Ratings, Review and Submission Procedures
John M. Zeigler, Ph.D.
e carry out our reviews of piano learning materials in accordance with well-defined procedures and criteria in order to produce the most thorough and unbiased reviews possible. If you would like to learn about our rating system, how we do the reviews or how to submit your piano or music-related product for review on The Piano Education Page, read on.
|We provide note ratings as a simple means of portraying our overall impressions of each program. We attempt, as much as possible, to rate every package on the same basic scale, although we do not attempt to compare or rate relative feature sets between programs. All such ratings are subjective and, necessarily, do not do full justice to the unique features of every program. In particular, shareware programs, which are typically written by single individuals, rather than the armies of programmers available to large corporations, typically are more focused on limited goals than large commercial programs, even though the shareware programs may do their jobs exceptionally well. For these reasons and others, we strongly encourage you not only to look at the ratings, but to read the summaries of the reviews below and, if a program interests you, to read the full review carefully before making a decision to purchase any package. Keep in mind that software undergoes constant revision and updating, so the version we reviewed may have been supplanted by a version which corrects any deficiencies/problems which we noted with the reviewed version.|
|We cannot recommend under any circumstances based on our review. Avoid.||May be useful in special situations, but read the review carefully in evaluating its usefulness to you|
|A solid program. Potentially useful in a variety of settings but be sure to read the review||An excellent program whose purchase we can recommend|
|An exceptionally strong program. Seriously consider buying if you need piano software.||A superb piece of software. A must-buy if you're looking for music or piano software|
All reviews are performed by a music or piano teacher in a working studio environment in conjunction with a computer expert. The IBM compatible test computers are described in the reviews. Programs may be reviewed on one or multiple computer systems, depending on our experience with the program.
The software we review is either purchased through standard retail outlets, provided by manufacturers, or downloaded as shareware. We follow the program installation instructions provided by the manufacturer. 16-bit Windows programs are tested in a Windows 3.1 environment; 32-bit Windows programs are tested in Windows 9.x , XP and/or Vista. Where feasible, we also test under Windows NT or Windows 2000. If we identify a possible "bug" in the software, we attempt to contact the manufacturer to resolve it prior to noting it in our review. We also allow manufacturers the opportunity to check the draft review for factual accuracy only prior to making it available on the Web. We modify the review in response to manufacturer input only if an error in fact is identified.
If you are a manufacturer of piano or music software or publisher of relevant learning materials and would like to have your products considered for review on The Piano Education Page, we would like to hear from you. Please contact us by e-mail and provide a description of the materials you would like us to review. Be as specific as you can in your description of your product. To be considered for review, the software or learning materials must be submitted to us in a fully-enabled form with standard packaging materials. We will include a scan of the packaging material or a screen shot to illustrate the review. If you provide software for review, your provision of it is construed to include permission for us to provide that type of illustration with our review. If your program is shareware and requires a registration code to be fully enabled, please provide us with that in your e-mail and the URL where the software can be downloaded. Currently, we only review IBM-PC compatible software.
We reserve the right to decline to review any product on grounds of relevance, time constraints, or unacceptability (e.g. a crippled version of software provided to us). Please take careful note that we will NOT review pre-public release ("beta") software, maintenance releases, or other forms of software not generally available to the public. Similarly, we will not review software which incorporates any form of "spyware" (e.g. the "Aureate" or "Radiate" DLL's) which monitors surreptitiously the usage of the software. The software manufacturer must provide us with a fully functioning, commercially available package that is currently being shipped to the public at large and certify to us that the product is a shipping version. The software so provided is the version we will review, if a review is performed at all. Requests for subsequent review or re-review of simple maintenance releases to the reviewed software will not be honored. Software with substantial changes from a previous version (usually signified by a change in major version number from, say, 1.0 to 2.0) may be reviewed again. Usually, this second review will be done by a different reviewer. We cannot and do not guarantee that a second reviewer will agree in all particulars with the first reviewer.
If we are able to review your product, it must be sent prepaid to the address we provide. Generally, we prefer to keep the package after the review is complete, as this allows us to keep our costs to a minimum, as well as to resolve any factual disputes that may arise. We may agree to return some products after review if they are particularly costly or limited in supply.
The software or learning materials provided to us will be extensively evaluated by a working piano teacher or professor, typically in a teaching studio environment. Each reviewer is consulted about possible conflicts of interest and previous experience with the software to be reviewed before we send the software for review. The evaluation typically takes three months after we receive it. The reviewer will evaluate the package according to our established review criteria for software or review criteria for books and learning materials and prepare a draft review which will then be edited by our Editor-in-Chief. In cases where a program receives a rating of 3 notes or less, we make an effort to have the program reviewed by a second reviewer so as to be as fair as possible to lower ranked programs and learning materials.
Once editing is complete, the text of the edited review will be e-mailed to our contact at the manufacturer or publisher for factual accuracy checking. If we do not receive a response to the draft review within 2 business days after sending the review text, we will consider it correct and place the review on the Web. If modifications to factual matters are suggested, we will investigate these and make changes to the review, where appropriate, to assure factual accuracy. Manufacturers of software and other products should take careful note that, while we will make every attempt to assure factual accuracy, we will NOT modify the opinion parts of the review, including the rating, unless the manufacturer can demonstrate to us that the factual basis underlying those opinions is incorrect. Similarly, the fact that some other review done by a different organization or person may disagree with our reviewer's opinion will NOT, by itself, be considered cause to change our reviewer's opinions or ratings.
By requesting a review or submitting software or other learning materials for review on The Piano Education Page, the supplier or requester agrees to accept without further recourse all comments within the review, subject to the single exception of correction of any demonstrably and verifiably incorrect factual statements that the supplier can identify within two business days of receipt of the pre-publication, draft review. If the supplier fails to respond to the draft review or fails to respond within the two business day window indicated above, the review will be considered factually correct and published without recourse for the supplier. Any changes made after the two business day response period will made entirely at the discretion of the Editor-in-Chief. We will notify the contact or supplier of the materials of the direct URL of the review when it appears on the Web. Once the review appears, the manufacturer may reprint from the review for promotional purposes royalty-free, so long as reprinting meets the conditions set forth on Reprinting from The Piano Education Page.
In cases where we review multiple versions of the same program or materials, the reviews of all those versions will remain available to visitors. Links will be established between the reviews of the various versions of the product. If we become aware of additional information subsequent to the appearance of the review that we feel may be of value to our visitors, we may, at our sole discretion, add that information in the form of a note or Editor's comment, to the review page, though not in the review proper.