Learn Piano In 30 Days: Rachel James
Apart from the site name and the headline, “Learn Piano In 30 Days”, two other things caught my attention.
The first was “This Revolutionary step-by-step learning method slashes your learning time…and works like magic… even if you’ve never played an instrument in your life!“
The second was “$1 for 14 day trial, 60 day Money Back Guarantee“
I had to try it, didn’t I?
So, what was my impression?
Mmm! Mixed, is the word. Let’s start with the good.
There is TONS of stuff on this site. And it is beautifully laid out. Here is the Home Page after logging in. Utterly elegant.
The obvious place to start is the first icon “The Training Videos”, which leads to another page, equally well presented
The videos are short (between 4 and 8 minutes). This confused me somewhat. A 4 minute lesson is not a serious day’s training, and the lesson content was such that I certainly would NOT want to do them as slowly as just one per day.
The first 7 lessons took less than 40 minutes, so that was week one dealt with, before lunch, on day one. I did the next 7, which took about the same length of time, in the afternoon. That’s two weeks done in under 90 minutes.
The next day I completed the rest of the lessons. The total lesson run time was just under 2.5 hours. I’d say that 2.5 hours is quality content for a 2-day training.
Sadly, I found the videos to be very light on content. That’s hardly surprising considering their brevity. How much can you actually cover in 4 minutes?
The presenter, Rachel James, is delightful but she gives a strong impression of reading the lessons from a text book that she found in the library yesterday. The majority of the time she sits at the piano and talks (reads!) to camera.
At times she is even facing away from the camera while she scrabbles through tracts like a railway station announcer.
At no time was I ever shown how the keyboard was laid out; how to find out which key is which; how to play a note or combination of notes. That’s a major problem to someone who arrived here wanting to learn how to play.
There was a lot of talk about “scales”, “basic C Major”, “Chromatic scale”, “intervals”, “staff”, “key signatures”, “majors and minors”, “inversions” etc – which would be a good thing – but they are just words rattled off without explanation and with NOT ONE SINGLE PICTURE, or sketch, or drawing, to give these terms any kind of meaning or significance or relevance.
Rachel did say “review the visuals”, but there were none to review. I don’t know what I missed, but I sure missed something.
By the end of Day/Lesson 4 I was close to being convinced that the topic was far too complicated for my simple brain, and that playing a piano was never going to happen for me.
At Day/Lesson 4? In less than 30 minutes?
And I almost quit at Day/Lesson 14. I actually considered getting my $1 refunded. That fact alone is not a good sign.
It was around that point that I decided to see if the forum had any further help.
It threw a “404 – Page Not Found”. Not a great start. So I clicked the “Support” link.
It didn’t go anywhere.
Likewise the “Helpdesk” link.
Fortunately there is “Live Chat”.
Except that it isn’t. It simply records your input and sends someone an email.
And I’m still waiting for a response.
Likewise many of the links in the footer menu don’t actually go where they say they will go.
That “pretty front end presentation” that I found so attractive? It’s starting to wear a bit thin.
All of this would normally have me backing away. Very swiftly.
But there has obviously been a lot of love poured into the site, and the intention looks honorable, so I’m hoping this is “early days” for them, and that fixes are in hand. Watch this space.
I did stick with it right through to Day/Lesson 30. I even got past the shock recommendation (Day/Lesson 29) to “find an online teacher”. Excuse me? I thought that’s what I came here for.
My Summary And Conclusion
For $1 it’s worth a visit.
You can romp through the 30 basic lessons in a couple of days, easily within the 14-day trial period, and well within the 60 day Money Back period. So there’s nothing to lose.
By the time you get there I will, hopefully, have been in contact with the owner and had the wonky bits sorted out.
At Day/Lesson 14 I still had not actually played anything. When you look at the other offerings I’ve reviewed on this page you will realise that this is a major disappointment. All the other courses had me playing by day 3 at the latest.
In Day/Lesson 20 there was something of a breakthrough – an actual view of both a sheet of music AND the keyboard, AND an actual tune being played.
Looking back, this is still under 2 hours of video instruction. And I did only sign up the previous day.
That’s pretty darn good, when all’s said and done.
And it was around Day/Lesson 20 that Rachel really began to “come alive”, bright eyed, animated, chatty, enthusiastic. The piano is clearly something she really loves.
Over the years I have met many super-skilled and enthusiastic professionals who cannot teach to save their lives. Rachel has made a good shot at this, and her teaching skills will improve, I’m sure. Right now I just love to watch her play, and savour the sounds she produces. That’s inspiration enough in its own right.
By the time I got to Day/Lesson 30 I was feeling much more reassured. The entire “30 day” program was under 2.5 hours, and I feel that there cannot be serious meaning in one 4 minute lesson being “a day” of instruction. I’m going to have to dig a bit deeper. I’ve got to have missed something critical.
I will stick with it a bit longer, in the hope that the end result will be a more solid musical experience. I’ll update this review if I see that it is warranted. Right now I’m beginning to feel that my $1 was well spent.
I can now explore the rest of the site. I already know that there is a VAST library of sheet music and audio files. That alone is worth hundreds of dollars. I might be here a while.
There are four other courses included in this package. I’m working my way through them while I still have my “14 day trial”. They are:-
- Becoming a Better Pianist:
- 28 lessons, including lessons on writing your own songs
- I found this section to be just pure joy being in Rachel’s company
- This is her real forte, and I’m glad I battled my way through to here.
- Becoming A Master Pianist:
- 25 lessons, I’ve not had time to review just yet
- Play Piano By Ear:
- 21 lessons, also not had time to review just yet
- Genre Specific Training:
- 21 lessons I’ve not had time to review just yet
- It is tagged “Not available until your 4th month of membership” but I was not denied access. That might be because I’m still in my “14 day trial”, I don’t know for sure.
Membership from the end of the trial period is $27 a month. I pay more than that for an hour with a teacher. If that’s what it costs me to spend an hour with Rachel then I think I’m hooked. I suspect I might just still be here in 6 months time.
Add to that, I get 30 new songs every month. Bought commercially these would cost me $2-$3 each. I’m too early in my learning curve to make full use of 30 songs a month. It takes me longer than that to learn just one. But I’m getting quicker …
Meanwhile, take a squint for yourself. Let me know what you think.