MusicGoals Music Theory Practice Programs:
(1) Rhythm ($49.95 w/user guide) and (2) Eye and Ear ($99.95)

(CDs for Windows Vista and XP)
Suitable for ages 5 or 6 to adult
Developed by Gregory Roy Giese, Ph.D., M.A.

Singing Electron, LLC
13901 Balsam Lane North
Dayton, MN 55327


Review by Michael Leppert

The discipline of Music Theory is the foundation of all of our Western music. The term is a bit misleading, not being a "theory" at all, but being the basic "factual" information and skill-building that composers and musical performers then utilize to create complex and often mind-boggling artistic works. Learning how tones function in pitch and duration and how they subsequently allow for the creation of soothing or disturbing music, is the why and wherefore of Music Theory.

These two programs provide the music student of any age, a great way to practice and ultimately master, all of the skills of Music Theory over a period of many years, from very young to college level. Every student of music, whether deadly serious or with a merely recreational bent, should avail himself with these two excellent practice tools.

The Rhythm disk covers note duration -- whole, half, quarter, eighth, etc., and rhythmic patterns of notes. It provides rhythmic dictation as much as the user wishes. Once a student hears a certain pattern enough to memorize it, s/he will be able to identify it forever. The budding composer will be able to use such a pattern to create a new piece upon.

The Eye and Ear disk offers a similar function regarding pitch -- covering note reading for pitch, placement on the keyboard, placement on the staff, scale patterns, harmonic and melodic intervals -- the pitch distance between two notes, chords (which are combinations of certain intervals) and solfeggio - "do, re, mi, fa, etc." Solfeggio is used by singers to identify notes in a relative series (a scale). Like the rhythmic patterns, once the user hears the pitch material enough to memorize it, s/he will integrate the information for life.

Because the piano keyboard is the universal medium of instruction and the piano is the instrument of choice for the majority of composers and arrangers, MusicGoals uses the keyboard as its control mechanism. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that a MIDI keyboard of some sort be used in conjunction with these two programs. This is especially true in the Eye and Ear portion, where the identification of the black and white keys is practiced, making a keyboard essential. Very simple and inexpensive MIDI keyboards are available at any music store or online and if you have purchased your computer within the last five years, a MIDI soundcard is probably already part of its standard equipment. Despite its keyboard base, MusicGoals Eye and Ear also offers tablature and note-reading drills for guitarists.

Both MusicGoals programs are practice courses and therefore, may require the guidance of a music teacher who can explain and demonstrate the basic music theory concept to be addressed. If one's music teacher looks at the MusicGoals material and then shows the student what s/he needs to focus on, the student can successfully use the program at home for hours and hours of necessary, valuable drilling and practicing. The MusicGoals program drills first in note identification on the piano keyboard, then on the music staff and finally provides drills and practices for both skills combined.

The developer of MusicGoals is Gregory R. Giese, Ph.D., an active music instructor, who possesses a M.A. in Music Theory and Composition from the University of Minnesota. His knowledge and credentials show in these two excellent disks; he provides coverage of every important aspect of Music Theory for all music students, whether instrumentalists or vocalists. Thirty years ago, a program comparable to the MusicGoals set, took up over 10 vinyl records and a number of printed manuals. Dr. Giese has beautifully reduced this massive amount of knowledge down to two CDs!

An understanding and mastery of Music Theory can take a garage-band instrumentalist to the heights of musical creative ability, freeing the "folk" musician from the confines of un-knowledge and allowing entry into a virtual wonderland of creativity. In the case of Music Theory, knowledge truly is power and Dr. Giese's MusicGoals products will give the student all of the practice necessary to assimilate the knowledge and gain the power to be able to successfully occupy his/her place in a lifetime of sound and music. MjL

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