Review of eMedia Piano and Keyboard Method , v. 3.0

 
  T
 

he eMedia Music Corp. considers eMedia Piano and Keyboard Method Version 3.0 a "teach yourself" tool, as well as a methodology that the piano teacher can use with their students. There are over 300 full-screen lessons. The step-by-step lessons are supported by over 70 video demonstrations, by Juilliard School of Music instructor Irma Irene Justicia. The program can be configured to use both electric keyboards and acoustic pianos. The application provides instant feedback by listening through your computer’s microphone to an acoustic piano or through a digital piano or keyboard MIDI interface.

 

keyinfo.gif (1045 bytes)Key info text 

I reviewed the Windows DVD-ROM version on my Dell Inspiron 1545 Laptop. It has a Pentium Dual-Core CPU T4200 @ 2.00 GHz processor and 4 GB of RAM, with a 64-bit Windows Vista, Service Pack 1. The installation process was straightforward and those with limited technical abilities would be able to install this program. After installation, you are prompted to register on the eMedia Corp. website. This qualifies you for discounts on future eMedia Music products. It is a very quick and easy process, and giving your phone number was optional. To use the MIDI capabilities, the user must configure the software under the Options menu and go to the Instrument choice. It is very straightforward from that point.

I reviewed the application using both the microphone with acoustical piano and MIDI/USB. The only major difference between these two options is the MIDI keyboard is able to provide a detailed interactive evaluation and shows the student where they made mistakes with bubbles on the page. This feature is not available with the acoustic configuration.

The eMedia Piano and Keyboard Method not only provides a strong emphasis on rhythm and ear training, it also instructs the student to read music. An animated piano sits atop the page and helps the student find the correct keys. The application also includes a metronome, recorder, finger and note tracker, and progress tracking report. The student goes through lessons that are grouped in chapters, with a review at the end of each of these chapters. The Progress tracking tool provides the students with their review results in percentages. A green checkmark denotes that a text-only page has been reviewed, or a student has accomplished at least a 90% on the lesson. A yellow diamond means that a score between 66% and 89% was earned for that lesson. A red X shows that a student either started a lesson and did not complete it or they scored less than 65%.

It is very easy to navigate the program. Ms. Justicia provides an informative overview, and then the program steps your through the lessons. You go at your own pace, and it is very easy to stop and return to previous lessons or to look up something in the glossary or appendix. The reviews at the end of the chapters also provide links to specific information that you will be tested on. The Lessons incorporate quite a bit of ear training. Video allows the student to see and hear the teacher perform the song before the student tries playing it. Unfortunately, the video sits on top of the lesson, so you are unable to see the exercise with the video going. Playing with the adjustable speed accompaniment reinforces how important accurate counting is.

The directions for each exercise can be wordy at times, and the lessons are definitely written for an older student or adult. Some musical terms are used without being fully explained. One lesson used the word "improvise" without a definition. I was unable to find the word in the Glossary. This is one reason why I recommend this software as a teacher-based methodology rather than as a self-taught option.

The tools and interactive symbols are intuitive and easy to understand. I was quickly able to get the hang of them. The metronome is very useful. You can take the lesson as slow as needed, and speed up as you conquer it. Under the Options menu there is Automatic Page Turning, this must be selected if you are using the acoustic piano and microphone. If you are using a MIDI keyboard or piano, you can choose to "manually" turn the pages by tapping the sustain pedal. The Interactive feedback (only works with MIDI/USB connection with an electric keyboard) provides immediate correction and is a wonderful tool for correcting rhythm and tonal mistakes. Instant feedback works with both acoustic and electric configurations. It was useful to keep the student from losing his place while playing. When the student makes a mistake, that note immediately turns a different color. The Reviews at the end of each chapter have links to the corresponding lessons if the student needs reinforcement.

The Note and Finger Tracker from the Tools menu allows you to see each note as you play it on an animated keyboard. I especially like Lesson 29 Find These Notes – as the student tries to play the correct "A" in multiple octaves, the animated keyboard on the screen shows if it is correct with a green check, or wrong with a red X. The Options menu "Show Fingerings" allows you to turn off the finger numbers or turn them on (it also includes LH and RH) on the score.

Other options and abilities worth noting are:

Print Screen
Print Lesson
Musical Glossary
Comprehensive Help menu
Instant Feedback – highlights notes played correctly in melodies
Progress Tracking (requires MIDI keyboard) – personalized reports show rate of progress, including scores for specific songs
Digital Metronome – audio or visual feedback
Recorder – saves your recordings and plays them back to share and compare
Note and Finger Tracker – your computer will listen as you play, show the notes and their positions on the keyboard, and allow you to correct mistakes
Looping – allows the user to highlight and repeat any section of music they wish to practice
Over 70 full-motion videos
Over 100 Songs used in the Lessons – Classical and Pop (Beethoven, Offenbach, Billy Joel, Elton John, etc.)
Guitar Chords – included as an option

On the eMedia website, the Support section has a robust FAQ. There are separate tabs for Windows and Macintosh support. Under the Contact Us tab, there is an on-line contact form. There were no time-frames stated for problem resolution. When I called the Educational & MI Sales Manager with a few questions, I was immediately connected and he answered my questions professionally and knowledgably.

The eMedia Piano and Keyboard Method Version 3.0 is a good resource for the adult or older student. It is fast-paced and easy to use. I found the application beneficial using either a MIDI keyboard or acoustic piano. eMedia recommends the method for students over the age of 10, but I would recommend at least 13. The publisher also believes that this method can be either self-taught or teacher-assisted. I believe that it best suited as a teacher methodology, rather than a self-taught method. Even though there is a glossary, I did notice times that some terms were not explained completely. Using it as a methodology, teachers would find the reviews and progress reports very constructive. The application would be able to keep the attention of the adult or older student, while allowing them consistent accomplishments. I believe the interactive capabilities would help students be more prone to practice. The student’s daily practice would be clear and concise, as well as reinforced by the functionality of the program. The immediate feedback and progress reports would help them see that they were reaching their goals. The program is reasonably priced at $59.95, and well worth the investment.

Barbara J. Savage

eMedia Piano and Keyboard Method Version 3.0, List price: $59.95. eMedia Music Corp., 664 NE Northlake Way, Seattle, WA 98105. CD-ROM Windows (XP/Vista/Windows 7) and Macintosh (OS X 10.3+). Optional MIDI keyboard or an acoustic piano with a PC microphone for both versions. It is important to remember that a MIDI keyboard is required if you intend to use the Interactive Evaluation functionality. Minimum system requirements for Windows: Windows XP/Vista/Windows 7, 256MB RAM, CD-ROM; Macintosh: 256 MB RAM, CD-ROM. WWW: http://www.emediamusic.com.

 

 
 
 
 
Page created: 10/13/10
Last updated: 01/30/15
 
Site Policies Credits About Feedback Reprinting
     

Reprinting from the Piano Education Page The Piano Education Page, Op. 10, No. 1, http://pianoeducation.org
Copyright 1995-2016 John M. Zeigler. All rights reserved.