These are two music lesson computer programs for Windows/Mac that
teach you about music theory. These CDs each come with a registration
key for installation, a Quick Start Guide, and a User Guide. The
programs are MIDI compatible, which is optional to use. These programs
mostly teach you about piano theory, but they also teach you about
reading music, ear training, and playing music, which is applicable
to any instrument. The products are recommended for ages 8 to adult.
You have the option of saving your work in the form of a progress
report on your hard drive.
Music Lessons I: Fundamentals
This program has 12 categories for learning. For most questions you have the
option of playing/doing them, skipping them, listening to the software play the
notes, or showing the answer. You are graded on how many answers you get right
out of the number of tries; so if you fix a mistake, you get a better score.
You can change the options and use the computer keyboard for typing the answers
instead of clicking the keyboard on the screen. This software features Treble,
Bass, and Alto clefs. Under the Level menu, you can change what your challenge
is going be composed of in each of the categories below:
Note reading: shows four notes on a staff and then you play (click) them on the
keyboard below. You have the option to choose line, space, staff, ledger, chromatic,
or advanced chromatic notes.
Circle of fifths: shows middle C and asks you to play (click) the circle of fifths
starting on middle C. When you play the notes (the right letter, just in different
spots in that clef) it moves all the notes to a fifth apart, but still gives
you the correct score, even if you put the notes in different octaves.
Key signatures: gives you a graph with Major keys on the left, and minor keys
on the right, with check boxes. It asks you to name the key signature shown on
Major/minor scales: displays a keyboard for playing the scale it tells you to
play. You have the option of Major, Natural minor, Harmonic minor, Melodic minor,
all minor, or all scales.
Modes: asks you to play a mode scale. Your options are Ionian (Major), Dorian,
Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian (minor), Locrian, or all modes.
Jazz scales: asks for a jazz scale to be played. You can choose Dorian Flat 2,
Lydian Sharp 5, Mixolydian Sharp 4, Mixolydian Flat 6, Minor Flat 5, Locrian
Flat 4, or all jazz scales.
Scale degrees: gives you a note on the staff in a specific key and you have to
name the scale degree (Tonic, Supertonic, Mediant, Subdominant, Dominant, Submediant,
Subtonic, and Leading tone). You can use Major, Natural minor, Harmonic minor,
Melodic minor, all minor, or all scales.
Intervals: plays an interval separate and then together (and shown on the staff).
It plays all Major, minor, Perfect, diminished, and Augmented intervals except
ninths and tenths (in the beginner level). The intermediate level plays intervals
downward and upward instead of just upward as in the beginner level. The advanced
level has sharps and flats plus ninths and tenths plus double diminished and
Note/rest durations: asks (in that time signature) how many beats does the note
(or rest) take up. Choose among notes, rests, notes and rests; and for the time
signature, choose half note, quarter note, eighth note, sixteenth note, or all
beat units. This is kind of tricky.
Scales ear training: plays the scale and (after you select the scale), writes
the notes of the scale you picked on the staff. You have the option of Major/minor,
Modes, Jazz scales or a combination of all three.
Intervals ear training: is the same as Intervals above, except that only the
first note is shown on the staff
Music Lessons II: Chords and Harmony
This software also gives you the option of playing/doing the lesson, skipping
it, listening to the software play the notes, or seeing the answer. And the grading
is the same as in Music Lessons I. As far as I know, you can't use the
computer keyboard for typing in answers. This software features Treble, Bass,
Grand, Alto, and Tenor clefs. You can use this for piano or guitar; you have
the option of displaying the guitar strings or a piano keyboard. It has three
levels. The quick start guide says: "The beginning level uses the keys of C major
and a minor. The Intermediate level uses major and minor keys with up to three
sharps and flats. The Advanced level uses all major and minor keys." Under the
Level menu you can also change what your challenge is going be composed of.
Music Lessons II has six different activities, all with naming, writing,
and playing features. They are Chord Elements, Triads, Triads Ear Training, Seventh
Chords, Seventh Chords Ear Training, and Roman Numerals (chord degree).
Chord Elements: You name the third quality displayed; write (type) the third
quality you are asked for; or play the third quality you are asked for.
Triads: Name the chord by root, quality, and inversion; write a chord in the
key and position given; or play a chord in the key and position given on the
Triads Ear Training: Name the root, quality, and inversion of the chord; write
the chord you hear; or play the chord you hear on the keyboard.
Seventh Chords: Name the seventh chord displayed by root, quality, and inversion;
write the chord in the key and position given; or play the chord in the key and
Seventh Chords Ear Training: Name the seventh chord that you hear by root, quality,
and inversion; write the chord you hear; or play the chord (given the root).
Roman Numerals (chord degree): Name the chord's numeral according to the key
it's in; write the chord in the key and numeral given; or play the chord in the
key and numeral given.
Both programs have a great help section. This is the main teaching part of the
software! When you click on Help, it goes to the section of help for that lesson.
These are extremely helpful, with detailed (but not overly detailed) text and
great graphics to illustrate the point. The help section of Music Lessons
I also has the history of the topics you have looked at, a search window,
a help topics window (which appears to be about the same thing), the table of
contents, and a back button. Music Lessons II has back and forward buttons
and a print feature.
These programs appear to be for ages ten and up, although some of the sections,
at the easiest levels, would be appropriate for younger ages. These courses are
also a great supplement to music lessons, whether during the school year at the
same time as lessons or during the summer when you may not be taking lessons.
The programs are not specifically made for homeschoolers but work better for
them, since homeschoolers can use the software during the day at home more easily
than public/private school students can.
These are great programs for learning the basics and beyond in music theory and
ear training! If I could change one thing about these programs, I would take
out the jazz scales from Music Lessons I. They don't seem like a fundamental
or essential foundation for learning music.
I would recommend these programs to anyone who would like to learn music, even
adults, and especially to music lesson students who want to continue their music
studies during the summer and not lose ground during that large break. These
programs may only require 10-30 minutes every day, and they really strengthen
your music expertise.