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15 Apr 2019

Lianhe Zaobao, 15 Apr 2019, Using games to learn music theory (translation)

Many people who have studied music before may find learning music theory quite dry. Due to their 'painful experience' learning music theory when young, several youngsters decided to use games to teach music theory, allowing music students to enjoy themselves while learning.
Second year student at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), Jonathan Ng Kin Hou (25), had been learning to play the violin since he was eight-years-old. However, for many years, he found music theory to be very dry and once even fell asleep during a one-on-one theory lesson.
Until about three years ago, while learning to play the jazz guitar, he met a good teacher who helped him understand music theory, that it was not difficult to learn and can even help him to improvise.
He later shared this inspiration with his friend Pang Jun Yu (25, a fourth year student at NTU). Pang Jun Yu, who studied the piano from an early age, also encountered difficulties in mastering music theory. He had to retake the eighth-grade piano theory examination twice.
The two therefore decided to use interesting games to present music theory to students, making use of their respective expertise in visual arts and product design, to design a prototype of their game on a blank business card. It is called "Lord of the Chords".
The students spent about a month designing the first game, with the intention of playing it themselves. However, many music students, parents and teachers became interested in the game after trying it out.
Keith Teo Rong Jun (24, SUTD third-year student), who joined the team later, was responsible for designing the packaging for the game. He does not have any music background, but after trying out the game, he could recite the concepts of half notes and main chords. This gave Jonathan and Jun Yu the confidence that the game would enable other music students to enjoy the process of learning music theory.
Jonathan said: “This is not only a game, but can also spur the interest of adults and children in music theory. More importantly, this can transform something that people generally dislike into something they could possibly enjoy, and the process of designing this game has given me a great sense of accomplishment.”