The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

With so many products available we often need a little help in making our curriculum choices. The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine family understands because we are in the same boat! Do you need more information on a product before you buy? With over 5,500 products listed in 52 easy-to-use categories, much of the information you need to know is only a click away! Let our reviewer-families help yours.
Do you want to get the word out about your product or service to the homeschool community? Email Jenny Higgins and share a little about what you´d like showcased, and we can help with that!

Joy Notes in Action Review by Nicole Teichroeb

Joyce Piper, A.R.C.T.
Joy Notes Music
55 Timberlane Crescent
Kitchener, ON Canada N2N 1T5

Joy Notes is a music curriculum that is designed to help your child learn music at home, even if you yourself have no musical background. The course focuses on teaching your child how to understand the beautiful and unique language of music while using a piano keyboard as a learning tool. However, the material is taught in such a way that once your child understands the musical language, he will be able to apply that knowledge and easily learn to play any musical instrument. The curriculum incorporates visual, auditory, and hands-on learning, making it suitable for any type of learning style.

When you order your course, you will receive three student books. A Primer, which introduces your child to the keyboard and note values and prepares him for note reading; Book 1, which introduces note reading, basic musical notation, and key positions using the 5-note patterns; and Book 2, which expands the vocabulary of musical notation, and builds on musical skills with the 8-note patterns. You will receive a Curriculum Guide, which is designed to be easy enough to be understood by someone with no musical background, but it does not talk down to the student. You also receive a teaching guide on CD, where the author herself will take you by the hand and walk you through each concept covered in the course. Finally, you will receive a packet of 5-note pattern cards, keyboard staff templates, and 8-note pattern cards to better help you understand what you are learning. This is everything you need for two years worth of lessons, making it a wonderful value for your money. The only things you will need to provide are a notebook to use for taking notes and doing drawing exercises, a piano or keyboard, and a CD player.

At first we weren't sure that we liked the course, as we found the first lessons a bit hard to understand. However, after going a bit further into it, I am finding that the reason we didn't understand is that we were expecting it to follow more traditional piano lessons. Therefore we were reading into the instructions things that weren't there. As we go, I am finding that it seems to be a well-done course that teaches music in an entirely new way. It takes a bit to get used to this style of learning if you have had any exposure to traditional music lessons, but once you change your mindset it becomes easier to follow. My daughter and I both plan to continue to use this course, and I am strongly encouraging my sons to go through it also (even though their musical interests are in instruments other than a piano). I feel that learning to read music as a language of its own will be a benefit to them as they pursue any type of instrument. 

Product review by Nicole Teichroeb, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February 2010