THE EMERGING FIELD OF ONLINE MUSIC THEORY GAMES:
Many [even veteran] musicians, hear the term "MUSIC THEORY" or "EAR TRAINING" and immediately go into a coma! This doesn't have to be.. [see this video as an example]
But though it's often considered to be dull and difficult, learning music theory and its "sister skill", ear training, using music theory games, is actually lots of fun.
Consider the above example: For those of you that have an iPhone or iPod, this "app" is perfect.
This program is FREE in the basic version, and something under FOUR DOLLARS in the advanced version! [Only a few years ago a program like this - which could only be run on a desktop computer - would cost as much as hundreds of dollars.]
All of these games get the student to develop his musicianship through small "increments" of increasing difficulty.
Now, Although this is not precisely what is in store for you in an online music theory game for a desktop or laptop, this does give you a general idea of the usefulness of such a program, and how these online music theory games work. [They also are essential for ear training.]
As you can see by the above example the advantage of ear training and music theory games done through the computer is that the computer becomes a tireless "drill sergeant" but one that that never loses patience - never allows a mistake nor gets mad at you for making one, as a "real" teacher might.
Also [in all the programs which I recommend] the student is able to progress at his own self-selected pace. He is also immediately rewarded for a correct answer.
Very quickly, this does become a true "game" rather than a chore, and therefore these online music theory games provide their own incentive for becoming involved in them.
This is known, by young and old alike, as "fun". - I have of course tried these out and, frankly, these online music theory games are "addictive" - in a positive way.
By making it truly fun, online music theory games are especially effective in motivating students to practice!!
UPDATE - MAY 2011:
I've just run across what I think is the absolute BEST site of its kind: the THETA MUSIC TRAINER!
Everything which I have stated on this page certainly applies to the THETA MUSIC TRAINER site "in spades". The site is VERY comprehensive, with "scores" [my pun] of different games, each game targeting a specific theory or ear-training skill. Each game has about 20 levels, plus master levels, progress tracking, personalization, contests, definitions of music terms and concepts, a community, and on and on.
These are TOTALLY "deep" applications which CAN and WILL take you from absolute beginner to seasoned pro level in terms of knowing ALL elements of music instantly, as long as you actually PLAY the games, of course! [But that's just the point - the games are brilliant and loads of fun!] And yes, I've tried them and I'm a subscriber myself - A full subscription is as low as $4.50 a month, with even lower "studio" rates for teachers.
So do click on the banner below and check it out. I absolutely know that you'll really like this:
There are various approaches to ear training and music theory games; I've picked the best of these on the basis of their being low cost or free [though do please consider the requests of some of these for donations, they are quite worthy of support]. I've also included a "short list" of the best of the commercial programs out there, should you wish to delve further.
So, let's take a look at some of these online music theory games:
I've featured Ricci Adams' site on other pages, and for good reason. The material is comprehensive and presented in an attractive manner. Bottom line? You could receive an entire basic to intermediate music education for free! I definitely think her site contains the best in free online music theory games, exercises and music instruction - Click this link:
However, there are lots of approaches to teaching theory and they all have the capability of conveying the information. So, if the Ricci Adams' site doesn't fit your style of learning, then here are a few more online music theory sites worth looking into:
Here is a good, free comprehensive ear trainer utility:
Still another approach to Ear Training - the MUSICAL MIND website; Take a look:
This is not a free utility, but perhaps it is the "granddaddy" of music games. From the makers of "Band-in-a-Box", PG Music:
I think it's wonderful to see how the computer has been utilized to help musicians achieve excellence, rather than to replace them.
Also highly recommended, below:
And the accolades continue: David Grisman [above] uses "The Original" Cowling System:
DOWNLOAD "THE ORIGINAL COWLING SYSTEM©" -- PDF "E-BOOK" - 70 pages [$22.50 via PAYPAL secure]
THE SOFTCOVER PHYSICAL BOOK IS BACK IN PRINT! - Available at Amazon.
And still more [actual and unsolicited] rave reviews for "The Original" Cowling System:
FROM A VIOLINIST:
"The Cowling System © is a set of 12 exercises designed to increase the flexibility and strength of the hand, wrist, and fingers.
"I bought the course in 1978 and have found them to be invaluable.
"I've kept them all these years and still use them to warm up with before playing."
~ Richard Barton posted on VIOLINIST.COM
FROM A BASS PLAYER:
?"My fingers actually DO what my brain tells them to do, WITHOUT getting confused."
~ Anthony Jerome Smith, 35-year veteran bass player.
FROM A PIANIST:
"In 1976, my teacher gave me his copy of all the exercises, whereupon I made xeroxed pages to put in a binder.
"My teacher was amazed at my progress that in a year I could play, for example, the prelude #17 of Chopin!
~ "RPN58" (from a pianists' discussion board in England, 2006)
FROM A GUITARIST:
"I was introduced to the Cowling System © in the 1980's by a violinist in his seventies, who had amazing dexterity on his instrument for HIS age.
"Through the use of the COWLING SYSTEM ©, I went from "amateur" to an "A" level in music in a very short number of years.
"I have been using the exercises continuously since my friend gave them to me and believe me - THEY WORK."
~ Don Wills Guitarist, Great Britain
FROM A VIOLINIST:
"I must say I am highly delighted with the way my fingering has improved since I commenced your hand strengthening exercises.
"Recently, I became very depressed about my playing and almost decided to give it up, but now I feel it's a pleasure, thanks to the Cowling System. ©"
~ "THE VIOLINIST" Magazine, December, 1924
I'd love to see YOUR testimonial on this list! If you really do "THE ORIGINAL" COWLING SYSTEM © of Hand Strengthening Exercises", you CAN master and truly enjoy your music!