note reading

With Music Software, Timing is Everything

I'd like to say that I know my way around a computer. At my last full-time job (for someone else), I was called one of the "super-users". However, I  have been experiencing several challenges with my Studio Lab computer. It's operating on Linux Ubuntu and it's not as easy as Mac or as familiar to me as Windows or even Unix or DOS. Linux has some fabulous apps available for education and more specifically, music education and music. For example:

  • music notation software (e.g. MuseScore)
  • audio recording and editing (e.g. Audacity)
  • drum machine (e.g. Hydrogen Drum Machine)
  • note reader trainers and more

Music and technology has never been so tempting. "Sudo apt-get install" is just so gosh-darn easy to do. Getting the sound set up and audio controls cooperating with all one another? Now there's my technical challenge. Thankfully, some super Linux users have posted some helpful tutorials. The Linux Community Forums have been good too, but having the visuals and working through the steps along with the video helped. It's just been challenging getting the time in to focus on it. The process has made me rethink my roll-out strategy for these music software programs. Rather than having them all available for my students to explore at once, I am going to just roll out a few programs at a time. I have learned that it's important to have Jack Control and those connections set up properly. 

After three weeks of on and off fiddling and re-installs, I can say with confidence that Hydrogen Drum Machine, Virtual Midi Piano Keyboard and Score Reading Trainer are playing nicely together in my computer lab.

Life was so much easier when dealing with physical midi and audio cables. Trying to set audio up in a virtual environment has really challenged my learning style.

Setting up the Studio Computer Lab

Students can improve their note reading, ear training and more on the computer,  Photo by R-M Arca.

Technology and music is a huge area for growth as far as music teaching goes. I recently transformed my old office laptop into a music computer lab.
I downloaded various cool (and free) apps from Ubuntu's software center, including:
  • Audacity
  • Linthesia
  • Score Reading Trainer
  • GNU Denemo
  • GNU Solfege
  • Hydrogen Drum Machine
  • Linux Multimedia Studio
  • Virtual Midi Piano Keyboard
  • Musescore
Generally, I zoomed in on apps that help students with note reading practice, ear training and rhythm work. The music notation software and audio recording software is to give them something fun to create.
One student was tickled pink that he earned three Maestro Bucks for creating a funky drum loop (and tutored his sister on how to use the program).

Music Review 101

The one thing that music teachers enjoy about Christmas break is that it's a chance to rest our overworked braincells and catch up on sleep. The downside however, is that some students really take "Christmas Break" to a whole new level. These links are for those students and the teachers that are looking for funky ways to refresh their memories:

Speed Note Reading Practice - everything from note reading to ear training drills - Games

And let's not forget my all-time favorites: - Head to "Trainers" - The Piano Player

(c) 2009 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.


Note Reading Geography Help

Some of my students are having trouble associating a note written on the staff with its corresponding note on the keyboard, regardless of how many times I say, "The farther it is from middle C on the staff a note is, the farther away it is from middle C on the keyboard."

For example, they do identify the note correctly on the staff as a "B" but when I ask them to play the corresponding note, they pick any "B" on the keyboard. Well, Middle B is written on a different part of the staff from Treble B, which is nowhere near "Really Low B" or "Really Really High B". See what I mean?

The Piano Player is a game is for them and for all music students struggling with this.

(c) 2007 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.