Piano Wizard Academy Training Session 3

In this session we are going to talk about Piano Wizard™ itself – what it is, what it does, and why it works.  In order for anyone to sell the product they should have a clear understanding of the product itself.  I would say that goes for just about anything one is selling.

The core of Piano Wizard Academy™ is the game itself  – our Piano Wizard™ software.  The very essence of the game itself is music.

What is music?

Ever find yourself humming a song, or hearing a song in your head?  Sometimes we find ourselves singing the same song over and over all day long, even if we can’t stand the song!  The fact is, music is just a part of us.  But what exactly is music?  Looking the word up in a dictionary, the first definition is:

“An art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color.”   Have you ever seen “color” in tradional sheet music?  I looks black and white to me.

We are exposed to music almost as early as we are conceived.  We can feel and hear it in the womb. Many of us on our day of birth can hear Mom singing, “Rock-a-bye-baby.”  That turns to “Happy Birthday” every single year after that.  Everyone has certain songs that invoke strong memories from the past.  How about that special wedding song?

Music can make us laugh, and it can make us cry. Music is a part of our soul.  Music education is important to our growth. It helps our brains process information better. Students involved in music get higher grades in Math and other subjects.  They do better on their SAT scores. It improves self-esteem and social skills. Everyone would love to play an instrument. Who wouldn’t love to walk over to the piano at a party and be the life of the party?

Music is a birthright.

We are all capable of learning and mastering it.  So the question is: why don’t we?  The answer is simple: we do not fail the system; the system fails us.

The universal language of music notation – a visual interpretation of what we call “Music Theory.”   It’s a colorless system of dots, dashes, circles, lines and other hieroglyphics that is richly layered with centuries of historical evolution and meaning.

What would an artist like Stevie Wonder say if he saw this?  Well the first thing he would say is “My goodness, I can see!”  In the real world though, it is useless to him.  In fact, he doesn’t need it.  But he can still play the piano…and play it quite well. When you think of piano lessons, what are the first things that come to mind?  Discipline, hard work, boring songs, theory and more theory, practice, pain?

The preferred method of teaching piano is to immediately introduce theory and notation, marking learning far more difficult than it needs to be.  That is why there is such a high failure rate for most of us in learning to play music. Focusing on the translation of notation as a first step is difficult for most of us and it is one of the contributing factors making practicing painful and unenjoyable.

There are also the physical elements to playing piano, or any instrument for that matter, such as posture, hand positioning and fingering.  Different teachers may teach different techniques different ways, each professing to use the best method out there.  But we need to be aware that these are not absolutes.  If they were, someone with a missing finger on their right hand would never be able to play “correctly.”  What if a child’s fingers were just too small?  If they sought alternative fingering to play the part, are they playing wrong?  There had to be a better way.

Well, is there really a better way?

We like to call Piano Wizard “training wheels for the piano.” It’s easy enough for a 3 year old, yet challenging enough for an adult. We make music child’s play by introducing a method that is essentially “learning for the rest us.”  With Piano Wizard, notation is a next step instead of a first step.

Don’t be misled by the simplicity of the game, or the fact that it is a game.  Through a dynamic 4-step progressive learning method, we have cracked the code that has led millions down a fruitless road to frustration.  Now the enjoyment and pleasure of playing music, which was once a luxury for those that were considered “gifted” is now available for everyone.  The Piano Wizard Academy introduces step 5 which is the transition to a real piano.

Did you ever have a difficult time understanding a concept?  Perhaps someone told you a joke and you didn’t get it.  But after it was explained to you, suddenly something clicks in your head and you exclaim, “Oh, I get it”.  That’s what Piano Wizard is to music – helps people “get it”.

Our game prepares players to embrace traditional teaching methods. It becomes an effortless escape into the world of music by transforming practice into a game.  Players experience the joy of music by actually playing music on the piano before being exposed to musical notation. To understand the game and our methodology, one needs to understand why so many fail.

Music notation is somewhat like the Chinese language.  Even though the alphabet as a writing system is more efficient, the ideograms have almost 5000 years of “extra meaning” embedded in them; cultural depth that an alphabet cannot possibly convey; a historical treasure that as inefficient and cumbersome as it is has too much value to discard.

For example, the character of a Mother and Child together has a third meaning, “good“.  How can those four letters express that level of “good“?  They cannot, and something fundamental like the importance of family is lost when you strip away the characters.  Repeat that times thousands of characters and combinations.  Musical notation is like that.

Picture this scene.  Back in the 8th century there were two Monks, Thelonius and Chip.  They were bored. After all, what do Monks do?  They don’t talk a lot, some don’t talk at all.  They do pray a lot, eat together, and enjoy chanting.

One day, Theolonius said to Chip that it was really hard teaching the guys these chants.  I wish there was a better way.  That gave Chip an idea.  They got together with a few fellow Monks (Alvin, Simon, Theodore?) and after a few weeks of hard work had come out with something that became the pre-cursor to music notation.

Ok, we too poetic license on this story for dramatization…or comedic effect. We don’t know his or her names and there is no one person connected to this story. But the basics of this story are true. Monks used these drawings of dots and strokes over text as a simple way to show a 5-note scale and conduct Gregorian chant.  In this pre-electronics age, this ancient form of music notation became a way to pass on and build on each other’s musical genius.

This simple system began to evolve over the years.  Guido Aretinus (better known as Guido of Arezzo) is considered the inventor of modern music notation.  Guido invented a staff with 4 lines, which was sufficient at the time. But the evolution continued long after Guido.

Each new generation and age had new dimensions. From the invention of the organ, then the harpsichord, came a complete retuning in the Renaissance and Baroque eras: 12 equal half steps instead of a 5-note scale. Then came the piano…the GRAND piano.  The mother of all instruments.  We experienced a complete “shift” in musical grammar and form in the Classical age.

From the Romantic to the Impressionist eras we experienced a complete disregard of those musical forms and harmonic rules. Musical notation wasn’t discarded, it just continued to become more and more complex, moving farther and farther away from its initial simplicity. It reached a point where it was more of an actual barrier to learning music than an aid, much like Chinese characters are barriers to learning the spoken language.

No one in China learns Chinese by these abstract characters.  They learn to speak the language from assimilation and imitation – or just doing first – and then they learn how the language they are already fluent in is represented.
It is no different than any other language…we all learn to speak first before studying the language in school. With Piano Wizard, students start with playing real music, and only then go on to the next levels that reveal to them how music notation represents the music they already know how to play…following a logical progression using our natural sequence of language acquisition.

How old do you think you were when you began speaking your first words — probably within your first year of life?  And did you learn those words by attending a language class first?   No – everyone learns their spoken language by interaction with parents, siblings, and others, emulating and imitating what is said and done. This provides historical and indisputable evidence proving that human beings learn their spoken languages naturally, NOT by learning the technical elements first or by being in a classroom.

How difficult is it to learn a second language?  If your parents were bi-lingual, it was easy and natural, but if not, it’s hard.

Music is about hitting the right note at the right time

Music is a language. It’s probably the easiest language on the planet.  It’s certainly easier than English, Chinese or even Klingon. It only uses the letter A – G. In its simplest form, the piano is 7 white keys and 5 black keys that just repeat themselves.

The game is based on the philosophies of two of our greatest pianists: Ludwig Von Beethoven and Franz Liszt.  When people asked Beethoven how he does it, he would say, “I simply hit the right note at the right time. Liszt’s philosophy can be put into this old cliché: “If you want to learn how to play piano, you’ve got to play piano“.

A kindergartner can understand these concepts.  So why can’t we all play piano?  Why can’t we all read music?  Why do so many fail or give up…not just at piano, and any instrument…or at music in general?

Just to start, the traditional teaching method is backwards, it’s unnatural, it’s complicated, and contrary to the way we naturally learn.  Practice is hard and boring, and there is very little instant gratification.

We teach music and piano as if we were sending a child to 4th grade English before allowing them to speak.  When looking at it from this perspective, any reasonable person would have to say it does not make any sense.  Yes, there are musical prodigies and gifted students of the art, but all it means is that these people have the ability to absorb this information regardless of how it’s being presented to them.  And that’s a small population.

So what about the rest of us? We give up, and do something else.  Practice is hard and laborious.  Most kids would rather play with their Xboxes and Playstations.  Think back to when you learned how to ride a bike.  Did you sit down and read a manual?  Of course not.  You got on that bike and learned.  Sure you fell down a few times and scraped your knees, but after a little practice, it became second nature.

Our premise

At Music Wizard Group, we believe that we ALL have the natural ability to learn the language of music just as easily as we learn our spoken language… which is by doing!   And we have found the solution with Piano Wizard Academy.