Preschool Prodigies Review

Preschool Prodigies Review

Sponsored by Preschool Prodigies

Full disclaimer- while I did receive free access to the playground as part of our collaboration, all opinions expressed are my own.  I chose to collaborate because I love what Preschool Prodigies is doing.  This post contains affiliate links.  🙂

The theory behind the videos

And by theory, I mean Music Theory.  The videos are fun and engaging by sheer fact that there are so many cute animations and kids love them (mine sure do!), but you don't need me to tell you that, you can see it for yourself in the samples Mr. Rob has published.  Instead, I'm going to focus on a few aspects that really stood out to me.

Meaningful exposure to individual pitches.  This, my friends, is how to help a child develop perfect and relative pitch.  The bells are introduced individually in the chapters and we get to know one before more are introduced.  We get to know how C and G get along before other pitches are introduced.  I love the way Mr. Rob does this in the curriculum.

Curwen Hand Signs (solfege).  Not only do you get to learn the solfege hand signs with Mr. Rob, but there is a nifty shorthand incorporated in the text to help you remember how to sign the names.  I learned about the Curwen Hand Signs when I took my Orff  level one training and later saw how much children benefit from the "hands on" singing approach in choral settings.  While I have taught my kids the signs in the past, they have never been very excited about them, but Mr. Rob really made it magical.  Even my 2-year-old is starting to get it!

Ear Training Games​.  I love these!!  There are storm clouds coming, do they contain rain, a I chord, or a V chord?  Listen carefully, and watch out, because Mr. Rob might get wet!  Then there's the Halloween special, Which Witch is it?  Listen so you can tell if it's the low C, the high C, or the G Witch.  Now is as good a time as any to tell you that I think Rob is incredibly talented. He makes these videos himself, including the video editing and the accompanying sound tracks.  They look so good a whole team could be behind it all.  Which Witch was especially engaging for my kids- fun music background!

Piano Challenges.  If a song has those first 5 notes in the scale, Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, the bells have numbers on them and we often sing the song based on the numbers, as well as the solfege, letter names, and color.  Now that we've practiced the song with those numbers, Mr. Rob invites the kids to try it out on the piano.  You can watch the videos on the iPad while you play, or you can print out the sheet music from the Resources section.

Interactive elements.  Let me hear you play it.  Echo after me.  Get your bells lined up like so and play along.  Do the hand signs with me.  Get out a drum.  Hey, nice  job!  These videos are not for passive watching, it's easy to get involved.

Chord building.  This is something really special, because too many people take years of piano lessons without really understanding how to build chords and here we are learning about them in a preschool curriculum!  I love how they are explained so simply and reinforced in such friendly ways.  Sometimes we sing and accompany ourselves using the root of the chord, and Mr. Rob explains what that is too.  Great stuff.

Orff-like approach to rhythm.  To get a feel for this approach, watch the Snow Day video below, or simply look at the featured picture.  By using words that fit the rhythm, it helps beginning students get a feel for the beat without having to think too hard about it.  It's fun to pick a theme and come up with words that fit.  Mr. Rob has done this with winter weather, farm animals, fruits and veggies, and probably more, I've only been exploring the playground a week.

You can see more Preschool Prodigies videos on their YouTube Channel.

A Closer look at the curriculum

Each chapter (there are currently 6, but Rob is often adding new content) contains 6-7 videos and comes with a workbook consisting of 30-50 pages.  When I perused through them I was completely blown away.  The whole thing integrates so well with each other- the videos with the books, and the entire scope and sequence.  This is a very carefully laid out, complete curriculum.  Step one, step two, no guesswork on what to do, when to progress, etc.  The books are really cute too!  The pacing and skills taught are perfect for preschoolers, but I would not hesitate to recommend it for older children too.  There are a few holes in my older kids' music education and I'll be using this curriculum to fill in the gaps.  As I skimmed the curriculum, I tried to pick out a variety of activities to give you an idea of the breadth covered, one activity for each of my kids.

percussion instrument

General Preschool Concepts
Not only does the curriculum teach about music, but other skills are practiced as well, such as pattern recognition, learning phonetic sounds, and pictured, writing letters, numbers and words.  The first three words just happen to be Do, Re, Mi.

Big Family Friendly
If I have to pay online for something per-child, that's often a deal breaker for me.  I didn't print out a page for my youngest to do, and he knew it.  Click, click, print!  Happy little boy.

Exploration in musical expression.  Example: Patrick's page asks him to color each of the bells either red, orange, or yellow in order to write a song.  He was very methodical with the process.  We sang his song up to where he was after each bell was complete.  When we were done, we took it to the piano and he was able to play a song he wrote!  Ruth was excited to play his song too.  I love that the last bell was already colored red so that the song ended on "Do", the tonic note.  Any combination of notes would have sounded great, which makes this kind of exercise perfect for beginners.  They're going to experience success, and how exciting to write their own song!

Crafts and Games.  Many of the pages involve cutting and pasting, which goes back to my point about teaching general preschool skills.  In this example, Helen cut and pasted a C cube from chapter 6.  There are cubes for each letter in the musical alphabet and the user is encouraged play with the cubes and stack them up to build chords.  Those tiny triangles show every chord that has a C in it, so there's a handy reference built in to the curriculum.  Don't worry if the idea of building chords sounds scary- by chapter 6 you will have had a lot of practice and exposure to chords from previous lessons and by watching the videos and doing previous chapters.

percussion instrument

The curriculum and videos are fully integrated.  I chose Peter's example because there's a public YouTube video for it I could share.  If you watched "Snow Day" above, you'll recognize the ice, snowmen and winterwonder elements.  There are several pages to go with the video, including manipulatives you can cut out and move around to write your own song.  Peter's page is asking you to count how many eighth notes there are in each line/measure and write the answer in the box.  Every last video in the playground chapters has several pages in the workbook that correlate beautifully.

Step-by-step guides for parents.  If the idea of teaching music to your kid(s) intimidates you, the parent resources are going to be your best friend.  There are practice calendars you can print out, recommended skills a child should master before moving on, and best of all, recommended daily checklists for a 5-day a week practice schedule.  Each daily activity involves watching or re-watching a video and doing one-two pages in the workbook.  Naturally you can skip some activities and spend more time on others if you wish to adapt the curriculum, but there is a solid schedule in place if doing so feels uncomfortable to you.

Preschool Prodigies vs Little Musician vs Teaching Children Music

Before I close, I want to address a question I know some of my friends will have who are already familiar with BrillKids' Little Musician and wonder how it compares with Preschool Prodigies, and for that matter, my own products.  I love all three and I think that they all fulfill different needs, and that they fit their target niche beautifully. 

Little Musician was specifically designed with babies in mind.  As such, even though their are clap-along sections at the end and sections you can sing along with, the lessons are primarily passive listening/watching.  Depending on the parent, this can include interactive participation or not.  Either way, the child will be exposed to a broad collection of classical music, learn to be familiar with the sounds of standard instruments, and a variety of other things.  It's a full software curriculum that mixes things up enough that you'll never have the same lesson twice.  We love it.  The limitations of Little Musician are that it is on-screen activities only, and will involve your own voice and body percussion only, unless you adapt the curriculum yourself.  Those who do are often doing it for their older children, which is great.  Little Musician was originally designed with babies in mind though, and that's where it is perfect.  Having said that, BrillKids is also a company that fully recognizes the full potential of babies and their reading curriculum has taught many children to read before their second or even first birthday, mine included.  So it's not a watered down curriculum, just very age-appropriate for babies.  As a side note, many Little Musician users have loved "The Solfege Train" on our website because we use the same colors and they compliment each other so well.  Little Musician being the on-screen learning time, and The Solfege Train being the off-screen reinforcement.

Preschool Prodigies on the other hand was specifically designed with, you guessed it, preschoolers in mind.  Preschoolers have much better motor skills and are ready to begin learning an instrument.  Even if they don't have the finger dexterity to play the piano yet, the bells Mr. Rob has chosen are perfect because playing them is a gross motor skill.  These videos are a lot more interactive than Little Musician in that the child will be doing hand signs and playing an instrument WHILE they are watching the video.  Having said that, I haven't purchased the bells yet myself and the videos were still very engaging and practical for my kids.  I still want the bells though!  You'll get more out of this curriculum if you buy the instrument too.  But how much does a tiny violin cost?  How much do local lessons cost?  One of the packages on his website gets you the bells AND a full year's curriculum (videos and workbooks) for $150.  Not a bad deal, especially if you have more than one kid that can participate.  I'll be buying one set of bells and will let my kids take turns using them.  We also have boomwhackers, which are the same colors, and they can be used by giving each kid a boomwhacker that is used in the lesson, encouraging ensemble practice.  You could do the same thing with the bells.  Anyway, my point is that Little Musician is perfect for the 0-2 crowd, and Preschool Prodigies is perfect for the 3-5 crowd.  Both would be great for surrounding ages and older kids who have had very little music exposure.

As a side note, Preschool Prodigies has been better for my husband, who still struggles with singing on key at times.  Sorry honey, it's true.  You should hear how far he has come since we were first married.  When we got Little Musician, I thought it would be perfect for him, but he has a hard time matching pitches that are an octave higher than his vocal range.  Where Mr. Rob is a guy, Michael has been able to participate a lot better.  On the flip side, fathers aren't the target audience, little kids are, but my kids have not struggled at all to sing an octave higher than Mr. Rob, especially with the bells being in their own range.  I think little kids pick up on these kinds of things better than adults.  My husband never learned to sing as a child and he has had to unlearn bad habits as much as anything else.  I'm proud of him for making the effort and for practicing along with the kids.  He's man enough to learn from a preschool curriculum and laugh with the kids at the humor designed for them.  My husband actually plays the piano fairly well, so he's not unmusical, it's just the singing/hearing aspect that has been an issue for him.  Bottom line is, if there are Dads who want to learn with their kids, Preschool Prodigies is definitely the best of the three.

Where do my own materials fit into this picture?  Well, I'll tell you straight up that the materials on Teaching Children Music are not as fully integrated into a step-by-step curriculum like Little Musician and Preschool Prodigies, although this is something we are definitely working on.  As it stands, our materials are more eclectic, which is why we have begun offering the separate elements of our membership site as individual products.  However, by being eclectic, we have been able to make a wider variety of stand-alone activities, such as our board games, mini courses, and printables for specific concepts.  For the teacher who already has a curriculum in place and is looking for supplemental materials, we will be the best fit, especially if the students are in the k-12 range.  My materials compliment the other two very well, but I have not zeroed in on any age group or skill set.  There's a little bit of this and that, something for everybody.  The beauty of Little Musician and Preschool Prodigies is that they picked a very specific target audience and absolutely nailed it with a full-curriculum approach.  If you have a preschooler, I really doubt that you'll find a better music product out there than Preschool Prodigies.  Mr. Rob has zeroed in on this age group and has thoroughly and richly provided a curriculum that preschoolers will love and learn from.  I'm so grateful to have had the chance to review his product and use it with my own kids!  And Rob has been an awesome colleague to work with too- it's always great to make new friends.  He's as awesome off-screen as he is on.

Mr. Rob from Preschool Prodigies is back for another special giveaway- this time a lucky winner will be receiving a year's access to their premium content, aptly called "The Playground".  Mr. Rob is a professional percussionist who has created an entire year's curriculum for preschoolers based around the Chromanote desk bells. 

Enter the giveaway below.  This giveaway ends Friday at midnight, April 1st.

Access to the Preschool Prodigies Playground
is only available on their website.  Get a discount with coupon code "TCM"

Giveaway Rules

Discussion 44 comments

Aamanda Gardner - March 25, 2016 Reply

Love this! So many awesome ideas

Michelle P - March 26, 2016 Reply

This looks amazing! I am a musician with two musically inclined kids who would love to learn early!

Emily - March 26, 2016 Reply

Parents are looking for early music education their children will enjoy, and following a curriculum like this will help produce the results they are seeking. It’s exciting to have resources that are centered to help achieve this goal!

Kara Kudro - March 26, 2016 Reply

Wow I love this concept I have two preschoolers who love music so this would be such a blessing

Leela - March 26, 2016 Reply

I’d love this for my two youngest.

LadyD - March 27, 2016 Reply

What fun and educational resources for the little ones. I teach piano to children 3-5 and all ages at all levels. Great work here. Keep it up!

    Tamsyn Spackman - March 31, 2016 Reply

    Wow, you’re a busy lady! You’re a special teacher too- I know a lot of people really struggle to find a private teacher that will take younger children, but I really think it’s a great time to start when the lessons are tailored to them. It’s not that little ones aren’t ready to learn, but that teachers don’t want to adapt to how they learn. So I love that you have younger students. Good for you!

Michael - March 27, 2016 Reply

I have only the highest regard for Mr. Rob. He is both funny and engaging. You don’t want to miss the chance to win this giveaway.

Tristen Dorough - March 27, 2016 Reply

This looks great and all the ideas are wonderful!

Cristi - March 28, 2016 Reply

Great giveaways!!

sharon b - March 28, 2016 Reply

We currently take violin lessons. I’m hoping this curriculum along with violin will help my son better hear pitch. Also, violin is hard to learn to play songs on. I think this would help him play songs faster and enjoy music more.

B - March 28, 2016 Reply

Preschool prodigies is so much fun! My kids love it!

    Tamsyn Spackman - March 31, 2016 Reply

    That’s awesome! Thank you for sharing.

Kristie - March 28, 2016 Reply

This looks like a great quality program. Thanks for sharing! kristiedonelson(at)gmail(dot)com Thank you.

Elicia P - March 29, 2016 Reply

My son is really into music but with his schedule (we have something every morning (oops, my schedule as well)) fitting in lessons would not work. Night time activities just don’t work well with him. This concept is a great way to get lessons in. Thanks for the review I would have never heard of this.

    Tamsyn Spackman - March 31, 2016 Reply

    Isn’t it crazy how much busier our generation is? It’s so easy to fill up our schedules. I’m grateful that marketers have risen to the challenge and found solutions, and not just with PsP. We do a lot of learning online that would never have been possible 20-30 years ago. Good luck!

Ashley Wilson - March 30, 2016 Reply

I would love to teach Trey this curriculum. He LOVES listening to music and dancing!
-Ashley

    Tamsyn Spackman - March 31, 2016 Reply

    I love watching kids get into the music when they dance. They’re naturals!

patricia delgado - March 30, 2016 Reply

My 14 year old is a musical prodigy, she’s already been accepted to Juliard and she’s only in the 9th grade. Her two year old brother would benefit greatly to find a love of music like she did, this is definitely something I would like to look into.

    Tamsyn Spackman - March 31, 2016 Reply

    Wow! That’s really impressive. I admire you as well as your daughter for that accomplishment! What a neat opportunity for her. My 2-year-old doesn’t get as much out of PsP as the older kids, but he has learned a lot. He loves to sing along with his older siblings (and me), so for younger kids, watching the videos together is more of a must than a good idea. We ordered a set of bells and I look forward to seeing how well he does with them. He just barely turned 2, and there’s a big difference between 24 months and 30-36. Good luck!

Diana Cote - March 30, 2016 Reply

My daughter has been interested in music for a while, she loves listening to daddy play the guitar and wants to learn to make music. I think she would really benefit from this and of course since she’s eager to learn it she will enjoy it too. 🙂

    Tamsyn Spackman - March 31, 2016 Reply

    I agree, being eager to learn dramatically increases how much they learn! It’s finding those resources that is the tricky thing. I would suggest letting her watch a few of Mr. Rob’s videos and she how she likes them.

Michelle - March 30, 2016 Reply

I am so excited to learn more about Preschool Prodigies. My twins have a neurological disorder that makes speech difficult, but singing is a way for them to get more language out, and they love playing music. I’m thinking this might be a fun way for us to get more speech out and get some great cognitive benefits too! Thanks for the information, just what I’ve been looking for!

    Tamsyn Spackman - March 31, 2016 Reply

    That’s great to hear! One of the things I like about the bells is how kids use both sides of their body to play. I’m not a neurological expert, but it reminds me of things like Brain Gym. You could have them cross their hands to play the bells to be “fancy”, and it might help. Even without the bells, they’ll be singing a lot with this course for sure!

Cyndi - March 31, 2016 Reply

I’ve been teaching my kids how to play the piano, but I sure could use a LOT of help in how to teach them theory! This curriculum looks perfect for us! Thank you for the recommendation.

    Tamsyn Spackman - March 31, 2016 Reply

    It’s nice having something already made and ready to go isn’t it? Especially when we’re busy moms. Good luck!

Kim ORourke - April 1, 2016 Reply

I’ve been following PSP for awhile now and love the concept! It’s an easy way for me to teach them music and it is engaging for them!

Erin - April 1, 2016 Reply

Sounds like an amazing curriculum! I teach K-6 and I can see myself utilizing much of this for my kindergarteners especially! Thanks for the chance to win!

Susan D Genna - April 1, 2016 Reply

Music is so important to learn. I am not at all musically inclined and it would be great to introduce my 4 year old into music. We can learn together. Thanks for an opportunity to learn about music!

mamacrizon - April 1, 2016 Reply

Thanks for sharing your honest review! It looks like this could be a great fit for our special needs Kinders next year. So, so excited about your MEGA sale as well. 🙂

Ereca - April 17, 2016 Reply

Love Mr. Rob !!! My kids think he is awesome and so do I !!! Thanks Mr. Rob for brightening the day and helping my little ones learn everyday!!!

Nancy - October 1, 2016 Reply

What a great way to learn about music! It looks like fun!

Mary Beth Elderton - October 1, 2016 Reply

I love this. This program and the basic instruments involved can set up a lifetime of music learning.

Alicia Kruger - October 1, 2016 Reply

This looks like a great program. I think my 3 year old would really love it

Cari Lingwood - October 1, 2016 Reply

I would love to have the lifetime access for my kiddos!!! I feel like it would be so good for their brains to learn music at a young age

jeani b - October 1, 2016 Reply

This is awesome! I wish that my daughter had access to this when she was in preschool, but I have a feeling that she could learn a lot right along side her sister. I love the craft integration and all of the hands-on learning taking place with this curriculum.

Gabrielly - October 1, 2016 Reply

Love this! So many awesome ideas.

Sage - October 1, 2016 Reply

Thank you for the detailed explanation of the curriculum and comparison to other programs. It is very helpful as we decide what we want to do.

Catherine - October 2, 2016 Reply

Great review, thanks

shannon fowler - October 3, 2016 Reply

I love this. I started playing piano when I was really little, and a lot of activities like this were included. Later on it made it so easy to pick up another instrument.

Stephenie L - October 4, 2016 Reply

This is such a great programme. I did all the free videos with my daughter and she loves them and keep wanting more. I am now contemplating whether to get the lifetime membership before it expires..

sharon b - October 4, 2016 Reply

We own a set of bells and a membership already. I love the bells. My youngest can easily play them while my oldest practices his violin. I would love a set for my oldest so they can play together.

Lesley F - October 8, 2016 Reply

My granddaughter loves playing all types of instruments (with her grandpa) and they would enjoy these a lot!

Michelle J. - October 9, 2016 Reply

I love that they learn individual pitches.

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