My Favorite Computer-Based Program for Music Lab Time

In the post Music Labs in the Independent Studio: A Brief History, I mentioned that when I first started to include music lab time in my piano studio,  I didn’t have an iPad so I started with computer-based programs such as Music Ace MaestroAlfred’s Interactive Musician, and Essentials of Music Theory, along with a subscription to the online Music Learning Community.

Of those programs, there’s only one that I’m currently still using and that’s Essentials of Music Theory published by Alfred. You can purchase it on their website or on Amazon.

Because it is an older program, you don’t download it directly from the internet, you have to purchase the CD-ROM and upload it to your computer. While this feels antiquated, I still find the program a valuable addition to my music labs as it is one of the most complete and comprehensive theory lesson programs out there.

The program comes in either a Student Version (single use), Educator Version (multiple students on one device), or Network Version (multiple computers).

There are 3 Volumes available that could be purchased separately or as one program called Essentials of Music Theory Complete.

If you are using the program in an independent studio setting for music lab time, then you will need to purchase the Educator Version – Complete. While it is one of the more expensive music theory programs to include in a music lab, it’s also one of the most thorough and comprehensive.

The program includes 18 units. Each of those units comprises four to five lessons, ear training, and a review test for a total of 75 lessons within the 18 units. For a detailed list of what’s included in each unit/lesson, visit this link.


What Students is it Good For?

I would recommend this program for your older students who are at intermediate level or higher that have been in lessons for several years. It is also a great way to assess the music theory foundation of transfer students (have them complete the review tests only).

Since even the “easy” units progress quickly, I do not recommend this program for young beginner students. For example, the note name unit includes all notes on the staff as well as ledger lines.

(You can assign it to students that are elementary/late elementary, but I find they generally start struggling pretty quickly by unit 4-5.)


Assigning Lessons

EMT is one of the few programs out there that will allow you to create student log-ins to track individual progress and score – which is awesome! When you first install the program, you will want to set up usernames and passwords for students to log in. (For passwords, I usually do something like “student1” “student2” “student3” etc.)

Even though the program can track individual progress, tracking manually makes it easier to assign work and view progress.

Here’s where the Music Lab form from Piano Pantry comes into play!

The four-page lab allows the teacher to easily assign units and the student to track their scores and progress without having to log into the program.

Assign units to students by checking the box next to “Assigned.” My own personal rule is that if students do not score at least a 90% on the review test, I will assign the unit again at a later date.

Students can record  subsequent repetitions of the review test under “Review Test 2” and “Review Test 3.”



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If you’re curious for even more details on how I run my music labs, I’ve created a 15-page eBook that is chock full of all kinds of “pro tips.”

We’ll talk about how I schedule, set-up, and organize labs. (You all know “organizing” is my favorite topic! 🙂 )

Laid out in an easy to read and understand format, this book will answer all your questions regarding music lab time!


Give Me More!

Would you like to learn more in-depth details on the programs that I have created labs for?

Check out these posts:

1) More Than 100 Videos for Your Music Lab

2) Finally! A Music Lab/Assignment Sheet for Piano Explorer Magazine

3) Two High-Quality iPad Theory Apps

4) Favorite iPad Apps for Music Lab


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