TIp #1: When I first tried the app, I couldn't seem to make the volume work. It turns out that I had to make a little adjustment in my iPad Settings screen. If this is an issue for you as well, you might check to see if you have your side switch set to "Lock Rotation." Once I switched it to "Mute" and flip the side switch, I was able to find the sound. Give it a try, if that is an issue. There should be sound.

Tip #2: When you download the app, you'll also need to download the video lessons one at a time before you can watch them and this can be done only when you are connected to the internet. Each lesson takes about a minute, but there are about 120 of them. Once you do it, you will not need to reload them every time. If I knew I was going to do the next lessons the next day, I would pre-load them beforehand so they were ready to go when I needed them. (Or my son got a lesson in waiting, which isn't bad either.) If you have the time, download them all at once so you can take them with you anywhere. If you do not do this, you won't be able to access the videos unless you have wifi or some internet connection.

How We Used It: After getting everything ready and the videos downloaded, Jonathan and I went through a few lessons for each session. They were short enough to do a few at a time without him losing interest. If anything, he spent most of his time coloring the pages to match the videos! If your child is not big on coloring, this can probably be skipped without losing out on the lessons. Also, as I had mentioned earlier, you can also do the worksheets orally if you would like.

The lessons we covered went through quarter notes, fingering, and finding the sets of black keys. Jonathan had trouble keeping the beat, so don't be frustrated if your child also cannot follow the rhythm (and he is generally my more musical child!). All I did was helped him to tap or shake his maracas for about half the song until he got the hang of it, and then let him finish on his own.

As Jonathan really enjoys watching videos, he wanted to keep going. Sometimes we did the whole lesson (4 videos) in one sitting. However, if he was wanting to stop, the lessons were short enough that it was easy to stop after we finished a section. Once, I ended up having to take a phone call during one of our lessons so he watched it on his own. He was able to tell me a little about the Beat Bugs and color them in without me having to help him too much. However, this is not really a program that I would recommend just plopping your kids with while you go elsewhere. As with most programs for little ones, it helps to do it with them.

With the new concepts, we would try to work them into other music opportunities we have throughout the day, like clapping the beat of other songs that he hears. Before starting a new lesson, we would review the previous worksheets, which provided some reinforcement and reminders as well.

What We Liked:

  • Karri definitely has broken this down into bite-sized pieces. You really do not need any prior musical experience or training.
  • The program has a lot of variety. Between videos, worksheets, and actual playing on the piano, she mixes it up.
  • The "Piano Pals" help the kids to remember the keyboard and get a sense of the piano landscape.
  • Lots of repetition with a little something new keeps it from getting too dull while the kids are learning new concepts.
  • Although Jonathan didn't get to the more advanced games yet, I tried them out and they do help with the various skills the kids are learning. They aren't just fluff games.

What We Didn't Like:

Jonathan and I really enjoyed the app. Just make sure you download the videos if you want to take it on the go. Just because you have installed the app doesn't mean that you have downloaded the videos.

I don't know if this is possible, but I had a hard time setting up my printer to print from my iPad. Perhaps there is another way to handle the worksheets? I'm not exactly sure what. Maybe a link to a private page on the website? I'm not sure if that is possible on an app.

Overall Summary:

The Classroom KinderBach School version app is a wonderful way to introduce your children not only to playing the piano but to general musical concepts and skills in general. Karri Gregor is a fun, encouraging and yes, sometimes goofy (but kids like that!) guide to learning about music. I am sure that this will give Jonathan a strong foundation in his skills so that if he should want to take formal lessons in the future, he will have a great start.

Newsflash: the app will be on sale at the App store for $12.99 on Friday, October 19, 2012. Use this link--no coupon code needed!

Check it out!  

If you miss the sale, you can still get in on a 30% discount using the Coupon Code:  TOS_crew2012

This coupon code applies to all orders: homeschool, classroom, online or DVDs.  Expires: 12/31/2012

Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion. All thoughts are my own. If you'd like to read more reviews on this product, click the link below!