Better than Flashcards

Okay, I found pretty much what I was looking for.  Better than flashcards is a FREE game you can download to your computer that will scroll notes across the screen for you to identify.  Like one of my students explained, sort of like Guitar Hero, but for piano.  The program works pretty well for a free download, and is a great way to brush up on some of those note reading skills.  For anyone struggling with note names, octaves, or sightreading in general, I highly recommend giving this game a try!   http://www.musicmasterworks.com/midi_video_game_sheet_music.html

How to use:  (These instructions are for the basic note attack game.  I will be trying out the Pro version [currently available for free as well] and repost if I like it better.)

  1. Visit the site and click to download.  I have downloaded this on multiple computers and have not had any problems with it yet.
  2. Click the icon on the desktop to start the game.
  3. You can play two different ways – with just a computer keyboard, or with an electronic piano keyboard.
  4. COMPUTER INSTRUCTIONS – to use a computer only, you will just type the name of the note as you see it.  For sharp notes add the shift key on the right of your keyboard, and for flat notes add the shift key on the left of your keyboard.
  5. ELECTRONIC KEYBOARD INSTRUCTIONS – Much cooler, but needs some equipment.  You can use almost any type of electronic keyboard or piano.  Except for some of the very newest pianos, pretty much all of them have a place in the back for a MIDI connection (set of two round input connectors – a MIDI in and a MIDI out.)  You will need a special cord to connect your MIDI keyboard to your computer.  I recommend the inexpensive ones on amazon.com.   Search for USB MIDI Cable Converter PC to Music Keyboard.  Right now they are running only $4.93 each with shipping.  There is a little trick to hooking it up.  Be sure to put the “in” cable in the spot that says “out” and the “out” cable in the spot that says “in.”  The other end is  a simple USB and that goes into the computer.  Note Attack is the first program I have used where it saw the piano and worked immediately and accurately on every keyboard I have tried!  Now you just play each note you see.  Great practice in jumping clefs!

It is pretty simple.  To get more use out of your game, it has some cool options you can use.

  • Game speed:  start out slow and increase your difficulty.  I have found the fastest speed to be mildly challenging, but very doable.  The slider makes this easy to use.
  • You can also change the sound of the tones.
  • Note range is a great tool.  You can select certain clefs, octaves, five finger positions, whatever you want to work on.  Select a wider range for a more challenging game.  Here is a chart that will help you find what notes you want to use. http://www.emporia.edu/~houchina/pdf/unit1/octdesig.pdf
  • Mode:  peaceful or violent – depends if you have sensitivity issues to “shooting” notes and making them “blow up.”  Much more interesting on violent (which is not very violent at all!)
  • Weaknesses:  you can not get rid of sharps and flats and you can not pre-set a certain number of notes to work on.  You just have to press the stop icon when you are finished.
  • High Scores – it also scores you and allows you  to compete (for high score!  I need to get on there and figure out how to at least top my student’s scores!)

I highly recommend using this super fun tool!

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About Ms. Cyndi

Passionate about my family, my faith, and teaching music. “To teach a child to love music is to give a gift of character and beauty that will last forever.”
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