Author/Teacher: Robin Hall.
Price: $39 for complete course downloaded with embedded videos and audios.
$49 with the above and an additional DVD rom of the course.
(All prices at the time of writing)
Credit cards and Paypal accepted.
Guarantee – 60 days 100% Money back guarantee.
Requirements: piano or keyboard.
PC, Mac, Tablet (IOS or Android) for playing the videos and reading the PDFs.
What you get in the pack? 9 ebooks with 500 embedded audio snippets. 200 video lessons.
Pros: Extensive e-book course, covering a lot of styles and techniques including learning to play by ear and reading music. Embedded audio is very useful. The videos are produced to a good quality.
Cons: Requires computer access that may not suit some who prefer a home course pack.
Suitable For: Beginners to intermediates – teens to adults rather than children.
Course content : ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Tutor knowledge/skill : ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer support :⭐⭐⭐⭐
Value for Money : ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Acumen rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I originally bought pianoforall several years ago after seeing a video advert on Youtube. The course was downloaded from the website and each book was clearly labelled and the video/audio worked well with no issues on my Laptop.
I have been through many of the lessons, but I will freely admit I haven’t studied every single one. Some styles are less appealing to me but, this is a course that you can come back to quite easily.
Course Content and Structure
The course is split into 8 books covering various styles, techniques and theory. The content is huge with the total Ebook count coming in at 576 pages with a further 55 page e-book on mindfulness. There is no doubt Robin Hall has a huge depth of knowledge and has put a lot of time and effort into this course.
Book 1 – Party time – Rhythm style piano
I’ll give a more detailed review of book 1 as this introduces the player to the piano and provides the backbone of the material. It also sets the tone in the tuition style of all the other books.
Firstly there is a section on getting to know the keyboard and playing basic chords. The chords are then expanded into a song using a basic rhythm and the progression fits several songs including “Blue Moon”, “Red Red Wine” and “All I have to do is Dream”.
Then Robin introduces music notation by looking at music in the form of patterns, before expanding into a comprehensive look at Treble and Bass Clef with reference to the piano keys. By the end of the section you will have a good grasp of music notation.
The book follows on with looking at all the chords in the key of C, explaining the theory of harmonisation.
Now that the student has some theory and notation knowledge, different rhythms of the original chords are introduced over the next few lessons including “straight beat”, “oom pah” and “broken chords”. The chords are clearly laid out with keyboard diagrams and also shown on musical notation. Songs include “When the Saints”, “Whiskey in the Jar”, “Song Song Blue”. These songs are sometimes shown as chord sheets rather than full musical pieces. The videos go through each example. The broker chord section has a nice ballad piece using all 7 chords from the C major scale.
More chords are introduced further on with another rhythm “split chords”. Each chapter also has more song examples including “In the Summertime”, “Yellow Submarine”, “Feeling Groovy”, “Amazing Grace”, “Imagine” and “All I have to do is dream”.
The section then continues in a similar format introducing rhythms such as the “half beat bounce”, “Twist 1 & 2”, “3 beat bounce” “12/8 country” and “Bossa Nova”.
I counted over 60 songs in total in this section which tend to be shown mostly as chord charts with the example played on video. Playing solely from the chord chart is not always straightforward, so it’s advisable to watch the video and play along.
I found this section detailed and well produced. All the videos and Audio snippets worked well. I’m not a huge fan of chord charts, but with the huge list of song examples, there would be no room to write complete transcriptions. This also encourages the student to develop their rhythm and chord changes.
Book 2 – Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll
This book introduces the fundamentals of Blues including theory and technique. The 12 bar blues format is covered which covers a huge list of songs in this style.
Rhythms include the 12/8 boogie shuffle, straight eight boogie, “Blueberry Hill” rhythm and “Blue Brothers” rhythm.
Book 3 – Chord Magic
Chord inversions open up the piano to the student and this aspect is introduced with major triads moving onto sevenths. New chords from other keys are introduced and are enhanced with new song examples expanding the student’s repertoire. Once the chapter is complete the student will know all 24 basic major and minor chords. The student will also have the knowledge of how to invert each chord so that would give you a total of 72.
The section finishes with the theory of the circle of fifths and how to use this to practice the chords and commit them to memory.
Book 4 – Advanced chords made easy
A magic formula is introduced in this chapter for learning 9th, 11th and Sus 4 chords. More practice progressions are introduced utilising these chords. Robin then looks at the style of Barry Manilow who uses slash and cluster chords to create tension and dissonance.
Diminished and cluster chords are then explained further with more song examples.
The chapter finishes with a look at the style employed by The Beatles including a section highlighting the key of some of their songs and a suggested accompaniment style.
Book 5 – Ballad style
Alan shows you a left hand accompaniment using a root-fifth-octave pattern that can be applied to any chord. He then shows the student the pentatonic scale and various patterns that can be played developing your understanding of the scale and use in your improvising.
Robin enhances the left hand pattern and brings in the right hand with different rhythms and passing notes. Alan continues to add various song examples which are shown in musical notation.
Book 6 – Jazz piano made easy
This is a huge chapter (84 pages in the PDF), but don’t be put off by the length. The teacher’s in-depth knowledge and expertise is clearly highlighted here and his technique and explanation is quite easy to understand, providing you have a good grasp of the fundamentals.
This chapter starts with a look at the blues again with some new C7, F7 and G7 shapes, a look at the blues scale and some riffs you can use for developing your improvising which is key to this style. A blues piece is introduced with an encouragement to improvise once you have picked up the structure.
The basics of Jazz are then introduced including a look at the seventh chords in the key of C with different voicings that can fit over a several jazz standards. Following on, the teacher has a jazz version of Frere Jacque. The piece is developed by changing the rhythm of the left hand and then improvising the right hand (with several suggestions).
Other techniques include the Caterpillar jazz walk, using blues scales over jazz chords, D minor jazz, two handed comping, left hand stride, Quartal harmony, descending bass lines, jazz playing in G and F and more. This all sounds technical and at the time of writing is new to me.
You can’t help but be impressed with the teacher’s quality and time that went into developing this chapter – it is a book in itself!
Book 7 – Advanced Blues and fake stride
Keeping with rhythms from book 2, Robin introduces extended right hand chords in an ”off-on” rhythm. Right hand riffs are built upon slowly by adding basic right hand chords in different rhythmic structures – a I-IV shuffle and I-IV slide.
Alternate blues chords are introduced including C6, and F7 with an added 9th. These are played by the right hand accompanied by the familiar left hand rhythms already introduced. The chords are also played in an “off-on” boogie and “off-on” shuffle.
Various other right hand techniques are introduced including three note jumps, common riffs to the style, pick up’s, slides, tremelos, octaves and turnarounds. Following that there is a look at the blues in the key of G, as by now, you will have a solid grounding in the key of C.
To finish the chapter there is a look at stride where a pianist will play a low bass note followed by a chord, then back down to another note and then up to a chord and so on…. This is familiar with the sounds of ragtime – The Entertainer, Maple Leaf rag for example. The teacher looks at an easier version of stride and then brings in The Entertainer written in full music notation.
Like the jazz chapter there is a wealth of information which will take some time to go through, but if this is a style you aim to develop, this chapter will give you a very solid grounding.
Book 8 – Taming the classics
There 71 pages in the PDF continues this teacher’s immense knowledge. The chapter commences with a look back at the basics introduced in book one, before a more in-depth look at theory and music notation including key signatures, sharps & naturals, tempo, ties, repeats and a brief introduction to musical language.
The teacher has a useful piece on practice techniques ahead of introducing the classics. Initially some small pieces are examined in standard notation with just the right hand of occasion. Then he moves on with a basic version of Fur Elise written with notation for both left and right hand.
Bach’s prelude and Fugue No.1 is shown in full notation.
Other pieces include Chopin Waltz in A minor, Jean Philippe Rameau’s Rondino, Bach’s Jesu, Minuet in G, The Blue Danube, Gymnopedie No.1 amongst others. I counted over 20 pieces of well know classics in this section, but beware some of these are for an advanced standard. At the time of writing they are above me level, but I hope to give them ago in the future.
Another comprehensive chapter
Book 9 – Speed Learning
The course continues with a look at scales and the importance of practicing them. Playing all the major chords once a day is recommended with them written out in music notation. He then introduces some memory tricks to learning the different keys.
A look at minor keys then follows highlighting the natural minor scale and the minor 7 scale. The teacher goes on to explain the Diminished, Whole tone, chromatic scales and arpeggios.
Alan provides a musical theme to learning these scales and arpeggios with a series of workouts in various keys. There are also workouts in major and minor blues, jazz and 7th chords in the majority of keys. There are 120 pages of workouts in this section, another huge expanse of techniques, theory and exercises.
Book 10 – Mindfulness
There is a final chapter on the mental approach to playing the piano with a look at mindfulness. This is a useful 55 page guide to calming the mind and improving awareness which will not only help with learning a new instrument, but could help with other issues in life. The section is illustrated quite well and is easy to read.
About the tutor and support
As I mention above Robin is clearly a talented teacher with an in-depth knowledge of music and the piano. He has also has a relaxed teaching style, speaking slowly and softly spoken – an Irish Gent.
Robin includes his email on his website (Robin@pianoforall.com) and promises quick response. He also encourages feedback and with a read of his testimonials on the site, he has a good following.
A solid, professionally produced course which offers very good value for money. Robin’s chordal approach is particularly good for adults.
My only slight negative is his use of chordal charts, but as explained before, with the huge content already included, writing each piece of music in notation would be impossible.
You cannot go wrong with this course; it offers the student a wealth of technical knowledge as well as a repertoire of songs in the various styles.
Click here to visit pianoforall.