Always wanted to learn how to sight read music? Or how to play the piano by ear?
Piano Marvel may just be the easiest way to learn!
Product: Piano Marvel
Price: FREE membership with limited lessons
Paid subscriptions: $15 monthly, $99 annual
Platforms: Works with both Windows and Mac.
Pros – Very well segmented into small manageable lessons. MIDI capability amongst the best I’ve seen.
Cons – Without MIDI, there are better video based lessons available in other programs.
Piano Marvel is an award winning piano software built to enable people to learn in an engaging fun way. Much like Playground Sessions, it utilises the digital piano/keyboards MIDI capabilities and integrates learning into an interactive style of learning. So… does it really live up to the award winning status? and how does it stack up against Playground Sessions?
Piano Marvel and Playground Sessions are in my opinion two of the best piano training softwares available. This is only my opinion, based on how i like to train, but i think the methods used are by far the best way for the modern piano player. You can never substitute the expertise of a piano tutor in one to one classes, however there are so many positives to online training that are driving more and more people into learning piano in this way.
Piano Marvel offers more interactive features than Playground Sessions and is more tailored to it in this way. My only reservation is that you do miss out on that personal touch and tips n tricks offered by a trainer on video. Playground Sessions has a lot more video input due to the classes being taught by David Styles.
So if you prefer to do more interactive MIDI training that will work on your muscle memory, rather than watching and learning from a video tutorial, then Piano Marvel may be a good choice for you.
Piano Marvel is designed to aid you in learning how to play the piano by walking you through 36 graded levels. Each level contains around 20 lessons. Each lesson builds upon the previous lesson and guides you in very small increments along it’s teaching path to guarantee your success at each stage.
As you complete each lesson the program grades your performance and gives you a score from 0 to 100. The object of the lesson is to earn a trophy and eventually fill up your trophy case as you progress through the lessons.
So its great for kids because it allows them to earn trophies as they practice in a similar manner to a video game. And though the trophies are fun for adults too, older piano players will appreciate the step-by-step methodic approach to the progressive piano lessons even more.
At first i thought this was going to be more for kids than adults but as i went along with it i really appreciated the graded structure and the fact that it gives a gaming element to it made striving for perfection less laborious than other programs, even when compared to Playground Sessions.
I found that although there was a lack of video tutorials it provided more emphasis on real rhythm and note reading skills and enforcing good practice habits. I think i practiced more without videos to watch, but again this is down to how you like to learn.
The only problem i found was playing advanced songs where sometimes chord changes and scales can be difficult, there were little ‘hints’ or ‘tips’ on how to play them differently due to the lack of video tutorials for each song. In a video tutorial, the tutor may show you different ways, but with Piano Marvel unfortunately this was missed. No biggy though… over all i was very impressed!
The software’s interface is just brilliant, its easy to follow and navigate from the word go. Reading sheet music is a breeze, as the screen automatically scrolls as you play, eliminating page turns. You get instant feedback on correct or missed notes and changing tempo or customising sections were a breeze.
The interface is probably the most intuitive I’ve seen. It has many useful tools such as “slicing” that can be used to break larger pieces into small chunks for easier learning. You can literally dissect any piece of music and learn it your way! There are enormous possibilities with this software, making it one of the most flexible out there… sure to suit anyones style of learning.
Piano Marvel delivers the largest amount of quality lessons in any of the piano learning software packages I’ve seen. What’s unique about Piano Marvel in comparison to other programs is the fact that you can learn to play by ear and also its use of SASR (Standard Assessment Of Sight Reading). It is a state of the art sight reading assessment which is the most accurate way to assess sight reading, as well as track progress over time.
Sight reading assessments are lacking in many of the piano learning programs and I fail to see why when it’s such an important part of learning piano! Many of us learn piano without learning to sight read, and spend the remainder of our journey in piano wishing we knew how.
A lot of people are put off by how boring learning to sight read can be, but with Piano Marvel you have fun learning it and before you know it you’re reading sheets… you feel accomplished!
In addition to the SASR there are over 1,200 excersises in the method and technique sections and over 1,300 performance pieces and songs. The lessons and exercises are in manageable chunks and the software easily gets you playing along in minutes and the lessons are well graduated so you don’t feel like you are rushing and jumping in too deep.
In short… Piano Marvel packs a real punch with its lessons!! I was very impressed!
The song choices
Piano Marvel by far has the largest library of songs and exercises of any of the piano learning software, I did find that the extra songs in comparison to other programs were mainly classical but there is also slightly more choice in modern songs in comparison to other software. You will never be lost for choice here.
Help and support
Piano Marvel is quite simple in its help and support network, the website offers all the contact you need and contains sufficient FAQ’s that will answer the majority of issues. I found in this category it wasn’t as stella as Playground Sessions but certainly a lot more polished than most other programs. Nothing major to complain about.
“Piano Marvel is an outstanding tool for any professional piano teacher. It is the main focus of my Piano Lab where students go after their private lessons with me. My students’ rhythmic accuracy and sight reading has gone through the roof. Students are excited with the challenge of going from 70-80-90-100% score on a new piece. They don’t want to stop until they get that TOP score. What an ingenius computer GAME that inspires repeated practice to PERFECT a piece before going to a new piece.”
Cheryl Norman – Utah
President – Utah Music Teachers Association
“EVERY piano teacher needs to use this program! The students that are using this are moving much faster, playing much more accurately, and having more fun than the parents or I could have imagined! It is amazing to hear how the parents have to force some of them to ‘come away from the piano and do something else!’ – I love it! It is the BEST TEACHING TOOL available!.”
Nina Black – Music teacher, California
“In 30 years of teaching, there is nothing that I have seen that compares with PIano Marvel! It is the most all encompassing method I have used.”
Evelyn Billberg – Music teacher Colorado
In summary, I’ve found Piano Marvel the most complete package i have reviewed to date and because of this its the best value for money. This doesn’t set aside the fact that other programs are also worth trying as it really does depend on your learning style. I have found there will be more patience required with Piano Marvel as there is less video content.
I can see Piano Marvel appealing to the majority of teachers and students alike but this is also a great package for home learning, especially for those wishing to learn by ear or sight read as Piano Marvel is the only software available that has SASR which is a real game changer.
Thank you for taking the time to read this review, i hope it has been helpful!
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Still undecided? Check out some of the other programs in my TOP 5 PIANO LEARNING SOFTWARE reviews