he Piano Education Page software review checklist,
given to all of our piano teacher reviewers as a guideline for their reviews, is below.
The purpose of the checklist is to provide reviewers the means by which they can perform
reviews fairly and thoroughly in accordance with specific standards, assign ratings that
are as consistent as possible with other reviews within the bounds of opinion and informed
human judgment, structure the review in a manner that is consistent in format with our
other reviews, and provide all the necessary information for the reader to be able to
evaluate and buy the program if they are so inclined. Within question
groups, questions may be answered in any order that makes sense to the
reviewer. We do not attempt to dictate the
content of the review to reviewers, aside from requesting that cover the
topics below as they see fit, based on their experience using the program.
Full Name of Software Package
- 1 whole: We cannot recommend under any circumstances based on our review.
- 2 wholes: May be useful in special situations, but read the
review carefully in evaluating its usefulness to you
- 3 wholes: A solid program. Potentially useful
in a variety of settings, but be sure to read the review
- 4 wholes: An excellent
program whose purchase we can recommend
- 4 ½ wholes: An exceptionally strong
program. Seriously consider buying if you need piano software
- 5 wholes: A superb
piece of software. A must-buy if youre looking for music or piano software.
to err slightly on the side of generosity in assigning note ratings, although were
stingy about 5 whole note ratings.
- Opening paragraph should be a short "teaser summary of your
review and of your impressions.
- Did it work o.k.? Was it easy and automatic?
- What operating system did you install under
(Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows XP, etc.)?
- What computer did you install it on (manufacturer and model,
processor type (e.g. Pentium 4) and speed (e.g. 3.2 Ghz), amount
of RAM (in MB), video card type (manufacturer, model), any other noteworthy aspects of the hardware)?
- Can a piano teacher or parent do it without help?
- Was configuring the MIDI setup easy and well explained?
- Anything to look out for (problems, undocumented aspects, etc.)
- If you had a problem and you needed to contact Technical Support for the software, were
they knowledgeable and helpful or did they say it was your problem? It
is useful in your first contact with tech support NOT to reveal that you
are doing a review for publication, as this will give you a chance to
judge how the average program user will be treated by tech support.
Using the software
- Generally, what does the program screen look like onscreen? What is it like to use the
program? Is it easy to understand?
- Good and bad points
- Strengths and weaknesses
- Anything in the program you would like to see changed, added, or fixed?
- Pedagogical soundness?
- What does it do and not do?
- What type of audience is it appropriate for? (Young children? Older children? Adults?
- Did your students enjoy and learn from it?
- Appropriate for studio or home or both?
- Does the manual or the program Help provide adequate guidelines for the teacher or
parent in effectively integrating the program into learning or teaching? Is
adequate to explain the use of the program?
- Did anything seem "clunky"?
Summary of Impressions
- Summarize the best and worst points of the software
- If the manufacturer makes a demo version available, provide URL where it can be
- Would you as a piano teacher recommend it to another teacher or to your students?
you pay list price for it to use in your studio? If an upgrade to an existing version,
should one upgrade to it?
Name, version number, price, hardware requirements (VERY IMPORTANT)
- Program name, version number (from the About section of the Help menu), list price
- Manufacturer name, address, phone number (usually found in the manual), Web page URL if
available, e-mail address if available. While at the manufacturer site, check out the
support section of the site to see how good online support is.
- What hardware does the package say the software needs (usually on the box or in the
manual)? Is a MIDI keyboard needed or required? Is there a Macintosh version available?
- "Screen shot" - at least one or
(preferably) two or three pictures of a representative screen from the
program is valuable with all programs and essential for shareware
programs that usually don't have formal packaging. Here's how to
1. Once it's installed, start the program
2. Depending on which is the most attractive or illustrative, go to
either the banner, main or any other program screen.
3. Make sure the window for the program is the one with the current
focus ("highlighted"). The program must be running in a
half-screen (approximately) window, rather than full
screen. This allows us to reduce the window image in size in order
to fit it in the review without unacceptably degrading the legibility of
the image. When the program is running in a window, the window size icon
(top right of window, next to Close (X) icon) will show a single window.
If it is running full screen, it will show two overlapping windows. You
can toggle back and forth by clicking on that icon. Some programs will
default to full screen display, even when running in a window. In that
case, use the window size handle at the extreme lower right of the
window to drag the window size to about half the screen size.
4. Hold down the Alt key and press the PrtScr (Print Screen) key; this will copy an image of the active window to the Windows Clipboard.
5. Open Windows
Paint (Win9x, NT, XP: Start menu, Programs, Accessories,
Paint or in your Windows 3.1 Accessories group) or
just about any other graphics program you may prefer.
6. Click on Edit, Paste in the
Paint menu. This will paste an image of
the window displaying the music software into Paint.
7. Click on File, Save As. In the resulting dialog box, click on the
drop down menu and choose JPEG (.JPG) file type, then provide a name for the
file to replace the "untitled" in the default “untitled.jpg”. If you are using
an older version of Paint and JPEG file type is not available, then
choose "Bitmap" (.BMP) and supply a file name. Click OK. The image will be
saved to that file name on your hard disk. You can
repeat steps 4-7 for additional images.
8. Forward that file(s), along with the review text, as attachments to