In view of the wealth of music-making programs around, it's probably not a bad idea to find out what those queer-looking blobs and sticks dancing along the lines in a music score actually mean if you want to get involved in tunesmithing with your Spectrum's assistance. As most music software involves a piano-type keyboard, you'll probably be lacking the skills of note finding as well. So a program such as this could well be a bonus in actually getting you to understand what music scores are all about.
Parts One and Two concern themselves with the actual names of notes and their relative positions on the line sand spaces. On loading up, the menu offers you option of playing games, getting an introduction to the world of lines and spaces and a tour of the theory behind it all.
Diving straight into the games there are various levels of difficulty. Note names are displayed on screen to help you and notes can be entered either by keys 1 to 8 (which correspond to the notes A to G) or by moving a cursor over a keyboard on the screen. One thing that was quite useful, educationally, was the section where the player has to match up the pitch of a note that has to be found with the pitch you think it is. The really keen could turn off the screen and play by ear!
Each game is timed and the resulting score shown at the end. If you get a decent enough score you are allowed into the composing section. Here you enter your own tune and have the dubious privilege of hearing it back - although with all the notes being the same length and played at a pretty pedestrian playback speed I found this a bit tiresome. Rests appeared here without any previous explanation. It would have been nice to have been able to access the composing section direct from the menu.
Part Two introduces sharps and flats and revises Part One, but doesn't have a composing section. All of a horrible sudden there are piles of key signatures without any lead up other than in the onscreen theory pages. Generally the idea is good and is one that has been covered no better by similar programs. But I have a feeling that it tends to defeat itself by having a theory section which consists of pages of text and the theory side does not actually take an active part in the program. The games could be more imaginative and make more use of colour and graphics. Although interactive music learning is obviously the way forward, it won't succeed if the program is little more than an electronic personification of a stuffy music teacher.
MUSIC TEACHER is available from John Child, 2 Southview Drive, Uckfield, Sussex, TN22 1TA
PRICE: £10 for Parts One and Two together