The Piano System is a DVD-based, full-featured piano learning package. It’s especially targeted to those who desire to play by ear. It’s exceptionally produced and taught, and makes a fine addition to any musician’s library. The Piano System was published by Railroad Media, a fast-growing production company that specializes in producing high-quality music educational courses. They are based out of British Columbia in Canada.
Doing the teaching is Nate Bosch, an extremely accomplished Canadian pianist. He does work as a studio musician working with a wide variety of musical artists, runs piano workshops and seminars, and leads a band called Blue Rain. If interested, you can hear some of their music at CDBaby.
Nate is a gifted piano instructor and possesses a very friendly teaching style, is articulate, concise and is easy to understand. As I went through the DVDs I especially enjoyed listening to him play his own compositions and renditions of well-known songs. When this chap puts out a solo piano recording I would love to own a copy. Believe me, this guy is good.
Here’s what you get with The Piano System:
Piano Lesson DVDs: The bulk of the course material is in the 3 main DVDs which are divided into 3 skill levels: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. The beginner DVD covers a lot of ground fast and really gets you grounded not only in the essential piano skills and knowledge but theory as well.
It’s attractively priced, has excellent teaching, incredible production values, and a great instructor in Nate Bosch. Two thumbs up.
The intermediate DVD continues where the first leaves off, but soon moves into the exercises that are well-outlined in one of two coil-bound workbooks. These exercises are primarily scales and chord progressions. To be honest, we were a tad disappointed that such a significant amount of time on the second DVD was devoted to the repetition of scales and chord progressions. While I agree that there needs to be that focus for any piano player that wishes to play by ear, I personally would have instead implemented less repetition and possibly a more pragmatic approach.
DVD #3 deals with specific genre-playing and opens up more stylistic options for the advanced pianist.
Play-Along Package: Over 3 hours of the course is wrapped up in 2 DVDs that together walk you through 16 different songs for you to play along to. All songs are first performed live by Nate Bosch’s band Blue Rain (performance version), analyzed and explained by Nate (how to play version), then played through once more in the multi-angle version. Once you think you’ve mastered any particular song you can play with the audio CD version that leaves out the piano but includes the vocals and other instrumentation. This is by far the best (and most fun) way to practice your new-found skills! I had to admit the live performances from Blue Rain adds a really unique element to the course. The studio recording is definitely “music video” quality. I guess you could consider the 16 music videos a free bonus on top of everything else!
In addition to the play-along DVDs and CDs, there is also a separate workbook that contains the chording and notation for all 16 songs in the play-along package.
Bonus DVD: While some of the lesson material is repeated in the main course, the bonus “12 Steps” DVD that comes with The Piano System package contains some pretty important beginner piano lessons. This 48-minute disc makes for a good introduction to the piano for those just starting out.
One of the most notable (see what we did there) and useful learning aids present in the DVDs is the virtual keyboard that is present virtually all the time. What this does is allow you to see exactly what notes Nate is playing on the keyboard in real-time. In fact, I don’t think it would be possible for The Piano System to be as effective as it is without this kind of an technological aid. (See screenshots for a better look)
Of all piano courses we’ve reviewed, The Piano System has the best video footage in terms of quality. All of their lesson footage was shot and edited in high definition. You can definitely see a difference when compared to other cheaper video courses out there.
The course was designed as a free-form home-study course and doesn’t come with a formal study or exercise schedule so you’ll have to come up with that yourself. It’s important therefore to realize that The Piano System is definitely not the type of course you can just rush through. Piano mastery doesn’t come through osmosis or just by watching others play. It comes through practice, patience, and proper technique. The trick is to make the process a pleasant and rewarding experience, and The Piano System does a pretty good job at that.
Study Tip: Learning to play the piano in front of a television or computer screen can be difficult when you can’t play along with the exercises. If all you have in your home is an upright or grand piano it will be a bit harder to follow along with the DVD lessons, but they should still work for you. It just won’t be as convenient. It may be worth your while to try to find a full-size portable keyboard to play along with.
Railroad Media provides unlimited phone and email support as a free bonus to customers of The Piano System. Their toll-free phone number and support email address is listed on their website.
You can purchase The Piano System via PayPal and major credit cards (including American Express). If you’re on a budget you may want to take advantage of 3 and 5 month payment plans available on their site. You do end up paying approx. $3.00 extra per month however, if you choose this option.
International students can rejoice in the fact that not only do they offer international shipping but all their DVDs are region-free, meaning they can be played on any DVD player worldwide.
Those that like a safety net on their online purchases will be pleased to know that The Piano System has a 90-day 100% money-back guarantee which is more than enough time for you to evaluate the course. If you are dissatisfied for any reason you can simply return your copy to Railroad Media and they will issue a prompt refund.
The Piano System vs. Learn and Master Piano
Some people might want to compare Learn and Master Piano with The Piano System. There actually is a lot to like about both programs. In our opinion, The Piano System is a little better produced, is a couple dollars cheaper, and is a better choice for people who are trying to focus on learning to play by ear. Learn and Master Piano on the other hand has more lessons, a slight edge in terms of value and makes it easier for beginners with a more gradual learning pace. Regardless, both courses make great choices for learning piano, but those are considerations to keep in mind.
In summary, The Piano System is a great buy for self-motivated pianists that want to learn to play by ear and are ambitious and self-directed. It’s attractively priced, has excellent teaching, incredible production values, and a great instructor in Nate Bosch. Two thumbs up.Official Piano System Website
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Publisher: Railroad Media Inc.
Regular Price: $147.00
Suitable For: Beginners-IntermediatesWebsite Compare
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