I recently had the opportunity to experiment with some music education software called Music Theory FUNdamentals-Preparatory. While this is a big title, the software involves a fun little mouse named Pianomouse, his best friend Clara, a concert violinist, and a mischievous opera-singing cat named Puccini.
I have tried software for language arts, math, and several other subjects, but I had never seen or tried any that concentrates on the subject of music. I was intrigued, though, as I have a music background and my daughter, who is 5 years old, is currently taking music lessons. Although I haven't seen any other music software to which I can compare this program, I have to say I really enjoyed this CD and how it teaches a child the different music components and how they all relate to each other.
Music Theory FUNdamentals
is geared towards the beginning music student, the company recommending the ages 6-12. There are 6 major sections on the CD and within the sections are a total of 16 lessons followed by 16 games. Also included are review tests, 4 ear-training lessons, and the Pianomouse story.
I started using the CD by clicking on the area containing the Pianomouse story. The story I read told me about Pianomouse and his background. I also learned about Puccini, an opera-singing cat who is jealous of Pianomouse. His goal is to find Pianomouse, to see if he is more famous than Puccini. He sets traps and tries to trick him, although I have to say I don't know if he succeeds at the end of the CD. I also learned about Clara, Pianomouse's best friend, who is a concert violinist.
After finishing the story of Pianomouse, I went to the lessons section. The 6 major areas taught are titled:
- Introduction to Basics
- Note Names
- Note & Rest Values
- Symbols and Patterns
- Ear Training
Each of the 6 major areas is broken down into several sub-areas. For example, the first area, Introduction to Basics, is broken down into these sub-areas:
- Keyboard & Pitch
- Musical Alphabet
- Staff, Notes, Steps and Skips
- Grand Staff & Time Signature
Each sub-area had a very simple lesson introducing the concept, then it was followed by a fun game in which the child could see if he or she had learned the concept being taught. I liked the fact that the lessons taught covered a very small area so the child wouldn't be overwhelmed with too much information at one time. This software would be great for a beginning music student or a student wanting to review something already learned.
When I went to the first sub-area, titled Keyboard & Pitch, I was taught that different notes make different sounds. Some sounds have a high pitch, while others have a low pitch. Examples were given and then I was asked to listen to some sounds and decide if they were high pitches or low pitches. After this I was showed a keyboard. The CD explained that the keys on the right side of a keyboard give high pitches while the notes on the left side of the keyboard give low pitches. I was then asked to "play" some high pitches and low pitches.
I will point out one thing I didn't agree with - when I was instructed to "Play a low D". Middle C was identified on the keyboard and there were 2 "D" notes from which I could pick. I picked a "D" that was definitely, to me, a low D, yet the CD told me that while my answer was a "D", it was not the correct "D". Well, having a little music background, the "D" I picked, in my opinion, was a low "D". Yes, there was a lower "D", but the one I picked was a low "D". A child completing this part of the CD might get the idea that there is only ONE low "D", which is not correct.
Another nice area of the CD was where I could click to find out my scores. The CD tracked my scores and percentages as well as the highest possible scores. I also had the option of printing out my scores.
I can't say that music should be taught using only this CD, but it definitely would be a great addition to almost any music instruction, from violin to piano to voice lessons. Pianomouse is great because it teaches the child in a simple, easy-to-understand format, and then follows up each lesson with questions and a fun game that tests what the child has learned. I think this software is a wonderful way for a child to learn about music and have fun at the same time.