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lthough there are a number of means for teaching music theory to students, there are relatively few theory programs that allow the teacher to both drill the student in music theory and adequately monitor their progress. Musicianship Basics helps students of all ages reinforce the knowledge and skills learned at their private lessons and/or theory lessons. Musicianship Basics does not teach material, instead it is a series of 50 levels of music theory challenges ranging from identifying notes on the keyboard, to identifying different ear training exercises, to identifying musical terminology.

 

 

 

The intent of Musicianship Basics is to provide drill activities for a wide range of students. Both adults and children can benefit from the program. One does not need a MIDI keyboard to use this program successfully. The user signs up, picks out the level they want to begin and off they go exploring their knowledge of (Level 1) the names of the marked keys on the screen keyboard, then onto clicking on the melody they hear- the program plays one of 4 written 2 measure long phrases and the student clicks on which 2 measure phrase they feel they have just heard. Level 3 has the student identifying the name of the note, while the screen has the choices on the bottom of the window. For example, the screen could show a treble clef staff with a whole note on the third space, the student then moves their mouse to the correct letter name on the bottom of the screen and clicks on the name. If the student gets all the exercises correct at a specific level, the screen states such fun things as Marvelous Mozart, you scored 100%, while in the background he hears applause and shouts of bravo. It's fun. At level 4 the student looks at the screen where 8 2-measure phrases are shown, and then when the question mark appears by one of the phrases, the student has to choose if the phrase is in 2/4 or 3/4 time. The kids love it. Level 5 shows the treble clef staff, with a keyboard shown below it, the student is directed to click the note on the keyboard.

Another great feature of this program was the review of symbols or musical terms. In a box is, for example, the term piano-play soft, the user then looks at the choices on the screen and clicks on the correct response (in this case the letter p) Another great exercise in Musicianship Basics is one where the student is asked to replay the tune that they hear. A short tune is played twice, the student then uses the mouse to click on the notes on the keyboard on the screen. It is great ear training. As the levels progress the degree of difficulty increases.

The Windows and Mac versions differ at levels 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50. The Mac version includes rhythm exercises. General knowledge quizzes about music instruments have been substituted in the Windows version. We really appreciated the use of these quizzes; they reinforce general music/music appreciation knowledge. To get the correct answers in the musical instruments quizzes, not only does the student need to know the correct answer, but it has to be spelled correctly to score points.

At the later levels the student is asked to identify 10 aural scales. Each scale is played twice and the student clicks on one of the buttons to answer- the choices are major, harmonic minor, and pentatonic. The same type of exercise is provided to identify different arpeggios, intervals, and more scales. Musicianship Basics also tests students in identifying key signatures; the words D Major, A minor, etc appear one at a time and the student picks the correct key signature to go along with the word in the dropped box.

Arpeggio, scale, intervalic and chord identification reviews are superbly organized to check on the knowledge of students. Not only do students have to identify the above categories by recognizing them on the screen, written either in manuscript form, or as they would appear on the keyboard, but also after hearing them. We liked the fact that not only were they presented aurally in ascending patterns, but also in descending patterns. Scale review included: major, harmonic and melodic minors, pentatonic, whole tone scales. Arpeggios reviewed included: major, minor, dominant 7th. All Major and minor chords commonly taught to beginners were included as were all Major and perfect intervals.

The teacher can view a student's achievement by pressing the progress button. This then displays levels which have been completed with 100% accuracy. However, the results must be recorded manually in hard copy, such as the progress chart enclosed with the software, as all scores are erased when the program is quit. We hope that a future version of Musicianship Basics will record this information permanently and automatically on disk and display it in a format much like the current progress chart that can be printed at need.

We recommend Musicianship Basics for teachers and students. While it does not go into explanations of scales, arpeggios, intervals, etc., it is one of the best programs this reviewer has worked with to date for a thorough and extensive review of theory basics for students of all ages. Our students found it a great way to reinforce theory and general music skills that a lot of them tended to disregard, as less important than playing the piano. Now these same students are taking their theory and general music knowledge parts of their lessons a lot more seriously. A demo version of Musicianship Basics is available free for downloading and you can view some of the exercises on the Web site.

Nancy Ostromencki and John Zeigler

Musicianship Basics, Version 1.0.2c, New Horizons Educational Computing Services, P.O. Box 658, Armidale, NSW 2350 Australia. Phone (outside Australia): 61 (0)67 7111055 Fax (outside Australia): 61 (0)67 711050. New Horizons: Phone (Australia): 1800-023-069. Fax (Australia): 1800 808 656.  System requirements for Windows: 386 or better CPU, 6 Mb of disk space. Macintosh System Requirements: any model Mac, System 7, 2 Mb disk space. Single user price: $47; 50 user site licence: $99; Unlimited licence, including permission to load the program on all student laptops is $199. Airmail is $13 from Australia.
 
 
 
 
 
Page created: 9/3/97
Last updated: 01/30/15
 
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Reprinting from the Piano Education Page The Piano Education Page, Op. 10, No. 1, http://pianoeducation.org
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