Free music lessons

Learn to read music with this free educational software.

Learning the basics of music is easier than you'd think with Music Reading DeLuxe. This free educational software uses a simple gamelike process to teach "absolute beginners" how to recognize and read music. To use it, your computer must have a sound card or sound capability and either Windows XP, Vista, or 7.

Music Reading DeLuxe took over our desktop with its interface and disabled our mouse within its view, too, which are necessary steps for classroom use. We could mouse over to the Windows toolbar, though, and access other system functions normally, and exiting the program via the Esc key instantly restored our mouse function and desktop. We navigated via keyboard commands while using this program. Music Reading DeLuxe is built around a series of lessons that introduce users to the basics of music theory. The first step was to choose either the G clef or F clef for our lessons. The first lesson, Note Reading--Easy offers three levels of difficulty. We had to identify a note on a clef, and the program graded our progress (or lack of it) as we moved through the levels. We could change the key by pressing K, view the notes by pressing V, and check our answers by pressing enter. Once we'd learned the notes and placements, the software tested how fast we could recognize them. There's an Advanced lesson that includes sharps and flats, too. A section that describes the theory used in the program serves as an excellent source of definitions and explanations; however, we found no settings or options, nor did we find a Help file.

Education software that's difficult to use or even to see on the screen isn't much use, but Music Reading DeLuxe has a colorful look with crisp, clear graphics, text, and animations. The commands were all easy to learn and operate, too. We found this to be an extremely easy yet effective tool for teaching the basics of music and music theory to beginners of any age and ability.

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