Product: EarMaster Pro 6
Platform: Windows / Mac
Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars
Description: A music education focused software program to help musicians drill and practice the concepts of aural training and sight singing at all levels from beginner to advanced.
Who's It For: Any student or experienced musician who needs to develop their ability to hear, transcribe, and reproduce pitches, intervals, chords, and scales.
EarMaster Pro 6 is the latest update in a training software series that has been a staple in music education circles for many years. They have gradually improved and added new features and drill methods to the program to the point now that EarMaster trains almost every aural musical training concept that a musician might need. The main question I went into this review with was whether or not I could use this product to help myself get better at ear training. From another angle I also asked myself if I could see myself using it in my classroom as a teaching tool with my students.
While EarMaster 6 works fine for both purposes there is one thing that needs to be made clear. It's a drill and practice program and is not really a tutorial or a game that you might play for fun. Thus it cannot by itself replace the need for a real live teacher helping to explain and guide a student toward mastery. While it does have some minor instructional text that accompanies each exercise category it does not go into any depth leaving that part of things for the teacher to handle. Where it does excel though is in the variety and depth of the various ear training exercises that it provides.
EarMaster Pro 6 has four basic categories of exercises, and each is broken down into several independent parts:
- Sight singing
Chords and Scales
- Scale identification
- Sight reading
- Error detection
- Sight singing
In each section, the exercises start off very basic and almost anyone with even a small amount of personal instruction should be able to handle them. After passing a series of questions the student can move up to the next unit or stay where they are to get a new set of drill questions. The user can also jump ahead to any section that they wish if they have already mastered the previous material.
Jazz Ear Training Exercises In EarMaster 6
Jazz oriented ear training is also provided, and is at a much higher level than the “standard” course material. Chord identification questions in the jazz area for example start right off with major chords with added 6th and 7ths so most individuals will need to master the standard course before moving on to jazz. The jazz course also offers the additional section of drilling on chord progressions, using the ear to identify a wide variety of common jazz chords and voicings. It seems more than adequate for almost any high school or early collegiate ear training program.
Ear Training Classroom Assessment Tools
For classroom teachers EarMaster Pro 6 also offers built in teacher tools that allow lesson modules to be created for students to complete. You can select from any of the sections of instruction and customize the material to be tested with high granularity, allowing you to select only specific tones, chords, etc. or create your own mix of them as your lessons require. They offer special cloud licensing options to allow you to add as many students as you want and the student's progress is stored so that you can use it for assessment or diagnostic reasons. This is the only area of the program that I felt like really needed some improvement, such as maybe a tutorial of some kind built into the interface to show teachers how to set it up. I could kind of tell what things were in the teacher interface but then when I tried to log in as a student and test things I found that I had done something incorrectly and it didn’t save. However, there is documentation to read through that explains this process in more depth if a teacher wants to set up classes, assignments, and the like. They also provide free email support, FAQ's and a community support forum even to people just trying EarMaster on a trial basis. More info is available on this through their website.
Overall EarMaster's training software does what it sets out to do and provides excellent drill and practice for students on almost any aural concept that you could need. When compared to the now obsolete tape based Pitchmaster systems that I remember having to use in college using EarMaster Pro is a dream come true. If you are in need of a solid, full featured ear training system for yourself or for your school seriously consider checking it out. EarMaster Pro 6 comes with a time limited free trial to allow you to test out all of the features that are available. It currently retails for $64 on Amazon.