Common Sense Review
Updated October 2013

8notes.com

Solid mix of free and paid music ed resources, plus sheet music
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Common Sense Rating 3
  • Users can access sheet music for more than 25 instruments.
  • Sheet music is also listed by genre.
  • Students can also view music theory lessons on a variety of topics.
  • Guitarists can adjust their instrument using the site’s interactive guitar tuner.
  • Other resources include piano chord charts, musician biographies, scale charts, and a virtual metronome.
Pros
Theory information on songs from different genres and some nifty extras can help kids improve their performance skills.
Cons
Kids have to buy sheet music for many of the modern tunes, and the same kind of info isn't consistently provided for each song.
Bottom Line
8notes.com isn't as free as they imply, but it does provide some really useful resources to round out students' musical education.
Erin Brereton
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

Some items, such as tracks kids can play along with and interactive tests, help kids connect with the site; adding more would make it an even stronger resource. Users can email each other through the site and discuss topics on forums.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

Lessons teach music theory and explain musical elements; instrument chord charts, a guitar tuner, and a metronome also offer instruction. Sheet music can help kids learn about song components; exercises sometimes pair reading with audio.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

Users can discuss music on active site forums, including instrument-specific boards. Kids can: view links to other music sites, music jokes, and composer and instrument images; buy sheet music; and print blank sheet-music paper.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Teachers can encourage students to search for and download songs they'd like to play using the free 8notes.com version. An ad-free school subscription is also available. Some aspects still need a little tweaking -- kids can currently only log in using a teacher's email address and site password, and there doesn't seem to be a way to track individual student progress. However, the subscription gives all students in a school access to mp3 play-along tracks; sheet music for longer, more complex songs; and high-quality, printable .pdf files. Students and teachers can also request transposition services.

The site's lessons can also be doled out as reading assignments to help kids learn about basic music theory -- more than 45 lessons cover intervals, key signatures, and other topics. 

 

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What's It Like?

8notes.com is a website that provides free sheet music for more than 25 instruments. Kids can also access written lessons on piano chords, drum beats, and other musical components and music theory lessons. Other resources include an online guitar tuner, metronome, and guitar and piano chord charts with audio files that let kids hear chords before playing them. Users can also read biographies on musicians spanning from Beethoven to Beyonce, upload pieces, and look up terms in a musical glossary. A forum gives kids the chance to communicate with fellow musicians.

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Is It Good For Learning?

The free 8notes.com subscription has some limitations; kids won't find endless amounts of music here (particularly if they play a more obscure instrument, like the mandolin). The free selection tends to center on traditional music for mainstream instruments. Some users may be content playing piano selections like "Happy Birthday" or Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata," while other kids may be frustrated to find much of the pop song sheet music has to be purchased to be played.

Still, the site offers several tools that can help kids fine-tune their playing skills. It provides an impressive amount of educational materials, including a musical term glossary, instrument image gallery, and dozens of contemporary and classical musician biographies. The same supplementary items aren’t included for each song -- many of the classical pieces, for example, simply list a brief theme and composer background. But other pieces feature useful information on chord patterns, song structure, and other elements. 

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