Frequently Asked Questions

We want to help you get the most out of our program, so we’ve listed our most frequently asked questions and their answers on this page. Use the links in the Table of Contents to jump to the subject you’re looking for.

Table of Contents

Sales and Premium Gift Codes

I’m already a Premium member. Can I get the sale price for an added year?

Yes, but you will need to purchase it as a Premium gift code. When you purchase the code you’ll be charged the sale price, and then the code can be redeemed at any time. It will always be good for 12 months of piano even if we raise prices in the future. After purchasing the code you can either save the code in your account and redeem it when your Premium membership expires, or apply it to your active account for credit immediately. If you apply the code to your active account and you already have Premium, it will simply add credit to your account so the next time you would have paid, there will be no charge.

What if the person I’m gifting to already has a Premium membership?

No problem! When they activate their code using the purple activation card on their account page, it will be applied as a credit to their account. The next time their billing comes up, the credit will be applied instead of charging their credit card on file.

Does a Premium gift code ever expire?

No. Whether you use the code yourself or gift it to someone else, it can be redeemed for 12 months of Premium piano lessons at any time.

Can I purchase Premium gift codes for students in different households?

Yes, though it’s a different process than simply selecting additional students when you’re placing your order. Here’s how:

  1. Start with one household and select the number of students, then click “Add to Cart.”
  2. Instead of proceeding to checkout, click on “Continue Shopping” to return to the product page.
  3. Select the number of students in that household, then click “Add to Cart” again.
  4. Repeat this process until you have items in your cart for each separate household you’re gifting to and then click “Proceed to Checkout.”
  5. If I gift a Premium gift code to someone, will the receiver need to enter their credit card information?

    Not if the number of students you purchased Premium membership for with the gift code matches the number of Premium students your gift recipient selects when they activate the code. Otherwise, credit card information may be required.

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    Updating Lessons and Materials in Early Units

    How Do I Know Which Lesson I’m On Now That Units 1, 2, & 3 Have Been Changed?

    We’re excited to introduce some brand new video lessons to Units 1 & 2, which are designed to build an even stronger foundation of musical learning in these critical first two units of piano study. The addition of these new lessons, along with the streamlining of the learning flow, required some adjusting and reordering of lessons and lesson numbers in the first three units. Please use this chart to help you figure out how to jump into our new system without missing a beat: Transition Instructions

    You can also download the updated versions of Units 1 & 2 (Unit 3 is coming soon!) by logging in to your account and going to the “Materials” page in your account dashboard area. At the top of the page you will see a link to access your previously purchased materials. Click on that link and it will take you to the download links for all of your previously purchased materials. These links will allow you to download the most recent version of Units 1 & 2.

    Why is Unit 11 Incomplete?

    We have decided to try posting Unit 11 lessons in a progressive release. There are some lessons available now for those who are ready to get started, plus we plan to add a new lesson each week. For premium members, the materials for Unit 11 lessons will be available on the lesson pages. Once the full unit is posted, complete printable and audio materials for the whole unit will be available through premium members’ account dashboard’s “Materials” page and will be available in the Store for basic members to purchase.

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    Logging In and Using My Account

    Why Can’t I Log In?

    If the “Log In” button does not respond or you do not arrive at the login page, please try using this link:
    If you have entered your username and password but clicking “Submit” does not bring a response, try refreshing your browser page.

    Why Do I Receive Repeated Prompts to Log In After I’ve Already Logged In?

    We occasionally see this “log-in loop” problem and it seems to be related to the browser’s cache storage. Here are a few things you can try:

    Why Can’t My Child Have Their Own Account?

    When a child is under the age of 13, privacy laws prevent us from allowing them to create their own account.  If a child attempts to create an account, the parent will get an email requesting the set up of a parent-managed household account. Children under the age of 13 can create and use their own login information, but the account itself must be owned and managed by a parent or teacher. Children over the age of 13 can create their own accounts.

    How Can I Change My Account Details, Password, or Email Address?

    You may change your own name, email address, avatar or password by clicking “Settings” in your account dashboard. To edit these details for another student on the account, click “Students” in your account dashboard and click on the student. Birthdays cannot be changed because student profiles should not be shared or handed off to another student.

    What Do I Do If I Forgot My Password?

    If you have forgotten your password, please click “I forgot my password” below the login form. You should receive an email with instructions to reset your password within 24 hours. Because this is an automated response, you may need to check your spam/junk folder in case it has been misfiled by your email program.

    How Do I Cancel My Premium Membership?

    At any time, you may turn off auto-renewal of your Premium membership. To do so, follow these instructions:

    1. Log in to your Hoffman Academy account and select “Manage Account.”
    2. On the Students page, click on the Manage Premium button above the student avatars.
    3. Switch your student’s membership status from Premium to Free and click Continue.
    4. To confirm your cancellation, return to your Manage Premium page and check the status of your cancelled student. Their avatar will still have a purple Premium badge, but their status will be “Free.” There should also be a notification below that states when their Premium membership will expire.

    This will cancel your subscription and prevent you from automatically being charged for renewal, but will still allow you to use your premium membership through the period of time that you have already paid for.

    We offer a 30-day satisfaction guarantee on our products and premium memberships. If within that time you decide that our program isn’t right for you, please first follow instructions for cancellation and then contact us for a full refund. When a refund is issued, Premium access will expire immediately.

    Here are some things you should know about switching from premium to basic membership:

    • By switching from premium to basic, your premium membership will not auto-renew, and you will not be charged at the end of your current payment period.
    • Your access to premium content will continue until your next payment would have been due.
    • Because you will continue to enjoy access to premium content until the end of your current payment period, there will not be a refund.
    • When you switch from premium to basic membership, your student profiles, progress, and points earned will be saved and will be ready to access again if you choose to renew premium membership.

    Please note: 3-month or 6-month Kickstarter reward memberships must be cancelled in the last month of their reward period or by an administrator. If you are in this category, please contact us and we will be happy to help.

    How Do I Unsubscribe or Delete My Hoffman Academy Account?

    You may unsubscribe from our email communications by using the link at the bottom of any of our emails. If you wish to delete your account entirely, please contact us and we will be happy to help you.

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    Viewing the Lesson Videos

    Why Won’t the Videos Play?

    Our videos are streamed via YouTube, so if you are in a locality or a facility that blocks YouTube videos, our lesson videos will not play on our website. YouTube may also be blocked by parental controls (see next question). If you are not aware of any firewalls that could be blocking the videos, please test your YouTube access by viewing the lessons on our YouTube channel. If our videos work on YouTube but not on our site, please contact us and include the following information:

    • A description of your problem (e.g., the video viewing area stays black or the lesson pages won’t load)
    • What operating system and device you are using
    • What internet browser you are using
    • Your current location, both country and establishment (e.g., at home, at school, in a library, etc.)

    How Can My Children Watch the Lessons If Our Parental Controls Block YouTube?

    Some parents choose to block YouTube on the family’s internet browser. If you want to allow your children to watch Hoffman Academy videos while still controlling YouTube content, you might want to try the YouTube Kids App, which provides safer, family-friendly content from YouTube. Hoffman Academy video lessons will run on this app, as will many other educational and children’s entertainment videos. Of course no filter or internet screening service is 100% perfect, so we do encourage you to always supervise your children while they use the internet.

    Can I View Lesson Videos Offline?

    As long as it is for personal, non-commercial use, you are welcome to download our lesson videos to make it easier to view them offline. We do not at this time have a system on our site to facilitate downloading them. You can find tutorials online to walk you through the process. One we can recommend is here: How Do I Download a YouTube Video?

    Can I Adjust the Speed, Captions, or Quality of the Lesson Videos?

    Yes! You can make all these adjustments by clicking the “Settings” gear-shaped icon in the lower right corner of the video viewing area. Learn more here: YouTube Settings for Optimizing Your Video Lessons.

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    Accessing the Printable & Audio Materials

    How Do I Access the Free Materials for Lesson 1?

    To access the Lesson 1 audio and printable materials, you need to be logged in with a Basic (free) or Premium account. Simply go to the Lesson 1 page and click the Printables and Audio links below the video viewing area.

    How do I Buy Individual Unit Materials to Supplement the Free Membership?

    To buy individual materials:

    1. Log in to (or create) your free Hoffman Academy account
    2. Click on the “Store” link in your account home page
    3. Chose the unit or set of units you wish to purchase
    4. Choose your license (single for one student, family for 2-4) and click “Add to Cart”
    5. Click “Proceed to Checkout” at the bottom of the page
    6. Enter your billing information and click the blue “Proceed” or “Continue” button

    That should complete your purchase and send you a confirmation email with download links. You can also find your download links by logging in and visiting the “Materials” page in your account dashboard area. At the top of the page you will see a link to access materials purchased with the basic membership. Click on that link and it will take you to the download links for all the materials you have purchased.

    How Can I Get Sheet Music For the Popular Songs?

    We offer free sheet music for some of our popular song tutorials – specifically, those that are in the public domain. These scores will be available for free download on their lesson pages soon. In the meantime, you’re welcome to contact us and we can send you a PDF.

    If a song is not in the public domain, unfortunately copyright restrictions prevent us from publishing sheet music for them at this time. However, if you are up for a challenge, we recommend you use these lessons as an exercise in melodic dictation and create your own sheet music! You can print staffed manuscript paper for free at or on our Hoffman Academy Music Learning Resources page.

    Do You Sell Physical Copies of the Complete Materials or DVDs of the Lesson Videos?

    No. At this time, we only offer digital files in our online store. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause to potential customers; however, what we save in printing, inventory, shipping, and handling costs allows us to offer our online lesson videos free of charge and our supplementary materials at such an affordable price. Thank you for your understanding.

    Can I Purchase a Membership for Someone Else?

    Yes! You may do so here: Premium Gift Code

    When Will You Next Hold A Sale?

    We often have sales to celebrate certain events or holidays, but we do not schedule them far in advance and so cannot give advanced notice by request. We notify our users of deals via email and our Facebook page.

    I Was Unable to Purchase Materials During a Sale; Can I Get an Extension?

    Respectfully, we do not extend sale discounts beyond the promoted dates. However, if you had a technical problem with your coupon or order, please let us know as soon as possible and we’ll be happy to help you.

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    How Do I Download My Materials As A Premium Member?

    Premium members of Hoffman Academy have multiple ways to access the printable and audio materials for our lessons:

    • In the Account Owner’s dashboard, there is a link called “Materials.” There you will see the printable and audio materials for each student’s current progress, available for download. Printables here are bundled in a full unit PDF file. Audio files are downloaded in a zip file that contains two folders: the Listening Album and the Practice album. Within those folders you will find the audio files in MP3 form.
    • On each lesson page, you may find links below the video viewing area that allow you to view or download the printable materials for that lesson, and to listen to the audio files for that lesson. If a lesson is missing these links, it is either because that particular lesson has no associated files, or because you have accessed the lesson as a guest or basic member of our site.
    • In the practice sessions, many tasks have associated materials. As on the lesson pages, you may view or download the printables as well as listen to the audio tracks.

    If these options do not seem to be available to you, please check the upper right corner of the browser window for your avatar symbol to be sure you’re logged in.

    Why Can’t I Access My Materials on my iPhone/iPad?

    Most versions of the mobile Safari browser cannot process zip and MP3 files, so iOS users (those with iPhones and iPads), will need to use an alternate download method; for example:

    • Download the files onto a desktop or laptop computer first, then transfer them to your mobile device using a data cable or a cloud-based file management system like Dropbox.
    • Use a third-party mobile browser that supports downloading and file management.

    How Do I Download Previously Purchased Materials?

    To download previously purchased materials:

    1. Log in to your Hoffman Academy account
    2. From your account dashboard, click on “Materials”
    3. In the blue banner at the top, click on “access them here”
    4. Find your order and click on “View
    5. Use the provided links to download your materials all together in a zipped folder, or as individual files

    This will always download the most updated version of our materials.

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    Owning and Caring for a Piano

    What Kind of Piano or Keyboard Should I Have?

    If you are in the market for a piano, your options are nearly limitless. Of course, your time is not. Ready to be done shopping? You can’t go wrong with our top pick for beginning piano students: the Yamaha Arius. For more options and comparisons of different types of pianos, check out our guide to choosing a piano or keyboard.

    Do I Need a Better Instrument?

    The instrument you practice on every day should have keys that respond properly and have the right amount of resistance to develop agility and proper finger strength. If a piano is in poor repair, out of tune, with keys that stick or won’t sound at all, it is not going to be a very enjoyable experience to play it, and may actually contribute to developing poor piano habits over time. In many cases, a piano can be tuned or repaired, but if the problems you experience can’t be fixed, it’s time to consider a new instrument. Also, if you’re using a keyboard with less than 88 keys, look into getting something full-sized. If you have space in your home and in your budget, go ahead and go for an acoustic piano, but a good quality digital piano is also a great choice. For more information, visit our blog post, “Do I Need a Better Instrument?”

    How Do I Care for and Tune My Piano?

    Pianos need attention and respect in order to stay in top condition. We recommend establishing basic rules in your home to protect your instrument from being damaged by food, liquid, and over-enthusiastic budding pianists. Regular cleaning and tuning will also help you enjoy your instrument for years to come. For more details, visit our blog post, “How Do I Care for My Piano?”

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    About the Hoffman Method

    What is the Best Age to Begin Piano Lessons?

    It is true that you can find videos on YouTube of three-year-olds playing Mozart, but that doesn’t mean that a three-year-old who likes plunking on the piano keys should be signed up for lessons. Visit our blog post on the best age to begin piano lessons to learn key indicators for a child’s readiness. Worried you may be too old to start learning piano? We’ll cover that, too!

    Why Do You Start Solfège “Do” on Different Notes?

    There are two different ways to use Solfège: “Fixed Do” and “Moveable Do.” In some countries, a Fixed Do system is used, where Do always means C. However, we find it most helpful to teach using both a fixed system (ABCDEFG) and a movable system (Do, Re, Mi, etc.). Some kind of fixed system is essential to provide structure and certainty. D is always a D on the piano or on any instrument. However, a movable system is best for helping students easily hear and recognize the function of each note in a scale and relationships between each note in a melody, no matter what key the music is in. So, we try to give students the best of both worlds by actively using letter names as a fixed system and Solfège as a movable system. You can learn more about Solfège in our blog post, What is Solfège?

    Why Do You Only Teach Pentascales, Not Full-Octave Scales?

    Playing a full octave scale (do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do) requires a more advanced fingering (with finger “crossing” and “thumb under”) which we prefer to save for later in a student’s development. It is important to establish a good technique and hand posture from the beginning, so we spend a lot of time with pentascales so students can get comfortable using all 5 fingers in a basic pentascale position before we add new fingering challenges. Units 1-8 focus on pentascales, Units 9 and beyond will begin to train students in full-octave scales.

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    Other Questions

    Why is Your Program Promoted as “Free” When You Charge For It?

    We at Hoffman Academy want to remove old financial barriers to music education, making high quality music lessons available and affordable for everyone. That’s why our online video lessons are all 100% free. We only charge for the accompanying printable materials, MP3 audio files, practice checklists, and learning games that supplement the lessons. Plus, if you choose not use these extra features, that’s fine. You can still watch every lesson without spending a dime.

    Do You Have An App?

    Our site currently functions as a webapp, which can be displayed and fully accessed in any mobile browser.

    Do You Offer Advanced Piano Lessons, Adult Piano Lessons, or Online Guitar or Voice Lessons?

    We currently only offer beginning piano lessons, but plan to continue producing more piano units all the way through advanced lessons over time. While our curriculum is geared to elementary-school-aged children, we have heard from hundreds of teens and adults from around the world who are using and enjoying our lessons – particularly the later units as we begin to explore more unique and classical pieces.
    Online lessons for guitar and voice are currently in the early development and planning phase, so stay tuned!

    How Do I Find a Live Piano Teacher?

    We realize that online lessons may not be the best fit for every student. If you are looking for a live teacher, we recommend you put in the effort to find someone who will respect, challenge, and inspire a life-long love of music-making in your child. We’ve posted several helpful tips to finding the right teacher in our blog post, “How to Find a Piano Teacher.”

    How Do You Film and Edit Your Lessons?

    Starting in 2014, we upgraded to high quality equipment and started using a professional videographer, Nick Boxwell. We begin with an outline of a lesson and typically film four lessons at a time over a three to four hour period. We use a Sony FS5 Camcorder when focusing on Mr. Hoffman, and a Sony FDR-AX53 hanging from a rig on the ceiling to get the piano keys. Nick created the rig out of PVC pipe to mount our camera for the top-down shots. Having a nice top down angle is critical, and this solution has worked well for us. Mr. Hoffman speaks into a Audio-Technica (AT899) lapel microphone, and editing is done on Final Cut Pro X. Some graphical additions are created on Apple Motion 5.

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    I Still Need Help!

    Many more questions have been answered in our newsletters and blog posts, so be sure to search our Blog for information about using our lessons, motivating your student, overcoming learning obstacles, and much more. You are also welcome to contact us and include the following information:

    • A description of your issue or question
    • What operating system and device you are using
    • What internet browser(s) you are using
    • Your username (but NOT your password)