Right Note Ear Trainer (iPad App)

For some time, I have had a complementary copy of Right Note, an ear trainer for the iPad, installed on my device.  With parenting a four-year and an infant–not to mention getting things ready for the next school year and preparing iPad presentations–I haven’t had time to adequately work with this app until now.

As a musician and music educator, my least developed musical skill is ear training.  I can sight read with a great deal of confidence, but hearing notes and dictating those notes is a less developed skill set.  I don’t think I am alone in this–ear training is a class you take in college as a music major, survive, and never revisit again.    With all of my work with digital music over the years, my ears have become more proficient (I can easily pick out a wrong note in a Finale arrangement), but I still can’t dictate what I hear with ease.  I’ve even sat through workshops where professors have taught how to develop perfect pitch, “seeing” each note on a keyboard.  I just don’t seem to be able to make that leap.

Right Note might be an answer to building those skills.  Right Note gives you the ability to train your ear with intervals, intervals in context, pitch, or melody–and it can do so using either the app’s graphic user interface (usually a piano, sometimes large buttons) or, when appropriate, the iPad’s microphone.  There are setting to change both the intonation of the app, as well as to display note names in American or European formats.

The app does seem to need some exposure to music education, such as:

  • What are intervals?
  • What is a piano keyboard and what does it mean/relate to pitch?

You might think that anyone with a basic music education would be able to understand these items, as most Americans receive training in music education through elementary school.  As a high school teacher, I can attest that the lessons students learn in those formative years are not sticking–nor should they–as we simply don’t reinforce them in the process.  As students enter secondary music education, music becomes performance based, and we often don’t allow ourselves the time to return to those key concepts of music theory.  So, in short, the average musician who can’t read music won’t have the basic vocabulary for this app, either.  I would strongly suggest using a music theory app to learn those skills in addition to using this app for ear training.

From a pedagogical perspective, the app doesn’t make the leap back to putting notes you hear onto a musical staff..you are left to make that connection on your own.

The developer clearly supports the app (last updated 7/12/12).  Right Note is straight forwards, comes with excellent “help” resources, and if you are trying to develop your ear, it might be a great investment for you.  There is a free “Lite” version of the app if you would like to try the app before you buy it.

iTunes Link (US)


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