[Smt-talk] McGamut query

Ann K. Blombach ann at macgamut.com
Tue Oct 6 08:02:37 PDT 2009

Hi everyone,


First, many thanks to John for sharing his customized MacGAMUT materials.
We've been encouraging all MacGAMUT instructors to share this kind of thing
at our Ning site (http://mgInstructors.ning.com), so you might want to check
that out too-to add materials and/or see what's already there.  We initially
set it up as a way to make the new course outline and materials for using
MacGAMUT with Kostka/Payne easily accessible to instructors, but then
realized it could be more generally useful too if more instructors would
contribute.  So far, a few have, but the more the better!


Your idea of having students keep track of their errors is also interesting.
MacGAMUT keeps track of a student's errors so that the student will get keep
getting exercises focusing on the specific Intervals, Scales, or Chords the
student misses until the student gets those specific items correct.  But
MacGAMUT operates subtly enough that a student who is having a lot of
difficulty might never realize that the same problematic Intervals, Scales,
or Chords keep popping up on purpose, not only in mastery-based Aural
Training exercises but also in mastery-based Written and Keyboard exercises.
But your method of having the error pattern clearly laid out so that the
students can also see exactly what they're having trouble with is a great
teaching tool.


Finally, a couple of comments about John's P.S.  Students have not been able
to save text copies of their stats for many years, precisely because of the
problems John cites.  Even before I took that step, we warned instructors
not to accept the text/printed stats students turned in as proof of their
achievements, especially if their grades were affected in any way by the
supposed validity of these stats.  It was fine to use the text stats as a
quick check, but if the results went into the gradebook, then the instructor
needed to get the stats directly from the student's start file.  There was
even a line in the student stats text file that said not to trust these
stats because the students could have altered them.  The MacGAMUT Check
Stats program (part of the Instructor's MacGAMUT programs) makes it easy to
gather secure, unaltered info from student start files, and even allows the
instructor to save the info in a spreadsheet for easier processing.
However, after I had to help a couple of instructors prepare their side of
Academic Misconduct cases, I decided the only way to prevent these problems
was to not allow students to save text files of their stats to start with.
Instructors couldn't rely on something students couldn't turn in.  A number
of instructors were extremely upset when I did this (they all knew they
could absolutely trust all of their students all of the time-which is
exactly what the instructors in the Academic Misconduct cases had thought),
but unpopular though it was, this move did seem to stop this kind of


As for "hacking" MacGAMUT, stats, we have had one other report of a rumor
that students had found a way to "hack" MacGAMUT, but so far, no one has
sent me an actual file that has supposedly been hacked.  Frankly, I
sincerely doubt that hacking MacGAMUT has happened.  The stats are
encrypted, and I don't use any of the standard encryption programs or
routines to do it, primarily because for almost every commercially available
encryption program, someone has published a way to decrypt whatever was
encrypted.  MacGAMUT is also encrypted in such a way that any attempt to
hack it would almost certainly make the student's start file unreadable.
Nothing is impossible, so I won't say it's absolutely impossible, but I do
believe it's next to impossible.  If a rumor like this would make
instructors distrust MacGAMUT enough to stop requiring the use of MacGAMUT,
though, then the students who started the rumor would have succeeded.
Again, if instructors use Check Stats to examine the student's stats, they
can be sure the student has not somehow altered the record of achievement.


All the best,



Ann K. Blombach

ann at macgamut.com

MacGAMUT Music Software, Inc.


Visit us on the web at www.macgamut.com

Phone:  (614) 442-5876

Toll-free Phone (US and Canada):  1-800-305-8731

Fax:  (614) 442-5877

Toll-free Fax (US and Canada):  1-877-370-1074



From: smt-talk-bounces at societymusictheory.org
[mailto:smt-talk-bounces at societymusictheory.org] On Behalf Of John Paul Ito
Sent: Monday, October 05, 2009 6:46 PM
To: smt-talk at societymusictheory.org
Subject: SPAM-LOW: Re: [Smt-talk] McGamut query



Dear Yosef,


Sorry for a very slow reply, I was waiting until the resources that I will
refer to had been made publicly viewable.


In the conservatory at Lawrence we make MacGamut a recommended resource for
all aural-skills students.  Several of the instructors (including me)
require it, but not all.  


Personally, I have my students use MacGamut primarily for basic materials,
drilling intervals and chord types.  I make very heavy use of the flexible
customizability of MacGamut's drills, and this for me is its strongest
feature.  I have students fill out worksheets that make patterns of errors
immediately visible in characteristic ways, and on the basis of those
worksheets I have students do custom drills that efficiently target their


All of this is spelled out in more detail on one of the areas of my aural
skills website:


You will find instructions for your students, explanations of the
worksheets, and the downloadable worksheets themselves.  I invite you (and
others) to have your students make use of these.  If you do so, I would
greatly appreciate your letting me know, and letting me know what you think
about this resource (what you like or don't like, what to change or not to
change when I make revisions to the site).


With thanks and best wishes,


John Ito


P.S.  To address another point in your email, several years ago (before my
time, actually) when we first started using MacGamut, we required it and
factored into our grades the data that it sent to instructors.  At that
time, at least (again, more than five years ago), it was possible for
students either to hack the program or else to create imitations of these
emails by hand.  In any case, this led to a rather large and unpleasant case
of academic dishonesty, and the department has not used the program in that
way since.


On Sep 12, 2009, at 12:39 PM, Yosef Goldenberg wrote:

Dear all


The Hebrew University department of musicology is going to start for the 

first time to work with McGamut for harmony and solfege students. We would 

like to ask experienced users whether you make it imperative for students to

own a personal copy, and whether you use the program for practice only or 

rather in regular mode to have direct input for grades. Also, in case you 

deviate from the default features of the program, what changes do you make.



Dr. Yosef Goldenberg

Hebrew University of Jerusalem 



Smt-talk mailing list

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John Paul Ito

Assistant Professor of Music

Co-chair for Theory, Department of Music Theory and Composition


Mailing address:

Conservatory of Music, Lawrence University

711 E. Boldt Way

Appleton, WI 54911




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