http://www.alfred.com/Alfred_Essentials2.jpg

Title: Alfred's Essential's of Music Theory 2.0
Author: Andrew Surmani, Karen Farnum Surmani, Morton Manus
Publisher: Alfred Publishing Company., INC. - www.alfred.com
Copyright: 2003
Platform: Macintosh or Windows
Peripherals: MIDI compatible on selected screens. Speakers or headphones to hear audio content.
Grade/Age: (Early Elementary thru Adult)
Type of Class: General Music and Music Theory, as well as a supplement to instrumental music classes.


TEACHER SUPPORT
This software provides lessons, exercises, and review assessments. Teachers can print individual scores and class lists, have unlimited creation of student records, be able to track student progress, create customized tests, and option to set minimum passing grade.


3. INSTRUCTIONAL CONTENT
Specific Musical Content
  • Treble and Bass clefs
  • Time Signatures
  • Accidentals
  • Intervals
  • Expression marks
  • Major and Minor Scales and Triads
  • Modes
  • Figured bass and Inversions
  • Chord progressions
  • Blues Scales and Chord progressions
  • Harmonizing and composing melodies
  • Basic forms of Music

National Music Standards that could be addressed through this software
3. Improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments.
4. Composing and arranging music within specified guidelines.
5. Reading and notating music.
6. Listening to, analyzing, and describing music.


4. INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN AND PEDAGOGICAL SOUNDNESS

The lessons in the Alfred's Essentials of Music Theory are well thought out and highly detailed. It starts at the beginning with introduction to the staff line and note names and by the end of Lesson 75 you have covered everything from figured bass to Blues forms. Each lesson is visual and aural with audio speaking the text that is written on the information being learned. There is also pictorial referencing on every concept being learned. There is use of mnemonic devices to learn the note names and each lesson is setup ensuring that every minute detail has been covered. The presentation is laid out very nicely and is easy to navigate. The user has the ability to move forward with an arrow button should they choose to do so. They may also choose to repeat lessons as many times as they wish. There is a balance of lecture and interactive instruction to help keep student's interest.


5. RECORD KEEPING
There is ample opportunity for student record keeping. The assessment design allows for individual student tracking, class tracking, median grades, minimum passing grades, class listing, and exporting functions. The networked version of the software also automatically populates the teacher's grade book.

6. OVERALL EVALUATION
I think this is a very well thought out program that is laid out nicely and contains opportunities for aural and visual learners. There is not much variation to the lesson setup throughout the course of the program, but it functions well to serve its purpose. There is not much fun factor to this program, however it is interesting enough to keep ones attention to finish these lessons in smaller amounts at a time. If a student had to do many lessons at once, it could become quite tedious. There is an index of terms which could be quite useful for students, as well as options for alto and tenor clef, for those who for some reason might be in need of that particular instruction. The ability to test and record students right on the program is a plus for any teacher strapped for time and still wanting to get quality assessments from their students.

The interface of this application is beginning to appear dated. Also, Mac OS X compatibility requires a separate download, and even then installation doesn't go as smoothly as desired. Also, the pricing structure for this software makes large scale, multi user installations a bit pricy.

Rating -- * (*1/2)

Craig Wohlschlager
Edited by Ryan Huch (11/02/2009)