Looking for an app to improve your note-reading AND your sight-reading? Then read this article to learn all about the Note Quest app which allows you to do BOTH of those things.
There are a lot of note-reading apps out there and so-called “sight-reading” apps which are actually just note-reading apps, (except for Read Ahead, which is a genuine sight-reading app). But I haven’t seen an app which is both a note-reading AND a sight-reading app except for Note Quest, which does BOTH. This app is ideal for you if you want to get your note-reading up to speed and practise sight-reading all on the same platform.
Let’s take a closer look at Note Quest and see what it offers.
About Note Quest
What is unique about Note Quest is its focus on the landmark notes, around which the note recognition and sight-reading exercises are based.
In case you don’t know, the landmark notes are the following:
These landmark notes act as points of reference from which you learn all the other notes. They can be easily remembered because the notes in the treble are a mirror image of the notes in the bass.
Learning the notes with the landmark notes is a far more effective method than learning through mnemonics such as these:
Yes, these mnemonics do help you remember the note names but they don’t allow you to quickly identify notes, which is what we’re after.
Layout of Note Quest
The Note Quest app is divided into two main sections: Note Class and Note Fit.
Note Class is the note-reading side of the app where you learn the notes in the treble and bass with flashcards, starting with the landmark notes. You gradually learn the other notes in reference to these landmark notes. You also learn intervals, starting with the smaller intervals (seconds and thirds).
Note Fit is the sight-reading side of the app where you have short sight-reading excerpts from beginner to advanced. Like the note-reading section, the excerpts are based around the landmark notes and smaller intervals are introduced before the larger intervals. Dynamics and articulation are also introduced progressively.
There are three primer levels containing 20 exercises in each and 5 levels with 40 exercises in each. New content is added regularly.
There will also be a rhythm section coming soon!
Pros and cons of Note Quest
What I particularly like about Note Quest is that it takes you through the notes progressively in a logical manner. You first learn the landmark notes within a two-octave range, then a three-octave range and finally a four-octave range. Intervals are introduced with the landmark notes and are also introduced gradually, starting with steps (seconds) and skips (thirds) before the larger intervals. Accidentals (sharp, flat and natural signs) are then introduced, then notes on the ledger lines, using the landmark notes as a point of reference.
Another neat feature of Note Quest is the Note Selector tool where you can create your own exercises by selecting the notes you want to drill. This is a great way to drill notes that you have trouble remembering.
- Non-tech option
For the less tech-savvy, you can also use PDF flashcards of the sight-reading excerpts which you can purchase from the online shop.
You can listen to each sight-reading excerpt by tapping on the excerpt and clicking on Listen. You can also play along with the recording, with or without the metronome by pressing on Start and adjust the metronome to any speed between 70 to 160 bpm when clicking on Tempo.
The app offers a few incentives to keep you motivated. For example, the note-reading exercises are displayed with a timer, which you can turn on or off, and a hint button, which you can press for help if you get stuck. You can earn badges and rewards after eight minutes of continuous play per day and see your progress on the Stats page from the main page.
You can flag any of the sight-reading exercises by tapping on the flag in the top right-hand corner and review the flagged exercises by turning on the switch at the bottom of the screen (see image above).
The app can be used with either an acoustic piano, a digital or midi piano, or a virtual piano.
- User friendly
The app is easy to use and has a clear interface.
- No progress tracker
As of now, the app doesn’t remember where you left off but the developer is working on adding features which would enable you to scroll through the exercises faster.
- No feedback for the sight-reading
The app does not give you feedback on the sight-reading excerpts so if you don’t have a teacher sitting beside you, the only way to know if you’ve sight-read the excerpts correctly is to listen to the excerpts before or after you play, or to play along with the recording. Listening to what you’re playing is a good thing though!
- iOS only
The Note Quest app is only available for iOS devices.
How much is Note Quest?
Note Quest is free to download from the App store. The landmark notes section is free. To have access to all the other sections in Note Class, you pay a one-time fee of US$4.99 and an additional US$2.99 for the note selector tool. For Note Fit, you pay a subscription of US$3.49 per month or US$19.99 per year.
The flashcards are packaged per level and can be purchased for around US$6.
Who is Note Quest for?
Whilst Note Quest is primarily designed for piano teachers to use with their students, it can also be used by self-taught pianists.
The app is ideal for beginner and more advanced pianists who want fun and effective drills and exercises to improve their note-reading and sight-reading skills. I highly recommend it.
Have YOU tried Note Quest? What do you think?