In one of my recent blogs, I reviewed a program called “Eek Shark”, designed to help young children learn how to read music. (For more info, see https://blog.musicteachershelper.com/software-review-eek-shark/ ) This blog reviews Jayde Musica, a software package that is well suited for older students and adults who want to learn how to read notation.
To recap from my previous blog, I’ve found that teaching reading can be made more fun by using selected software programs. This allows the student to drill note reading away from their instrument. After drilling for 10 or 15 minutes with the software, the student usually moves on to practicing reading with their instrument. Often, the student will find note reading with their instrument to be significantly easier after some short drills with the software.
In Jayde Musica, notes advance from the right to left. You must name the note before it touches the left side of the screen. You can use your mouse to enter your answers or use the numbers on your keyboard.
As you advance through the game, you will get more notes to name per bar. You must enter all the notes, in order, correctly in each bar. If you miss one note, you have to start over for that bar. As you enter them, each entered note turns green to confirm correct entry. If you miss one note, they all turn black and you need to start re-entering them. If you make too many errors, you lose a life. If the bar makes it to the left side of the screen before you name all the notes, you lose a life.
Jayde Musica is more complicated and increases in difficulty much faster than Eek! Shark. Jayde is also somewhat minimalist in appearance; there are no arcade style graphics or outrageously bright colors to keep the user’s attention. Jayde’s no-nonsense presentation works well with adults who don’t require any “edu-tainment” lure.
There is another benefit to the presentation; this program works especially well with adults that may be feeling self conscious that they did not learn note reading as a child. Jayde’s minimal presentation helps me introduce a good note drilling program while avoiding “childish” references (like using flashcards or the kid friendly graphics of a program like “Eek Shark”). Those references can make certain adult students (usually perfectionists who tend to be self denigrating) feel even more self conscious and even ashamed that they are learning music later in life.
Jayde Musica is freeware, meaning a functional free version is available for download. Jayde will run with sound disabled in the freeware version. Having the sound disabled really doesn’t detract from the note reading drills. Most of my students use Jadye in this way. The program states that for a donation (basically a tip…you determine the amount, and it can be as little as $3) you will receive a fully functional version. The full version has sound, allowing players to use the program to test their sense of pitch.
Jayde has 2 levels; easy, medium and hard. It can be configured to drill notes with ledger lines, or just notes within the staff. It can test on treble, bass, alto and tenor clefs.
The freeware version has no sound. For some people, this might be an issue. This can be easily remedied by making a donation and getting the full version. Sound can be toggled off and on in the full version.
I’ve tried this program with younger students (under 10 years of age), and I have found that Jayde tends to increase in difficulty too quickly for that crowd.
Jayde would be better if it could be configured to test on just a small range of notes. This would be useful for students who are learning a section of the piano keyboard or a section of the guitar fretboard. Instead, at it’s easiest setting, the user is drilled on all the notes on the staff.
Additionally, there is no “hint” button. I have mixed feelings on this. Most of my student don’t need a hint button. Conversely, I’ve seen some students who needed to use a “hint” button until they got the hang of to read the staff. It would be desirable for Jayde to allow the user to enable or disable a hint button when one configures the program.
The program increases the speed that the notes move across the screen as you move to a new level. However, (at least on my system) the notes weren’t always steady in their speed. At the start of a new level, a small group of notes would appear on the right side of the screen moving at a high rate of speed. Then about a third of the way across the screen, the group of notes would slow in their pace. This quirkiness doesn’t always happen, and obviously it gives the user an advantage that the notes slow in their pace. Usually a student who is first using the program has a small surge of adrenaline when they see the group of notes advancing at a higher rate of speed than expected, and then the student relaxes when they see the group of notes inexplicably slow in pace.
Jayde has keyboard entry via numbers or by mouse click, but it would be a great improvement to allow the user to type the note that matches the answer. If I see an A on the screen, I should be able to hit A on my keyboard to answer.
Jayde is available for Mac or PC, but there is no Linux version available at this time.
The Bottom Line
Jayde Musica is a great piece of freeware that works well with older students who need to learn music reading. It is challenging and everyone who has used it with consistency shows dramatic improvement in their reading skills. Jayde Musica has also helped make the normally tedious task of introducing tenor clef to cellists and double bass players far more enjoyable. My students have easily (and painlessly) become very proficient at reading tenor clef. Jayde is definitely worth checking out. Head to www.jaydemusica.com to download a free copy.