I've been a big fan of a program called Staff Wars 2 for many years. It's basically a video game that helps beginning band kids with drill and practice on their notes and fingerings. Sadly it wouldn't work with Windows 7 or 8 for several years but now TheMusicInteractive has released an updated, Windows 8 compatible version! Read on to find out more!
For many years I have been a huge fan of a program called Staff Wars 2 by a group called TheMusicInteractive. It even made it into my High-Tech Low Budget Music Technology Special last year. This free program for Windows and Mac is awesome for young instrumentalists to help them learn fingerings and practice playing notes on the staff. Basically, a note floats across the screen toward your "shield" and you have to play the correct note on your instrument before it hits it and you lose a life. It uses the microphone attached to your laptop or plugged into your desktop to do it.
For the last two years I have been a sad band director because the old version would not work with Windows 7. Although I could get it to occasionally work in Windows XP Mode it was a royal pain and worked only once in a while it seemed. Just today I decided I would take a look on their site to see if, by some miracle, TheMusicInteractive had updated it and low and behold IT IS DONE!
The new version of Staff Wars 2 runs on computers running up to Windows 8.1 at this time. I tried it on my school Windows 7 machines and it worked right off the bat! Plus, I see that they have expanded their Staff Wars 1 version onto the iPad for $0.99. That version does not have the audio recognition and instead just allows kids to touch the name of the note as it floats by but one can only hope they are planning Staff Wars 2 for the iPad at some point in the future. I'd pay $5 to have that app available anytime to use during lessons without having to crank up the desktop. Think about it guys!
Staff Wars 2 is a FREE download from TheMusicInteractive.com. Be sure also to check out their other excellent paid music education applications available both for Windows and for Mac.
UPDATE 2022: Staff Wars 2 is no longer available for Windows. However there is now an iOS version called Staff Wars Live that is even better than the Windows version. Their original Staff Wars is also available both on iOS and Android devices.