“Our Days” Homeschool Week-in-Pictures Link Up

ODHL

Welcome to this week’s “Our Days” link-up:

“Our Days” Homeschool link-up is a place to share our weekly projects and show our curriculum-of-choice in action.

If you haven’t linked up to the blogroll, please do so here

Since we school year round, this will be a weekly link-up until further notice. :)

See y’all next week!



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Need Healthy, Whole Food Recipes Your Family Will Love?

Healthy Whole-Food Recipes.jpg

We read the books, watch the shows, and hear the news–whole-food based diets are the best way to provide nutrients for our families, especially our growing children. Oftentimes preparing well-balanced meals can feel intimidating to busy moms, moms of large families, moms on a budget, and moms in general.

On a quest for healthy meals that are easily prepared, I started working through cookbooks. Here are a few of my favorites. The recipes are large family, budget, and child-taste-bud friendly:


From the Kitchen of Two Sisters: A Satisfying, New Approach to Slimness, Vitality, and Health by Danielle and Lindsay Voeller: For the busy mom, this book is very much open and go with recipes calling for rice milk, spelt flour, Bragg’s, flax seed mixture (in lieu of eggs), and natural sugars–no need to hunt down a substitution! I also own the DVD, which offers cooking and nutrition tips presented in a way anyone can understand. For my daughter’s 7th birthday, I made the carrot cake and the children enjoyed it!

Over the years, I’ve used the cookie recipes for travel, as the ingredients are wholesome enough to provide a healthy snack or even a convenient light meal. My daughters and I will bake up a large batch just before a trip and my husband, the road-warrior, says they keep him away from the drive-thrus.

To continue reading, please visit RaisingHomemakers.com

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Online Piano Lessons for the Whole Family {HomeSchoolPiano Review}

It’s no secret that we have a busy family. Among therapy schedules, running a company, and homeschooling, our days are full. Our daughters have taken piano lessons for a couple of years and blessed to have a teacher nearby who can accommodate our schedule. But what about those who want to learn but can’t fit in traditional lessons? I’ve seen books and programs that allow users to teach themselves how to play piano, but do they work?

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While my daughters were already taking piano lessons, my husband encouraged me to embrace a review opportunity for HomeSchoolPiano, an online piano program for all ages. Now that I understand how the entire program works, I’m glad we had the flexibility to move among the levels by having access to the full HomeSchoolPiano–Complete Set of Books.

Two things about this program caught my husband’s attention:

  • online piano lessons enabling a student to move at his or her own pace that would fit around our schedule
  • improvisation and ear training (this being the most important)

As a musician himself, he believes that without improvisation and ear training, a student won’t fully have the skills required to perform. Our piano teacher is fantastic and our oldest daughter is one of her best students; but she can only play what’s written on the page. My husband also noted that many times when he’s asked to perform, he isn’t given sheet music but is usually only given a demo before performing in front of a live audience.

Homeschool Piano Review

Our Experience

We have varying levels of music instruction. My two daughters, my son, and myself used the HomeSchoolPiano program.

My 7th grade daughter, who has a couple of years of instruction, could’ve easily started at Level 2. While she followed along adequately, we moved her back into Level 1. Wille’s teaching style is different compared to her usual instructor and we wanted her to have a good understanding of the material. When I asked if she’s learned anything new, the first thing she mentioned was improvisation, followed by ear training! HomeSchoolPiano fulfilled its premise. She also said that her understanding of rhythm is stronger.

improv

Playing improvisation with her Dad

My 3rd grade daughter needed to begin with the Core Piano book but moved quickly into Level 1.

My 5th grade son had a great time. We started him on Core Piano and allowed him to move at his own pace. While he had a few months of instruction under his belt, his teacher was concerned about his not moving forward and believed that continuing lessons would only frustrate him. We wondered if he would be more suited to a different instrument even though he very much wanted to learn piano.

As I walked into the room one evening, I heard my husband call out, “Do you hear this? He’s playing! He’s playing improv!”

It turns out our son has rhythm! And while he may struggle to play something as written, HomeSchoolPiano helped bring out underlying talent. Since the program is completed in the privacy of our own home and at his own pace, he’s able to continue learning without fear of falling behind or wondering what others may think.

As for myself, I’ve always wanted to take piano lessons. I have a background in voice, and can read sheet music for voice, but not piano. Now that I’m a homeschooling mama to six, my schedule is so tight that I don’t have time to attend traditional lessons.

I started with Core Piano, and I was able to quickly work through the entire core program before going into Level 1.

Homeschool Piano Review

The Different Levels

Core: The core level is for the beginner who has absolutely no experience playing piano. As mentioned above, my daughter and son, who had some experience, needed the reinforcement. If you feel you or your child are at a more intermediate level, it may be wise to review the core level.

Topics include everything from how to sit at the piano to the five finger scale, plus:

  • Time Signatures
  • Treble and Bass Clefs
  • Symbols
  • Notes
  • Bars and Measures and more

Everything you need for a solid foundation is included on this level.

Level 1: Level 1 is for beginners. Those who completed the core level were able to move into Level 1 with no problems. Even after years of instruction, my oldest, experienced daughter found it challenging enough to keep her interested.

Level 2: Level 2 is for the beginner to intermediate levels. My oldest daughter could’ve easily gone straight into Level 2, if not for the difference in teaching style.

Level 3: Level 3 is for the intermediate level. My oldest daughter will move into Level 3 very soon. The rest of us will get there when we’re able.

HomeSchoolPiano

Following along with a lesson using the iPad

HomeSchoolPiano

Using both the book and the iPad for a lesson.

How it Works

After visiting the parent portal, I created student accounts with their own separate log-ins.

When it’s time for a lesson, my child signs on to his or her account and moves through the programs via our iPad and a 61-key keyboard. Downloadable books are included. A family doesn’t have to print these books, but it’s nice to have them on hand. Our pages were inexpensively printed and bound at a local office supply store.

3Books

Once the student signs in, everything is well laid out and intuitive. For example, when my daughter began Book 1, she touched “Begin Unit” and moved through the different exercises, which included watching videos, practice, and quizzes. If she was confused by something, she could review the video. Everything is easily accessible through the computer and smart phone, but we liked that the iPad fits nicely on top of the keyboard.

Each book contains six units that cover:

  • Technique
  • Rhythm
  • Ear Training
  • Reading
  • Song
  • Improvisation
  • Bonus to challenge more advanced students

Homeschool Piano Review

The Man Behind the Piano

What makes HomeSchoolPiano unique for us is the instructor, Willie. He obviously enjoys music, and his enthusiasm is contagious. He isn’t a dry instructor that comes across as a drill sergeant. He loves music and wants to inspire others to “unlock the pianist within.”

Customer service goes a long, long way for our family. Even if a product is excellent, I’ll have reservations based solely on customer service. But Willie went above and beyond, staying in touch and readily available to answer questions. There were a a couple of server issues in the beginning, but not only did he work quickly to remedy them, he contacted customers, keeping them abreast of everything. His goal is to provide a superior product that families will want to use and enjoy.

As a parent, believing that he had genuine interests in my children being able to play piano, regardless of the level in which they arrived, gave me the confidence I needed to continue gently nudging our son in lessons. I’m glad I did!

Two of my children want to continue lessons with Willie–they say he makes playing piano fun and less stressful. My oldest is ready to return to her more traditional, in-person instructor. However, she feels she’ll return a stronger student now that she understands improvisation and will continue to work through the levels.

Homeschool Piano Review

Costs?

HomeSchoolPiano offers two packages:

Success Package (One payment of $299):
Unlimited lifetime access to HomeSchoolPiano along with all bonuses (downloads, jam tracks, and sheet music) for up to 5 students.
Payment Plan (Payments of $99.97 per month for three months):
Unlimited lifetime access to HomeSchoolPiano along with all bonuses (downloads, jam tracks, and sheet music) for up to 5 students.

Visit HomeSchoolPiano for more information and to sign up for a free trial lesson.

You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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Affiliate links might be included in this post, please visit my disclosures page to learn more.