We are huge KinderBach fans around here. In fact, Dodi the Donkey has superhero status with my youngest. So of course, when the chance came up to review KinderBach again, I just had to beg to be included, because it just keeps getting better!
KinderBach began as, and fundamentally still is, online or DVD piano instruction for children ages 3-7. But now, they've branched out even further and offer an app for the iPhone or iPad that contains the first three levels of lessons and some additional music related games and activities to reinforce the learning. Some Crew members had the chance to review the app, but I reviewed the online version, so that's what this review will focus on.
KinderBach's online and DVD lessons are broken down into 6 levels each containing 10 weeks of lessons. Each week is further broken down into 4 short sessions--about 5 minutes each. Your child can move through the lessons at their own pace. Characters such as Dodi the Donkey are used to help children learn the note names and reading. Skills such as rhythm, singing, and composition are also taught. Many lessons have activities that reinforce the concepts, and they can be downloaded so that your child can participate right along with each lesson.
The pros: KinderBach is a great way to introduce young children to music. Unlike programs that use stickers or colors for notes, Karri Gregor, the creator of KinderBach, uses stories to help the children know which note is which. My youngest learned that Dodi's house is the 2 black keys years ago, but she still points them out every time she walks by our piano. And the same for the train station (the three black keys). She adores KinderBach and will frequently plow through a whole week of lessons in one sitting. As I mom of an older piano student as well, I appreciate that KinderBach teaches good technique early and that particularly at its upper levels, KinderBach provides a wonderful introduction to musical theory that is presented in a way that any child can understand. In fact, Karri is currently working on Level 7. She's also coming out with eBook versions of all the stories for the Piano Pals. Supplemental songbooks and coloring books are available for purchase too.
The cons: The only thing I'd change is that the online lessons don't automatically "remember" where you last were. You need to know what lesson and what session you last did, and which one you want to view next. That's not a big deal with younger children whose parents would be profoundly involved, but for my 7 year old, she sometimes forgot which one she watched last, and I didn't always know either. It's no big deal, and you could certainly just write it down yourself, but it would be a nice improvement if it somehow tracked what you watched last so it knew where you should start for your next lesson.
The bottom line: KinderBach is $19.99 a month or $95.88 for a year. That might seem steep until you consider that I just wrote my son's piano teacher a check for $75 for ONE month--and she is one of the less expensive instructors in our area. Real life piano lessons run $15-20 per half hour, and that makes KinderBach a steal, especially for young students who might need extra time to master some of the concepts. I'd whole-hearted encourage you to check KinderBach for your young child. In fact, you can even try it out for free for 2 weeks just to see what you think. And Karri from KinderBach just e-mailed for a special deal just for YOU, my reader :-). You can use the code TOS_crew2012 to get 30% off on her lessons for homeschool or classroom either online or on DVD. That code is good until 12/31/2012. AND, on Friday, Oct. 19th, the app will be on sale for more than half off, so be sure to scoop it up for $12.99 while you have the chance.
To order KinderBach or to sign up for a free preview, go to KinderBach's website (there are some free coloring pages there as well). To see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew had to say about the online version or the new app, go to the Review Crew blog.
Legal Disclaimer: As a member of the Crew, I received a 6 month membership to KinderBach's online lessons for the purpose of being able to give my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.