Affiliate links may be included. Thanks to Hoffman Academy for providing a 3 month membership, which I will continue using as a paying customer.
A few months ago I had a fellow parent encourage me to get my second grade daughter involved in learning a musical instrument. She told me that she was the perfect age and that I would probably be surprised by how quickly she would pick up on the lessons if I just gave it a go.
I thought it over, and in all honesty, just felt worried about adding one more (expensive) thing to our to do list each week, as well as carving out the time each day for practice. Here in Chattanooga, 30 minutes of piano instruction, 4 times per month can easily cost $100 per month, which means a year of piano lessons would be $1,200, plus the time and gas spent going to and from piano lessons. It’s simply too expensive for my family, so I started exploring alternative approaches.
After a bit of research online, I decided that the lowest cost option to get started with an instrument would be to get a full-sized keyboard (we are very pleased with the Williams keyboard we selected), and to begin piano lessons at home. I chose the piano because it is an instrument that doesn’t need to be tuned (obviously a real piano does need tuning but not very often, whereas a string instrument must be tuned before each practice session). Since I do not play an instrument, choosing one that would need tuning would make daily practice just that much harder, and I wanted to go easy!
Additionally, I found Hoffman Academy online, which offers free video piano lessons and they are quite good! You can view these lessons for free at any time, and I encourage you to watch a few of them to get an idea of how Mr. Hoffman offers instruction.
We currently have a 3 month subscription to the premium version of this program, which provides us with supplementary materials and with practice sessions to use. This costs $15/month or if you pay for a year, it’s $149 (which comes out to a little over $12/month. I think you can get away with just using the free lesson videos, but I think the experience is enhanced greatly by the practice sessions and materials, and after having used them daily for over a month, I would say that they are well worth the cost. When our complimentary subscription expires I will be purchasing a one year subscription without hesitation.
How We Practice Using Hoffman Academy
I make it a goal for my daughter to practice every single day for 20 minutes. Do we always meet that goal? No, because sometimes life throws us a curveball and we just aren’t able to fit it in. But we do try to make this happen and we begin our session with me setting the timer so that we both know how long practice needs to last. We will typically watch a video lesson, which takes anywhere from 8-15 minutes (including pausing the video to practice new material when Mr. Hoffman suggests it) and then we start working on the practice exercises. Sometimes we make it through a video and a practice session, but often we don’t make it all the way through. If Darah feels like pressing forward, we continue until we are finished, and if she wants to stop, we just stop and pick up where we left off the next day. She knows that she must commit to 20 minutes of practice, and I don’t press her beyond that, which I think helps her feel happier and more in control, and which does result in her sometimes wanting to practice longer, because it is her choice and not something I am forcing her to do.
Perhaps my best endorsement for Hoffman Academy is sharing that my daughter ASKS to do her piano lessons. She will also practice on her own, without me asking her to do so. I think that speaks volumes about this curriculum. I have really enjoyed watching my daughter grow in her confidence and become really excited about developing the ability to play an instrument.
I can’t say this with certainty, but I’m guessing that the Hoffman curriculum will take a child 2 years to complete, assuming that they are practicing several times a week and not just once a week. By the time we are through with the curriculum we might be in a position to either pay for more advanced piano lessons, or Hoffman Academy might have released even more advanced curriculum, as it is stated on the FAQ page that they have plans to do so.
Hoffman Academy is giving me the opportunity to help my child learn a musical instrument at a price point that is manageable and that doesn’t require me making weekly trips to a tutoring session, as all lessons and practices can take place in our home at times that are most convenient for us. I think this is a very practical approach to piano lessons and I’m very pleased with how it is going, so far!