Concept and Features
Notation Trainer is an incredible Android app created to help musicians improve their sight-reading skills. Â Designed by London-based music tutor Stuart Bahn, Notation Trainer generates original sight-reading exercises to musiciansâ€™ exact requirements. Â
â€œTo be able to perform music from written notation takes hundreds of hours of practiceâ€, Stuart says. â€œThe problem for many musicians is finding fresh scores that perfectly match their current level of ability. Once a score becomes familiar, it is performed at least partly from memory. Consequently the performer is not putting their reading skills to the test as effectively as they would with a previously unseen score. I developed this app to provide musicians with a solution to this problem. Instead of buying lots of expensive exercise books, now they can buy a single low-cost appâ€.
Notation Trainer allows musicians, of any instrument, to choose the clef, set the key signature, the range of notes and the maximum size of intervals between them. Â A 100 note exercise is then created for the musician to perform as they scroll across the screen of their Android phone or tablet. Â
I tested Notation Trainer on a Kindle Fire 7″ Tablet and found the app super simple to use, with an easy to navigate interface. Â After launching the app you simply click the settings button which allows you to choose from Treble, Bass, or C Clef (alto or tenor), set the minimum and maximum range of the notes presented, as well as the maximum interval between notes, and the key signature. Â Once all your settings are in line you click â€œApply and launch new sessionâ€ and you are ready to go. Finally, before starting your exercise session, you can choose the speed at which the notes scroll by with a simple 1 to 10 slider. Â Clicking the â€œStart Sessionâ€ button gives you a 3 count and away you go with a fresh set of 100 notes. Â A pause/unpause button is provided in case you need to stop along the way. Â Another great feature is that the screen stays on as long as the app is running so you donâ€™t have to worry about your screen timing out half-way through your session. Â Â
Sight-reading is one of those skills that musicians need to work on constantly to keep up their chops up and Notation Trainer is just theÂ tool to do that. Â I love that you can startÂ dead simple with a limited range of notes and intervals at a very slow pace and increase your range and speed as you progress. Â My reading skills are mediocre at best, but I was able to jump right in and start using the app without any issues. Â After working with Notation Trainer for a week I feel I am already making great progress. Â
It is a very simple app with few bells and whistles but it does a good job at training you to read notation in a fun dynamic way.