Musonix Publishing

Don't know much about.... music practice software

I don't know much about music practice software.

I didn't write the Music History Handbook or the other books on this website. I just set-up the web site as a clone of my veggie shoe website and am learning an instrument, so I learned a bit about music practice software and here it is.


From my Roland DT-1 midi drum practice software, I know that this can

  • [/] show the music to play, starting with something built-in, on moving staves 
  • [/] add some other diagrams of keys or frets drum pads or such
  • [/] show me if I hit the right note, immediately, from either a midi connection or a microphone  DT1 uses MIDI
  • [/] slow down the music and let me practice the difficult bits over-and-over in some way.) DT1 allows speeds down to 20bpm and allows snare-and-kick-only playing with those staves highlighted, and a way of making a loop between the beginning and end of a difficult bit, which it calls A and B.

Extras. I have ticked the ones that my Roland DT-1 does.

  • [/] allow me to add my own choice of music, from free midi download sites or wherever 
  • [_] find me some exercises and explanations for the difficult bits, maybe with youtube videos or diagrams or both 
  • [_] find me music examples for different levels of difficulty that I might want to use  DT1 just has something to demonstrate and a 57 short exercises.
  • [_] one site - Gigajam -  even has cheap music exams up to grade 5 and will have browser-based instant feedback soon. (As I write in 2021 it gives you feedback at the end of the piece.)
  • [_] explain how I can record music off my recording of a local pub band or a youtube video and turn it into midi that the software can play. This is beyond any piece of software for drums, but there's software for getting keyboard notes into midi and guitar cords into chord diagrams and midi. 


Roland still sell this software but don't promote it so you'll probably want a copy from Ebay

I've put the whole business of music exercises and explanations into the "extras" bit, because I hope that playing music I like, and practicing the difficult bits slowly if they look possible, is the same thing. It's often the difference between a free or an open source bit of software and a paid one. The paid one comes bundled with loads of exercise examples in order of difficulty, and explanations of why they're hard; it's like buying an interactive textbook that comes with the software. On the other hand, some of the paid software charges monthly. You pay them, and then you pay them again, which can't be good value.

Music teachers are often close: I tried one of the closest ones, within a few minutes bike ride, for an hour a week at first. The catch is that if you're a slow learner then maybe the lessons ought to be monthly, even if you practice for half an hour every day. That way, they might be cheaper than some of the rented software. I also happen to live with an ex-music teacher, Paul Terry the book author, who suggested practicing for half an hour a day like clockwork, and not playing the same thing over and over; play it faster, or learn the difficult bits rather than skipping them.


DrumsGuitar and strings | KeyboardVoice | Wind are some notes on finding music practice software.



The rest here is just a list of distractions: where not to look.


Distraction: Music Hubs, schools, education


UK government had a consultation about English music education in about 2020: https://bit.ly/DFEmusicconsultation
I wrote-in to say that taxpayers need a shallower learning-curve when we look for music practice software, and that it would be good if taxpayer-funded music education organisations could provide some information about that if they're going to be funded at all. This would benefit anyone, including 5-18 year-olds they're funded to help. The consultation results are now published and don't mention that point of view, but do record what 5-18 year-olds and their carers or parents wrote-in about music teaching. It looks like what I remember from the 70s. A lot of schools can arrange private lessons. They push pupils towards the school's enthusiasm and display for parents' day like a school orchestra or a cadets marching band rather than what individual pupils want. Other teenagers, in the 70s, bought a copy of Bert Weedon and learned the guitar without help.

The review of responses does say that music can help all sorts of people, not just 5-18 year-olds, for all sorts of reasons. It didn't mention that some save money for taxpayers. For example the army ambulance corps are often trained to play music to improve morale between ambulance calls. They more they know already, the shorter the course. People who are very old or in need of some kind of rehabilitation or support often benefit from music.  And as taxpayers, it would be good to have some help to overcome a market failure: the market does not pay anyone to tell us about free music apps.

In England there are Music Hubs set-up to fill the gap left by low education budgets and closed county music libraries.
The consultation asked anyone under 18:

"Has anything stopped you taking up musical activities? 

Tick any of the following that apply.
We received 194 responses from young people to this question."  
Half weren't interested or didn't have time or "other".
124    It’s too expensive  (parents: 554)
 38 I’m not good enough (parents: 49)
 37 The activities offered are not what I want 
  7 My parents / carers don’t think I should

This is no surprise because councils can't fund social care, so they shouldn't fund music hubs. Typing "Music Hub" into Gov.uk I see that the Arts Council sometimes puts taxpayers' money and lottery money into these things as does the Department for Education. it would be good value for money, I think, if these hubs were required to find a good list of cheap and free music practice software and mention it to pupils.

Maybe there should be a grant for people to write more free an open source music practice software, or whatever fills gaps in what's offered. For example there are plenty of youtube videos showing you how to play, but very few midi files of the same thing, so you can see how to play but you can't test yourself and see where you missed a note.

Maybe I should look for Arts Council consultations and see if there is a way of putting this point to them. I've made a Freedom of Information request to ask if their contracts require recipients to promote music practice software. 


I tried to prove myself wrong, by looking at things I remember online (because I was borne in 1964 so I remember old things) and typing "Learning an instrument at home - a guide to music practice software" into Bing.co.uk. After all, the market provides most things including Google Play. If there's a market failure, maybe someone from government or a charitable trust can work-out why.


Abandoned: MusicMoz

When DMOZ closed, a few musicians kept-up the Music part of it as MusicMoz which is still online, but the format is harder for them to keep-up than wiki software, and the "this category needs an editor" links usually still point to DMOZ. It's also harder to read; there isn't a table of how one bit of music education software is different from the next.

Abandoned nearly: Wikiversity



That reminded me of Wikiversity, which is never quite abandoned despite about zero budget. They have a new "jamming" section, written during COVID lockdowns, to help people practice together if that's possible. They don't have an easy-to-edit wiki where people can through in 2-minute's worth of information about the latest app, and emphasise that one course is for background information about music, maybe to learn after learning to play a musical instrument. "That's what makes this a course, rather than simply 'A How to Play the Ukulele' handbook", it says, even though it's hard to learn the Ukulele and, thanks to sites like Wikiversity, easy to find background stuff about music online which is good but takes-away the animal spirits of music unless you are playing already.

Annoying: Wikipedia



Wikipedia's founders don't like "original research" in on their pages. They don't stop it but in theory they are against it. So if everyone was borne knowing everything it would be easy to find a volunteer ready too post just the best information according to their little known rules. So you try your best to write something about something interesting, and a pedant deletes it because it does not reflect the full range of what is available or it breaks some obscure rules. Often the pedants have no interest in your subject or why your work is interesting to readers or how much work it has taken to get is far as you have got. This is what their last slave died of:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Comparison_of_Music_Education_Software : a volunteer began a list of music education software available, but instead of thanks or polite suggestions got this:

This article is totally unreferenced. There is no inclusion criteria. By choosing to compare some software, and not the other, author makes advertisement, contrary to WP:SPAM. Article is also contrary to WP:IINFO as the article contains "long and sprawling lists of statistics, but does not contain sufficient explanatory text to put statistics within the article in their proper context for a general reader". Vanjagenije (talk) 10:14, 15 August 2014 (UTC)

The pedant is not a rogue troll, but a member of Wikipedia's monitoring group, then and now
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Vanjagenije
The volunteer had to explain to a back-seat driver that work takes time:

I'm still researching all these products in detail, which takes time. I'm adding them as I go. I plan to include ALL music education software. Just will take some time.

Soon after that, the volunteer gave-up and nobody has volunteered since between 2014 and when I wrote in 2021. Who would? 


Why do taxpayers fund this?: Musicmark.org.uk


Musicmark.org.uk is a neatly-designed information site listing "music education for all children and young people". The assumption is that readers are music teachers of pupils under 18. If you "submit a resource" you are asked "how it benefits music teachers", even though a lot of under 18 year-olds are on apprenticeships or not at school and have no hope of school music education, even if it suited them.

Something about those groups and their employers seems to rule-out any mention of teach-yourself software and practice aids, although Chorda gets a mention as do bits of software promoted by the exam boards themselves.

https://www.musicmark.org.uk/resources/types/software/ 

There's a lot of the stuff on the site that people only write-about when other  people pay for their time, such as policies and procedures for not groping children over the internet and words like "excellence" and "good quality" or "showcase" instead of "show". They haven't spent this time finding free home study software despite direct arts council funding of £7,637 in 2020 and £18,006 in 2019. A big chunk of that is "unrestricted", meaning that it could be restricted in future, and of course member organisations might get arts council funding too, which could  be more restricted. Musicmark earn 20 times as much from membership fees as Arts Council Grants. I've asked the Arts council something about this here.

Distraction: reviews with affiliate links

Looking back to the search results on Bing, the next few are commercial-looking blog posts about the top few teach-yourself-piano apps or the top few Udemy courses. The results a a bit better with "Teach Yourself" at the beginning of the search such as "Teach yourself guitar apps". These pages often write "some of our links pay us commission"; they tend to cover the apps that make money from monthly subscriptions or a higher price and can afford an affiliate scheme. My Roland DT-1 doesn't get a mention, with its one-off £45 cost, but Drumeo and Melodics with their monthly charges are mentioned all over the place.

Good Distraction: The Music History Handbook from Paul Terry



Musonix Publishing sells The Music History Handbook and a booklet on rehearsing together called Rehearse, Direct and Play, as well as some vintage sequencing books Music in Sequence and Classics in Sequence (do you remember when DAWs were called Sequencers?) that are still good at their reduced price. They have very good graphics and explanations. 



References: 
https://www.bing.com/search?q=%22learn+to+play%22%22wonderful+world%22%22sam+cook%22 - mainly youtube
https://midisfree.com/download/sam-cooke-wonderful-world-mid/  - midi link might not work
https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/sam-cooke/wonderful-world-chords-258832 shows chords below

G                      Em
Don't know much about history,
C                   D
Don't know much bi-ology.
G                        Em
Don't know much about a science book,
C                          D
Don't know much about the French I took.
 
[Chorus 1]
G                   C
But I do know that I love you,
G                       C
And I know that if you love me too;
       D                          G
What a wonderful world this would be.
 
[Verse 2]
G                         Em
Don't know much about ge-ography,
C                      D
Don't know much trigo-nometry.
G                      Em
Don't know much about algebra,
C                        D
Don't know what a slide rule is for.
 
[Chorus 2]
G                      C
But I do know one and one is two,
G                      C
And if this one could be with you;
       D                          G
What a wonderful world this would be.
 
[Bridge 1]
    D                G
Now I don't claim to be an 'A' student,
D                  G
But I'm tryin' to be.
       A7                          G
For maybe by being an 'A' student, baby,
A7                D7
I could win your love for me.
 
[Verse 3]
G                      Em
Don't know much about history,
C                   D
Don't know much bi-ology.
G                        Em
Don't know much about a science book,
C                          D
Don't know much about the French I took.
 
[Chorus 3]
G                   C
But I do know that I love you,
G                       C
And I know that if you love me too;
       D                          G
What a wonderful world this would be.
 
[Verse 4]
       G             Em
La ta, ta ta ta ta... (history),
C           D
Mmm... (bi-ology).
        G                        Em
Woah, la ta ta ta ta ta ta ta ta, (science book),
C       D
Mmm... (French I took).
 
[Chorus 4]
G                   C
But I do know that I love you,
G                       C
And I know that if you love me too;
       D                          G  D  G
What a wonderful world this would be.