The Piano Education Page is an educational outreach activity of the West Mesa Music Teachers Association, a non-profit, independent, professional association of teachers, parents, and students serving in the interest of music education world-wide. The site features over 600 pages of tips on learning to play the piano, unbiased reviews of music software, interviews with noteworthy artists and educators and a listening library of over 600 pieces of solo piano music. There is also a children's section for meeting famous composers, a search engine for the entire site, and a FAQ section.
The user will: (1) get tips on learning to play the piano, (2) read unbiased reviews of music software and other materials, (3) find out about upcoming competitions, (4) read interviews with artists and educators, (5) visit a fun page for kids, (6) listen to over 600 pieces of solo piano music, (7) read a page of tips and ideas for teachers, and (8) search the site for answers to specific questions
Target Student Population:
Students of all ages, piano teachers, elementary through university music and arts educators, parents, and music enthusiasts.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Basic web site operation skills.
Type of Material:
This site could act as a reference point for prospective teachers of the arts, particularly in music education. It seems most appropriate for teaching methods courses.
Netscape Navigator 3.0 or later or Internet Explorer 3.0 or later seem to work best. The home page and several of the sub-pages have background music and sounds built right into them. A sound card, speakers, and a sound-capable browser like Netscape Navigator 3.0 or later with the sound plug-in (either Netscape's or a similar MIDI sound plug-in like Crescendo) or Internet Explorer 3.0 and later for Win95 and Win NT. The music may sound "tinny" on some systems. Please note that this tinny character is due to the type of speakers and/or sound card, not the MIDI files.
Evaluation and Observation
This site is a tremendous repository of piano-related information. Numerous pages are provided for investigating a wide variety of materials and activities. Topics include: thoughts on getting ready for lessons, finding the right teacher, tips for buying a piano or keyboard, a listening list, composer resources, downloadable files for listening, reviews of software and teaching materials, competition calendar, interviews with pianists and teachers, resource articles, and links to related pages. Users may also make comments and suggestions or ask questions. You can delve into a listening focus by going to the Audition Room, Listening List, or Just for Kids. The Audition Room features a huge collection of piano solos listed by composers' names. For many of the composers, there is biographical information and photos. Sometimes CD reviews and additional information on the composers is included, if it is available. Just for Kids features interviews with famous composers in text format. The content is extremely rich and well organized. This site includes a plethora of information related to the many aspects of playing, enjoying, and listening to the piano. It has tremendous potential for benefiting teachers in training and would be a welcome addition to any music methods course.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
This site has the potential to be a valuable resource for students doing research on music teaching methods and in other areas about the piano. Learning activities could easily be created (e.g., presentations, biographies) and content could also be easily integrated into lessons. On the job teachers/piano teachers would find this a valuable resource to share with students and parents. Whether your students know much or little about the piano or its music,
group and individual investigations, research projects, and presentations on the piano could easily be developed based on the reources at this site. The vast collection of MIDI files offers many teaching opportunities.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
This site is very well organized. Because of the vast amount of information included, this could become a difficult site to navigate. Users can search the entire Piano Education Page site in three different ways: by keyword, by document title, or by hyperlink structure. The developers have provided an outline of the content as the first page of the site for easy use. The Piano Education Page is designed to display well in most browsers and can be downloaded in a reasonable period of time. This site is quite easy to navigate once the user is familiar with its layout. No technical support should be needed, with the exception of getting the correct sound cards and plug-ins installed. Links appear to be working and are up to date. The opening page provides directions on how to use the site most effectively and links to address questions, especially regarding the sound files. The site is updated bi-weekly and is extremely well maintained. The author invites suggestions.
This site has not been Bobby Approved.
Other Issues and Comments:
The Internet Content Rating Association, an international, independent organization that empowers the public, especially parents, to make informed decisions about electronic media by means of the open and objective labeling of content, has rated this site. ICRA's dual aims are to protect children from potentially harmful material and to protect free speech on the internet. The site has received numerous awards and been featured in a number of online reviews,
including the BBC Webguide.