Instead of covering one subject, I want to freshen things up.
Why not cover 2 things in one post?
In the first half, I want to talk to you about Sibelius.
The second chapter will be about EarMaster.
Both are digital tools, therefore software that helps you learn music in a traditional sense, while improving other major skills that are needed, and considered to be fundamental for serious gigs, jobs and scoring of music in form of album tracks, singles or even orchestras.
You find yourself in this situation…
Either you’re self-taught in notes reading, or your music teacher is handing you over note sheets that you can’t comprehend.
Some symbols… you have to ask your music teacher again and again what they mean. You got a basic music book that
covers beginners symbols for reading notes and playing music with various instruments. Now you want to add a mental note on how everything sounds. You are forced to compose. Compose short bits and bars, pieces and full tracks.
You listen to your favorite song and think to yourself:
“How do I replicate that song? How would the song in notational form? What do all these symbols do?”
You’re forced to use basic methods like a pen & some paper ooooor you go with the 21st century and grab yourself some piece of notation software.
Instead of worshiping Sibelius to the maximum praising its perfectionist design and ability. I’d much rather start off by showing you what you can get free and for what you have to pay money for.
Here is a long list of notation software you have to pay nothing for or only small amounts:
I regret saying this, but so far I have only tried out Sibelius.
Here’s the reason why:
#1 I asked my keyboard teacher what he thought about the software and he highly recommended it.
He works with it on a regular basis for live gigs and private use as well.
If I notated a song and I would send it to him via e-mail and he would look over it…
I have every 2 weeks or so my keyboard lessons.
He would be able to take a look at it and suggest to me what I could do better and what I did proper so far.
You save ink, it’s comfy and newer versions are still compatible with older versions of Sibelius.
So if you think your teacher has Sibelius 7 and you have Sibelius 6 and you think you need to spend some money on an update… then don’t. It is not necessary for you to spend your hard-earned cash for an update that you don’t even need.
From one beginner to another…
I always tried to avoid classical music notation styles and the art of knowing scales, harmonics, and relative keys.
At some point, it can be quite refreshing though to know all these rules so just you can avoid ’em or play strictly by the book with ’em. You might find yourself drawn to certain arrangements and you didn’t know what made the characteristics of that certain style. Now you know the name of its character and when it is advisable to avoid or to add it.
Even with no musical knowledge, you can start immediately.
Either you “paint” every note with your mouse via mouse click, or you plug in your MIDI keyboard and record the song via MIDI-step-recording. Then there’s the classical method where you set your metronome and play in the wished tempo
in your timeline or you just fixate yourself on shortcuts.
One of the things that always convince me as a buyer/customer/fan/supporter is the ability to use a program via short cuts.
By that, I don’t mean that I know one or two short-cuts to help me here and there.
I mean the full deal. The whole darn program.
From opening a new project, through saving a project, loading the last project, placing a quarter note, inserting pauses, styles of playing, vibrato, staccato, instrument choice, volume and mixer controls and other short cuts for sub-menus that enhance your workflow in real-time to a maximum.
In a way, you could call that piece of notational software an instrument.
You can, like many other good music programs, misuse it as a DAW or as an additional software instrument in your collection. So far I can’t tell you sadly how good all the freeware programs are out there. But I will keep you informed for the future when I’m at that point.
EarMaster. What it is and why it is the way it is:
I just mentioned that Sibelius is optimal for beginners. Guess what? It’s even easier to learn with EarMaster.
You have hundreds of short courses. They’re most of the time between 5 – 15 minutes long.
So if you come home, like I do, from work and your attention span is almost fried, then these courses have
the perfect balance of boosting your ability to play and sing and hear while being not to heavy to digest with an already tired mindset and physical shape.
If you can’t work with this piece of software you are in for a lot of trouble.
I’ve used the program for over a year on a daily/weekly basis and I am still quite astonished and happy with the material it provides for me. Not to mention that it’s half the price of Sibelius and focuses 100% of your ability to recognize keys, key-changes, scales, chords, and what-not.
I even selected vocal coaching. I sing into the mic while the task is to sing in the proper pitch and duration.
You have 50 things to consider when you practice. It doesn’t matter none of you’re a pro or a beginner.
Training is essential for you, otherwise, you will always be stuck in that trial & error phase in notes that sound good together.
You need to recognize patterns. Read scores, write scores, listen to music, play music, record, mix, master.
If you’re on an even tighter budget than EarMaster is definitely for you.
I used it cracked for half a year and bought it afterward in its newest version for 60€.
Now it only costs 3/4 of that price.
You get asked what instrument you want to practice.
If you want to practice your singing as well as if you want to train in a classical or a jazz style.
I might have mentioned Synthesia earlier.
While it’s popular as learning software for muscle memory and funny meme songs on YouTube
It has helped me less than EarMaster did. So while EarMaster is a 10/10 for me, I’d say Sibelius.
“So you’re telling me I need to spend money in order to learn properly”
Like I mentioned before:
A lot of good software out there is for free.
If the free software is up to your standards is another topic though.
I also don’t want to buy my software, but when I consider the features and possibilities in EarMaster and Sibelius, I’d say it is definitely worth it all.
At some point, you must financially support a product that contains hard labor.
I seriously wanna try out all that free stuff too though.
Some free stuff out there is very glitchy and ideal for experimental recordings.
Let’s hope I get to try it all out and I can tell you all about the funny software out there.
See you next time.
I introduced you two powerful tools when it comes to learning and showed you a lot of alternatives.
The main goal for you is to practice, practice, practice again and again.
Rather do 5 minutes every day then learn 1 hour per week.
Don’t expect to play like Mozart after 10 hours of practicing.
It takes time and patience and a solid routine, only then you will master the instrument of your choice.