A typical session in EarMan is very similar to what would happen in a tutored session. Depending on the session parameters there will be a set of answer buttons on the screen, i.e. "minor second" and "major second" at the beginning of a session focussing on seconds. Once the start button is tapped in the bottom toolbar, an interval will be sounded out and displayed in music notation. Tapping the correct answer allows the program to proceed to the next test interval which is reflected by the counter in the top left corner of the screen. In case of a wrong answer a large "X" is displayed on the answer button and the interval is played again. During the middle of either session type, Quick Session or Curriculum, octaves/unisons are introduced to widen the palette a bit. The last 20% of each session also add complementary intervals. Once a session is completed, the results are shown and added to the database. If a Curriculum session was completed with a grade of 80% or higher, the Curriculum stage will move on to the next set, i.e. from thirds to fourths.
Quick Sessions offer a way for spot learning. Interval set, range and playback direction are configured on the fly. These sessions are available at any time and can used to practice just in between or to prepare for the next Curriculum session. Range and playback direction for Quick Sessions are set in the Settings screen and the interval set in the Quick Session configuration screen that appears when the Quick Session button is tapped in the main screen. Quick Sessions only have 30 test intervals and will introduce octaves/unisons in the middle of a session and complementary intervals towards the end.
EarMan's Curriculum is a structured lesson plan of 105 sessions that begins with one interval set in a narrow range. Curriculum sessions don't have a configuration screen. Instead an info screen is shown when the Curriculum button is tapped in the application's main screen. The top row indicates the interval set to be tested, the second row the maximum range the interval is being played back in and finally the playback direction. Once a Curriculum session is completed with a grade of 80% or higher the next interval set is introduced, eventually the range is widened and the playback mode advanced.
The session screens for Quick Sessions and Curriculum sessions differ only in color. Quick Sessions have a purple background and Curriculum sessions a green one. A session is started and stopped with the Play button in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen. Once a session is under way the answer buttons to the right side of the screen are used to identify an interval that was played. At the end of a session a tablet will be shown indicating the results of the test and in the case of a curriculum session whether the test was failed or passed.
Test results are shown on a tablet after each session. Additionally there is the results screen that can be viewed by selecting the third button from the top in EarMan's main application screen. Here is a list of all sessions that were completed with all relevant information, like recognition percentage, interval set, range, etc. The view can be adjsuted to either show Curriculum sessions, Quick Sessions or all. Resetting this list will automatically also reset the Curriculum to the beginning.
Much thought went into the design of this application. There are high resolution playback samples, a "calm interface" designed to keep you focussed on the sound, interval songs to help memorize the base intervals, but above all EarMan is meant to be a constant companion. Like many things ear training needs to be done on a regular basis to truly yield results and that makes EarMan an ideal application for any music student. You may want to download EarTester, EarMan's free companion app for iOS. It tests your ear training skills at a proficiency level achieved when completing the EarMan curriculum.
Research has shown that an association between intervals and graphic shapes can be beneficial when studying ear training. EarMan takes an approach that goes a small step further. During sessions interval specific shapes are animated in a blooming fashion, but typically at very low opacity. Even if hardly noticable to the eye, the brain will still make the association and thus strengthen the ability to "just name" an interval. This feature is enabled by default and can be adjusted in Preferences or switched off altogether if so desired. Best results are achieved with this feature enabled and set at low opacity.