About Learn the Notes

Learn the Notes began in the mid 1990's when I was endlessly frustrated by my piano students' inability to identify notes. I was looking for an alternative to the excruciatingly boring rote exercises that I hated giving my students. (And which my students hated doing.)

I had recently bought my first computer, a Quadra 250, to relieve me from the drudgery of hand copying music. I had heard about Hypercard and its wonderful capabilities and I wondered if I could create a small program for my students that would be fun and effective. I learned hypertalk and created the first version of Learn the Notes as a Hypercard stack. It wasn't very good.

Meanwhile, Lisa, who for years had been developing an integrative approach to teaching, had created a myriad of fun, efficacious games that she used in her lessons to teach the fundamentals of music to students of all ages. Her games were dynamic and interactive. The games taught a deep knowledge of the core concepts of music in an entertaining environment. Unfortunately, the games required a teacher to be present to guide the games and were most successful in the lesson.

It was then we realized that if we merged Lisa's ideas to my fledgling program we could create an effective, fun learning environment that students could use at home. With Lisa's advice Learn the Notes became a compelling educational tool for our students. Unfortunately, in those days few of our students or their parents had Apple computers with Hypercard, so most of our students were only able to use Learn the Notes at our teaching studio as an adjunct to their lesson.

In 2000 I bought a G4, changed my operating system to OS X and the old Quadra migrated to a dusty corner. (Around that time Apple stopped supporting Hypercard.) Our students still loved Learn the Notes and continued to use it at our studio but the game quickly became antiquated, slow and out of touch with the new technologies. Somewhere around 2004 the Quadra died and thus Hypercard and Learn the Notes became permanently entombed in floppy disks.

Once again in 2009 I became frustrated by the lack of useful ways to have my students learn basic music reading concepts at home and decided to revive Learn the Notes as an application for OS X. Learn the Notes was completely redesigned to embrace OS X's impressive capabilities. For the last two years it had been rigorously tested and overwhelmingly approved by our students.


Brian Hughes

Brian Hughes has taught piano privately for 20 years. He has a B.A in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin where he also studied Music Composition and Music Theory and a M.M. in Music Composition from the New England Conservatory of Music. His compositions have been performed at Carnegie Hall and through out the USA. He has scored music for films and television. He was the founder of NuClassix a non-profit composer collective and residency program for young composers.

Lisa Rohn

Lisa Rohn did her undergraduate work in Piano Performance at the New England Conservatory of Music, studying under Theodore Letvin and Lois Shapiro, with further private lessons with Thomas Stumpf. In addition to her music studies, Lisa worked for six years in a peer-counseling program where she began to explore the relationship and influence of emotions on our mental function, with more specific focus on the effects of our emotional state on the processes required for learning. Lisa has been teaching piano privately for over 30 years, to students ranging from ages 4 to 77. Through these years she has applied the insights from her explorations to develop a fully integrative and transformational teaching method.