Preliminary Review of the Piano Wizard Music Academy

Okay, I know you’ve all been waiting for it – the review of the Piano Wizard Music Academy. We’ve got it, it’s all hooked up and everything works. I even tried it out myself. And then I asked Gavin to try it and what does he tell me?

“Another time, Mummy. I don’t feel like it today.”

All he wants to do on the computer is play Thomas & Friends – Building the New Line… Okay, okay, tell me it serves me right for buying him the game in the first place. I know, I asked for it. That said, it’s been extremely effective for occupying him and buying me some time to do other things – like get his brother to nap.

Well, all is not lost. When I first bought the Nintendo Wii Mario Party it took me several tries before I could get him to even try the game. The first time, he took one look at the cover and told me he didn’t want to play it. The second time, I managed to get the game into the machine with him telling me all the while that he had no intention of playing the game. I did that on the pretext that I wanted to look at it and I told him point blank that it was not for him to play. The third time he watched while I navigated through the game. The fourth time, he played it but quit before it was over. Now, he’s addicted to it. He likes Mario Party so much that he even wants Mario pajamas!

Gavin has always been the sort of child that is slow to warm up to new ideas. You need to thread carefully and play the game properly if you want him to get interested in something. So I’m biding my time. The last thing I want to do is force him to play it and have him decide he wants nothing to do with it ever – not that anyone could ever force Gavin to do anything he didn’t want to. He would projectile vomit if you so much as touch his tongue with something he refuses to eat. He fought off sitting in the pram by making his body as rigid as a plank so that he slides right off it and onto the floor. That said, he seems to be slightly better with age.

So please be patient (as I will have to be) and we will have a review of the Piano Wizard Music Academy soon. All I can say about it at this stage is…

Pros:

  • Support staff are fantastic. Prompt reponses.
  • Easy to use. Very straight forward instructions. No technical “know how” required.
  • Fun – just like playing a game.
  • Adjustable difficulty.

The early songs are very basic, requiring very simple input from the player so you get a chance to familiarise with the keys and timing. Unlike playing on a real piano which gets boring when you’re playing such a basic melody, they have an accompaniment to your music so you get to listen to something more interesting. It is much more exciting and fun.

When I first started learning the piano as a child, I found it boring to play pieces because the melodies were so drab. What really motivated me to practice was when my music teacher promised to play an accompaniment to my melody at the end of my class if I “worked hard”. Essentially, this is what the Piano Wizard offers – “someone” to play that accompaniment for your child to motivate him to play since his music won’t sound so boring.

Cons:

  • I’m not crash hot on the M-Audio KeyRig 49. It functions for it’s purpose, but I think I’d prefer something a little more piano-like.

Then again, being a former piano player, I like my keyboard keys to have a little more weight to them. If I could go back and buy a keyboard all over again, I would invest in a digital piano that is MIDI compatible with a USB cable. The Casio CDP 200R digital piano is looking really good. Aside from all the funky music features that this digital piano offers, what I really like is the ability to upload music to the piano and have it teach you how to play the piece.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nu_NRliL6gc

I reckon this digital piano is a good compliment to the Piano Wizard Music Academy. Then again, this is all based on what I saw of the demonstration they provided me at the shop. If you’d like to check it out, it’s available at Rhapsody Valley Musical Instruments at Midvalley Megamall. At the time I saw it, it was on special, going at RM2990.

Comments

  1. I think I’m going to have to wait until my son is ready to move from Stage 3 to Stage 4 to see how easy it is to transition to reading sheet music. Having learned music as a child, I already know how to read so I don’t think I would be able to give a good review on that part.

    That said, my sight reading has always been weak and I was wondering about using PW to help me improve my sight reading. It would be interesting to see if it does…

  2. Congratulations, Shen-Li, you got it! I will be looking forward to your following reviews. I am currently researching the two options – PW and Soft Mozart – and would be very interested in a first-hand experience from someone with a musical background. The first three steps in PW seem like a smooth transition. The one area I am not too sure about is how easy it will be to pass from stage 3 to stage 4, when it stops being a simple colour matching game, and then to reading sheet music.