Some time ago, I decided to start getting to work by means of public communication. Since it took over an hour to get there, I started thinking, how can I spend this time more fruitfully than simply staring out of a window. The most obvious thing was to read books, and I did that, but very soon I simply ran out of them. I also spent time playing games on my PS Vita, but moving images in a moving bus quickly triggered my motion sickness and I had to stop. Finally, I came to conclusion, that this is a perfect time to start learning something: I had two hours daily when I had nothing else to do, the environment was relatively calm, so I wouldn’t get distracted and there was some things on my list I really wanted to learn. My old dream was to learn playing piano. And though I can sing and have some knowledge about sheet notation, I lacked a lot of theory and practice to pull that off.

I came to conclusion, that if I wanted to be able to play directly from sheet, I had to learn reading notes quickly. Since I couldn’t take my keyboard on the way to work, I searched for applications on Google Store, which allowed learning sheet notation.

The problem is, that applications in the Google Play Store does not provide the degree of configure-ability I needed. Most of them allowed one only to practice notes from C4 to H4 on treble clef; these are simplest to learn, but that’s not enough if you wanted to play more complicated piece. Moreover, only single ones included option to enable accidentals and none of them allowed choosing a key for exercise. Finally I decided to write my own application, but in the process I found a couple of applications worth considering, so take a look.

Perfect Ear

This is undoubtedly the most sophisticated application for learning useful music skills. You can train intervals, scales, chords, rhythm, and, among oters, sight reading as well. What’s worth mentioning is that application contains quite extensive music theory library, so you don’t need additional resources if you need to check something up or simply learn the theory.

The sight reading module is quite well done and configurable and allows you choose clefs to use, note range and enable or disable accidentals. You can also choose, whether you want the exercise to be timed or not – in the first case, you have limited time to pick correct piano key for a note, and in the second you can take all the time you need.

Application provides also some limited statistics – you can check, how many notes you recognized correctly and how many – incorrectly and how well do you know each clef.

From my perspective the sight reading trainer is almost perfect, but it doesn’t have an option to choose a key for exercise and display more detailed statistics. I definitely recommend this application though, as it has a lot of other training modules, which enhance your music skills.

Get it on Google Play

Music trainer

This is my own app I decided to write after fruitless search of similar application in the Store. It focuses on sheet reading skills: you can train reading notes and configure this training in every way I could think of: by choosing note range, key (including specific or random sharp keys, specific or random flat keys and random keys), kind of accidentals you want to appear, count of notes per single exercise and count of exercises per session. You can also decide, if you want only to verify a tone of the note or a tone and correct octave – in the latter case keyboard is horizontally scrollable, such that you may pick specific piano key. Finally, there are extensive statistics for this part of training: count of correct and wrong answers, complete list of per-note accuracies, training chart similar to the one in Perfect Ear, and one more, showing how much time (in average) you need to recognize single note.

In addition, you can practice recognizing keys (Circle Of Fifths training) and learn to quickly read intervals from the sheet.

Get it on Google Play

Vivace: Learn to Read Music

Another one interesting app, and a very configurable one. Focused only on reading notes, it allows you to choose note range (up to 4 ledger lines up and down), clef, key and accidentals. It comes also with an interesting practice mode, in which all places on the staff and all piano keys are labeled to aid you in learning sight reading. The only thing missing is some statistics about your progress.

Get it on Google Play

Comparison

The following table breaks down functions of all mentioned applications:

Function Perfect ear Music Trainer Vivace
Sight reading exercises
Configurable note range
Accidentals
Keys
Notes per exercise
Statistics
Successes / failures
Charts
Problematic notes
Additional exercises
Theory
Circle of fifths training
Sheet intervals training
Interval training
Tempo training
Scales training

Final words

Each of these applications have their ups and downs, depending on what specific skill do you want to practice. Keep in mind though, that no mobile application is a good substitute for playing on a real instrument and even if you master sight reading skill, you’ll still need to spend endless hours practicing…