Piano Course Review: ProPractice by Dr. Josh Wright

Introduction

In this post, I’ll be reviewing the full “ProPractice Lifetime Access Course” that currently includes 4 levels divided into 2 parts each, technique and repertoire. If you’re only interested in the repertoire section of one level, you can purchase just that section alone here.

This post will cover the full course, so hopefully I’ll be able to answer a lot of your questions and provide you with options that best suit your piano needs.

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for Josh Wright’s courses, meaning that if you purchase any of his courses using my links, I’ll get a small commission. It doesn’t affect the amount you pay at all, but especially in a review setting, it’s important to let you know that I cannot be completely unbiased.

Summary

The course is divided into four levels: Early Beginner, Mid-Late Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. All of the sheet music and work sheets required to go through the course are either included in the course itself or via link to IMSLP (also free).

Once you purchase the course, you won’t have to buy any other materials. Additionally, students in this course get discounts for a subscription to PianoMarvel (a sight-reading app), Pianist Magazine, and Hidrau Model Piano Benches (Josh’s recommended adjustable bench).

propractice intro

 

In addition to the regular sections, there is a “WELCOME & Instructions” section that includes a video on “Where Should I Start? Navigating This Course” as well as contact information (he responds to emails promptly and is always gracious and helpful), resources on structuring your practice sessions, music theory resources, links to the members-only Facebook page, and many other helpful resources to get you started.

If you’re still unsure where to start, I have a few resources on the site (For New Adult Pianists, Picking Repertoire, Finding Joy While Practicing, and Avoiding Frustration While Practicing) and am always happy to help you via email or through a single consultation session. I’ll also try to make it easy to figure out your level based on the descriptions below.

Early Beginner Section

The first section after the introduction is for early beginners and is not divided into technique and repertoire. This section starts at the very beginning of learning to play the piano: setup, hand position, learning the notes on the keyboard, and learning how to read sheet music.

Much of this section is learning to improvise on given notes, which is a helpful way to teach yourself what the notes on the piano are without the added pressure of reading sheet music at the same time.

propractice beginner

Just from the names of the pieces (many of which Josh and his wife Lindsay composed!), it does feel geared toward younger students: “The Sneaky Tiger,” “Ghost Dance,” “The Mouse and the Elephant.” But if you’re an adult beginner and are able to swallow your pride, there is a lot of solid technique instruction in this section, and you’ll find that Josh never talks down to his students, even in the very beginning.

If you are a more experienced pianist, this section is a helpful way of observing lessons without feeling like a distraction, and it can serve as a model for how to approach lessons in a humble and constructive way.

The last video in this section discusses how to transition into the Mid-Late Beginner Section, which is an invaluable resource. One of the most difficult parts of learning to play is moving from one level to the next because there are often sizable gaps between each, so Josh helps you strategically approach these for success.

Currently, there are 46 videos in the Early Beginner section of the course.

Mid-Late Beginner Technique

This section is dedicated to 5-finger patterns. In this section, you will learn to control finger independence, develop strong technique, and build up speed.

Josh uses the Schmitt Preparatory, Hanon, and Czerny exercises (all available for free on IMSLP and are included in links at the very beginning of the section).

Here is an excerpt of the Schmitt Preparatory exercises:

As you can see in the video, not only does he show you how to simply play them, but Josh also gives you different methods for successfully tackling these exercises more than just playing them over and over. In this video in particular, I appreciate his focus on clean releases; it’s part of technique that frequently gets skipped over especially for beginners, but it’s so important to keeping a relaxed and healthy technique.

If you’re not ready to commit fully to the paid course, you can get a lot out of the free excerpts, like this one, on his Youtube channel. If you really are a beginner, however, I do recommend you either commit to regular one-on-one piano lessons or to a course like this, so you can be confident in your technique and avoid injury.

Currently, there are 30 videos/text posts in the Mid-Late Beginner Technique section of the course.

Mid-Late Beginner Repertoire

This is the first of the repertoire sections in the course. If you are at this level, you can technically pick from any of the pieces in the section and be successful in learning it, but Josh also included a list of the easier pieces and tougher pieces you might want to try when you first enter this level and before moving onto the next level of piano study.

The easier pieces include  Purcell’s Minuet in A minor ,Z. 649; Burgmüller’s Arabesque, Op. 100; and J.S. Bach’s Minuet in G Major, BWV 114, from the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach. The tougher pieces include J.S. Bach’s Two-Part Invention No. 4 in D Minor, BWV 774; Scriabin’s Prelude in E-flat Minor, Op. 16 No. 4, and Chopin’s Waltz in A Minor, B. 150, Op. Posthumous.

Here is an excerpt of the Chopin Waltz in A Minor:

In each of the videos, he provides help with suggested fingerings (which has always been one of the trickiest parts of piano for me!), how to bring out voices, other artistic nuances, and suggestions for efficient practice methods. I cannot stress enough the value of his practice methods, as spending a lot of time on a piece with little progress is enough to make people stop playing piano at all. Instead, he gives you ways to make the learning process much faster and enjoyable, so you can focus on enjoying the beautiful sounds of the music.

Currently there are 16 videos/text posts in the Mid-Late Beginner section of the course.

Intermediate Technique

The Intermediate Technique section focuses on what most people think of as technique in piano: scales, arpeggios, and triads. There is a video for every key as well as the chromatic scale. A couple of members from our community also wrote out all the notes and fingerings for these techniques and jotted down all the time stamps for where each skill begins in every video.

Here’s the excerpt for the Key of C:

Like the earlier sections, Josh provides different methods for practicing scales and arpeggios, one per video. That’s twelve different ways of practicing scales!

I really appreciate these different methods, especially after years of just playing the scales over and over. It’s a good way to keep every practice session new.

In addition to scales, arpeggios, and triads, at the end of this technique section are “Pro Tips” for playing faster, fluidity, alignment, awkwardly spaced arpeggios, black key arpeggios, clarity, lining up the metronome with your hands, and using the “cycling” method in your practice.

Currently, there are 23 videos/text posts in the Intermediate Technique section of the course.

Intermediate Repertoire

Like the first repertoire section, Josh includes a list of the easiest and hardest repertoire pieces in the section to give you an idea of where to start if you’re a new intermediate pianist and what the tackle before you move onto the advanced section.

Some of the pieces you can expect are: Chopin: Prelude in E minor, Op. 28 No. 4; Clementi: Sonatina in C Major; C.P.E. Bach’s Solfeggietto, and Ravel’s Pavane pour une infant défunte.

Here’s the excerpt for the Ravel:

I appreciate the brief history of the piece itself; it gives it a little more meaning and gives us an idea of the nuanced emotion we might strive for in performing the piece. At around the 3:30 mark he begins explaining a way of improving your voicing, and I personally started using this practice technique at his suggestion, and I (and my piano teacher) noticed a huge difference in the ease with which I’m able to clearly articulate voices. So even if you don’t buy the course, you can see how much there is to learn just from the free samples!

Currently, there are 30 videos in the Intermediate Repertoire section of the course.

Advanced Technique and Repertoire

Advanced Technique and Repertoire are technically divided into two sections, but I’ve grouped them together here because of the type of repertoire included in both.

Because scales, arpeggios, and triads are all in the intermediate section, the technique practice in this section comes completely from etudes that can also be performed in recitals. Josh has a video on almost every Chopin Etude and will undoubtedly add the final ones soon. He actually added another one this week! A few other etudes, like Liszt’s Paganini Etude No. 3 in G-sharp Minor (“La Campanella”), are also included.

Like the previous sections, Josh has a list of the easiest and hardest pieces at this level, but he groups together technique and repertoire. A few pieces you can expect include Debussy’s “Clair de lune” from Suite bergamasque, Mozart’s Sonata No. 11 in A Major, K. 331, iii. “Alla turca;” Brahms’s Intermezzo in A Major, Op. 118; and the third movement of Beethoven’s Sonata in C-sharp Minor, Op. 27 No. 2 “Moonlight.”

Here’s the excerpt for “Clair de lune”:

As with every video, I appreciate the organized introductions he includes in every video. Not only does he give a brief introduction to the piece itself, but he also lists everything he’ll go over in the video.

Currently, there are 63 videos in the main sections of Advanced Technique and Repertoire and 14 videos/text posts in the resources and extras sections.

What Do You Get?

I’ve included how many videos/text posts are in each section of the course at the moment, but these numbers don’t include all the extra sections and the introduction to the full course. Additionally, Josh is continuously adding more content to the course, so if you purchase the lifetime access version, you’ll always have access to more repertoire and technique tutorials. I’ll try to keep the number of videos for each section up to date here: 241 total in the English sections!

That’s a lot of videos!

This is definitely the largest course I’ve been a part of, and considering that many of the videos are almost an hour long, I definitely feel like I’ve gotten my money’s worth.

He’s also working to provide these videos in Chinese as well. There are already 59 videos translated into Chinese that are included in the lifetime access course as well.

propractice chinese

In addition to all these videos and resources, you get discounts (PianoMarvel for sight-reading, Pianist Magazine, Hidrau Model Piano Benches), a free month of the VIP MasterClass Series (a ton of repertoire tutorials that come from specific questions raised by members of the VIP MasterClass), and access to the private Facebook group.

hidrau model bench

My favorite part of these extras is the Facebook group. It is a seriously supportive community of people who just really love the piano and whose experience ranges from beginner to advanced and whose ages range widely too!

I feel completely unafraid to ask questions in the Facebook group, and I know that I’ll get a great answer from other people in the community and from Josh himself. People also frequently post videos of themselves playing just for the sake of doing it or to ask for help in specific parts, and I’ve learned so much just by seeing the community’s comments on these videos.

Who is This Course For?

This course is aimed at anyone who wants to learn classical piano at a deep level. If you’ve never played, and you’re not sure what style you want to play in, the beginner sections provide a solid foundation. In your first few months of piano, you generally wouldn’t be playing in any specific style anyway.

Many people in the course use this for supplemental material in addition to their own one-on-one lessons with other teachers, and many use the course alone. The great part is that there are so many great videos and resources in it, that you can use it to best fit your needs.

As I mentioned before, you can buy each section on its own or buy the full, lifetime access.

Conclusion

I hope this review gave you some helpful insight into the course! If you have any other questions about my experience with the course or about piano or music in general, you can email me at amy@girlinbluemusic.com.

If you do decide to purchase any version of the course, I’d really appreciate you using one of my affiliate links. It’s a major part of this website’s income and helps keep annoying ads away.

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Happy pianoing!

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