One of the more popular online piano courses available to adult students is Rocket Piano, which you can find at http://rocketpiano.com. In addition to the lesson material, students that sign up for this course have access to a collection of downloadable software. The different software applications are a series of music games designed to help the student learn the piano.
At the time of writing, Rocket Piano offers four different game-style applications, Jayde Musica, Perfect You Pitch Pro, Chordinator, and Keycelerator, plus a software version of a metronome.
Jayde Musica (http://www.jaydemusica.com) is a fairly simple and intuitive note-learning game. You select which clefs you want to work on: any combination of treble, bass, tenor, and alto clefs., and a level of difficulty. Various notes scroll across the screen from left to right. You identify the correct pitch name from a list on the bottom of the window.
This piece of software is good for learning note names at a beginner to intermediate level, a skill essential to learn to play the piano. The fact that you can also practice the alto and tenor clef is a real bonus for the more serious music student. You will find the program available in two formats: you can play online, or download a free version with advertisements. If you like the software, registration and a small contribution will remove the adverts and engage a few more options like sound. Students that register with Rocket Piano receive the registered version.
Perfect Your Pitch Pro is a software game that trains you to recognize pitch by its sound. The concept of the game is simple. You begin at a very basic level. You hear a pitch sequence of four notes. You then select the correct sequence to match what you hear from a series of options. You receive up to ten points for a correct response, and must complete a level successfully before you are allowed to continue on to a new level. As you progress through the game’s levels, the pitch sequences become more complex.
Personally I am skeptical about the possibility of adult students developing perfect pitch. I have been a professional musical all my life and have good relative pitch. I found that while playing the game, once I had a reference pitch in my head I was simply using it and my relative pitch to figure out the note names of the sequences. I would suggest that software that focuses on developing a student’s relative pitch would ultimately be more useful to adult learners.
Chordinator tests your ability to recognize different chord types notated in close position in the bass clef. You can test yourself on any combination of triad types, seventh chords, and added sixth chords. This piece of software is good for those just beginning to learn to read music and wish to develop their chord recognition skills. I wish that the program had the option to play back the chord, both in solid and broken form, and an option to toggle the sound effects on and off.
Keycelerator is a step above Chordinator designed specifically for keyboard players. The interface is similar to Chordinator, but you choose the correct keyboard diagram to accompany the noted chord. You can customize which chord-types you wish to work on. Again, I wish you could hear the chords I was being tested on. Nevertheless, a solid program for the beginner piano player who is working on their understanding of chords.
Rocket Piano Metronome is exactly what its name claims it to be. When I launched the program I was quite tickled discover it was a simulation of an old style wind-up metronome, complete with swinging pendulum and authentic sound. You can control the tempo with a slider, and like a traditional metronome you can set it by beats per minute, or a more general tempo indication like allegro, or moderato. I love this tool for its simplicity and clarity of function. No piano practice room is complete without a metronome, and this one is a good choice.
Overall I like the software that Rocket Piano offers its piano students. They are a useful compliment to anyone’s studies while they learn to play the piano.
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