Homeschool Piano Lessons ~ Adventus MusIQ #review
Think there’s no way you can afford piano lessons for the kids? Think again! MusIQ Homeschool from Adventus is piano lesson software that your students can use in the comfort of your home, on your schedule, at a price far lower than the cost of traditional instruction. (Compared to $15+ per lesson for an instructor, plus transportation and time… that adds up fast.)
There are two broad levels to MusIQ Homeschool:
- The Early Curriculum, comprised of Children’s Musical Journey Software, levels 1-3, and the corresponding lesson plans, created for ages 4-10, and
- The Multi-Level Curriculum software and lesson plans, designed for ages 10-adult, with four years of instruction through Piano Suite Premier, Ear Training Coach levels 1-4, and the MusIQ Challenger Game.
To get started with MusIQ Homeschool, there’s a couple things that you will need:
- A computer – for the Early Curriculum, recent versions of either Windows or Mac will work; for the Multi-Level Curriculum, Windows is required.
- A keyboard with a USB Midi Connection – If the keyboard is an older Midi with a non-USB connector, there’s a good chance it will still work with an additional Midi-to-USB cable, available direct from Adventus, or from many other options online, and probably your local electronics or computer store.
- An internet connection – If you choose to download the software, this is absolutely necessary for initial setup; purchase of software CDs will likely require it for registration.
What’s included with MusIQ Homeschool?
This will depend on exactly what you choose to purchase; there are many different options, allowing you to make the best choice for your family. Each of the software volumes may be purchased individually, or as curriculum bundles. It’s even possible to subscribe to MusIQ Homeschool and have access to ALL software at the same time, for as long of you stay subscribed, for just $10.95 a month.
Pricing examples include:
- Children’s Musical Journey software, levels 1, 2, and 3 with accompanying lesson plans – $89.95 each
- Multi-Level Curriculum, year 1, with Piano Suite Premier – $109.95
- Multi-Level Curriculum, year 2, with Ear Training Coach 1 & 2 – $59.95 (use with previously purchased Piano Suite Premier)
- Multi-Level Curriculum, year 3, with Ear Training Coach 3 & 4 – $59.95 (use with previously purchased Piano Suite Premier)
- Multi-Level Curriculum, year 4, with MusIQ Challenger Game – $69.95 (use with previously purchased Piano Suite Premier)
- The Complete MusIQ Homeschool, which includes all software, plus a quality student Midi keyboard – $489.95.
Depending on the bundle, lesson plans for the level you desire may or may not be included, and all monthly subscribers will need to purchase lesson plans separately. A year’s worth of homeschool lesson plans is $29.99. (Be careful, and make sure you order the Homeschool lesson plans – Adventus also sells lesson plans designed for music instructors in a classroom environment, and while these are interesting to look at, they include things that a homeschool parent wouldn’t be as likely to use or understand. The Homeschool versions are much more user-friendly for the typical homeschool family.
Can MusIQ Homeschool be reused for other students in my family?
If you purchase by monthly subscription, all levels may be used for as long as you subscribe, and by multiple members of your family. If instead you purchase the software with a lump sum payment, it’s yours to use for as long as you desire. While this requires a greater initial investment, it’s more economical in the long run.
What kind of teaching style is MusIQ Homeschool recommended for?
Because piano instruction is elective, not core, MusIQ Homeschool is a product that will work well for most families. It’s not instruction that most families would traditionally do on their own, so rather than to compare it to different styles of instruction or learning, a more appropriate comparison is to a weekly piano teacher. In terms of affordability and flexibility, MusIQ wins, no question about it. For families for which expensive weekly piano lessons with a live teacher are impossibly expensive or impractical, MusIQ is an excellent alternative.
How much teacher preparation is required for MusIQ?
If possible, I’d recommend that parents take advantage of the ability to learn alongside your child. As a totally non-musical parent, at times I’ve found myself hard-pressed to answer the odd question or two that has come up, and using the software myself has helped with much of that – now I’m at least a tad familiar with WHY they’re asking a question instead of being totally clueless.
The lesson plans, in my opinion, aren’t perfect. There *are* additional hands-on activities included that I have absolutely no idea what they mean, and have spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out – usually with the end result of feeling that it’s probably something that would be totally obvious and simple to a parent with at least a little background in music, but might as well be Greek to me. So far, we do our best to muddle our way through these spots, figure them out mutually – often my 12-year-old, Chris, has more knowledge than I do – but I do wish that more simplified, detailed information was included for the ones like me.
What age / grade of students is MusIQ intended for?
MusIQ was created to be accessible for ages 4-adult. The Early Curriculum, Children’s Musical Journey, is recommended for ages 4-10, with students at the older end of the range starting at level 2. (The first few lessons of level 2 review the entire years’ worth of level one, which makes it move at a much more appropriate pace for older students like 10-year-old Chey.) Level 1 should easily be accessible for 4 and 5 year old students.
The Multi-Level curriculum is aimed at ages 10 up through adult, and it comes highly recommended, even for adult instruction. MusIQ is used in some music universities for those who play other instruments, and now need, for whatever reason, to learn to play piano.
My 10-year-old has been using Children’s Musical Journey 2, while her 12-year-old brother, Chris, began with level 1 of the Multi-Level curriculum. The placement seems right for Cheyenne, but Chris has stated that he’d like to go back and do the same software that his sister is using, first. He’s played with Children’s Musical Journey a little, and he’s decided that he’d like to get a strong start in the basics in that much more kid-friendly atmosphere – where both have games to use as practice, Children’s Musical Journey is clearly created to be appealing to kids, while the Piano Suite software is more straightforward and practical, without being set “in a story,” if you will.
How does Adventus recommend MusIQ be used?
MusIQ Homeschool is set up so that a new lesson is learned each week, and then the parts of that lesson are practiced daily (or at least 3-4 times), for the rest of the week, much like traditional piano lessons. This will make each level last for the majority of a school year.
How did we use MusIQ?
We’ve tried to keep pretty close to the recommendations. We already had a usable Midi keyboard on hand, so didn’t have to wait for delivery to get right to it. We spent the better part of a week playing with the different levels and trying to figure out where each child should start; it turned out that while the “story” setup of Children’s Musical Journey was interesting to my daughter, it was moving at much too slow a pace for her, so I read through the lesson plans a bit more deeply, and realized she could start at level 2 and it would be much more appropriate for her.
With Chris, he’s been working well through year 1 on the Piano Suite Premier on his own, but when discussing how he feels about it, he stated that he’d like to try using Children’s Musical Journey, and then, after he completes it, move back into the one he is using now. He thinks it might be easier for him to get the basics down, and he’s probably right. I’ve tried both, and even I’m more comfortable with Children’s Musical Journey! (I think they’re underestimating it, at least for levels 2 and 3. Then again, I don’t think either he or I will be spending an entire week on each lesson to thoroughly learn the material, and that might well be a part of the appeal.)
What did I like about MusIQ? What does it do well?
I often wished that I could afford music lessons, and Chris has wanted to learn to play piano for years. (His grandmother plays.) But a piano, and piano lessons, were simply not – nor were they likely to ever be – in the budget. We’d purchased the midi keyboard a couple of years ago with some inexpensive children’s piano software, but while the kids thought it was fun, it didn’t seem as though they learned a lot from it. There really wasn’t enough to the product to even consider it a year’s worth of instruction. This is a much more do-able – and usable – choice, though I was glad we had the keyboard on hand so we didn’t have the expense to contend with.
What do I dislike about MusIQ? What could it do better? How could it be improved?
The lesson plans could be made much more user-friendly. As they stand, having seen the ones designed for piano teachers, they retain far too much of that style, assuming that the parent facilitating the lessons has some level of ability they can draw on. When that’s not the case, portions of the lessons are going to simply have to be skipped, because neither child nor parent has any idea what to do with them or what they mean. Clarification and much more detailed instructions would be GREATLY appreciated!
Have I been surprised or impressed with certain aspects of MusIQ?
I was quite surprised to learn that both versions of the curriculum place a high emphasis on composition. That’s not something that I’ve seen mentioned in regards to other software, and I really appreciate that it is in this one. Chris, especially, has always had a high-level of interest in creating his own music. (I swear, that child has a soundtrack to life running through his head. He is ALWAYS humming!) Even in a child that hasn’t already expressed interest in composing, it’s a great way to mentally and emotionally connect with the student, and draw them into the lessons – they become emotionally involved in their work.
Would I recommend MusIQ? To whom?
MusIQ is for any family that desires piano instruction and for whom a live instructor is not feasible. With the ability to subscribe on a monthly basic, even the barrier of a high initial purchase price is removed, making piano available to everyone, even if they’re on a limited budget like us.
What did my children think of MusIQ?
Chris is loving it. No question whatsoever. It’s more a matter of getting him OFF it and getting his other schoolwork done than anything else. (Yes, I’ve resorted to using piano lessons as bribes. Excuse me if that’s strange; he’s a bit of a unique child anyways.) Cheyenne, well, she likes it, she’s just not thrilled that she has additional schoolwork. She’s enjoying showing off her new skills to her best friend, who has been taking lessons from an instructor.
The games section is especially of interest, like always, but I’ve noticed that Chey – and even more so in Chris’ case – seem to spend an equal amount of time composing their own works. It’s definitely different having music practice in the house, and thankfully, still-learning piano is *much* easier on the ears than, say, a wind instrument would be.