Can a Piano App Help You Learn Faster?
Some years ago, we had an idea to build a piano app, unlike anything that had ever been seen. While teaching group piano at the University of Northern Colorado, Aaron Garner, CEO of Piano Marvel, noticed some glaring issues with how he was expected to teach his students. The issue was not that classes like these were being taught incorrectly from the beginning. It was that technology had swooped in and quickly made things possible that were never even dreamed of before. With these new possibilities, he knew that there had to be a better, faster way for teachers to teach and students to learn.
Fast forward to the present day, Piano Marvel has broken new ground, challenging old school ideas and developing data-driven solutions to slower learning methods. It’s important to note that this is not a discussion of “piano teacher vs. piano app.” In fact, many of the learning tools developed in Piano Marvel are designed to help teachers, not replace them. Let’s take a look at ten amazing tools and features in Piano Marvel that set it apart from all other piano apps and teaching methods.
1. A Massive Music Library
A piano learning app is only as good as the music you can learn with it. The Piano Marvel music library features over 10,000 songs and exercises! This library has been growing steadily over the past 12 years with no signs of slowing down. Featuring everything from pop, rock, classical, jazz and more, pianists of any level and interest will find a wealth of options to choose from. The music library found in the app provides a huge value on its own, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.
2. Load in Your Own Music
As if the giant music library in Piano Marvel wasn’t enough, you can also load songs directly into the piano app that you want to learn to play! Utilizing industry-standard music notation software such as Finale, Sibelius or MuseScore, you can load your piano sheet music directly into the app. There are many possibilities for teachers who want to write custom exercises for students. School teachers can create and organize their curriculum for students. Composers can learn to play their own songs and much more. This level of control and flexibility of music to learn is not offered in any other piano learning app.
3. 18 Levels of Difficulty
Creating a piano learning app that fits all pianists, young and old, beginner through pro, is not an easy task. Accounting for all ages and ability levels means that our piano app needed to have a simple to use design with music to match everyone’s needs. Because of this, we created 18 distinct difficulty levels within the app. These levels closely reflect the levels that you would see in popular piano methods but extend much further. When you reach pieces that are in levels 12 and higher, the difficulty levels become more subjective, although, this is starting to become more clear with the Standard Assessment of Sight Reading and the data that it provides. I’ll explain more on that down below. Sometimes we are asked, “How hard does the music in Piano Marvel get?” The short answer is, harder than you can handle! Level 15-18 pieces are ones that only the World’s most elite pianists would even attempt to perform. To get a general sense, you can think of the levels in Piano Marvel like this.
- Early Beginner Piano Students: Levels 1-2
- Late Beginner Piano Students: Levels 3-4
- Intermediate Piano Students: Levels 5-7
- Advanced Piano Students: Levels 8-10
- Professionals and Piano Teachers: Levels 11-14
- Concert Pianists: Levels 15-18
4. The Standard Assessment of Sight Reading
Also known as the SASR, the Standard Assessment of Sight Reading was brilliantly designed to achieve two primary goals. First, to create the World’s most accurate method of assessing and scoring a person’s sight reading ability. Second, to create the best sight reading practice system ever created. We are proud to say that the SASR not only delivers on these two points, it exceeds expectation!
The SASR uses a large library of musical excerpts spread out over 90 individual levels. This is because we have broken the standard 18 levels in Piano Marvel into five distinct sub levels. When you start a SASR test, the Piano Marvel App will assess your playing level, and customize the test for you. This method of adaptive musical assessment gives a more accurate score than traditional testing methods and is totally accurate. Once the app has determined your sight reading level, a SASR score, or sight reading score will be calculated to tell you what sight reading level you have achieved. The adaptive assessment also makes the SASR the best way to practice your sight reading. There is so much we could write about this topic it would fill a book. However, a more in depth explanation of the SASR with videos can be found on the SASR Features Page and at http://www.sightreadingtest.com
5. Scoring & Feedback
From the beginning to the present day, accurate scoring and feedback has remained one of Piano Marvel’s most useful and powerful features. Remember earlier when we mentioned some of the challenges of traditional “old school” piano teaching methods? Scoring and feedback were at the heart of how Piano Marvel started changing the world of piano teaching.
Imagine this scenario. A student goes to a piano lesson. The teacher shows the student how to play a few songs, discusses some music theory, some technique, then sends the student on their way. By the time the student gets home, they have already forgotten some of what the teacher explained. By the time the student has their first “unguided practice” session, they have forgotten a lot of what the teacher taught them. I say “unguided practice” because a sheet of music cannot validate a student’s work as they practice. Now, the student know that they need to practice, but they are less motivated to do so because they are now unsure of how to practice what they were taught. They don’t want to spend a bunch of time practicing mistakes. So, they do what most of us do; They procrastinate! Now it’s the night before the student’s next lesson. Panic sets in because the student knows that they are not ready. They quickly rush through what they were supposed to be practicing all week with added note errors, rhythm mistakes and much more. The student nervously goes to their lesson filled with negative feelings about this whole piano thing. The resulting lesson leaves both student and teacher disappointed. The teacher then spends the majority of the time going over the same material they explained last time and, the cycle continues with only small incremental improvement from week to week.
This scenario had been played out over and over again for millions of people wanting to learn to play piano since the piano was invented. Teachers and students were stuck with these limitations just like an 18th century logger with an axe, waiting for the chainsaw to be invented. It’s not that traditional piano lessons didn’t work, it was just much harder and slower than it could be without modern tools.
When a student has access to fast, accurate scoring and feedback, they can quickly identify the mistakes they are making and correct them on their own and have total confidence that what they are practicing it right. Remember this. If you fix the practice session, you fix the piano lesson. Piano Marvel is not a piano app designed to replace piano teachers. It is designed to supercharge the practice session. Piano teachers and students have the amazing opportunity to replace the metaphorical axe with the faster, much more efficient metaphorical chainsaw.
6. Progress Tracking
The progress tracking built into Piano Marvel is easy to understand and helpful. Having a bird’s eye view of your accomplishments in the landscape of Piano Marvel’s Method, Technique, Sight Reading and music library sections motivates you to want to practice more and earn more achievements. You can monitor your own progress in a variety of ways.
- Practice Minutes: Every time you practice in Piano Marvel your minutes are added up. You can see this on the piano app dashboard when you log in to Piano Marvel.
- Practice Streaks: When you practice day after day consecutively, Piano Marvel will keep track of your day to day practice streaks. This is a great tool for staying motivated to be consistent with your practice.
- Method and Technique Trophies: When you practice in the Method or Technique sections of Piano Marvel, you can earn trophies for achieving high scores in each section. As you fill up the trophy case, you can see how far you have come and what your next challenge will be.
- SASR Score Chart: Your sight reading scores are saved and shown to you as a chart, making it easy to see how much your sight reading has improved over time.
- Slicings, Stars & Progress Circles: Songs are usually broken down into smaller sections called slicings. Passing off slicings will be represented by a star. As you pass off groups of stars, you can see a progress circle which shows you how much of the total song you have completed.
- Reports: There are many reports available to students and teachers in the piano app reports section.
7. Video Lessons
Piano Marvel’s video lessons are easy to find and follow inside the piano app. In fact, you can see the videos right inside of the music view for the specific song or section you are working on. Piano Marvel has thousands of videos to help guide students as they are working through all different sections. You can learn more about video lessons on the Piano Marvel video lessons page.
8. Music Slicing (Practicing Small Sections)
Briefly mentioned above, the slicings break songs down into smaller, easier sections for learning. We have customized the learning sections for each song in the same way a piano teacher would instruct you to practice them. This makes it possible to learn music that would otherwise be far too challenging. You can think of it like solving a math equation. First you want to simplify, break it down and solve.
9. Prepare Mode
Prepare Mode is one of those features that you didn’t know you needed until you tried it. Prepare Mode will wait for you to play the notes on screen as you work through a song. This allows you to work out coordination between left and right hand parts at a rate your brain is ready to handle. Once you have worked things out in Prepare Mode, you can use the Assess Mode to test yourself playing the song in real time. If you haven’t spent some quality time with Prepare Mode yet, you don’t know what you are missing!
10. Printable Sheet Music
Piano Marvel also allows you to print thousands of piano pieces from the method, technique and music library sections. The added convenience of being able to print of the sheet music makes it easy to share with others, print for performances, or take with you on the go. Having a Piano Marvel account gives you 24/7 access to an amazing piano music library which is a highly valuable feature all by its self.
But Wait, There’s More!
If you have spent any time with Piano Marvel’s piano app, you’ll know that there is much more to it than the ten features we have discussed here. In depth information on these features and more can be found at https://www.pianomarvel.com/feautres. You also have the option of using Piano Marvel’s web app for Mac & PC, or the piano app for iPad in the Apple App Store. This is an exciting time for all music learners and teachers. Piano teachers all over the world are discovering that a well designed piano app is not something to be afraid of, rather, it should be embraced. If you are a piano teacher, visit our For Teachers page to learn more about how Piano Marvel can supercharge your piano lessons.
We have made it our commitment to build the World’s best piano learning system. You can expect to see more music and even more features in the Piano Marvel system in the near future.
Start Learning Today!
- Learn piano faster
- Track your progress
- Access over 10,000 songs
- Thousands of lesson videos
- Print sheet music
- Reports for students & teachers
- Instant feedback & assessment
- Plus much more!