A month ago I added an iPad to the collection of devices in my house. It’s a fun toy and I have enjoyed adding apps, books, and games. But the real reason I am excited about my iPad is the almost endless ways I have begun to use it in my teaching studio.
For the past year I have been teaching with my computer in the studio. I use it to take care of the business of music teaching with Music Teachers Helper, to look up youtube videos with my students, and to listen to and play with the CD recordings I have downloaded into iTunes. Slowly I am becoming more comfortable with the blending of technology and more traditional music lessons. But having to turn to the computer and manipulate the keyboard often feels like an interruption to the flow of the lesson.
My excitement about the iPad stems from the fluid way that I have been using it during lessons. The iPad is small and can easily rest on my solid, black music stand. It requires touching rather than a keyboard. And, most of all, the kids LOVE it. It’s pretty and it’s fun. The apps feel like games even when they are covering challenging concepts.
What are my favorite apps so far?
Cleartune chromatic tuner– this is an easy to use, quick to respond, tuner. As sensitive as my old Korg tuner and incredibly cheap through the app store. We begin every lesson with a quick tune and some intonation exercises.
Do you have a favorite tuner? What are the characteristics you look for?
Note Squish– A funny, animal filled note reading game. A note will appear on the staff and below small moles will appear with letter names. You have to tap the correct mole to move to the next screen. As you improve, bunnies begin to appear as well as the letter moles for extra points and difficulty. This game is a HUGE hit with my students.
Rhythm in Reach– this is a fun rhythm touch game with nine levels in 4 different meters including 6/8 time counted both in 6 and in 2. Each level has an option to repeat a rhythm as many times as you would like and to see more rhythms of the same level before taking the “test”. Each attempt gives feedback on any mistakes and a % score after completing the exercise. A metronome counts down before each exercise and can be set to slow, medium, or fast.
Metronome– There are many metronomes in the app store. I find that the internal speaker for the iPad is fairly loud which is key to successful use. I have recently downloaded two different metronome apps. One is very simple and offers only 2/4, 3/4 or 4/4 options and another which has many features and is more like a “Dr Beat”. Which metronome app do you like and why?
Dice 3D– Of course we could just throw a die to roll for repetitions but what fun is that? In this app, the kids can choose which shape, number of sides, and color die they use. You can add additional dice for multi-player games. Just shake the iPad and the dice will roll and land.
Make Dice– On this dice app you can “write” on each side. I use it to write review pieces, parts of the lesson, activities, or specific ideas to think of while playing a piece. It’s simple and easy to use. Once again, a fun way to put “chance” in charge and have some fun. Just shake the iPad and the die will tell you what to do.
Key Signature Quiz– This is a great game for students to challenge themselves on major and minor keys. It can be set for major, minor or both keys. Choose sharps, flats or both and set a time limit of none, 5 seconds or 10 seconds. This is great for students preparing for auditions or theory tests and working through the circle of fifths.
iRecorder– This voice recorder is one of many available from the app store. I have enjoyed using the built in audio recorder on the iphone for several years now. This app is even simpler, records in fairly high quality even without an external microphone, syncs over wifi and through itunes, and can be easily emailed to students right after making a recording. I LOVE this app!
My Note Games– This is my newest app. The app is free but it has several games that can be bought in-app. I splurged at bought all four games as a bundle for $5.00. Play-A-Day, Tap that Note!, Pay that Note!, and Play-A-Carol. A colorful large staff introduces notes one at a time and the app can be set to “hear” you instrument. In my case, the flute. It then goes through 18 levels giving the students gold medals for each level completed. It is very satisfying for the young students and interesting sight-reading for the older ones up to a beginner-intermediate level. The game is colorful, easy to read, has a large staff, and gives excellent positive feedback for independent practice. My students were sad to stop playing and work on other things during lessons this week!
This is by no means a comprehensive list of music teaching apps for iPhone and iPad. I would love to hear what games you have come across in your teaching. I see this article as the beginning of a series. I plan to use the iPad daily in my teaching and have already seen the difference in sight reading with those students who have tried the games in daily practice at home. Keep an eye out for more updates as I try new apps and have some kid-tested results and reviews. Enjoy!