Who doesn’t love sight reading?
Let’s back up:
Who hasn’t struggled with sight reading– teaching or learning?
It’s one of the hardest skills…
But it’s also one of the most important.
That’s where SightReadingMastery comes in.
Today we have an awesome giveaway with SightReadingMastery, a site that wants to help you teach and learn sightreading.
Does it really do the job?
I was pleasantly surprised when Evan, a reader and music teacher from Texas, emailed me about SRM.
He says SRM was created because he wanted to make learning and teaching sightreading easier, and because it’s such an important skill that we struggle with.
Read on to find out if SRM really makes it easier for people to learn and teach sight reading… and enter the giveaway to win a LIFETIME account. (Worth $348/year)
This review is a completely honest account of SightReadingMastery.
How SightReadingMastery Works
You get a certain number of passages per month to sight read, and they’re added to your log as you go through them.
- Each passage is different and you can choose from 3 grade levels.
- You can listen to the passage that you sight read to gauge your playing.
All the passages that you don’t use will carry over to the next month.
And there’s a free trial: they’re confident. That’s always a good sign. :)
SRM works on a monitor and a tablet, but I used my tablet because I like to prop the tablet on the piano stand, like it’s sheet music.
[expand title=”Usability Details” rel=”usability”]
First Impression: The Tour
I’m not one for “wordy tours”. For some reason, this tour lost me halfway through.
My impression of it is that it shows you every feature, it doesn’t let you try or teach you how to use anything.
So I basically skipped the rest of the tour. And I got lost. On the “Setting” page.
Wait, what are the features again? Where did the nav go? What’s going on?
There’s no way to bring back the tour, and there’s no FAQ page.
So here’s my tour for you guys (in case you’re stuck). :)
[expandsub2 title=”See Tour”]
Press the logo to get here.
This is confusing because when you’re not logged in, the logo takes you to a different homepage; there should be an indication or ‘Log’ link.
This is where your past sightreadings are; you can always view them again.
It’s more like a home screen– you get more sightreadings by pressing the blue button.
Edit: Now there’s an actual settings link under the dropdown.
Press your name in the corner for the settings page. (Hover for menu if you’re using a mouse.)
This is the good stuff. :)
This is what a sightreading passage looks like:
[expandsub3 title=”Sight Reading Details”]
I’m impressed with the range of style of the sight reading passages: Blues passages and Andante passages, and so on.
The passages are never repeated once you see them, and they’re added to your log.
I like the concept: it’s simple and easy to use (once you get the hang of it), plus I didn’t find any bugs.
Listening to the passage after you play it is a great idea. So far, they’re accurate recordings (from what I’ve played).
I compared a couple passages to the corresponding ABRSM grades, and they’re pretty good about staying with the grade level.
The colour blue for the “Listen” button is really distracting though, especially when it’s on every sight reading page and right under the passage itself.
I tried SRM with a couple of my students, and they liked the system too. :)
It’s easy to use in lessons because all the passages are “right there”.
[expandsub4 title=”Teaching Details”]
Evan tells me that the passages are written especially for SRM, so there’s a very low chance that you’ve seen them before.
The ‘Listen’ function is super useful because I can talk through it and we can go through rhythm exercises, but it would be great if there were a way to scrub to certain spots to point out error spots.
I also like the range of levels (for different students), but there’s no way to sort the passages in the log by level, although you can reuse those passages.
I suppose it wants you to generate new passages for different students, but what if you run out for the month?
[expandsub5 title=”See My Peeve”]
The Confirm Screen
This is my one peeve.
There needs to be a way to turn off the confirm screen after you press “New SightReading”.
It really breaks the flow.
The only time we really need this reminder is when we’re learning how this works.
After that, it’s an annoyance.
Maybe a checkbox saying “Don’t ask me again” would work better. Or maybe have a pop-up only if the reader stays on the passage page for less than 10 seconds (in case they pressed it by accident).
SRM is trying to compete with the traditional sheet music, so it needs to be easy to move from one passage to another.
I wanted to see if you can go over your quota and be charged extra, or what happens when you run out.
So I had a couple sight reading sessions with my students. But, something happened…
[expandsub6 title=”See Quota Details”]
On one hand, I did request a lot of grade 3 sight reading passages at once, but I’d requested even more grade 2 passages before that.
There should’ve been at least 100 of each grade, since that’s the plan that I’m on.
But I’ve been assured that it doesn’t happen a lot.
And since the grades aren’t absolute, we switched grades…
Nothing happens. No extra charges; you just can’t sight read anymore.
I like the way it calls me by name, but there’s no way to quickly upgrade or buy separate passages.
As a side note, the entire message is very redundant, and it would be smarter to include an option for upgrade and have a catchy title.
Plus, when is “next month”? The next calendar month or the next payment term? There should be a date somewhere.
“Whoa” makes me think I’m doing something wrong. Which I’m not.
From time to time, you get free sightreading passages– they’re delightful surprises, but I’d rather get the full amount of passages from my plan than random freebies.
I pay a lot of attention to design– its can destroy even the best service (and sales).
[expand title=”See Design Notes”]
Overall, the design does what it’s supposed to. There’s a clear flow where your eyes are supposed to go.
But, it’s generic: there’s low brand recognition and the level of trust is low at first– this is important because SRM is a web service.
The quotations on the homepage are effective and they do pull you in, but the email subscription box is too wordy (and adds clutter).
Logo and Header
The logo is strong, it’s easily recognizable and simple, but the proportions of the logotype (“logo text”) can be tweaked. (Plus it’s too close to the logo = no breathing room.)
The header is valuable real estate.
That’s where people look first, and that’s what should be consistent throughout, unless you have a different variation of the site.
The design for the “member” area isn’t different enough to justify a different header. It’s almost like “oops, I forgot to add nav links in” but there’s no way to go back (unless you log out).
Edit: The social media buttons are now gone– a clean header– yay!
I wouldn’t put social media buttons (or anything unrelated to the brand) in the header because:
(a) people associate that with the brand, and
(b) people will seek you out on social media anyways if they like your service.
Having the buttons once on any given page is really enough; I see social media up to three times on one page.
The structure of the website is clean, but the way it’s used is cluttered.
People like to scan pages, and if it’s not scannable, they’ll leave.
Titles should be short and snappy, and sum up the content. Buttons shouldn’t have more than three words as a rule of thumb. Three words in a button is pushing it.
I like the colour blue for the “call to action” places, but again, it’s too wordy.
My design senses tell me that the pages are imbalanced; the secondary titles should be smaller than the header titles (and neither should be wordy).
SRM offers 3 types of paid accounts, which is super smart.
[expand title=”Pricing Details”]
The only way that the accounts are different is the number of sight readings per month.
I’d like to see bonus functions as the accounts get more expensive.
For example, even the ability to sort sight readings into mini accounts for each student, for ‘Teachers & Studios’, would be great.
I see a small 30-day refund policy in the corner of one page– I’d push the 30-day refund and the 7-day free trial a bit more around the site because it’s something worth knowing.
Please note: At the time of writing this review, SRM included grade levels corresponding to ABRSM levels 1-3. As of Dec 6th 2015, this has been removed.
At its core, SightReadingMastery is awesome.
Design and user interfacing aside, the concept works really well. It can definitely use a couple tweaks, but there’s tons of potential and I see something big in the making.
In the future, SightReadingMastery will include sight readings for new instruments, so keep your eyes peeled!
With that said, I’ll only give away what I’d use myself. ;)
Artiden is teaming up with SightReadingMastery to give away one lifetime “Re” account to a lucky reader!
The ‘Re’ account has 100 free sightreadings per month, for life. This is worth $348/year– did I mention “forever”? :)
Leave a comment with one sight reading tip you have. (It can be something you’ve learned.) That’s it!
- If you’re on Artiden’s exclusive email list, then you automatically get 2 Bonus Entries. (Click here to join— it’s free and it takes seconds, no spam because I hate that too.)
- Try SRM for free (5 Bonus Entries – make sure you use the same email to sign up, no strings attached.)
- Click here to share this on Twitter or share this post on Facebook (1 Bonus Entry each)
Please leave a new comment that includes all of your bonus entries (and include a link if applicable).
Giveaway ends on Dec 24th 2012, midnight PST, and the winner will be announced here shortly afterwards.
- 1 – 10 entries per person (see below for bonus entries).
- Open to anyone worldwide; you’ll be contacted by email.
- If you’re under 18, you will need to obtain permission from a parent or guardian.
- The winner will be chosen randomly, and will have 14 days to respond before a new winner is chosen.
- Please note that by submitting content to this giveaway (e.g. tips, photos), you are giving us permission to use the content in any way we see fit (e.g. reproduce, display, modify).
Good luck! :)
Coolios, our winner has been randomly chosen on random.org! Congratulations to Joey, #39!