Dictation Tutorial

The dictation challenge is a daily challenge in which you listen to a short melody and chord progression and try to figure it out by ear. Each day there is a new challenge to try.

How it works

  1. Click the play button below. You will hear the notes of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and see a cursor move across the colored staff.
  2. Click your mouse in the colored staff and type the numbers 1-1-5-5-6-6-5 to enter the 1st, 5th, 6th, and 5th notes of a Major Scale on the staff (normally you would use your ear to figure out the notes in the melody rather than us giving you the answer). You can delete notes with the delete/backspace key.
  3. Hit spacebar on your keyboard to play the notes you just entered. You just dictated "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"!
  4. Click "show answer" below the staff to see the answer.

An example with melody and chords

In the previous example, you only had to figure out the melody, but that's only half the story. Real songs also have chords, and the ability to identify what chord is playing is also an important part of having a good ear. Just as there are only 7 notes associated with the scale that songs use, there are also only 7 basic chords (these chords are usually written with Roman Numerals).

In the next example:

  1. Click the large play button. You will hear the notes and chords of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star".
  2. Just as you did before, click your mouse on the melody staff and type the numbers 1-1-5-5-6-6-5 to enter the 1st, 5th, 6th, and 5th notes of a Major scale.
  3. Click your mouse in the chord staff and type the numbers 1-1-4-1 to enter the I and IV chords.
  4. Hit spacebar on your keyboard to play the notes and chords you just entered. You just dictated the melody and chords of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"!
  5. Click "show answer" below the staff to see the answer.

About the daily challenges

Each day we feature three challenges: beginner, intermediate and advanced.

  • Scores are based and accuracy. If multiple people have the same score, the one with the faster time will be ranked higher.
  • Challenges and high scores are reset every day at midnight PST.
  • In the intermediate and advanced challenge you cannot hear notes/chords as you add them or play back your dictation.
  • If your score is high enough to make the high score list, your score and username will be posted to the high score list. There is no way to opt-out of this.
  • The intermediate and advanced challenges require you to be logged in.
  • Hookpad (the music sketchpad) has lots of awesome keyboard shortcuts. If you want to be super fast, you should read the Hookpad User Guide so you are aware of all of its capabilities.
  • Make sure to click the "click here to check your work" link at the bottom of the challenge when you are done. The timer does not stop until you click this.
  • You can submit one answer per challenge per day.
  • Most of the songs in the intermediate and advanced challenges come straight from TheoryTab library. The beginner challenges are a mix of nursery rhymes and some of the most simple songs in the Theory Tab library.