When I first reviewed eMedia's Piano and Keyboard Method a few years ago I was impressed, but not overly so. The program was useful but it had a few features that I had thought at the time needed to be improved upon. Fast forward to now and the new version seems to have addressed many of those drawbacks, resulting in a more robust and useful product that fills its role well.
The instruction contained in the Piano and Keyboard Method is very straightforward and easy to understand. The concepts and techniques are explained both textually as well as in videos that accompany almost every page of the course. The quality of the video instruction is very good, but the dialog by the instructor seems very stiff and awkward. While not a huge deal it tends to distract the viewer a bit and at some point should be reworked in this viewers opinion.
Positive Improvements To The eMedia Piano and Keyboard Method
- Automatically resumes lessons at the point where you left off the previous session..
- Visual, on screen keyboard is nice to help beginners more easily visualize which keys to press on the piano.
- Focuses first on fingerings using black keys only then moves on to reading rhythms and actual notes on the staff.
- Includes quizzes on how to read note durations and other concepts. Gives links to lessons to brush up on skills if you don't do well.
- Navigation is easy and allows you to jump to any part of the instruction instantly.
- Includes metronome and recorder
MIDI Latency A Problem With Some Systems
The only major problem I had in testing the software was the problem of MIDI latency. There was a noticeable delay between the time my finger pressed a key on my M-Audio 49e USB MIDI keyboard and when I could hear the sound being played over the computers speakers. There are some adjustments that can be made in the software (under the Options > Preferences > Keyboard Options screen but they did not seem to help. Being an avid musician I had not had this problem with other software such as the music notation programs Finale and Sibelius. The help files and online FAQ for the the eMedia software mentioned the latency problem but really did not offer any useful information on how to potentially fix it other than that it was a problem with my computer's ASIO drivers..
I did a little looking around in the Internet and found a free program called ASIO4ALL that is essentially a new set of audio drivers for devices such as MIDI keyboards. After installing ASIO4ALL I restarted the Keyboard and Piano Method and tried again. Loading ASIO4ALL seemed to help a lot with the USB keyboard latency issues that I was experiencing but it did not totally eliminate them. Still, for anyone having this MIDI latency issue the ASIO4ALL drivers are a possible cheap fix.
Overall the eMedia Piano and Keyboard Method is a useful, straightforward way for individuals to learn to play the piano without hiring a private instructor. While it isnâ€™t perfect it is about as close as one can get without having a flesh and blood teacher in the same room.