Reading Time: 2 minutes
Adding apps to music lessons or practice is a great way to present new challenges to students.
Especially if your student loves screen time (and what kid doesn’t these days?), apps can be magical at keeping them playing even after the lesson ends, or engaged with their instrument through a break or vacation.
We polled our teachers to find out which apps they’re using in music lessons and why. Read their suggestions—perhaps you’ll walk away with a few new ideas!
Voice Memo, iPhone’s built-in digital voice recorder
What it does: Records, plays back, and trims audio.
Why it’s great: “Whenever we’ve had to work on a song for a sizable chunk of time, I like to use the goal of creating a satisfying recording of the song as a final push to do our best, right when the student might be running low on motivation,” said Piano Power instructor Lucas Gillan.
What it does: Teaches students how to read the most commonly used music rhythms, with progressive levels. Rhythm Cat is intended to help beginners read music without getting discouraged.
Why it’s great: “Rhythm Cat is an excellent game for building rhythm accuracy in a sight reading setting without realizing you are testing yourself,” said Piano Power instructor Emily Volz. “It features interesting graphics with French-themed black cats, and a wide variety of diverse songs, from French pop songs, classical music like Ave Maria, movements from the Nutcracker, and even new age pop/rap sounding drum tracks.”
Steve Reich’s Clapping Music
What it does: Teaches rhythm by challenging players to play Steve Reich’s composition “Clapping Music,” a piece of music performed entirely by clapping. Players tap in time with the shifting pattern and progress through all of the variations.
Why it’s great: “It is a bit complex musically because the performer shifts a phrase of music while the game continues to play the original pattern, but it is a lot of fun and is a great way to help students internalize rhythm,” said Piano Power instructor Kateri Gormely. “It is probably most appropriate for middle school-aged students and older.”
Piano Dust Buster
What it does: Teaches students to learn rhythm, how to read notation, and other piano essentials by helping granny dust off her piano to earn points and bonuses. The app can sync with a piano, or students can use the keys on an iPad.
Why it’s great: “This game brings a lot of different options to students,” said Emily. “It’s wonderful for piano students of all ages, and gives the opportunity to play a fun game on their home piano using the correct fingering and hand posture.”
What it does: Electronic flash cards for music that exercise sight-reading and allow students to train their note-finding, intervals, rhythm identification, and chord recognition. Customizable content and difficulty level suits individual students.
Why it’s great: “I especially recommend Tenuto for students who will be taking a vacation or break from lessons, as it keeps music fresh in the mind,” said Piano Power instructor Andrew Doney. “It’s been a really valuable tool for me and my students all year, but especially over the summer. Students coming back from a vacation with more confidence finding notes/intervals rather than less is a really cool thing.”