Morton Subotnick’s Hearing Music – Tutorial CD

Morton Subotnick’s Hearing Music — Tutorial CD
Company: Viva Media
Price: $30

Software works with OS X, OS 9, OS 8, and all flavors of Windows.

If music makes you smarter, this clever music education CD will make you brilliant. Four sets of tutorials each have four levels of ascending difficulty and fifteen exercises per level. Installation is a breeze, and within a few clicks you and/or your student musicians will be exploring your first Hearing Music category. This program is suitable for individuals or groups of all ages and varying musical abilities.

Graphical and audio production values range respectively from good to splendid. Musical examples are high-quality, and the overall package offers fine instruction at an affordable price. Slot-loading CD drives may not release the disc without a little grab-and-tug, so be aware of this possibility, slot-loaders.

Bold primary color cartoon images are consistent from CD packaging through animated screen images. Screenshot examples for every lesson are provided in the eight-page CD sleeve insert. Toll-free phone and email tech support are offered by Viva Media. Author Morton Subotnick gives parents and teachers a written explanation of how the musical games operate, plus a brief illustrated audio lecture on how and why we should pay attention to music in our lives.

Begin Hearing Music by COMPARING two musical passages when clicking on adjacent balloons. A pleasant female voice quickly says “You did it!” or “Oops — not quite.” Levels one and two are not difficult, but by level three and four you may encounter a musical excerpt that is backwards or upside down from its mate. Think it’s tricky to identify? “That’s correct,” as our guide would say.

Next comes MATCHING, in which you “find two musical phrases that sound the same.” Some examples are melodic and some are percussion. Here the first three levels are straightforward, and level four is hard. You or your student musician really need to concentrate as the levels progress upward.

The READING module has users viewing printed treble and bass staff examples to decide if the music being played is one or the other. My music students will be introduced to this component as a game, and they will be challenged to succeed at it, especially when being put on the spot during their private lessons.

ORDERING a sequence of chunks of a song is not easy to describe, but participants will quickly figure out what is required, even if they have trouble placing each section in its correct order. This unit and the Reading lessons are for music students with more than a few lessons’ experience, but Comparing and Matching can be given to newbies. Ordering is the most difficult and sophisticated, in spite of appearing to be simple upon first glance.

My notes scribbled during my several days evaluating Hearing Music mention “cute” and “smart” and “enjoyable.” The overall impression is of a well-designed and prepared training program using high-quality classical music snippets. Levels one and two within each tutorial are easy and fun, before the more demanding lessons of levels three and four. Users can keep score, which the software does in the background.

On a personal note:

I nearly fell off my piano stool when I noticed Morton Subotnick’s name on this educational CD. He was famous in the late 1960’s for “Silver Apples of the Moon,” an early eclectic electronic music LP. It was influential in my decision to study electronic and synthesizer composition at that time, which I abandoned due to inadequacy of available instruments and computers.

How times have changed, 35 years later! Given the opportunity now, I would vigorously pursue electronic music creation. You have to work with what’s available, but I credit Morton Subotnick for opening my ears to a world of silver apples and more. You can read all about his exploits at applauds Subotnick and Viva Media, rating Hearing Music at 4 out of 5. We’ll be back soon with additional reviews of music and early education CDs in the series.

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