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Testimonials

What people are saying about Jaak Sikk’s Online Piano Course
(To add your opinion, please send me an email at jaak@playingpianoblog.com. Thank you.)

George Russell (update after finishing the whole course)

Just Finished the Whole Program

Right Now – I am consolidating and polishing Fur Elise. I am almost there. Section A is complete, Section B needs a bit more work and section C is almost there. Then I need to take it all to a deeper level. Before the program I tried to play this. First section was rough and the rest was a mess. Now it is well within my grasp to complete effectively.

The Ultimate Test – Jaak promises that at the end of the program you will be able to learn new pieces on your own. I have already done this with a number of pieces. Jesus Joy Of Man’s Desiring. is a work in progress but is now easily within my capability to master. Thanks Jaak!

Approach – there seems to be hundreds of different approaches to play the piano. What is important is to play with one system and keep to this. Jaak’s approach I have found highly effective in fusing technique with musicality.

Learning – Learning music is ‘holographic’ or ‘multi-dimensional’ – mind, all senses internal and external, technique and musicality, whole body and mind, relaxed no stress or tension, flowing, slow play, notes into phrases into music and more …. Jaak constantly stretches you into your own holographic approach to music. Bit by bit you are stretched to new ideas and techniques – with minimum pressure. I found his advice to just naturally learn without putting yourself under any pressure whatsoever to be highly effective as my tendency is to put myself under pressure.

Learning Bells Ring! – I believe in the saying ‘When the student is ready the master appears’. When I have been struggling with an area along comes a lesson from Jaak that is just what I needed. This seemed to happen a lot for me doing this program.

Mental Abilities – I have struggled a lot with applying my mind to music. At the start of the program I could not memorise a piece or use mental rehearsal. I have these mental skills in other contexts but could not find a way to do this with music. I put this down to age as I am now 68. Now I can – and this is all due to this program. By doing lots of little bits over a long time has made a huge difference. I can now apply my mind effectively to musical problems and playing. The difference for me is to fully appreciate just how multi-dimensional music is – and building this into my mental work. It seems the more ways you apply your mind to a piece the better it becomes. I now believe that music is first and foremost in the mind and would like to thank you for all your ideas in this area. It is not easy to teach someone how to think but you seem to have done it

Other piano sites – Youtube has a host of learning videos on how to play the piano. If you observe they are mostly demonstrations of what to do and you are left with the challenge of doing it. Jaak’s program helps you do it in great detail from different angles and perspectives. In other words he really teaches you in multi-dimensions while others tend to demonstrate single dimension. Summary – a great course, in great detail, with great philosophies, with a great teacher and a great guy. I strongly recommend this program and will be signing up with Jaak for his next program coming soon – can’t wait!

George Russell

Luc Werniers

In lesson L96-1 you invite us to give our opinion on the course, which I am glad to do.

Already after reviewing the one months free course I ventilated my recommendation on your blog. However as with the course you see things completely differently at the end as compared to at the beginning. My opinion only grew more positively as the course progressed.

I wrote down so many things after each lessons that you approached in an efficient and innovative way, that it would almost take me the writing of a small book to even summarize the most important ones.

The difficulty is that one only gets an adequate insight into the quality and originality of this piano course the day one has gone throught it completely.

I would simply say to everone who is considering this course: “just give it a try and you will not be disappointed”. There is however one fundamental condition: the right attitude and motivation is required.’
This because it is not about a quick piano playing tutorial – as there are so many – with the promise of easy and short term results.
You say it yourself many times: “take your time – do not rush – seek the higher values …”

Those higher values are somewhat hidden in say the first half of the course. At first sight one would even conclude it is a piano course, a good one indeed, but one that is not really different from the many other ones that focus on the necessary technical tools illustrated with a few pieces where these tools can be put into practice.
Not so, as this becomes quickly obvious in the second part!

As you quoted – I believe Neuhauss – in L93-1: “physical technique is a listening technique ultimately”.

So ultimately this course has for me been an invitation to learn how to make music on a piano. Making music in the sence of first trying to understand the art behind what the composer created, then trying to make ones own musical idea of it and finally convey that idea to an audience or oneself as a listener by using technical skills that ultimately have become a natural expression of the whole body.
Really something a beginner will not acquire is a year or two if not a prodigee like e.g. W.A. Mozart.

Does this mean a candidate student should be put off by the idea that this is a too big task for her or him with the possible perspective of even becoming boring?

Not at all! The fact that the learning process that is offered is open ended makes it so valuable and interesting. Something new is guaranteed every day, there is no ‘the end’ like in the movies and it awakes a passion in us because humans are learning creatures!

What things in particular helped me a lot (list not exhaustive)
• do not get stuck
• being free is a conscious action, a state of mind one has to create
• polyphony makes it easier to play in a relaxed way
• grouping practise or repeating every note twice
• new insights in chromatic fingering
• fingers an wrist should remain independent
• movements should follow the main musical idea
• the playing of the 16th notes thirds in bar 61 (Für Elise), i.e. playing the lower line lightly and the higher connected as to create the illusion of legato (also bar 66)
• moving in time to get to the next position
• freeing up before a difficult passage as to avoid stress and troubles backwards ……………
What I still would like to know more off:
• legato double thirds + pedalling, e.g. as in the question I once asked about the Schubert Hungarian Melody, D 817
• hand motion in legato octave chords, especially when constantly moving in opposite direction + pedalling, e.g. as in the question I once asked about the Schubeert M.M. Op.94, D 780 nr. 2
All this means I will still need a lot of time – even long after this course will be over – for polishing everything I learned and for trying to apply all this when learning new pieces or re-learning those I played before.

Still it will give a strange feeling when no longer receiving the weekly lessons. It will be a bit like saying goobye to a good friend or leaving behind something one is really attached to; I will miss it.

This I could not foresee at the start as I rather stumbled upon the course by coincidence.

I found an online piano course given by a young Estonian pianist mostly playing on a Estonia grand piano. Just having visited Tallinn and the Estonia piano factory in the Summer before, having visited the places of the ‘Singing Revolution’ together with an ex conductor of the Estonian choir festival – Dr. Venno Laul – , being an addept of the Estonia piano, supposing you would be trained within the Russian school of piano playing …I thought I cannot go wrong with giving it a chance!
And indeed I do not regret it for one moment!

I hope I will have the opportunity joining some of the courses you are plannnig for the future (?2014?).

Thank you very much and all the best with the ‘music school project’.

Dave Harper

I am enjoying it very much. I am pleased with the feedback responses that I have had to my video submissions. Your feedback has given me things to work on to improve my musicianship and enjoyment of making music.

I like being able to review the lessons whenever and as many times I want to. I like getting feedback to my submissions of my playing. I also like the way the lessons are in small logical chunks. You do not present an overwhelming amount of material in a lesson. I think that the points you have taught about wrist flexibility and playing through the keys with the fingers are great. The music notation seasons are also well done.

You have created a logical progression to the presentation of the necessary technique and knowledge to learn beginner classical piano through the Internet. Well done. You don’t make promises of it being overnight – it will take a year of twenty minutes a day. That is within anyone’s capacity to do, especially when you come out playing a Bach prelude and Fur Elise by he end of the course.

Harold (full name not published on request)

It’s going pretty good. Like a lot of people starting out, I wish that I could go a little faster, but I know that we have to build a good foundation first.

I like that you make yourself accessible to your students, and that you really do answer questions. Since I am a beginner, I really appreciated everything that I have learned so far, nice job…

George Russell

I am 67 years old and have been learning the piano for the last 2 years. I started with an online beginner course that was based on chords then took a few private lessons with a tutor. For the last year I have been learning by myself and can play lots of music very badly!

I was in the technical training business as an instructor, coach and manager for over 35 years. Your approach to teaching is superb.

I like the methodical way you teach and in greater detail than I have seen before. I particularly like the way you explain the fluid use of fingers and hands. Also as a beginner course you get us using black keys and the full range of the keyboard.

Your course is excellent. The only improvement would be to use coloured key pictures that highlight the keys being used after a demonstration. I say this as on a few occasions I had to rewind the video – but even this can be useful for learning.

Anyone who is a complete beginner or who wants to go back to basic to improve technique would benefit from this program.

I now look forward to the coming months as I know I will learn a lot. In the way I learn I know I need to break things down into smaller steps and be patient. The reason I find your approach so stimulating is that it naturally takes me through a process of detailed learning that I find difficult to do on my own. Already by lesson 9 I have gained so much. My hands are more free and my musicality is beginning to improve. I can’t wait for your next lesson.

(Update)

I am now on lesson 64 – 8 months with Jaak and would like to share some of my experience as a 68 year old relative beginner. (Note I have already shared my thoughts at week 9).

I have gained so much from this very detailed and considered program. Jaak shows how musicality and technique are two sides of the same coin. Every new technique is explored in great detail and turned into musical reality. Everything is done using ‘real classical music’ with some considered exercises.

After six months the program stopped for six months due to Jaak’s unavailability. I used this time to explore a wide range of piano approaches using the web and a few books. The end result is I have a lot more intellectual knowledge but not much musical progress during this time. It was a great relief when this program continued.

The recent study was on the Bach Prelude. Some two years ago I tried this on my own and found it impossible. I tried again during the six month break – again with difficulty. Now having spent six weeks using Jaak’s highly structured approach I can play this a lot better and now getting up to tempo.

When I started the program I found memorising music impossible. Then I found I could memorise the first 5 bars of a ten bar piece. Now, with the Bach Prelude, I find I can actually play from memory the first sheet of two whole sheets of music. The attempt at memorising helps enormously from sight reading the score. I also find when sight reading I seldom need to look at the keys, so this part of memory is working very well. Thank you Jaak for all your memory approaches.

Musicality is also developing and now Jaak is encouraging me to develop my own way, something that seemed beyond me and now I can see a way forward.

Jaak is only too keen to answer any query I may have. So far I have not taken up the offer of sharing recordings of my playing … but one day!

If you are serious about learning classical piano in detail then I strongly recommend this program.

Peter Mandia

I already know most of the basics but I try to learn to write the pieces that Jaak plays throughout the tutorial for writing practice. Just to step it up. And it’s good to know how the anatomy works. I reckon I’m alright so far.

The rhythm basics taught me quite a lot since I wasn’t very good at it to begin with. And it’s good because Jaak shows how to play and how not to play which gives me an idea of what I’m doing wrong.

I would recommend this piano course for beginners. Though it’s easier to understand when you already have some knowledge about it. Jaak teaches a bit of everything and also builds on what you already know.

David H

It’s going well. I’m enjoying it [the learning process] very much. I could probably practice more ;)

I like your calm demeanor. I think the fluidity of movement through proper hand position is what I have learned most.

I would recommend this course to others. I would say be ready to start when you sign up don’t wait even a day longer as the lessons are full of great information. I like that Jaak is a real person ;) you can email him and within 24 hours you hear back. I really enjoy the forums. Everyone in them are very supportive no matter their expertise level. The approach is friendly, nicely paced and full of great information that is fully explained and demonstrated. You will want to take notes and watch the videos over and over!!!

Mae L

The info is accurate and comprehensive. Unlike many other piano teachers, you are not just teaching the students how to press the right “buttons” at the right time.

Luc Werniers

I picked out bits and pieces [from the free lessons] – mainly those related to the technical aspects of playing and interpretation – as for now I am trying to use these introductary lessons as a wrap-up for my own (self-made) piano skills built up during the past 4 – 5 years.

Unlike the few other on-line courses available world wide – let alone the very commercial piano course books and DVDs – this one is particular in the way it approaches, at least in my opinion, learning from ‘the inside’ of the piano student/future pianist. It is clear from the beginning – although starting from the real basic level – students are stimulated and learned to make music in their inner self, express and convey the emotions which the musical piece contains and then and then only they are learned the necessary tools (theory & technique) as to reproduce this on the instrument, the piano. This becomes clear when watching the student’s videos on the blog: how easy these pieces that are played by these students may be, they are a joy to listen to as all music is worth listening to when well played from the inner-side of the pianist.

Perhaps all this is not a coincidence. A teacher – Jaak – born and educated in Tallinn, Estonia, the country of ‘The Singing Revolution’!

As a side- note. It pleases me to notice most of the videos of the course are recorded with an Estonia Piano (www.estoniapiano.com), another testimonial of this long historical music tradition.

Certainly would recommend this piano course as much as I can. Even those already playing the piano for some years may well benefit form it as a wrap-up, a refreshment of their expression technique.

Greetings from Belgium,
Luc

Dave Forrer

[The learning process is going] quite well I think, as some things are familiar to me.

I appreciate the time you spend basic position and action the fingers. I am sure that this will allow for greater relaxation and efficiency of muscular effort.

I would recommend this course to others. I like the detailed explanations of each stage and also the encouragement to contact the tutor for support if needed.

(Update)
The pace and structure of the course feels very thorough and ensures that basic techniques are properly covered. Hand, posture and fingers actions and ergonomics.

I need to be more disciplined about setting a regular daily practice session.

Dan Williams

Your course is great. Thank you for taking the time to explain all the details which are often overlooked in most courses. I am only in week two and just finished lesson 4 and already have learned quite a bit. Thank you for developing a course that really does cover “all” that one needs to know as you progress. Great job.

I am a beginner and have view several course and book and your course is the first I have seen that has so much detail in the lessons. Learning the parts of the piano was great. Even more important was how to hold my hand, how to use my fingers correctly to hit the keys and how to move my wrist. I have just finished lesson 4 and the notation basics was excellent. Actually in every lesson I have learned something I did not know and it really helped clear up a few things I was having issues with.

Absolutely the best course out there. I will qualify that statement with the fact that I have only completed lesson 4 so far but to date, it is definitely a great course. There are so many details you have covered that I never knew about and I have used a few books and tried several online courses. Your course doesn’t assume anything and covers all the bases. Plus many of your techniques, especially fingering, is something I have yet to see anyone cover in detail as your course. Great job.

(Update)
The notation basics part 1,2, 3 and Rhythm basics 1-4 are outstanding. I have learned so much your course. Thank you.

This is an outstanding course. It covers absolutely everything you can imagine and more. I have learned so much about reading and writing music than I thought possible and all in the first 4 weeks. Great job Jaak, keep up the outstanding work and am looking forward to learning more.

Ken (full name not published on request)

I am self taught and missed a lot of fundamentals along the way. I knew I needed a teacher to move forward and tried a local one but after 2 lessons her methods had me completely frustrated. I originally thought your beginning course might be a bit too basic but I am surprised at the number of things I have learned in the first six lessons. My playing and approach to practice has improved noticeably.

You have an ability to communicate concepts in a way that makes the material easy to understand and apply. Your videos have a very professional appearance and the progression of materials taught makes sense. The lesson on proper use of the pedal was most helpful for me.

If the next 11 months of the course forwards my playing and understanding as well as the first month I will be very satisfied. Sight reading is one of the weak points I have and wish to improve. Hopefully this will be addressed in the future lessons.

I wish this course had been available back when I first started my piano adventure. I am looking forward to the next 11 months. Maybe by the time I finish that you will have “Jaak Sikk’s Piano Course Year 2″ ready.

Cato Sæther

I have been learning the piano for years, with Jaak 4 weeks.

Concerning feedback, I think I should wait til I have been through more of the course. But already now it seems to me that you have the best serious beginner course on the net, and probably anywhere else too. I have never seen, or heard of a course that gives any useful attention to basic technique. Or any attention at all. I will be happy to give more feedback and suggestions later.

I have already recommended it to others, and will continue to do so. The stuff on basic technique will be difficult to find in any other beginner course. And the selection of pieces to learn is excellent.

Weiyan Wo

I have been learning 3 weeks and practice daily. I like the clear explanation. For example, using the pedal. This may be intermediate skill for most teachers. Jaak explains the coordination of hand and foot so clearly that it’s quite easy for a beginner to pick up this skill. The method of teaching music theory is special. Jaak sings out the note name, instead of the C is Do.

Surely, I will also recommend this course to this groups of people:
1. Piano students who have a teacher, but want to understand the reason behind each skill.
2. Piano teachers to learn the effective teaching method from Jaak.

I hate those piano teachers who teach students from six to sixty to use the same teaching material, same teaching method.

Eike (full name not published on request)

I would like to take the opportunity and thank you for coming up with the fantastic idea of making a virtual piano course!

I have enjoyed the learning experience very much, the lessons are all clear and easily understandable. Unfortunately I have had tough time finding free time to practice so I clearly am slightly behind on the course.

I initially had problems with my PC, although it’s not that old it seems to be too slow for the lessons. After I decided to use my laptop this problem ceased.

Thank you again!
Here’s wishing you all the success in the world.

Catherine Antoinette Kobayashi

I am really enjoying the learning process. Lesson 1 and 2 were so helpful. I needed to know about how to hold your hands and fingers. Great demonstration!

You explain in a very simple way so it is easy to learn, also you speak slowly, this is wonderful because it gives our brain time for things to sink in.

I think there is enough information to keep it interesting, but I can always ask you if I want more. The order of lessons and content is very good. There are so many things I have learned.

It was amazing to find how much more beautiful the melody sounds when you hold the last note just for a fraction. Music of the Angels by Burgmuller is not so easy to play, played too fast there is no depth to it. To me it sounds pleasing to the ear when it is played slowly.

Anyway…… I wish to continue lessons online. Thank you.

Edward Evangelista

Felt a little bit awkward during the first few minutes during the very first lesson because I wasn’t familiar with your accent. It was the very first time that I’ve seen and listened to you. I wasn’t aware of your videos online, just found out the very next day. No, I’m not a stalker, hahaha, just curious about you. But you sound alright as I got used to your accent. Don’t worry you got a cute accent. Your knowledge of the English language is excellent so again, no need to worry much.

I have read quite a lot of piano and music theories so I am not a neophyte. It’s just that my ample knowledge of music does not translate well enough to playing the piano. Lost the enthusiasm to play it because I wasn’t making any progress.

I joined Pianomagic, an online piano course, but dropped out after 2 to 3 months because of my inability to play with both hands. Aside from that I just felt that to really get the most out of this online course, it’s a necessity to wade through pages and pages of posts in its online forum. I just found it rather unstructured or a bit loose in its course structure.

Then I bought Hear and Play Piano by Jermaine Griggs. He’s too verbose and loquacious to my liking. Simply talking endlessly doesn’t make one a teacher. I dumped his course DVDs somewhere and I’ve never laid my eyes on them again.

Rocket Piano by Ruth Searle is cheap, very easy on the pocket for less than US$40. Don’t be surprised though when you find out that the course content is even cheaper. The lessons presented are freely available in the Internet. Uh, I think it is just me but maybe other people would find its mini lessons easy to digest. No, I don’t think that you could play the piano reasonably well after this course.

I have in my hands right now these courses:

1. Runs & Fillers by Yoke Wong. The concepts presented are within my grasp and not difficult to understand. Too advanced for my level of piano playing ability though. The course videos are very poor and her funny accent is quite unsettling. I haven’t warmed up to her accent until now.

2. Piano for All by Matthew Stephens. Have just started the lessons. Quite interesting.

3. Learn & Master Piano with Will Barrow. Got the course package from the mail barely a week before I started with your online piano course. Nothing much to say about it yet but the physical package from the mail is quite impressive :)

My exposure to these piano courses (and some others that I didn’t care to mention anymore) gives me enough background for an enlightened review of your online piano course :)

Your videos are very well produced without any doubt. The video presentations are well thought out unlike Yoke Wong’s. I always get this funny feeling that she went to the fish market, got back home, asked the housemaid to hold the video camera then…. voila! A piano video course for everyone from the pianomother! (That’s her Youtube handle, haha). That’s so mean for me to say. Yoke Wong is quite likable, I should hasten to add.

The lessons are topnotch. The course delivery has a very smooth flow with just enough theory for the task at hand. I could play your lessons over and over again and don’t get a feeling in any way that you were babbling away. Yes, I did replay your video lessons many times.

The piano pieces gave me a sigh of relief. A beginner would find them musically interesting and not dumbed down. The introduction of the black keys from the beginning of the course is very innovative. I don’t remember any particular piano course for beginners that presents the black keys this early. This is a big, big plus. Your Oriental Walk piece enables the student to have a feel of a rather wide expanse of the piano keyboard. Again, this is a big, big plus. Not like other piano courses that prescribe learning piano pieces in the basic 5-finger position in the Key of C for a considerable length of time.

Your video personality is very unassuming and highly likeable. Your students wouldn’t feel that you are looking down at them. Will Barrow has that very detached, aloof, and “Look at me, I’m great” air in his video persona. Not so bad, but not so endearing either.

I don’t care much about the topics on note reading because I’m already familiar with music sheets. Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t move my finger to the correct piano key within a reasonable period of time, haha. But if I were asked to identify notes on a written test I’m pretty sure that I would pass the written test easily. Just don’t ask me to do it on the piano, it’s gonna be an epic fail.

Your piano technique and the lessons that presented those techniques are one of a kind. After many years, it’s only now that I could comfortably play with my pinky and ring fingers. Thanks to your technique. I will always remember you for this. This made me hopeful and got enthusiastic again to play the piano. This is a big milestone for me. Please note that I’ve been playing with my fingers shaped like I’m holding a ball throughout these years. And yet, my fingers remained clumsy at the piano keys.

All the piano teachers I have mentioned here pale in comparison when it comes to piano technique. The way your hand and fingers move are way above their level of expertise. I would rather say that it’s an insult to you if you were compared to those piano teachers.

I couldn’t praise you enough because you have shown that you are a competent and serious teacher. Serious in a good way, that is.

Thank you, thank you very much.

  1. Jawwad Hafeez permalink

    I have just finished 32 lessons and subscribed for up to 48 today. It is no doubt a wonderful course. I really liked Jaaks very clear instruction style and his playing technique, using full arm, relaxed wrists and strong fingers to achieve relaxed playing is wonderful.

    I had some years of Piano playing experience before joining this course. I learned it at a younger age from a Russian Teacher. Later due to study and job commitments I could not continue regularly.
    Dragging left hand in complex chords and movements, too much finger articulation, stiff fingers in brisk movements, uneven scales, 3rds and 5ths and chords were sort of brick walls that I could not cross.

    Until I joined this course, and things have changed now. I took more time on 38 lessons, may be twice as much. After studying the 1st free lessons, I was quick to point out my flawed technique, that I knew will not take me any further in classical piano.
    I have sort of worked more on my technique getting rid of bad habits and tried to imitate Jaak. That is working so well now.

    I would recommend it to for everyone with a passion for classical piano playing. There is not short cut, follow each lesson accurately, don’t move forward until u master it, no doubt u will achieve ur aims

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