Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.
We have reviewed many different homeschool products and programs, and I do not often say that a program was life-changing. However, I can honestly say that Practice Monkeys was life-changing for our daughter and has positively impacted our entire family.
We first encountered Practice Monkeys in the fall of 2018 when the Review Crew reviewed their violin program. We had a lot going on as a family during that time because of dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, but we decided to let my daughter give it a try. I thought it might be good exposure for her to have a few months of music lessons.
Little did I know that my daughter would be playing violin and piano, and recently cello three years later. My oldest son did violin for a while but really found his niche with Practice Monkeys guitar. My seven-year-old son is playing violin, and my three-year-old is working with my daughter to hopefully be ready to start violin lessons after the New Year. My daughter even dreams of one-day teaching violin lessons as her career.
Practice Monkeys Overview
Practice Monkeys is an online program for Suzuki method music lessons. They offer violin, piano, cello, and guitar. Monday through Thursday, there is a fifteen-minute group lesson for each level of each instrument. Students attend the lesson and then practice an additional fifteen minutes after class. In addition, students practice independently two other days per week.
If students are unable to attend the class during the set time, students can go in and practice at any time using recorded lessons. Students also have access to skill videos and other tutorials in their’ treehouse,’ which is just the area on the website that has all of the needed information for that level.
While students can be successful using the recorded lessons, I do highly encourage students to attend as many live lessons as possible. We can’t always make the live lessons, but I do feel like they are very beneficial.
Each Suzuki level is broken into smaller levels of Practice Monkeys so that students are practicing with students of similar abilities. Each level has a check sheet of skills and songs to be mastered before moving to the next level. When a student has mastered the items on the check sheet, they pay for a private assessment, and then if they pass, they move on to the next level. The instructors are happy to help make sure your student is ready for assessment before you schedule it. The assessment also provides some one-on-one time in which they get information and help with the skills that are coming in the next level.
Do Online Music Lessons Work?
When we first started, I was concerned about whether or not my children would get enough help with online lessons. I knew that I did not have the skills or time to help them with these instruments. However, I did not need to be worried. The interactive nature of Practice Monkeys has allowed them to all grow and be successful, even online. There is immediate feedback provided in the daily zoom classes and help class on Wednesdays to offer any additional one-on-one support that they might need.
My daughter did an in-person strings camp this summer through a local program. All of the teachers there were impressed with how well she played and the skills she had learned from Practice Monkeys.
Matthew’s Guitar Lessons
My oldest son is fifteen and took violin for several years. He was learning a lot and doing well with it, but it was never his passion. When Practice Monkeys started doing guitar lessons, he jumped at the opportunity. He has been doing guitar for about a year now and loves it! He practices without being asked and is always looking for ways to improve. He is even working towards being able to play the guitar at church in our youth group band. The lessons are giving him skills and confidence in his abilities. We are also using these classes as a music performance elective for his high school studies.
Benjamin’s Violin Lessons
My seven-year-old has been playing violin for several years now. At first, his progress was slow because he was consistent about playing and practicing. However, as he has matured, he has gotten better at practicing and is now moving forward. During this review period, he moved from level two to level three and is very excited about the new songs he is learning. I love that it is teaching him about the benefits of hard work and consistency. I also appreciate that he loves sharing his music with anyone willing to listen. Mrs. Van Kleeck and the other Practice Monkeys teachers are super patient with their students, but I especially notice it with the younger ones.
Elizabeth’s Music Lessons
Practice Monkeys has made an impact on all of my children, but not more than my daughter. She started with violin three years ago, added piano almost two years ago. She has alarms set on her watch to remind her to practice each day, and she is very diligent. She even helps Benjamin with his violin lesson each day. Because of her time with Practice Monkeys, she even did her 4-H presentation on being a violin instructor and is considering going to college for music or getting Suzuki trained.
For Christmas last year, she asked for a cello. We were able to get her one, but we could not add cello lessons to her piano and violin lessons. However, with this review, she was able to add cello into her already busy music schedule. Since she had been working independently a little with her cello and had a good understanding of the music from her violin studies, she has been able to move quickly in her cello lessons. She started at level one but was able to take an assessment after just a few weeks and moved to level two. She continued working hard and should be moving up to level three later this week.
She enjoyed her cello lessons so much that she is asking grandparents and other family members to gift her money towards lessons for Christmas and her birthday to continue taking classes next year (her dad and I gave her a two instrument limit for what we will pay).
Now that I’ve told you about these excellent programs, you might be thinking it sounds great, but you could never afford it. Before Practice Monkeys, we had priced out music lessons, and they were out of the budget. However, Practice Monkeys is very affordable. It is $50 per month per instrument for the whole family. So, even though I have two children in violin at different levels (and at times have had three), it would only cost our family $50 for violin lessons. This includes the lessons Monday through Thursday, help class as needed on Wednesdays, and the recordings. Our family feels like this is a great value, especially since I do not have to load everyone up in the car and drive to lessons.
Having the lessons online was a significant benefit for our family. With three children wanting to do music lessons and a three-year-old who just wants to play, it would have been too much for us to drive to different classes. However, my children step upstairs and turn on the computer to do their lesson while the rest of the family continues with whatever they need to do.
I honestly was not exaggerating when I said this program was life-changing for my daughter and our family. It allowed her to explore a music interest in ways we otherwise would not have been able to offer her. The program’s flexibility and affordability allow each of my children to pursue their musical interests and passions without burdening our time and finances.
Maybe you have a child interested in learning a musical instrument, but you are worried about adding one more commitment out of the house, or you looked at the costs of private lessons and knew that it wasn’t in the budget. I highly encourage you to give Practice Monkeys a try. Be sure to click on the graphic below to see what other people thought about the lessons and check out some of the other programs they offer.