Willie Myette, Berklee College of Music graduate, created PianoWithWillie and JazzEdge. as a place to access all of his jazz education and performance ventures under one "roof." Today it has expanded its educational resources to encompass piano & drum lessons in jazz, funk, latin, rock, gospel and blues styles along with over 3500 lessons for homeschool families.
PianoWithWillie is an online subscription service for your budding pianist. It is not designed for a beginning student, but rather a piano student that is wanting to develop their own personal skills and styles further. You can pick and choose from over 3500 lesson chapters on various styles, techniques, concepts, or songs. You need a keyboard with at least 61 keys, or an actual piano to work with PianoWithWillie, we used our standard piano.
The Bentz Test Laboratory has numerous musicians of numerous levels, our tester for this review has had several years of private lessons, and is well on his way to becoming his own musician. We were given "Studio Access" for one year, priced at $49 per month, $99 per quarter, or $399 per year - this subscription is for a single student.
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PianoWithWillie is built around two approaches:
- Foundational --These three elements (rhythm, technique, and reading) are essential for pianists of all levels. We encourage you to work on one or all of these elements to build a solid base as the piano.
- Fun'dational -Song, style, and concept elements are fun to practice and help you sound more professional. Pick one or more fun’dational elements to practice each week.
Not quite sure where to start on this massive site, their 22 Point Assessment can help pinpoint a good place for your student.
My tester started with the "30 Day Piano Success Playbook" - 30 short video lessons, 5-11 minutes long, covering piano basics like note reading, technique, improvisation and chords. Several songs are mastered as well. My tester is 14 and has been taking private lessons, some of this was review for him, but much of it was very useful for reinforcement and practice. This would be an excellent way to keep skills strong over summer break!
The program's "dashboard" remembers where you left off so you can easily come and go with the program. My tester found the site took a bit of practice finding his way around, but was able to master it after a couple of tries. The website has plenty of helpful tips and practical advice for dealing with any unexpected technology issues.
After completing the lessons you want to in the "Playbook" - you can move into the "Foundations" section. These 4 video lessons range in length, most are around 30 minutes. They cover basics such as Rythym, Technique, Reading Music and topics for Advanced players more in-depth. The videos are profession and well done. You can see Willie teaching the lesson, and an additional view of the keyboard only.
Our favorite section of PianoWithWillie is the Studio Lesson Library. You can search from thousands of selections in a wide variety of genres (Beethoven to Billy Joel!) with your Studio membership, & you have unlimited access to all lessons in the Studio Lesson Library. You can download the zip files that contain the sheet music and audios of the lessons, but not the videos - those you must stream online. The video format is compatible with your mobile devices as well. We used it with our laptop - for a bigger viewing screen, but it would be great with an iPad or iPhone too. If you prefer to purchase individual lessons, they are available outside a subscription, individually as well.
These lessons are typically an hour or longer. My tester is really into Jazz music right now and had fun exploring this section from jazz improvisation to jazz and gospel variations. There is truly a treasure chest of lessons here (over 72 selections just in "jazz" alone!!)
The Premier Course Library offers a great way to focus your piano practice. Each course focuses on a specific style, concept, or technique for 4-8 weeks. You can filter your search by your level and genre. We didn't have access to this feature with our Studio membership, but - you may want to check it out if you have some serious piano students! Live lessons are another feature you can find on JazzEdge's site.
The strength of this program is the variety. If your pianist is ready to stretch their "wings" a bit, or just wanting to explore different options of music, this is a great tool for them. The online lessons can be replayed as many times as your student wants or needs them to be.
I love the convenience of having this massive musical treasure chest right in my own home! No dragging everyone out for a piano lesson, it's right in the next room. Plus, my tester can search and explore to find exactly what he is interested in learning and playing at his own pace for his schedule. Best of all, it's about 1/2 the cost of private piano lessons in our area.
We truly only scratched the surface of what this program offers. We plan on having a summer of fun learning many more lessons with PianoWithWillie.
Some members of the Review Crew had access to DrumsWithWillie and Easy Piano Basics (for beginners) -be sure to check them out too!
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