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Focus on Sound

Music education software in the Cloud

Develop listening skills and all-round musical understanding with online resources for PCs, tablets and smartphones.

  • Instant access to hundreds of lessons, tests, quizzes, photos, recordings, music scores and videos
  • Multimedia encyclopedia of instruments and terms
  • Works on almost anything connected to the internet
  • Choose UK or US terminology and spelling
  • 6 years in development
  • Written by expert teachers with a large team of young professional performers
  • Used in 11 countries
  • Updated every week
  • Optional special display mode for large screens, whiteboards and smartboards
  • For individual or school use. Graded for age 9-18
  • Teachers can access test and quiz results for whole classes in 'real time'
  • A product from MusicFirst - part of the international media organisation Music Sales

Focus on Sound does a fantastic job making a long-held dream a reality - Five stars - John Kelleher, Music Teacher magazine


The main topic screen for the Instruments app.

Above is the main topic screen of the Instruments app. The app introduces around 200 instruments and groups, in topic areas like World music, and subtopics like Africa.

A marvellous, affordable, and user-friendly listening resource. Pupils find it easily accessible via mobile, tablet or PC at any time of day (or night, if set homework tasks). I would warmly recommend this excellent software to all departments. - John McGonigle, Director of Music, Dollar Academy, Scotland

Sound Words

The Sound Words app has around 700 terms, arranged in the topics you see below. Each topic has a series of subtopics like tempo or pop song structure. The space at the bottom right is for Popular styles (in development - expected December 2015).

Sound Words main topic screen - Popular styles coming soon.

The kids really enjoy it and so do I - Ryan Lester - Testbourne Community School

Instruments and Terms

Each instrument and term has up to five pages of description, with photos, diagrams and recordings.

The flute has four pages of main content and three more on the jazz flute.

What fabulous resources you have created. The quality of the descriptions, examples, pictures and videos is excellent. Everything works easily both on computer and on my iPhone. Superb! - David Beeby, Poole Grammar School


Here's what the tabs do:

A landmark resource . . . . none of the apps I have seen so far come close - David Ashworth, Teaching Music website

Go here for a full list of topics in Instruments and Sound Words


Tests and quizzes are at the heart of the software. There are unlimited randomized tests and quizzes - each time the user takes the test the questions will be different. Here's part of a simple identification test from Instruments. Questions start off easy, with both sounds and pictures. Later it gets more difficult.

Very easy to use. . . . an excellent resource - John Hall, Ashford School

Here's a question from one of our 'Extras' tests in Instruments. These tests are fixed (i.e. not randomized).

Here's a question from one of our 'Extras' tests in Sound Words.

Focus on Sound has changed the way music homework is done. The kids and I find it so accessible and easy to use.
Maria Gilmartin, Wimbledon College, London

Class demonstration mode

There's also a class demonstration mode for tests. This is ideal for whiteboards, smartboards and large screens. Kids can write down answers or give a spoken answer. Here's an example from Sound Words:

Typed comparison questions

This is one of the newer types of question in Focus on Sound. The student is asked to use music terminology to compare two different recordings. The teacher can then see the answers written by the whole class from the Results page. Students can return to their answers to edit them further.

Teachers could also use these tests for class discussion.

Your software is absolutely brilliant - Matt Allen, Chessington Community College


As soon as a student has completed a test or quiz the teacher can see their results.

The results pages display the number of tests taken, the most recent date and time a test was taken, as well as percentages in all the different tests and quizzes. Notice also the total and average columns. Class results can be exported to spreadsheets. Individual result sheets can be printed.

Music notation

In addition to hundreds of short music notation examples in Sound Words, there is a large set of music scores, often lasting many pages. The position in the score is marked by a red dot (see below). Page changes are automatic. The better the screen resolution, the better the display. These music scores look especially good on 'retina' screens.

There is a complete course on music reading in Focus on Sound.

Learning advice

All the more popular instruments have advice on learning the instrument - this is especially aimed at the young musician deciding what instrument to learn. The expert advice is also useful for parents to read, so that they can understand what is involved in learning and buying a particular type of instrument.


Lessons combine elements from the two programs. They all end with a quiz or assessment. There are over 120 lessons so far. Each can be used as a basis for a lesson in front of a class - or for individual use at school or at home.

Here is the main lesson topic page. New lessons are added regularly, so this group of main lesson topics could already be out of date.

Each lesson covers a number of areas (see the list of topics in a lesson on the drum kit below). Sometimes there won't be time to cover everything in a single class lesson.

Discover more about lessons here


A new part of Focus on Sound is the introduction of activities like rhythm clapping, chord playing, etc.

Here's a chord playing exercise for classes with keyboards.

World music

World music is one of many specialities of Focus on Sound. We have top international performers demonstrating a wide range of instruments and techniques. Musicians include a master drummer from Ghana, a multi-instrumentalist from Brazil and world renowned sitar and tabla players from India.

Music technology

We have engaged a top composer of film and TV music music to write our section on music technology. This covers topics like filters, reverb, delay, compression, modulation, etc.

Advanced study

We have all kinds of material for the advanced student, aged 16-18 and beyond. Here's an example. It's a complete sonata form movement in 'short score'. The page changes with the music, and there's a full analysis of the main sections and keys.

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