Using a Mouse to Train Your Ear
Do you long for computer games that do something besides blow up the world? Good news: The old, gentle, fun games similar to Pong, Space Invaders, and PacMan are back, in Theta Music Trainer.
Theta online computer games combine the fun of simple computer games with the reward of learning to listen to music with more depth and understanding.
“I’d been playing guitar for more than 10 years, but was frustrated with not being able to play by ear at all,” Steve Myers of parent company Theta Music Technologies tells Opus Osm. He worked through a course in music theory, “but the exercises were very tedious and the process was a lot of work,” he explains. As a computer programmer, he knew what was technically possible, so in 2010 he combined computer technology with music, and the result was Theta Music Trainer.
Theta Music Technologies’ full-time technical staff of four is assisted by a large group of professional music teachers, who offer suggestions, advice, and guidance while new games are in development.
All the games help beginners as well as professional musicians, composers, and teachers, Mr Myers says. “Most students using Theta Music Trainer are ages 14-22, who play an instrument or sing in their school choir. The games give them a better understanding of the concepts they’re already using. But professional musicians and music teachers also use the games for themselves, in order to keep their own ears sharp.”
For vocalists, he recommends the pitch and tuning games, Vocal Match and Dango Brothers. For choral vocalists, games such as Flash Progressions (Major) and Chord Spells can help build an understanding of harmony and chord construction.
A particular benefit of Theta games lies in the instructions. You can easily access each game’s tips and FAQ for more information about how the game works and what skill it’s for. But even if you’re not fluent in English, you can easily take a practice shot or just jump right into play. Computer tricks such as cheering crowd noises and a tally of your record-breaking scores give players an extra pat on the back which is not typical in classroom music training.
Theta Music Trainer is Opus Osm’s Education Partner (quality organizations which help educate people in the classic arts). So you can access the training site from their website, of course, or from the Opus Osm Home page. Importantly, a large portion of Theta Music Trainer is free of charge, thus making the educational training universally accessible to everyone.
And just in case you’re not a music professional, you’ll be happy to know that even the general public can benefit from music training. “By ‘actively’ listening to a piece of music, you begin to notice things that you might not have noticed before. You understand the music at a deeper level,” the Theta developer says. He compares it to reading a novel as a teenager, then going back to re-read it 20 years later. “With those extra years of life experience, you understand the characters better and pick up on subtle nuances that you may have missed as a kid.
“In a similar way, the activities on Theta Music Trainer give you the experience that will enhance your understanding and appreciation of music,” he says.
And that’s something that’s typically missing from even the most sophisticated (and expensive) computer games today. — oo
– Mary Matz
Photo Credits: Theta Music Training website