Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Practice Monkeys: Live Online Music Lessons (A REVIEW)

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I am always looking for new ways to get music education in our homeschool day. My kids have all tried various instruments with different settings and teachers, and a lot of mixed results. For the online setting we've done online piano lessons, guitar courses, and YouTube lessons for the ukulele. Those are great options, but none of them really helped my kids get far (they would fizzle out after a while). They didn't have that live and personal element or connection with a teacher that I think is so helpful when learning an instrument. With Practice Monkeys my son Alex was able to start learning a new instrument, the violin, all from the comfort of our own home, and he was able to interact with a teacher through live classes with the Family Subscription to Live Violin Classes.

Practice Monkeys Violin Lessons
Practice Monkeys has a real live teacher, Sarah Van Kleeck
Practice Monkeys Violin Lessons

As soon as we knew we would receive the Family Subscription to Live Violin Classes our first step was obtaining a violin, and making sure we had a good way to attend the live classes (a computer, or phone with a camera works great). We have a great music studio that our oldest daughter takes her violin lessons through, so we went there to rent a violin, and he was all set to go!

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Picking up his violin to start online lessons!

As soon as we walked in the door he was itching to try it out. He didn't waste anytime taking it out of the case and with his sister's help (she plays violin) he was able to get acquainted with it very quickly. She set it up for him to try out before we jumped right into the first video lesson.

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Thankfully the place where we rented his violin from had nice people to help us figure out what size he needed...

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But if you don't have that kind of help when buying a violin, Practice Monkeys has a video to help you get started with all the setup too!

Practice Monkeys Violin Lessons

At first it was pretty overwhelming. I am not sure if it is like this for all the levels, but since he started in Level 1 there was a lot of information to cover and wade through, and a fair amount when he moved to level 2 (with some of it repeating from level 1). There are many pre-recorded videos to watch (like the ones mentioned/pictured above), some for the parents, but many for the students who are doing the lessons. There are many basics covered in those videos. We started with those before we even got to the live classes. That gave him plenty to do in the beginning.

We started out hooking our laptop up to the big TV for those beginning videos, but for the live lessons he was usually in front of just the laptop so he could have the camera on him.

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Alex during a Live Level 1 class

The live classes are shceduled for 4 days a week, and if we couldn't attend the times available we could watch the recording. He definitely preferred the live class because it had interaction as you can see in the photo above. He could show her how his fingers were placed, and she would ask questions and he could answer her. She would call him by name, he loved that. Something I didn't expect for the first live class was camera shyness. He ran away the first time, so we had to practice being in front of the laptop camera offline for a bit. Then he loved it!

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Practice was encouraged 6 times a week, 4 times with Practice Monkeys, and 2 times for fun. We would attend or do the recorded classes as much as we could during the week, and then he would have a fun song practice. Alex would just do his own thing or we would put on some violin music and he would just try to play along and experiment.

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He picked up most of the 10 essential skills for level 1 pretty quickly, and it was finally time for him to move on. To move up in Practice Monkeys the student does an assessment with the teacher, Sarah Van Kleeck, one-on-one. We had to schedule a test time with her, and get on the computer with the camera on Alex as usual. She asked him to show her each skill, and he confidently went through each one. He passed up to level 2. It was a great victory.

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After passing his level 1 assessment he was so proud of himself.
He even got a little certificate to print up. Speaking of printables, there are printables too! Practice Monkeys is complete with forms for keeping track of weekly practice, coloring and practice sheets, and a skills and habits checklist. Pretty much everything you need except the violin are provided on the Practice Monkeys' website. It is also recommended to purchase a Suzuki Violin book according to your child's level too. We purchased the Suzuki book 1 for use with these online live classes.

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Overall, I think this is a great way to do music lessons, and a great program. Especially if you're looking to go outside of the house less, and you don't mind the interaction through the computer. I'm always looking for ways to stay home! Also, Sarah is so good with the children. She is so friendly and inviting that I found it hard to resist sitting down and just having a chat with her while Alex was doing his live class.

She has a great offer for review crew blog readers right now if you want to try out this great learning opportunity in your home to learn the violin. This deal expires February 1, 2019.

If you need some more insight before taking purchasing, there are more reviews by fellow crew mates. Just click on the banner below.


Online Music Education for the Violin {Practice Monkeys Reviews}
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