General tips about our software and method.
Many user tips we have picked up over the years concerning the use of the Soft Way to Mozart music and piano learning curriculum, explaining the specific approaches of the program as well as the philosophy of our system of piano and music education.
Click the questions below to expose the answer.
1. How long should I practice?
It is all very individual. You may practice as long as it is enjoyable for you, and as often as you can find the time for it.
On the other hand, the Soft Mozart piano teaching software intensifies the learning progress to such a degree that, even in a 15-minute lesson, the student can get sufficient training. We found that 30 minutes per lesson is quite an optimal length for an average child. As with any building of skills, for piano learning, it's better to practice more frequently, even if it's for a shorter amount time. If you practice twice a week, it is a big plus. If you practice for at least 15 minutes every day, the results are going to amaze you and your friends.
Dedicate some of your practice time to the theory games. All of our games are very important tools of improving your reading and performing skills, and training your musical ear. Also, switching from the song learning to the theory games brings a pleasant diversity to the student during the piano lesson.
2. What if my child is too small to finish the game?
Young children and the very beginners don't have to finish the whole game. The best way to benefit from our program is to play each theory game by time. Stop the game, when your child is still interested.
Don't forget to write the score down - how many points you got in this time. Next time, play the game for the exact same amount of time and write the score down again. Keep the same time for the same game for a month and monitor the increase of points. Don't forget to follow our lesson plans to switch the games accordingly.
Be prepared that children, while playing, will quickly tire at first. Our computer games, though having an entertaining appearance, demand intensive intellectual work from a player while training their musical skills. The more a child practices, the longer they can keep playing a game, and the better results they achieve. You will see it through years of using our program.
3. Do I have to keep records of my or my child's study?
Yes, you had better do it! Dedicate an empty notebook for writing the result of the piano practice. It will not only organize your child's or your music practice, but also will give you the full picture of the progress, and will be the best motivational tool ever!
Our program carefully counts every right move of yours, and you will be amazed how smart and successful you are at progressing from very simple to very advanced tasks. Whether you play a theory game or a song - the amount of "good points" and the time are always on display. Write this figures into your notebook. I recommend that even my very advanced students practice their songs with my software. Even a very skilled piano teacher can't always tell the difference between student's performances. Our program can! Of course, each time you try, if you keep your score up and time down - you have strong and obvious progress.
4. What is the best way to keep my records?
I use my program every day in my classroom and here are some important tips I learned with my practice.
When you practice games, the most important information is:
The name of the game you practice,
Amount of points.
The best way to control the progress made while playing each game is to keep records of the game at the same place. I'd dedicate a page or two for each game and whenever I play the game I'd add a record about it and compare this record with the previous one.
Dedicate a page or two for your song. Write the title of the song on the top of the page, the name of composer, and the book, where this song came from. Write the date. After the date, write results of your practice.
To do it, I use the following abbreviations:
R1 - Right Hand, 1st representation ( vertical with pictures)
R2 - Right Hand, 2nd representation ( vertical with no pictures)
R3 - Right Hand, 3rd representation ( horizontal with pictures)
R4 - Right Hand, 4th representation (horizontal without pictures)
R5 - Right Hand, 5th representation (black and white )
R6 - Right Hand, 6th representation (black and white)
L1 - L6 Left hand (6 different representations)
P1 - P6 Both hands (6 different representations)
R1H - R6H Hiding ( for memorization) the Right hand
L1H - L6H - Hiding (for memorization) the Left hand
P1H - P6H - Hiding (for memorization) both hands
Usually I ask my students play one thing 2 times, and compare the numbers. It is always very motivating to see how you're progressing during your practice.
For example, if my student is learning the song ODE TO JOY by L. Beethoven, the working sheet will look like this:
L. Beethoven ODE TO JOY (Introductory Songs)
7th of February 2004
Points / Time
R1 20 / 22 , 35 / 20
L1 15 / 17 , 20 / 10
P1 30 / 34, 40 / 25
If the number of points is growing and the number in the "time" section decreasing - you are making strong and definite progress.
After the student quite fluently plays the song, it is time to learn how to play the right hand, left hand, and then both hands by heart. After choosing your hand, press H. The musical notes of the hand to play will be hidden. For the right hand, the result record will be:
Points / Time
R1H___ ___ , ___ ___
5. What order of your games would you suggest for the best results?
Not all of the theory games are designed for very young (2-3 year old) children. Only the Note Alphabet, Guess Key and Note Duration games can be fully taken on by young kids. But, due to the shorter attention span at that age, it will be enough material to study. With my 2-3 year old students, I play all three games almost every lesson, 5-10 minutes every game . However, I wouldn't be surprised if your little fellows were interested in all of the other games of my program. Don't hesitate to expose the children to "difficult" material, as long as it is interesting to them. It will create patterns in their mind and will prepare them for later learning.
For everyone from 5 years old and up, I recommend to play a game for a longer time - 15-30 minutes. In my practice, I play with children one game for a month, to master the game before starting the next one. After several months, children will return to the same game to refresh their skills, and achieve a higher game level.
The first three games are suited for students of all ages, beginning from 2-year-old children.
1. Guess key builds the essential skills needed to find any key on the piano. At the beginning, give a child freedom how to find and play the correct notes. Later, ask the child to play with only one hand at a time, left or right, using all fingers. An advanced student may be asked to play without looking at the piano keyboard. You may conduct an advanced ear training by asking the student to find the correct piano key only by a note sound, without looking at the computer display.
2. Note duration teaches measurement of the music notes and rhythm. After a student has learned how to correctly play durations of different notes, they should try to follow the rhythm of songs they play.
3. Note Alphabet teaches the order of the music notes and piano keys forward and backwards.
The next three games are better suited for all students after the age of five years old.
4. Fruit lines teaches the note names for all of the Music Staff lines. Better to be studied when you can make at least 200-300 points on the Note Alphabet.
5. Treble Staff Puzzle teaches the correspondence of music note names with the lines of the Treble Staff. Better to be studied when you make at least 200-300 on Fruit Lines.
6. Bass Staff Puzzle teaches the correspondence of music note names with the lines of the Base Staff. Better to be studied when you make at least 200-300 on Fruit Lines.
6. What order of songs would you suggest for the best results?
I know how tempting it is to start with a song you've always wanted to learn. Playing an advanced song takes a lot of skills and technique. You ought to build them up with the simple songs first. If it is very hard for you to play the song you wish to learn with both hands at least by the second lesson, it means that you are not ready for this song yet. Pick something "your size" and don't get upset. The more songs you learn - the better it is for your development.
If you have never played piano before, I would suggest that you start with the Introductory Songs. Play all of the song from this album, and try to memorize them.
For children before 5 years old, continue with songs from Nursery Songs Primer and Favorite Classics Primer. The student must learn how to fluently play 3-4 songs from each album, and memorize some of them to move to the next level.
For older children and adults, continue straight with Nursery Songs 1st level, and Favorite Classics 1st level. If you have easily learned 3-4 songs from each of these albums, both reading and playing by heart, you may choose more advanced songs from our extended Song Library. It is a very effective approach to give a student, even a small child, to choose the song they would like to play. Playing a favorite song brings joy, and gives the student motivation to learn it faster and better.
If you picked a song and can play it with two hands on the first try - most likely it is too easy for you. You still may keep practicing it by playing on the more advanced levels of the music score presentation ( 4-6), or you may try to memorize it (by pressing the computer key H - "Hide").
Starting with Version 2_6 of Soft Mozart® package the albums in Gentle Piano™ module are not only alphabetically arranged but also have corresponding level of difficulty. You can download and use the entire song list ordered by level of dificulty.
7. What procedure would you recommend for learning a song?
Start the Gentle Piano game, and choose a song to practice. Before you start practicing, press the computer key S (sound) to hear the song. The sound of the song will activate all your musical skills, especially your musical ear and memory, and convert the piano practice to a consciously creative process instead of a mechanical drill. You may pre-listen to this song even twice or more times if you've never heard it before.
Start to play the song with the left hand (press L), with the most comfortable for you music score representation. For beginners, it will be the 1st representation (press 1), for more advanced students it may be 3rd, 5th or even 6th representation (press 3, 5 or 6). Play the song 3-6 times, gradually increasing the music score representation if you experienced no difficulty playing the song using the previous score representation. With small children before 5-years old, you may stay for a long time with 1st representation, and you don't usually go higher than the 4th representation. If you have practiced enough, you may hide the music notes (press L, and then H), and try to play the left hand by memory. For playing by memory, you may return to a more comfortable score representation.
Play the song 3-6 times with the right hand (press R), beginning from the most comfortable music score representation, and gradually increasing this representation. While practicing, we recommend that you sing the music note names you are playing for memorizing the song, and training your music ear. After enough practice, you may hide the music notes (by pressing R, and then H) and try to play the right part of the song by heart.
Play the song 3-6 times with pair of hands (press P), beginning from the most comfortable music score representation, and gradually increasing this representation. After enough practice, try to memorize the song by hiding all the notes by pressing P, and then H. If you dedicated the entire lesson to the song memorization, we recommend, before playing by heart, to play the song several times by reading it.
If your song is too long or difficult, select different parts of this song, and learn them as independent songs. After you have learned all the parts, try to play and learn the song as a whole.
8. How to learn to pick the right chords to a melody?
All the music based on the three chord functions: Tonica, Dominant and Subdominant. Tonica is the most stable chord, a "center" of gravity and all other chords need to by "resolved" with this chord at least at the end of any composition. Dominant is the most "unstable" chord and it appears most of the time right before Tonica, because it needs to be "resolved" the most. Subdominant is the semi "unstable" chord. In music compositions it usually comes between Tonica and Dominant.
Our program is ideally suited for students and music lovers to help them to learn how to play this chords on the piano by ear, following different melodies.
Start the Gentle Piano™ program. Select one of the Songs from Solfeggio and Chords album (available in full version only). Use 1st level for beginners, or 2nd level for more advanced students. In these songs, the left hand part consists of basic chords accompanying the melody in particular music key. Practice all the songs from the selected song book before moving to another book with a different music key.
Instructions for the very beginners:
- Pick a song, preferably the one the student has previously learned how to sing on Solfeggio
- Select to play the left hand (press L), and choose a music note representation by pressing 1-6. Choose the 1st or 3rd representation in case the student is having difficulties with music sight reading, or choose 2nd, 4th, 5th or 6th (advanced).
- Ask the student to play the song on the piano until she would learn how to play chords without mistakes.
- Hide the music notes for the left hand (press L and then H), and ask the student to play the chords in the left hand by heart
Instructions for the more advanced beginners:
- Chose a new song.
- Press S to listen to it.
- Choose the left hand by pressing L, and then H to hide the music notes, and ask the student to play chords intuitively.
- Check the game score with the ideal in the left corner of your computer monitor.
9. How to learn to sight-read music with ‘Soft Way to Mozart’?
Besides our theory games which develop particular reading skills of the student, and playing and memorizing songs with the Gentle Piano game, gradually increasing the music score representation, you can use following effective methods to train the reading skills of advanced students:
- Start the Gentle Piano program. Ask a student to read and play a song from an album of a much easier level than the current level of the student, with one or both hands, using the 2nd, 4th, 5th or 6th music score representation (press P, L or R, and then 2, 4, 5 or 6). The student must read and play this song without first hearing it.
- Listen to the song (press S).
- Ask the student to play each time twice and compare the score.
- Try to keep student on 2nd presentation as long as he will form clear understanding how piano keys and lines and spaces are connected.
- In case if sight-reading is way too challenging, cut smaller section of the piece.
The choice of the music staff representation depends on the age and level of the student. If student experiences difficulties, you may switch to the easier level, or even to 3rd representation to see the note name symbols.