Don’t miss the first two articles in this series by Leila Viss: iPad 101: Should I Purchase an iPad for My Studio? and iPad 102: A Starter Kit of Apps for Your Studio. And definitely don’t forget to make Leila’s blog a place you visit frequently!
iPad 103: A Value Pack of Apps for Your Studio (and Lab!)
by Leila Viss
If your students arrive for a lesson but stay for lab time as mine do, the iPad has made life SO easy! Instead of waiting for software to load, with one click and a swipe or two, students can begin drilling note names, ear training exercises, virtually any type of lab activity. If you have been on the fence about adding lab time to your lessons, the acquisition of an iPad could change your mind. Even if you choose not to hold a lab, below is a collection of apps worth owning for your waiting room or could serve as suggestions for parents to purchase for their pianists.
There are many apps (really too many) from which to choose. In my book or “in my iPad”, to be more precise, an educational music app gets my attention if it meets these criteria:
- intuitive–it must be easy for anyone to negotiate
- objectives are clearly presented
- isolation of concepts with appropriate sequencing
- immediate feedback for mastery
- well organized with appropriate labels
MUSIC READING APPS
It seems note reading apps were some of the first to appear and still are some of my favorite because note recognition takes repetition. These iPad apps definitely spice up the normal flash card routine.
Music Flash Class‘s versatility sets it apart. Various “decks” of note names are built-in but teachers can customize their own. Generous feedback is provided and each session is timed. This app is one to consider first when looking for note name apps. It appears that the Version 1.1 offers even more flash card drills beyond pitch names. Definitely worth the investment!
Piano Flash earns high marks for being dedicated to pitch reading only. The Grand staff is divided into 5 “decks” and it is very easy to navigate between them. However, there is no helpful hint if a an incorrect answer is given and no timer.
Note Squish takes note name flash cards to the arcade. Gotta get this one!
Others to consider:
BlueNote--includes rhythmic symbols too!
Flashnote Derby-why not go horse racing and learn note names at the same time?
EARLY MUSIC THEORY APPS
As stated earlier, I prefer apps that specialize in one area, maybe two. They are just less complicated for students to use. However some have provided a series of lessons and drills that are quite helpful and worth your stop at the app store.
Music for Little Mozarts is a must-have! This is suited so well for first-time lab assignments as basic concepts such as loud and soft, or up and down, and high and low are reviewed in simple games. Even though I do not use this series of books any more, I still have my stuffed Mozart Mouse and Beethoven Bear and use them regularly. It is great to have an app that features those fuzzy friends! Price: $.99
Music Theory for Beginners The layout of this app gets an A+! Scrolling to see the various lessons offered is so easy. However, the label “beginner” seems inaccurate. For example: in lesson 20 Syncopation is discussed and students are asked to read tricky rhythms on the staff in various key signatures. Before assigning a lesson, you will want to make sure it is appropriate for your student. Another nice feature: interactive quizzes include questions from various angles to ensure thorough knowledge of the subject. Tip: the owl’s voice may get annoying to some!.
MORE ADVANCED THEORY APPS
Musicopoulos provides comprehensive explanations of basic theory concepts. Exercises are provided to reinforce principles. The structure of this app makes it very easy to navigate! This would be a perfect app to recommend to adult students interested in learning more about theory.
Octavian I consider this keyboard calculator an essential reference for any type of scale or chord. It’s comprehensive scope provides access to over 500 scales and 100 chords. When my students are asked to complete written work, I allow them to check answers with this app. Self-correcting with immediate visual and and audio feedback provides ample learning.
Music Theory 101 and 102 These apps present theory course material with visuals and color codes with little terminology and explanations. Organized concisely, the lessons include links to Youtube and Wiki for further reinforcement.
EAR TRAiNING APPS
Music Cubes is one of my favorites because it is perfect for young beginners but still stumps even me. The simple format is similar to a game I grew up with called “Simon”. With the training and play modes, your ear gets a terrific workout. The developers claim it even develops perfect pitch. It’s a bargain you can’t pass up.
Auralbook for ABRSM by Playnote This amazing app (don’t use that word very often) provides real-time analysis of singing pitches and volume, clapping rhythm and intensity, etc. Automatic judgement is provided every performance in a professional way. In-depth explanation for questions about characters, styles and period, texture and structure of music are included. Not just Q&A! There are options to purchase more features within the app, however many levels are offered for free. Worth your time at the app store!
Price: Free/Upgrades available
ABRSM While getting the specs on the app above, I stumbled upon this app claiming to be the “official” ABRSM Aural trainer. For those of you enrolling your students in The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, or if you do not, but want top notch aural training for your students, this is a goldmine!
Price: Free/Upgrades Available.
Ear Trainer Lite The lite version covers Interval Comparison, Chord Identification, Chord Progressions and Scales–a substantial amount but I liked the format, organization and extensive range of exercises of this app enough to purchase the full version. It is easy to find the exact training exercise you prefer. Definitely worth the investment.
Price: Free/Upgrade Available
PITCH SIGHT READING APP
Music Trainer Note Trainer is the visual companion to Ear Trainer Lite. Again, just came across this and am excited about its feature of reading and playing pitches in patterns, chords and inversions. Definitely get this one, too.
RHYTHM SIGHT READING APP
ReadRhythm does just what is says, helps develop strong rhythmic reading skills. Although it was a little cumbersome for me to navigate, once I figured it out, this app is definitely a keeper.
MUSIC HISTORY APPS
My First Classical Music App For children ages 5 and above, I believe students of all ages will enjoy this app thanks to its interactive format. There is narrated text and a full album of music from Grieg to John Williams. I hope more music history apps like this appear on the app store shelves soon!
The Great Composers Includes biographies and works of 208 composers from Medieval to the present. Youtube videos of major works are linked to each composer. A very fine reference for you and your students.
GENERAL FLASH CARD APPS
Just in case you need to drill some concept with your students and you don’t see the app in this list, check out these….
Music Theory Flash Cards, With Audio Brainscape is a hub for developing flash cards and has created an audio flash card app that improves listening skills along with other theory concepts. Their trademark: as one moves through the stack of cards, the app asks for feedback. On a scale from 1-5, students must rate how well they knew the answer.
Flashcardlet is a Quizlet-powered app that allows you to create your own flash cards and share with others. You can email your flashcard decks or share them using Dropbox. It allows you to search for, study, and make local edits to Quizlet.com flashcards. I have found this very useful when looking for specific subjects such as Italian tempo markings…
The fourth post in this series will list some outstanding apps that transform your iPad into creative tools you never thought possible.
If you don’t see a free app you love on this list, it may appear in the Bargain Bin featured in the next article as well. Do you have a favorite freebie?
ipad image by leondel