First Ever Piano Wizard Academy Created at Southern Illinois University School of Music Breaks the Mold for Piano Lessons Forever

December 08, 2005 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News
Piano Wizard™ is a revolutionary video game that teaches people of all ages to play the piano—quickly and easily. The game uses proprietary software along with a color-coded piano keyboard (bundled with the software) to allow anyone to hit the correct note at the correct time. The game lets students play actual songs and through game play, musical logic, theory and notation are subconsciously learned.

Piano Wizard has proved to be so effective at teaching people of all ages to play the piano, that SIU School of Music Professor Don Beattie and his wife, Delayna, launched the first Piano Wizard Academy at SIU in Carbondale, Illinois this year.

Professor Beattie became actively involved in Piano Wizard a year ago. He and Piano Wizard inventor Chris Salter, CEO of Piano Wizard’s parent company, Allegro Multimedia, have been long time friends, from the day Chris walked into Don’s first group piano class over 20 years ago. Though Chris had no musical background, he graduated with a degree in music from SIU, due largely to the groundbreaking teaching style and mentorship of Professor Beattie.

In the years that followed his university studies, Chris Salter kept in contact with his professor friend and the SIU School of Music, and after extensive testing of the game and recognizing the impressive results that Piano Wizard continued to achieve among both young and old students, Beattie and his wife Delayna founded the Piano Wizard Academy in conjunction with the School of Music this year.

Professor Beattie first utilized Piano Wizard as a tool for his university level Group Piano courses (comprised of 110 college participants). He then enrolled university students to create two programs to teach children from SIU’s Child Development Center. Currently, about 20 children,
each with a student mentor, are participating in the revolutionary piano class experience using Piano Wizard.

“It’s a wonderful and extraordinary game that will ultimately help a whole lot of young people,” Professor Beattie offered. “It’s a beautiful starting point that allows them to read a dozen pieces a day and helps them become literate readers of music while still having fun. Music is a language and Piano Wizard helps them increase their vocabulary.”

Salter, added, “We live in a fast-paced information-driven society, where our kids learn how to use a computer and play video games sometimes even before they learn to read. We have a huge failure rate in music due to many of the frustrating teaching methods of the past. We cannot expect those old teaching methods to hold the interest of people learning about music today. In today’s society the competition for our attention and spare time has increased, so Piano Wizard’s mission is to make music learning fun, fast and engaging from the first minute.”

Salter continued, “I couldn’t be more pleased and honored than to see this delightful piano teaching game in the hands of a master. It must have been like this for the first makers of pianos when they let Beethoven loose on it. Don brings out the full potential of the game in his class, and more importantly, complements it perfectly with his improvisational and multi-varied approach to music. More importantly, knowing the range of great multi-media opportunities the program offers, we were able to persuade the SIU Radio and TV department to videotape the whole semester of work for content for a series of documentaries, teaching instruction coursework, as well as DVDs for home use. In addition, the fact that the game can only teach the musical notes, also opens up opportunities for people who can teach the important music concepts of phrasing, dynamics, musicality—in short the art of music. It’s true the fine techniques of the art of music have to be taught by an artist, not a game. But we are proving daily that this piano teaching game can make the first two years of learning not only fun but also an endeavor that people are more likely to want to continue.”

Delayna concurred. “The success of the program for teachers, college mentors, parents and children alike has been indisputable. One little statistic from it speaks volumes, compared to stereotypical or conventional piano lessons. Not one child, age 3 to 10, and not one college mentor, dropped out, over the 14-week voluntary program. On the contrary, these kids can’t wait to sign up for next semester. I encourage any piano teacher to consider if they not only had no drop-outs, but if every kid was eager and delighted to come to class. With Piano Wizard we have kids teaching kids, kids begging for more practice time— results beyond what we normally get from private classes. It is a joy to be a part of, and we look forward to fully exploring the potential for years to come.”

Studies show that normal attrition rates for piano lessons among the general population can approach 80 percent. In addition to the high drop out rates among beginning music students are the subtle scars to the soul that many who give up on music can carry with them as a result of the frustrating or even humiliating experiences related to music lessons as a child.

Unlike conventional music teaching methods that emphasize learning music notation and theory first, Piano Wizard lets students play a song first and later brings musical theory into the teaching process. The game uses notes, initially disguised as brightly glowing colorful characters that move with delightfully engaging motion. Colorful turtles, spaceships, ladybugs, aliens and a host of other cute icons, chosen by the player, travel on a line toward a matching color-coded keyboard on the computer screen. The player then simply hits the same colored key on the computer screen when the traveling characters reach the keyboard on the screen. In the process, children as young as three can play music from Beethoven to the Beatles, from Mozart to Madonna and any other style of music in just minutes.

Piano Wizard offers an Easy Mode version that is intended for both beginning children and adults, as well as a Premier version that offers more challenging play and allows players to download an endless number of MIDI songs making Piano Wizard an ever-changing music game.

In addition to being adopted by the Southern Illinois University School of Music in conjunction with the SIU Child Development Center, Piano Wizard has been heartily endorsed by PBS’s Scott “The Piano Guy” Houston because of its revolutionary instructional method. Piano Wizard has also won the prestigious “Top Toy Of The Year Award” in the Creative Toy Awards 2005 by Creative Child magazine.

Salter concluded, “Don and I are firm believers that music is a birthright not reserved for the elite. It should be open to all, not just those who have access to classical education. Music is something joyful and joins people at a spiritual level. Allowing everyone to experience that joy is a beautiful thing.”

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About Allegro Multimedia

Allegro Multimedia, Inc. (dba Allegro Rainbow, maker of Piano Wizard) is a leading provider of music gaming software and musical educational tools that teach both young and old alike how to play the piano and read music.

Allegro Multimedia's mission is to; increase music literacy and the ability to play and read music among all classes of people; to provide an answer for parents and educators as well as religious groups and government agencies to combat the onslaught of mind-numbing violence and destruction that has traditionally dominated the video game industry; and to build long-term relationships with customers by providing quality products, training, support and additional exciting gaming products that continue to move this mission forward in a fun, safe, exciting, and yet non-violent and yet exciting way.

Allegro Multimedia seeks to create a tidal wave of interest in music making and achieve universal musical literacy among all people regardless of age, through fun and exciting non-violent, music training video games.

About The Southern Illinois University School of Music

Music Business Programs
Since 1979, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale has offered a music business degree program. Originally conceived as a music-merchandising program, music business at SIUC evolved over its first decade and now provides a broad-based degree plan to adequately prepare students for virtually any aspect of the music industry. Enrollment has also grown and now constitutes one-third of the total at the SIUC School of Music. A growing number of SIUC music business graduates populate the industry with such firms as Shure Brothers/Evanston, Jam Productions/Chicago, EMG/Santa Rosa, Treasure Isle Recorders/Nashville, The Voice Studio/Nashville, William Morris Agency/New York, Paul Koch Entertainment/Chicago, and Gaylord Entertainment Company/Nashville, among others.

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