Review-Practice Monkeys

18 Nov

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

In August, we received the opportunity to join Practice Monkeys for three months and check it out.

Practice Monkeys offers a monthly subscription for online classes in violin, piano, cello, and self-defense. A single subscription for any one instrument or self-defense covers your entire family.

The music classes employ the Suzuki method, and completing any Practice Monkey program prepares students to study that instrument at the college level.

The self-defense classes employ the Gracie jiujitsu method, and completing the program will provide an approximate blue belt level in Brazilian jiujitsu.

Here is how Practice Monkeys works:

Students start with a one-on-one online assessment with their instructor to determine their level of expertise.

Once assigned to a level, students log in to Zoom for fifteen minute lessons four times per week. If a student is unable to make a session, there are three months of recorded sessions available on the website.

Students are also expected to practice 15-20 minutes on their own time.

Several resources are provided for this purpose. There is a level checklist that students can follow including what to practice, how to practice, videos, and a list of what needs to be completed to move up to the next level. There are also recordings students can listen to, suggestions for music to listen to, and more.

So, I have a lot of thoughts on this program.

First off, in all of our years of homeschooling, we have never done any type of live class. My daughter was definitely nervous, and I was unsure we would be able to make our time slot every day.

But, the entire process has been extremely simple.

The time slots are early afternoon, which has been perfect for us because we can finish our daily work, and then my daughter can go straight to her live piano session, or even get some practice in first before her Zoom class.

The lessons are only Monday-Thursday, which works for us as we typically don’t do school on Fridays.

If we do have to miss for any reason, there are also the recorded sessions to fall back on, which is really nice.

In my daughter’s first assessment, Mrs. Van Kleeck immediately put her at ease. She was at once encouraging, patient, and kind. My daughter’s attitude changed immediately, and was excited to start the online classes.

We were even sent the Suzuki piano book which arrived very quickly, and was such a blessing to receive as we had never done any Suzuki method training before.

My daughter was assigned to Level 2. Before Practice Monkeys, she had been just practicing on her own for about 10-15 minutes daily utilizing piano books I had purchased for her. She didn’t have any training by ear, so level 2 was the perfect starting point for her.

She spent three months working through Level 2, and then completed her next assessment with Mrs. Van Kleeck, which she passed with flying colors.

She has just moved on to Level 3, which is definitely proving to be more challenging for her. This is great, because it really stretches her, and I am looking forward to seeing even more of her improvement as she progresses through the level.

While she had learned several songs on her own previously, Practice Monkeys has been extremely valuable for her because she is hearing the music being played by the instructor as well as other students, and even gets the chance to play her songs in front of her class.

I love that while the lessons are informative, they are also a safe environment. My daughter doesn’t feel pressured to perform her song until she is ready to do so. It is a big confidence boost for her to practice, and then feel completely ready to show what she knows. It is a low-pressure, encouraging environment which both she and I appreciate.

In fact, my eight-year old son (who did not want to take lessons because they made him nervous), was able to watch a few of the sessions, see what things are like, and now he is interested in taking lessons himself.

And the cool thing is, he can take the classes. A Practice Monkeys membership for a single instrument includes your whole family! Music lessons can be extremely expensive, and then you have to pay for each child studying an instrument. This is definitely not something we could afford.

But a single subscription that includes whomever wants to learn is so much more practical and affordable for our family.

The classes are short but they keep students engaged and hold them accountable to keep on track with learning and mastering their instrument.

I really like Practice Monkeys’ philosophy in this area. They say: “We believe students quit an instrument largely because of lack of progress.  We believe students need someone to lead their practice sessions with vision.  We believe that students need solid support in their learning.  We believe students need to be set up to succeed.  Therefore, we designed our curriculum to revolve around the practice room.  Every day learning WITH the teacher and friends, too!”

It’s a great model, and is working very well for my daughter. I have seen great improvement in her skill level already-especially in playing by ear, and staying on tempo.

I was also very impressed with the second assessment as Mrs. Van Kleeck taught some music theory that already has made a big difference in how my daughter is playing-so valuable, with instant results!

If you are looking for music lessons for your child, I definitely would recommend Practice Monkeys. The program is well-designed, encouraging, flexible, and very affordable. It’s wonderful!

Ready to learn more about how Practice Monkeys can work for your family? Check out the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read more reviews from our team!

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