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TAP Machine for Learning to Read Rhythm

Does anyone remember a rhythm instruction product called TAP?  I believe the company that created it was called Temporal Accuity Products.  It consisted of a Tap Master machine, which had a large button for tapping rhythm from a book of examples while listening through headphones to a musical number playing from a cassette tape.  If you tapped the correct rhythm, you heard the sound of your rhythm in the headphones as well as the music.  The music selections over which one tapped were varied and fun.  The rhythm examples went from the very simple to to very complex.  I was fortunate to have been hired in the late 1970s and/or early 1980s by the then Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts, now Idyllwild Arts Academy, for two summers to oversee a music theory instruction center using the device along with computer based music theory instruction materials.  It was effective and a lot of fun.
Replies (17): Threaded | Chronological
on September 21, 2011 8:14am
Yes, I recall using this in the 80s and early 90s.  I actually went looking for this recently and found that TAP had merged with Musicware, Inc. back in the 90s.  NOt sure anything is still available from them but maybe others have some knowledge.
Larry Smith
Missouri Baptist University
St. Louis MO
on September 21, 2011 10:43am
Hi, Gregory.  Here's a dissenting opinion.  At some point during the '80s my late wife was recruited to teach a sightsinging/ear training class at a nearby university when the previous teacher moved away suddenly.  They used the TAP machine, as well as some sightsinging book written by a music theorist.
Once she realized how incomplete and poorly orgnaized the textbook was, she bagged it and ordered straightforward Kodaly materials for the class, and once she tried out the machine and found how artificial and non-musical it was--and not even mechanically accurate!--she simply stopped requiring its use.  And the students started to learn something about sightsinging and ear training!
I just observed one of our own faculty members teaching a similar class, for a peer review.  He takes a wholistic approach, currently focusing on rhythm, combining singing, tapping on the desks, and using conducting patterns, getting the entire body involved.  And he found a great textbook that follows this same approach.  No machines, just the human body--the only musical instrument made by God!
All the best,
on March 7, 2013 11:59am
Thank you John, for affirming my belief that there are some things that can be taught more easily, effectively, and CHEAPLY by human beings than by machines!
 Sounds as though it is, as so many other teaching devices are, a rather good servant but a poor master. 
A child who receives quality music instruction through the grades would have no reason to use something like this, but in the unusual case of a talented student who for some reason was not "discovered" until secondary or beginning college, it might be an excellent sort of reinforcement while the needed skills were being mastered.
Actually, many of the responses here seem to confirm my observation as well. 
on September 22, 2011 8:49am
The founder/owner was actually a member of my church in those days.  He also developed a music notation software.  I only know that he sold the company in the 90s and since then the product seems to have disappeared from the marketplace.  Sorry I don't have any more information than that.
on September 24, 2011 5:20am
I used the TAP system for my high school choir students for many years! I liked how the students needed to tap the correct rhythm, but also how there was REAL music happening with the rhythm reading. It is individualized and moves through many levels of difficulty.  I have a number of machines, books, sets of tapes, etc. that I can send your way if you are interested (for shipping costs only). I've been trying to decide if there may be any program anywhere that might benefit from the program or if I should through them out. We have moved to the "rhythm reading" portion of Practica Musica at my school for many years now.
Best wishes,
on April 23, 2013 6:47am
I'm interested.  I need the Intermediate TAP book (1) and Tap Machine.  I already have the Advanced Book.  I'll gladly pay shipping
My email address is: ahairston(a)  Please state method of payment (check, money order or credit card).  Many, many thanks.
Asta Hairston
160 West 96th Street  #9P
New York, NY 10025 
on September 27, 2011 1:44am
It's nice to see that some others had good experiences with this product as well.  I enjoyed using them myself.  I agree with Rebecca that it was nice to do the exercises to "real" music.  It was a very nice mix of various styles.  I think this is where I first heard "Hot Butter", aldo called "Popcorn".  Rebecca how do your students like Practica Musica?
Thank you all for your comments.
on September 28, 2011 4:56pm
They like Practica Musica (as well as they like any assignment!). We use quite a bit of the program with the high school music theory class, but with the choir students I focus only on rhythm reading. So they only do the levels of that activity. It is individualized and kids can work at their own pace. It was the best that I could find after the TAP master :)
Best wishes to you!
on November 12, 2011 7:36am
When I was in graduate school I attended the University of Washington.  Dave was there at the time, along with Roger, with whom I sang under Rod Eichenberger - that's another story...
My understanding is that Dave moved on to the University of Illinois where he headed the percussion studies program.  Maybe they might know where he went next.
Around U Dub we all tried the TAP as "Alpha" testers and found it very useful - and challenging!  I found that it helped my reading, oddly enough.
Good Luck!
Gene Lysinger
on November 12, 2011 9:50am
I used the TAP machine when I was a student in college and found it completely useless.  Once you make a mistake, it's nearly impossible to get back in sync with the rhythm.  I would end up just tapping randomly to try and get extra points!!  I don't think it helped me learn rhythmic accuracy in the least!! 
on November 13, 2011 12:48pm
You might want to investigate using Smartmusic.  It is geared towards instrumentalists, but has many applications similar to the TAP product you describe.
Good luck!
on December 9, 2011 5:56am
I was pleasantly surprised to find this thread on the TAP Master Rhythmic Sight Reading system!  I've been using this in my private music studio since 1987.  Most students really enjoy it and feel they've learned a lot. When I first got it, my understanding was that the US Military used it with the music organizations for promotions... I DID have problems with my machine several years ago and was finally able to track down Dave Shrader. I don't remember now if HE repaired it or if he gave me the name of someone who could do so. Anyhow it got a second life. A lot of California community colleges and high schools used to use it -- pre-computer days.
I recently had the mother of two former students contact me asking if it was possible to find it/do it online. She remembered how much her children learned using it and she would like her two grandchildren to be able to use it also.
There are two things that I've found especially helpful for students to be successful with it:
1. Since there is no visual cue of the conductor giving a downbeat, following along on the printed exercise with a finger gives one a much better chance of recovering if a mistake is made because one can see on the page where one is; and
2. As the exercises get harder, they need to be approached as one would a new piece of music -- turn off the machine and do it very slowly with no sound until one CAN do it correctly and then gradually speed it up until one can do it at the speed on the tape.
on October 6, 2014 1:15pm
Hey there! So I know it's a couple of years after this thread started... but does anyone know where to get the TAP master tape machines? I absolutely loved them when they were available in a lab many years ago. Please help, I'd love to get one!!
on November 1, 2014 8:56pm
I know this is an old thread, but I just saw it...

I am a huge fan of the TAP Master.  I cut my eye teeth on that machine and am now known by my college students as a "rhythm Nazi".  My mom sold them in the 1970's and I have her old unit/tapes/books that I use with my kids.  If I had more machines I'd use them in my classroom.  The thing that makes the TAP system superior to anything else that I've seen on the market is that you are tapping the rhythms to actual music, rather than tapping to a click track...or worse, tapping to silence after audible count-off.  It's a MUCH more realistic setup.

FYI - I spoke to one of the creators (Roger McRae, for whom my mom used to work) ten-or-so years ago about updating the platform from the big white box to something to run on a computer.  I found out that the machine is not offered anymore NOT because the platform is obsolete, but because they used all those recordings without getting copyright permission.  I said, "Well, get copyright permission then.  Your system is awesome and it needs to be availble."  He said that it would be cost-prohibitive to get permission.  So I suggested that they use different recordings, from ensembles that would donate their performances for purposes of advancing music literacy.  He said that it would be TIME-prohibitive for them to essentially start all over again...And so the TAP Master is sadly no more.
on November 2, 2014 3:59pm
Hey all who are interested. Back in 2011 I sent all of my TAP machines to the interested people. I have no more machines. I have had several requests again and just want there to be record on this thread that I have no more. :) Thank you. RRW
on September 5, 2015 6:20am
Hello. I realize that this is a very old thread, but I am hoping someone can give me a song title/composer for a song in the first TAP book.  It was a fun, funky piece near the beginning of the first book, as I recall.  My college's Music Dept. was trying these out, and I used them for a bit.  Now - 25+ years later, I would like to know what some of the pieces were, so I can use them with a particular group of students.  It may have even been the very first piece in the first book.  I just remember it had a strong rhythm, and was fun.  If you have any info on this, could you please let me know.  Thanks!  You may contact me at harp38(a)
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