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eMusicTheory archived news


| 2 September, 2009 |
More site improvements for teachers, by request:
· One larger update: We redesigned how you give assignments to students.
See the new "give assignments" page — you can link an entire student group to an entire assignment set (and any new students/assignments will be automatically linked!), or click "customize" to match specific students to specific assignments.
· Also: updated progress report page to show details on assignment sets.

As always, try out the changes and pass on your suggestions for further improvement!

| 22 August, 2009 |
We weren't planning to update the drills quite yet, but a few bugs turned up that needed to be fixed ASAP:
· Counterpoint strict rules: the drill wasn't allowing a step in the same direction after a leap of a 3rd.
· In a few of the drills, it was possible to get an error (though the score wouldn't be lost) if answering a question in the last second of the countdown.

We also made some general site improvements:
· Added a proper "about" page (why be so mysterious?)
· More info on the "contact" page: added mailing address and fax/voicemail numbers.
· If your session times out (as a teacher or student), now after you sign in again you'll be sent back to where you were (submitting a score, saving changes, etc.) instead of just sent to the homepage. This also means you can bookmark pages in the signed-in parts of the site!

...and specifically for teachers:
· Smarter handling of moving students when there's no other group to move them to.
· Tweak to number handling in exports to avoid Excel warnings.
· Progress report: include next student button at the top of the page as well, for teachers with a lot of assignments.
· Allow deleting NON-test scores (with a warning displayed, because this affects the student).
· Change student view of assignments: if the "due date" assignments are from more than one assignment set, show the name.

| 11 August, 2009 |
There are various drill changes in testing still... In the meantime, site improvements for teachers:
· You can now export your student lists (MS Excel format), as well as a score summary report for each assignment set. Try them out and tell us if you'd like other/more data!
· Now we save your choices for sorting scores, and deleting assignment sets/student groups, so you don't have to keep re-choosing these.
· Assignment sets now listed in alphabetical order for both students and teachers.

| 14 May, 2009 |
A few small follow-up changes for today:
· Teachers: try the new "print" link on the student lists... it'll give you formatted pages of student login info that you can cut into strips and hand out.
· Downloadable software updates went out late in the day Tuesday.
· Fixed a problem where student test scores could be double-submitted if they hit their browser's back button.
· Fixed a problem where teachers who had suspended their subscriptions were given the wrong error message when signing in.

| 11 May, 2009 |
The counterpoint drill is here!
Build the counterpoint to the melody given according to the first species rules, with instant feedback if you try to add a note that breaks a rule.
· Standard or strict rules (see the drill instructions for specific rules)
· Enter counterpoint above/below the given melody
· Choose the key signatures allowed
Try it out and let us know what you think! Teachers may select this drill for assignments now; the downloadable software has also been updated (check your email if you own a copy).
Other changes in this update:
· Select exactly which notes to test in violin, viola, cello and double bass drills. Feel free to suggest shortcuts you'd like to see that aren't there yet!
· Teachers: now you can delete test scores (so a student can re-take an assignment in test mode).
· Reworked audio playback to fix stuttering issues on OS X and for efficiency.
· Updated the guitar fretboard image to help out classical guitar students, and tweaked size to fix a display problem on OS X.
· Added a note to the guitar & double bass drills: these are transposing instruments.
· Added some warning messages for teachers saving assignments with odd settings (example: allowed time is only a few seconds).
· There's now a helpful order form to simplify school purchase orders.

| 29 March, 2009 |
This update contains just a few small tweaks:
· Note Names: fixed a problem with testing notes only on the treble (or only on the bass) clef.
· Paced Note Names: now the timer doesn't start until the first note is ready to identify.
· Mailing list: updated so that now teachers with active subscriptions will automatically be included.
More updates coming soon — the Counterpoint drill is working, and just being tested and polished now!

| 9 March, 2009 |
Followup to the larger changes yesterday:
· Changed the way the drills load images & audio: you can't cancel loading audio anymore, but the whole process is faster and more reliable.
· Minor fix to note sets — fall back to the default selection if no notes are selected.

| 8 March, 2009 |
We've added a few major features for teachers! First: assignment sets, with a few important options:
· Give assignments "by due date", or "in order": you can still have homework assignments with due dates shown to the student, but you can also give sets of assignments that just need to be completed in order, with no due dates.
· This also provides a way to archive old assignments: make a new assignment set called "archive", and move them there.
· Option to hide from students: if you're still putting together an assignment set (or you don't want your students to know the details of a test before test day...), you can keep the assignment set hidden.

Which brings up the next feature: test mode. Enable "test mode" for an assignment, and each student's first score is submitted automatically (instead of allowing multiple attempts and multiple scores sent).

Third: note sets in drill options. That is, you can choose exactly which notes to test, not just general options like "Any tonic" or "No accidentals on tonic". Right now, we've only updated the Note Names and Scales drills — try them out, we'll sort out any problems, and make similar updates to other drills.

Finally, we've updated the process of building a new assignment, to make it easier to know which drill to choose (now you get descriptions of the drills, plus a button to experiment in a new window).

| 5 March, 2009 |
Early this morning, we moved the site to a new, larger server in the same datacenter, to allow for easier continuing expansion. Thanks to very careful planning, the switch went without a hitch, and we were only only offline for less than 20 minutes!

| 2 September, 2008 |
Teachers: we made a few important changes to the process of building your student lists — now you can paste in your entire list of students names direct from a spreadsheet or webpage, and generate "jsmith"-style usernames and random passwords automatically at the push of a button. Try it out!

It'll try to figure out whatever you paste in, but if you have a list of student names that isn't loading correctly for any reason, send it to us and we'll tweak the logic.

| 19 August, 2008 |
As usual, some minor tweaks and fixes, PLUS we finished adding in a long-awaited feature on a few drills: ear training!
The new versions of the drills for Scales, Intervals, and Chords now include options to train your ear — listen to the scale, interval or chord and identify what you hear. The Scales drill also has a new mode where you identify the scale you see on the staff.
Just click the "Settings" button before you start the drill to select this new option.

Teachers: the strings fingerboard drills are now available for assignments, as are the new ear training options.

These changes are also all included in a new version of the standalone software (we'll be sending out a separate notice to software owners with details on how to download the new version), along with a few other bug fixes.

| 27 July, 2008 |
We've fixed up a few things in the violin drill (updated the audio, and made it possible to show the fingerboard horizontally as well — click the "Settings" button to try it out!)... plus added in drills (and interactive theory pages) for viola, cello, and double bass.

The bass fingerboard still needs a little work: for now, it uses the same fingerboard image as the cello... but it should have different finger tapes. So — if you have suggestions on how you'd like it to look, let us know!

These drills will be added to the downloadable software and teacher assignments soon.

| 02 April, 2008 |
This update adds a major feature: If you're a teacher with 75 or more students, you can now create multiple teacher accounts under your single subscription. This means you can now:
· create separate teacher accounts for all teachers using your subscription (or formerly using multiple subscriptions), each with their own sections, students, and assignments
· control the number of students each of the teachers will have (up to the total limit of your subscription)
· transfer administrative rights from your account to any of the new teacher accounts
Your account will be automatically upgraded when you sign in next; just click the "Teacher Admin" link to get started.

You'll also notice a change to the assignments page: now assignments that were due more than a month ago are hidden; just click the link at the bottom of the page to show all assignments again if you need them.
We're working on a more sophisticated way to organize your assignments, but this will help out long-time subscribers until that's ready!

We've also started implementing more automatic help when you try to use the drills with a browser that doesn't support Java for whatever reasons (disabled, not installed, or broken installation).

There were also many other small changes around the website. As always, let us know if you run into any problems!

| 20 February, 2008 |
There are a couple of bigger features rolling out soon, but two quick updates for the time being:
· The new violin fingerings drill now has audio.
· The audio for the rhythm drills has been replaced (the metronome intro is louder, and the dictation audio itself is much more pleasant to listen to).

| 08 February, 2008 |
Moving the site to new hosting has worked out well — we had a few issues that were quickly sorted out, and now everything seems to be running smoothly — plus now we're at around 1/8th of capacity, which is exactly where we wanted to be!
A few more updates rolled out over the past week and a half:
· Learn the violin fingerboard: there's a new drill for testing your skills, or you can explore violin fingerings if you're still learning the ropes.
· Students can now review all scores they've submitted.

| 12 January, 2008 |
There are some big changes — but you hopefully won't notice most of them at all!
· We're moving the hosting of the site to a very fancy data center in Dallas, TX — now we have a lot more room to grow.
· Much of the underlying workings of the site, the drills and the assignments has been reworked. There were some design problems that were making it very difficult to update options on the drills. This opens the door to a lot of other updates waiting in the wings!

Most of the changes that you'll really notice (and that you've been asking for, for a long time now...) are on the way; some are even already complete, we're just waiting to make sure we don't change too many things at one time.
So you can look forward to more announcements coming up soon!

| 04 December, 2007 |
· The site was offline for several hours this morning — we apologize if you were affected by this unexpected downtime! It was caused by a problem at our hosting provider's data center. Details are scarce at the moment, but we will find out everything we can, and make arrangments to avoid any further similar downtime.
· No other significant news at the moment, just that we're plugging away at a series of changes.
· Since the last update, there have been primarily only small bugfixes made live — for example, some users reported an error in the Chord Functions drill with secondary leading tone chords in major keys: the drill was demanding an enharmonic equivalent of the right answer (yup, bug). This was fixed.

| 31 October, 2006 |
There are larger updates under development, but for now just a few minor updates:
· Replaced the audio used in the Guitar drill.
· Fixed a notation problem in the Chord Functions drill with diatonic 7th chords; now any Major-Major 7th chord is marked with an "M" (e.g., IVM7), to make it clear that it's not a dominant 7th chord.
· ...and a few other minor changes, mostly behind-the-scenes to manage the growing number of teachers and students of music using the site (we recently passed 2,000 assignments given by registered teachers, and in September alone we had more than 33,000 visitors... hello there).

Update: drill updates are available for teacher assignments and software owners immediately (software owners, you should have already gotten an email.. check your Junk mailbox if you don't see it).

| 11 February, 2006 |
Quite a few changes this round.... First, in the drills:
· NEW: Chord Functions - given a major or minor key and a chord function (like iii, V7 of V, or Gr+6), build the chord on the staff.
· New versions of the drills for Intervals, Chords, and Scales, for bass clef and tenor (viola) clef.
· Two new interactive learning units: Chords and Scales.
· Rewritten audio support for everyone with Java™ 1.4 and above, to fix the occasional choppy/stuttering sound problem.
· Work quietly: instead of playing a horn sound when you make a mistake, the drill will just shake to tell you.
· Clicking "Give up" in any drill now will wait for you to click a "Go Ahead" button before showing the next question.
· New option in the Scales drill: Major "pentascale".
· More specific options in the Intervals drill.

For teachers:
· Changes to make it easier to keep track of how many students you have added.
· On the subscription page, you can now upgrade your subscription instantly (no payment required).
· Saving and testing an assignment is simpler: one button for "Save & Test".
· Assignments on the same day are now ordered by name, so you can keep them in order.

Update: the new and updated drills are now also available for teacher assignments and software owners.

| 15 August, 2005 |
The changes are mostly MIDI support and features for teachers:
· MIDI input support: You can now use an attached MIDI keyboard to enter your answers for all of the applicable drills in the downloadable software.
· Student groups for teachers: you can now divide your students into groups — plus you have the option of giving assignments to an entire group at a time with a single click.
· Also for teachers: You can now copy an existing assignment into a new one (instead of making the new one from scratch every time).
· Various small changes to the drills to make them easier to use.

| 1 May, 2005 |
eMusicTheory now has a discussion forum -- students can get help with their music theory questions, teachers can discuss instruction methods, and anyone can offer suggestions on how to make eMusicTheory a better place.
There are also a few changes to the drills and interactive exercises:
· The Rhythm drills (Dictation and Performance) now have a "silent" mode like the other drills (using flashing lights to replace the audible metronome).
· Two new Interactive Exercises: C-Clef Note Names and Intervals — try them out at Interactive theory.
· All of these updates have been made in the downloadable software as well. If you own the software, check your email for a software update message with instructions on getting the new version.

| 20 March, 2005 |
One big update and a couple of smaller ones:
· Finally, stand-alone software for everyone who wants to run the drills offline, on their own computers (or on computers without internet access). It's cheap (only $12!), and these purchases will help fund further development here.
· For teachers: added the guitar and rhythm drills to the list for building assignments.
· For teachers and students: now you can see the details of your assignment right next to the drill. No more wondering how many you have to get right!
· Updated the audio for the guitar and rhythm drills.
· Updated the message displayed when a student score wasn't good enough to meet the assignment.
· Other little website changes to keep everything running smoothly.

| 13 February, 2005 |
Lots of updates:
· New drills! Guitar Note Reading, Rhythm Dictation, and Rhythm Notation. Try them out, and send in feedback if you have ideas for improvements. (Note: the long notes in the rhythms sound shaky, and the guitar sounds like a piano... these will be fixed soon.)
· A new feature: interactive learning. There are only a few so far: Note Names, Piano, and Guitar. More to come! Click the "Interactive learning" link on the left to try them out.
· Updates to the Key Signature Drill: now it's much easier to see what's a "hint" and what's not, plus if you choose the option "Just tell me major or minor", now that part of your answer is automatically filled in.
· Teachers: Your student list has a new link next to it — click on "Progress Report" to see a page with that student's list of assignments, if a score was reported, and when.

| 15 September, 2004 |
First, some updates to the teacher's view on the website:
· On the score list page, now you can delete individual scores. This is useful if students submitted multiple scores.
· Also on the scores page, now you can click a column heading to sort the list (by submit date, student name, or assigment completed).
I also updated the website and the drills to make reporting scores safer. A few students were running into problems reporting scores, so this will make sure that the score isn't lost: now, if there is any problem reporting a score, the drill program will try to report the score in a new browser window, and include a web address in the drill's error message that can be used to report the score if necessary.

| 29 August, 2004 |
A few updates (been busy this month moving from New York to Michigan), mostly adding website features instead of changing drills (though I also fixed a few bugs with score reporting in the Intervals drill):
· Students can now see on the assignment list if they've sent in a score and completed the assignment. The page also shows if they submitted a "best effort" score but didn't fulfill the assignment yet.
· The assignment list for students is now easier to read.
· Teachers with less than 30 days left on their subscription will now see a message in red text when they log in, showing how many days are remaining.

| 17 June, 2004 |
Lots of changes to the practice drills:
· Smart accidentals (scales): natural signs and cautionary accidentals are now automatically shown as needed.
· New options for note names: Do Re Mi Fa So La Si, and C D E F G A H.
· Larger, easier-to-click staff for chords and scales.
· New scale: added the blues scale (the "blue" note only needs to be enharmonically correct).
· Smarter question engine (all drills): now you won't see a repeat note/scale/chord until you've done them all.
Students who are doing assignments will still be using the previous stable versions, for a week or so.

| 25 February, 2004 |
I updated the practice drills, mostly with a lot of changes that you won't be able to see but which will hopefully make the drills work better with newer browsers (NOTE: I'm not supporting older browsers like Netscape 3.0 anymore). So if you've had problems before, make sure to try the new versions of the practice drills, and let me know how it goes! Students who are doing assignments will still be using the previous stable versions, for a week or so.

| 05 February, 2004 |
I've been working a lot on changes you won't really see (just making the site run better), but I've also made a few changes the teachers will probably like: the assignments page is easier to read, and lists how many scores have been reported so far (and the date of the last one). The scores list page itself is also easier to read (same thing with the printed version, when you click that "Print" link), plus now it lists the students who HAVEN'T submitted a successful score yet, instead of just listing the scores you have so far. Try it out! I've also made a lot of internal changes to the drills, but I'm still testing (I'm hoping to fix the problems some Apple users have run into).

| 17 November, 2003 |
eMusicTheory is accepting the first teacher subscriptions! For this first step, we're limiting it to teachers with less than 75 students. If you work with more students, you have two options — you can wait a little while for the next phase, or you can run a "pilot" program with just one or two classes. This will give you a chance to see how you and your students like it, and you can make suggestions for improvements you'd like to see before the next stage!
We are also not yet accepting online payments (check or money order only). Online payments need a little more testing, but I'm expecting to enable them soon.

| 09 November, 2003 |
Many of you have been asking when I'll be accepting subscriptions (understandably... read the news below where I keep hinting it'll be within a week... as weeks pass!). The good news is that all of the important changes I needed to make are done, but I've still been handling a number of little problems reported by beta testers and teachers trying out the test teacher account. I've fixed all of those issues, plus added in a few helpful features, like a printable version of the scores list, and better handling of the demo account (a number of people thought it was safe to use with their students... it's not, because that same demo account is shared by anyone who wants a demo!). I'm going to wait another week (I'm sorry!) to make sure that I haven't introduced any new problems with these changes, then I'll start accepting subscribers. Thanks again to everyone who's been sending encouraging emails!

| 09 October, 2003 |
Many of you probably noticed that the site was returning errors recently. I made some important changes to the website design to address those problems. The good news is the updates have gone smoothly, I've ironed out more bugs thanks to the beta testers, and I expect to be accepting subscribers in about a week. I apologize for the delays... but it's important to postpone taking on paying subscribers until the site is stable.

| 14 September, 2003 |
I made a few fixes and enhancements based on feedback from a beta tester teacher (thanks, Sam). I also added a Downloads page (nothing really there yet), a page of links to other sites where you can learn music theory, and I turned on the help system - try clicking the little question mark on the upper right, on any page! There isn't a lot in there yet, but the list of questions and answers will grow as more people use the site.

| 07 August, 2003 |
I wrote a new page all about the origins of for anyone who's interested (or if you're wondering what happened to the Java Music Theory website).

| 24 July, 2003 | is born! For those of you coming from the old JavaMusic site that was hosted at Hamilton College: make yourself at home. This new site will continue to offer everything that the old one did, plus much more. A lot of you asked me about running the drills without being connected to the internet — that's the next thing I'm working on.

If you're a teacher interested in subscribing, you'll have to wait a few weeks while I do more testing and add a few more important features. If you want to try out some of the features that will be available, you can log in as a teacher and wander around:
  username: teacher
  password: music

Also feel free to try out the drills I have so far (use the "Music practice" link on the left). For now, don't worry too much if you run into any problems on the site -- it's a work in progress, and there are a few kinks I need to iron out before it is fully operational.