Everything music & ear training related

ToneGym

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Tom Belknap
Jan 12
So, Notationist is really more of a hand-eye coordination exercise than a site reading one. I feel like a better game is in order? Like: I don't need to see things scrolling past the page, but obviously a time limit is a good idea.
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DanielS _
Jan 12
interesting ..🤔
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Jaden Balogh
Jan 12
Well, the exercise I think is useful up to a certain point. Once you reach the point where the only challenge is pressing the keys fast enough, then I agree with you. I personally feel that I've mastered this game but that I still have a lot to learn in terms of sight-reading in general, so there is certainly room for expansion there.
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Adam Ritchie
Jan 13
Yes, I find it's more of a game to hit the right key for the note you're reading as opposed to the challenge of reading the note. The reading part is easy; it's the hitting the right key is the hard part! haha.
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It was all working fine for me while it was covering the stuff I knew, but I got stuck once I hit the level where you have to tell major and minor intervals apart. I just can't identify them fast enough. This is where I'm realizing it isn't really a learning app -- if it wanted me to learn, it would allow me to set the speed much lower and then slowly increase it, rather that have me thrash and fail at impossible speed from the start. So I guess I'll have to learn this somewhere else, and then use Notationist to confirm that I really did learn.
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David Durance
Jan 13
I find the difficulty is moving my mouse fast enough - not identifying the notes – which I am sure is the point of the exercise. Also the current design has something of a visual cue as the Botton selection panel is mapped out on an even linear grid – which to me is a bit of a 'cheat'. So I'd propose an alternative design where there are, for example, 4 notes to choose from, and each is mapped to the keyboard keys 1 - 4.
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David Loving
Jan 13
I'm glad I'm not the only one who gets frustrated with the clunky interface on this game. The higher levels are pretty tough using a laptop track pad.
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I can name them faster than I can click, so I agree that maybe the speed isn't really the thing we should be graded on.
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Riv Kah
Jan 13
Or maybe have keyboard shortcuts to access the notes?
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When recognition wasn't an issue for me, only dexterity with the mouse was, I switched to using the app on my smartphone to eliminate issues with my imperfect mouse control. That was a tremendous help.
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Jaden Balogh
Jan 13
In case people weren't aware, the game does have keyboard shortcuts. Once you reach a high enough level, this becomes pretty much mandatory in this game to consistently hit the intended answer IMO. It's a learning curve in itself, but absolutely worth it especially if you're someone who likes to compete in the Sight-Reading Playground.

The keys depend on the specific thing being tested, but they are generally:

W E R T Y U I
A S D F G H J K
Z X C V B N M
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Jaden Balogh
Jan 13
This is true for 90% of the other ToneGym games, also.
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J J
Jan 14
I can't get those keyboard shortcuts to work (Firefox 94). Do you have to do anything special to make the game grab your keyboard input or something? Are these documented anywhere?
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J J
Jan 14
Scratch that, it did work. Had to go as far as U I, J K for the intervals on the level I was at.
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Dele Laniyan
Jan 14
Buddy what Notationist has sky rocketed my sigth reading skills get to level 100 you will be surprised
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Dee Martin
Jan 14
Can wait to reach level 100! Right now at level 10. 😵
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Jan Wilke
Jan 14
I am at level 20 now. Are there other clefs at later levels? This game does nothing for me with treble clef, but it would be useful for alto or tenor clefs.
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J J
Jan 15
I was also waiting for other clefs to show up, but it hasn't happened so far. At around level 50 (I think) you start to get intervals instead of single notes.
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Axel Ramirez
Jan 15
You can use the Sight-reading Trainer, located in the Sight-reading Playground, there you can customize your practice sessions and go as fast or slow as you want
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J J
Jan 15
I have now reached level 92, where they introduce triads of various kinds and ask you to identify whether they are major, minor, diminished, etc.

Finally something that actually feels useful :)

I think my main gripe (other than the annoyances in the implementation turning it into more of an exercise using your trackpad quickly) is that they have crammed what should be three different games into one.

The first game should be the one from levels 1-50 with single notes, but instead of just doing the treble clef, other clefs should be used.

The second one with the intervals should also vary the clefs, and I would argue it doesn't need to be timed, since identifying intervals by sight isn't really a sight-reading (as in playing music by sight) skill in my opinion, but more of a thing that's useful when _writing_ music. Then again, I don't play any instruments that can do chords, so maybe I am completely wrong here. Maybe the game I am looking for should mix in some exercises where you are given a note name (without the staff, just the letter) and are asked to name the note a specific interval above/below it. That would make it useful for someone like me too.

The third one with the chords is useful for sure (even to a trumpetist like me) and I feel it could really help me learn to quickly identify chord tones when improvising from fake books and similar. But having to sit through 91 levels of tedious exercises to get to this point was frustrating.

In general, the implementation is severely misguided. I realize the point of having it timed for the purpose of sight reading, so you can't just sit and count out the answer. But is there really a point to having it speed up the closer you get to the last exercise? What does that add? I barely have time to see the notes and move my mouse in the first few exercises, and it gets almost impossible close to the 16th.

Also, I am not sure if I am imagining it, but it feels like it fails to register clicks right before the end of the timeout. I often feel like I have just barely hit the right answer on time, but it says I missed it. If I am imagining it, how about a small grace period just after the timer ends: If someone manages to hit the right answer within that grace period, it obviously means they knew the answer and just didn't manage to move their mouse in time.

And what is up with that super short staff? When playing for real, your eyes can keep a lookout quite a bit farther ahead while playing. I suggest making it longer and perhaps show the future notes/intervals/chords coming in while you are answering the current one.

There is also a lot of bias towards instruments that stay on the treble clef staff. In addition to switching the cleffs every now and then, you also absolutely should have notes that use more ledger lines. I know pianists and flutists need this in their sight reading for treble clef, and trombonists for bass, especially for notes above the staff, but also for those below (e.g. with trumpet for treble clef, definitely needed by other bassy instruments when it comes to bass cleff).

A functionality to vary the speed within some limitations would also be appreciated. Everyone uses different devices with different means of input and have different reaction times (I would have had a much easier time with this in my 20s, but I admit I am really starting to get a bit slow in the brain :'( ). What works for a touchscreen works differently for a traditional mouse works different for a trackpad.

I am not convinced the keyboard shortcuts is a good solution either. For one, they don't seem to be documented somewhere. And even when having them pointed out to me above, I just found them hard to use, since there is no on-screen indication of what corresponds to what. I think I'd just be learning to coordinate what I am seeing with various keypresses instead of processing the answer. Which I guess wouldn't be half-bad if I was doing it on my instrument rather than my computer keyboard, but still :) Maybe put some small legends in the corner of the answer buttons containing the keyboard shortcut.

This turned into a long and unstructured rant, but hopefully someone appreciates it. I'm not sure if the developers read these threads. Maybe I should post it in the contact form?
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J J
Jan 15
And at level 120, 7th chords are unlocked, FYI.
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4tus
Jan 16
Thank you for your feedback,
We are considering creating another sight-reading game.
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Jaden Balogh
Jan 16
Thanks for letting us know 4tus. I actually agree with JJ and I had the same thoughts when I was "leveling up" my Notationist. The main thing is that it trains too broadly when it should really be 4 or more games that train more deeply in that one area. The current Notationist is kinda like if Intervalis, Departurer and Lander were all one game and it unlocked incrementally. Excited to see more sight-reading games in the future!
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Jaden Balogh
Jan 16
"I barely have time to see the notes and move my mouse in the first few exercises, and it gets almost impossible close to the 16th."

You should try the Sight-reading Playground trainer mode on "Insane" difficulty LOL
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J J
Jan 17
Thanks 4tus! Looking forward to seeing what you come up with :)