Why YOU Should Use Piano Marvel at Home – and How to Get it Set Up

In just one week of using Piano Marvel in our Piano Academy lessons, we’re seeing awesome results! Here are just a few examples:

  • One very active 6-year old boy who normally can’t wait to get to the next part of his lesson asked more than once, “Why can’t I keep practicing?”
  • One of our Honors students used Piano Marvel to take her practicing to the next level and played her sonatina with near-perfect notes and rhythms
  • A teenage boy learned and memorized the first section of his new Gershwin prelude in just TEN minutes during his lesson
  • At her fourth lesson (yep, only a month into learning to play the piano!) one seven-year-old girl successfully learned half of her first hands-together piece!

So how exactly does the program work? Piano Marvel is an app available for laptops and tablets (both iOS and Windows). Once the laptop or tablet is connected to a digital keyboard (more on that below), a student can play any of the thousands of pieces and exercises in Piano Marvel and get instant feedback. As soon as you finish an exercise or piece, you get a score – and a bronze, silver or gold trophy for a high score! While that’s the basic idea behind the software, here are some of the features that make it so awesome:

  • Scores and trophies push students to keep going until they get a perfect score – much like video games do!
  • Piano Marvel allows students to break up each song into small sections and practice hands separately at slower tempos, helping them develop good practice habits and learn music more quickly
  • Mistakes are instantly visible (correct notes are marked in green and errors marked in red) so students don’t continue to practice wrong notes and rhythms
  • Video tutorials are included with many of the pieces to help students get the “big picture” vision of their music from the start
  • The Piano Marvel library includes technical exercises, recital pieces, sightreading practice and tests, and ear training
  • Piano Marvel tracks each student’s progress with stars, trophies, and reports to help both students and teachers see what they have worked on

So here’s what you need to set it up:

A working Internet connection. Right now, Piano Marvel is an online program (but we hear there’s an offline version coming sometime in the future).

An active Piano Marvel Account. You can use your own email address to set up an account or we can make one for you. You’ll then use your account information to sign into Piano Marvel from home or at lessons. Piano Marvel won’t send you spam – just a verification email and, if you sign up for them, helpful tips on how to use the software. Because you have to verify the account, a child’s school email that can’t receive outside mail won’t work. If a young child doesn’t have their own email address, they can use a parent’s; but be aware that each student needs their own account, so two siblings can’t use the same email.

A digital piano/keyboard. This keyboard is meant to supplement, NOT replace, practicing on an acoustic piano or keyboard with weighted keys, so you don’t have to go crazy if you don’t already have a digital piano! There is a huge range of options here, but if you’re looking for something small and portable, we recommend this Cassio piano available at both Target and Costco or this Yamaha keyboard.

A MIDI connector cable. The type of cord you’ll need here depends on your digital piano, but it should be one of these: a MIDI Interface Cable (we love this one, but there are less expensive options), a USB Transfer Cable (also known as a printer cable), or in some cases a USB A to A male cable like this one. If you’re using a tablet, you may also need an adapter (like this one for the iPad 4) so that you can connect it to the USB end of the cable. Take a look at your keyboard or ask an expert as a music store which one will work for you!

A stereo breakout cable or an audio mixing cable (again depending on your keyboard) if you want to be able to use Piano Marvel with headphones. This cable will send the sound from your laptop or tablet through your keyboard, so you can hear both at the same time.

Once you’ve got all the materials, it’s time to get your account set up! Go to pianomarvel.com, click “Launch App Now” and download the app to your laptop/tablet. Once the app is downloaded, you can use your account information to log on and get practicing!

While we’ll be using Piano Marvel in the lesson rooms weekly, it has a much greater effect when used regularly at home. So don’t take our word for it – try it yourself. We think you’ll be pretty amazed by how quickly your child learns and how excited they are to practice!