Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Practice Monkeys Family Subscription to Live Violin Classes -- my REVIEW

A year and a half ago, my daughter began taking violin lessons from a gracious friend at church who is an accomplished violinist who kindly offered to teach her how to play.  She enjoys these lessons and enjoys playing the violin.  I had the opportunity to add another element into her learning by getting to try and review the Practice Monkeys program of Family Subscription to Live Violin Classes.


The name might sound a little silly sounding, Practice Monkeys, but the program is not at all silly or light! It is a serious violin program for students learning to play the violin using the Suzuki method, taught by an accomplished violinist/violin teacher who is a mother and a great communicator.

Practice Monkeys Violin Lessons
Hi! I'm Sarah Van Kleeck.  I have taught Suzuki violin for 27 years.
 I’ve been a Suzuki parent for 10 years.

The online program involves both the student and the parent.  The parent begins by watching a lengthy webinar and reading the "Parent Guidebook" which explain the program and the different roles of the student, parent, and instructor.  Some of the things which are included are the concept of listening and delayed reading, which are common in the Suzuki method -- the playing by ear bit.

Mrs. Sarah has programs for varying levels of violin learners, from the very beginners to those with more experience.  She began our program with an assessment of my daughter so that we would be "placed" into a learning/practice group.  Once she was placed, she was given a link to the proper classes (which are held via ZOOM meeting, which makes things very easy to link up with).  

Another aspect of this program is the Treehouse, which is a collection of everything you'd need for lessons.  Really. This has been well thought out and designed to enable the student and family to succeed.  If you don't have a violin or a rest, there are resources suggested (and linked).  There are practice schedules, listening schedules, tips to care for your equipment, suggested resources, and then particular to your level--different goals, habits, and practice links.

These classes are given LIVE, via Zoom, but if you are not able to make a class, they are recorded and are available on a weekly basis for you on your treehouse.  

Students learn and practice things like proper holding techniques (for the violin as well as the bow), scales (different ones), new songs, review songs, and some "for fun" songs as well.  Active listening is a large part of the program as well--becoming familiar with the way the song should sound.

So what are the classes like?  Well, they vary, but always have the teacher, live, interacting with the students who are attending that day.  If you're familiar with the Zoom platform, you know how the meetings are set up, with the one talking in the center and the other attenders shown above in thumbnails.  This is cool, because the students are practicing and working's not just one-on-one.  Until it is--sometimes your student is the only one to login, and then Mrs. Sarah has a personal lesson with your student, working on what they need!

So this can be used as a total learning-online violin course.  We used it a bit differently, as my daughter is already taking violin from someone local.  She used it as an incentive to practice and to learn some new songs.  One big takeaway from the lessons is the importance of practicing everyday AND learning how to sound out songs or learn to play more by ear.

Each lesson is interactive, with the teacher asking each of the students to play different bits either on their own or together with the group, then she helps them do it correctly.  One thing I REALLY appreciate about this instructor is that she doesn't just say, "Oh, that's good" or "sounds good" even when it isn't.  She really requires the correct answer or the correct technique and doesn't gloss over errors or improper techniques, but works with the student to correct it.

It's hard to give enough information to clearly reflect the program. I will say that my student learned a lot about playing without relying on the tuner app or the sheet music.  She has gained confidence in this and other areas.  She learned some tips about scale playing as well.  She has formed practice habits which she will carry on.

I think the biggest thing for me that was a difficulty is that our session was 5:20-5:40 pm,  M-Th, which in our home is dinner making time--and so I was not able to sit in with her for each lesson.  It actually was a hard time of day for her to use the lessons as well -- so much happens in that 5-6 pm slot of our lives! The lessons ARE available in recorded form later, on the treehouse, but I really think one of the key points of this product is the personal lessons.

This is a very interesting program, I'm not sure how it works starting from a brand new beginner, never having picked up a violin, but at our stage it is good.  It is an amazingly thorough program, well thought through and implemented.  I think it would also be a good alternative for an adult who wanted to learn to play the violin.  I suggest you check out Practice Monkeys and their Family Subscription to Live Violin Classes and see if it's for you!

There's even a coupon right now, good until February 1, 2019!  If you are interested in subscribing, now is the time to do so!

Practice Monkeys Discount Coupon Offer

To see more reviewers' thoughts about this program, please click on the link below:

Online Music Education for the Violin {Practice Monkeys Reviews}

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