Monday, January 5, 2009

Review: Kinderbach

What's the one thing that Logan is looking forward to in our new house? Is it the new bedroom theme I've promised him--something Americana-ish, as befitting his love of the presidency and all things patriotic? Is it a dedicated playspace that won't be used for any other purpose? Is it a backyard to call his own?

No. It's a piano.

We flirted with buying a piano a year ago, when Jo mentioned a (fleeting) interest in learning something musical. We looked on craig's list and fell in love with any number of beautiful old pianos that would have never fit in our living room. When Jo passed out of the phase, we quit looking. But little did we know that the seed had been sown; Logan, my most creative child, was smitten by the idea that we might pony up the cash for music lessons.

I don't invest lots of time, effort or money in interests that may not pan out. I know far too many parents who have closets full of discarded ballet leotards and karate gis that saw the light of day for four months of usage to follow that train. Instead, I usually do some preliminary research, identify resources and throw the ball back into the court of the child who expressed an interest in whatever the hobby or sport might be. Then I let them chew on the information and see what becomes of it. Sometimes it grows into a passion--Jo and her 4-H involvement is a great example. Other times, the flame flickers--such was the case with Atticus and his brief stint in Archery, which cost me all of $2 thanks to a great 4-H club that was willing to let him try it on for size.

But Logan is getting his piano. I've decided that the passion is true and worthy of the investment in time and money that any real spark of curiosity should receive. Here's how I know:

Logan has spent the past few months using an online tutorial called Kinderbach. Designed for much younger children (preschoolers are their prime audience) this website offers video lessons (DVDs are available if you'd prefer) in keyboard familiarity, musical terms, hand positions, musical notes, and simple songs. Miss Karri--the teacher--is the epitome of the sunshiney, glowing preschool music teacher. There are characters to help you remember key concepts and a whole host of games and coloring sheets to keep it fun.

Did I mention that it's far cheaper than music lessons? Seriously, check it out. While such things are regional, I highly suspect that Kinderbach will be cheaper for most people than those dreaded mommy-and-me circle time sessions that many firstborns (mine included) are forced to attend. All you need is a cheap keyboard (check craig's list) and internet connection.

Logan persevered through much of the material, barely groaning when he was invited to participate in another finger-play session designed to cement information. He learned far more than I'd anticipated from a preschool program. He even liked (some) of it.

When asked if he would rate the site favorably, he gave it two thumbs up with one caveat--"For little kids, Mom. Make sure you tell them it's really for little kids."

So there you have it. Logan says it's worthwhile ... and it's too young for him. So it's on to the real deal for my boy.

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