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Computer Times
February 2006

Editor's Choice Music

Morton Subotnick's Hearing Music

Review by: Angie Kibiloski

Morton Subotnick's Hearing Music (Retail $29.99), from VIVA Media, is a fantastic way to introduce small children to the wonderful world of music appreciation. An important part of fully enjoying music is to be able to hear the intricacies of each piece. This product takes kids through the steps of distinguishing different elements of music, and really understanding what they hear. This is all done through a series of fun games.

Before the games begin, you and your child can go to the About Music section, which is a narrated book almost like a classroom lecture. You listen to chapters like How We Hear, Where Music Comes From, and What Music Is Made Of. After you are an expert at the hows and whys, you can move on to a selection of activities. As you progress through each game, you can check your score and progress in the Games Completed screen. This will give your child a sense of accomplishment, as they can visually track their success.

Each game has different levels of difficulty. The Comparing game asks you to listen to two pieces of music and determine if they are the same or different. Once you make your way through the easier levels and into the harder levels, you must decide how the pieces are different, whether they are played slower, faster, higher, backwards, and so on. Each piece of music is represented by a balloon, and when you get them right, the balloons get smiley faces. Once you have completed an entire level, you get a fun animation to congratulate you on your success.

In the Matching game, you click on little bushes and trees to find the matching pair. In the more difficult levels, you have to find a pair that is similar, but not quite the same. This allows kids to recognize similar types of music, and not just when a piece is identical. When a level is complete, you are rewarded with a lively animation and a complete section in the Games Completed screen.

The Reading game is a bit harder than the first two. You must listen to a piece of music while looking at two pieces of music notation, and choose which set of written notes corresponds to what has been played. The lower levels are simple enough, only encompassing a few notes, but watch out in harder levels, where two or three bars contain around a dozen or so notes, and sometimes have very few differences. Animated people dance around the screen for you when you finish a level of this game.

The final game, which I believe is the most difficult, is the Ordering game. You hear a piece of music and then have 4 people standing on the screen, each representing a small clip of the piece. When you click on each person, you hear their clip and must drag them into the correct order to match the original music. This is harder than it sounds, as sometimes their clips are very similar to one another.

If you have young children, and you want to give them a good foundation upon which to learn to play music, get this package to first teach them to hear music. After completing all the activities, your child and you will be able to recognize the various elements of music, notice more within a piece, and appreciate music more thoroughly for discovering its dynamics. Morton Subotnick's Hearing Music by Viva Media is the best introduction to the world of music that your child could get.

System Requirements:

  • Windows 95/98/NT/XP or MAC System 7 or later
  • 486DX-2 or faster processor
  • 16 MB of installed RAM
  • 13 inch (640X480) or larger color monitor
  • 2X or faster CD-ROM drive
  • sound card with speakers or headphones

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