With tons of apps out there today, it’s tough to sift through them all and pick out the winners. Fortunately I was tipped off to a new FREE app called Sight Reader which is, at the very least, a winner. Below are details from the developer as well as my thoughts. Unfortunately, the app is currently for iPhone users, but the developer tells me that an Android app is in the making.
A new company called byte3 has launched their innovative approach to aid in the development of one’s note reading abilities. They launched with support for seven instruments (Piano, Guitar, Flute, Trumpet, Violin, Viola, Cello) with more promised on the way. So what does it do? How does it help you? Why is it any better than the thousands of books out there that also promise to help with sight reading? Let’s look at Sight Reader to see what they have in store.
The first thing that happens when you open Sight Reader is that it tells you to choose your instrument or view the help tutorial. Right off the bat, multi instrument support seems intriguing and sets it apart from most books and apps out there. This is a good feature for teachers who teach multiple instruments. The app offers several categories, which are broken down into concepts like Rhythm Only, Notes Only, Intervals, Flashcards and a host of others. Like a bodybuilder might need to focus on one aspect of their body, Sight Reader allows the user to hone in on trouble areas (Rhythm Only anyone?) and read material solely focusing on that concept.
For example the Rhythm Only category boasts 10 levels of increasingly difficult rhythms. Level 1 is exclusively whole and half notes and rests. By the time you are at level 10, you have any number of rhythms including triplets and dotted notes up to 16ths. Best of all, every time you choose one of these exercises, it’s completely different. You’ll never read the same music twice. Oh and by the way, it listens to everything you play and gives you feedback on which notes/rests you played correct or incorrect. That’s right – it knows what you played vs what you read and tells you quite honestly how well you did.
Perhaps my favorite category is Flashcards, which is the modern technology version of a deck of musical flashcards. Students can now practice their note recognition by themselves. There are plenty of “flashcard” apps out there, but they train your eyes and your brain only, not your hands on your instrument. So much of sight reading is hand-eye coordination and being able to play your own instrument is a huge advantage over the other flashcard apps.
The settings menu allows you to change the key, the tempo, and the length of each exercise. Advanced readers can practice reading atonal 16th notes at 180 BPM while beginning readers can practice whole notes in the key of C at 60 BPM. And this is all just part of the $0.99 “Notes Only” category.
Really there’s a lot of reading material within and with more content and instruments coming in the near future, Sight Reader seems like a great tool for any teacher or student who wants to hone in on sight reading and have unlimited exercises and a powerful feedback system at their fingertips. You can learn more about Sight Reader from their website at http://www.byte3.com