Music Apps For The Classroom

pic1By John Bigelow.

 Since its launch, the iPad has had a remarkable impact on the way people work, learn and enjoy their free time. In fact, while it was not the first tablet computer, it is not unreasonable to say that it was responsible for launching the tablet computer revolution most people now findthemselves caught up in.

From ebooks to iBooks, digital magazines and everything in between, it seems like there is an app for just about everything these days. So much so that it is almost difficult to remember what life was like before smartphones and tablet computers, which is pretty remarkable considering that the first iPad was only launched a little over five years ago (3rd April, 2010).

One area of education where the iPad has had a major impact (pardon the pun) is music. The number and quality of applications now designed to help eager music students improve their art is astounding – to the point where they can easily waste a great deal of both time and money on less than useful apps in an effort to find the good ones. Therefore, in an effort to help time-poor music teachers get the greatest bang for their buck and the best results in the classroom, I have presented below seven of my favourite music education apps.

 Tunable by AffinityBlue

Tunable is a chromatic tuner, tone/chord generator, metronome and recorder that helps students learn to play steadily, in tune and on beat. Featuring a unique ‘tuning history’ display for visualising pitch over time, Tunable is the perfect tool kit for beginning to professional musicians.

  • Learn to play in tune with sustained pitch history: students can visualise how steadily they play or sing. As notes are held out, a white line draws how steady the pitch is; the straighter the line, the more consistent the pitch.
  • Improve their ear with tone and chord generator: need a reference tone or chord? Students can use the tone and chord generator to play and sustain chords with various tone options. They can choose from different temperaments to hear how they compare.
  • Keep tempo with an accurate and simple metronome: students can see the pulse with a visual metronome. They can view subdivision and current beat, with a large display and visual flash.
  • Record and share: students can record their practice and performances and add reverb for a professional sound. Recordings can be shared through email, SoundCloud, Dropbox and more.

Visit http://tunable.affinityblue for more information.

Tempo by Frozen Ape Pte. Ltd.

Tempo is the best-selling and most accurate metronome in the App Store. It is featured as “new and noteworthy” and “staff favourite” by Apple on the main iTunes landing page. Ever since its release, Tempo has been consistently in the top 100 of the music category in over 30 countries, and the top paid metronome app in most countries. Tempo’s engine is written from the ground up for high accuracy and stability. It keeps going even in device lock mode, making it a useful aid for live drumming.

Tempo features an innovative interface that morphs between modes that each present a different combination of functionalities optimised for the task at hand. Five modes are available on the iPhone: Basic, Preset, Setlist, Practice and Gig. On the iPad, Preset, Gig and Complete modes are available, the last providing access to all controls.

Visit www.frozenape.com for demo videos.

Music Tool LE by TheWay Ltd.

Music Tool has been chosen by BestEducationalApps as one of the top five music theory apps for iPad, “For music teachers wondering how to get their students to practice chord progressions and new theory topics at home, Music Tool could be the solution”. This app is a simple dashboard of notes and chords that make those elements sound out when they are tapped. For example, students can tap the C on the keyboard or in the list of notes and hear the C. They can also tap the C sus4 chord and hear that chord. In addition to the major scales dashboard, there is a list of modes that allows students to change the dashboard into a list of notes and chords used in the different modes.

LE, which is the free version of the app, provides tons of great tools, with even more available in the full version.

Visit http://spicyclam.com for more information.

NoteWorks by Azati Corporation

NoteWorks is a fun musical game designed to teach note recognition and improve sight-reading skills. Hungry Munchy is eager to swallow elusive blue notes. The goal is to help Munchy catch each note as quickly as possible.

The game combines learning and fun into a single gratifying experience. The app is both educational and entertaining, with an intuitive and visually appealing interface.

NoteWorks was created for:

  • players of all ages
  • beginners to advanced music students
  • families with multiple players
  • music teachers with multiple students

Visit http://www.doremiworld.com for more information.

Scales & Modes: The Quiz by Smappsoft

Take the Scales & Modes quiz! Students can test their knowledge of music theory and their ability to recognise major and minor diatonic scales and modes. It is a great way to train their ears and to master one of the trickiest parts of music theory.

During the quiz, various scales and modes will be randomly shown on the musical staff. Choose whatever root note is preferred and listen to the scale, then it is up to students to guess which scale or mode it is. For an even more difficult challenge, hide the notes and identify the scale by sound alone.

If students are having trouble recognising the scales, try the full version of Scales & Modes, an interactive reference guide available in the App Store, and they will soon be an expert.

Visit http://www.smappsoft.com for more information.

Music Theory with Audio by Brainscape

Students can dramatically improve and develop their listening skills and tone control, identify complex written chords, increase their knowledge base of music theory, and even learn all about their favourite classical composers with Music Theory. With the latest in Brainscape’s proven cognitive science techniques, they will learn faster and more efficiently than with any other music app on the market.

Establishing a solid base of music theory and training their ears can be a difficult and time-consuming endeavour for students. With this in mind, Music Theory flashcards – developed by a highly trained musician with expertise in the study of theory, composition and performance – delivers a package that allows them to study at home or on the go. Whether they have a solid block of time to dedicate to study, or five minutes of down time while going about their day, students can advance their theory and ear training virtually anywhere.

Visit https://www.brainscape.com for more information.

Suggester by Mathieu Routhier

Suggester is a chord progression tool and musical scale reference designed to assist students in the creation of songs and chord progressions. This app will help them find chords that work together. It is efficient and fun; use it to build musical phrases that will carry emotion through tension and release.

Simply touch a chord to hear what it sounds like. Press the play button to hear the chord progression sequentially and adjust the playback speed.

Students can work either forward or backward:

  • Forward – students pick a scale, then build their song from the chords that the app suggests. This is the quickest way to assemble chords that are compatible.
  • Backward – from the catalogue, students pick a set of chords that they like. The app will tell them what scales it matches with. After they have selected the scale they want to use, the app can tell them what chords will fit in with the ones previously entered. This is extremely useful in jam sessions.

To spice things up, chords can be borrowed from parallel scales. Classic chord progressions can also be explored and drag and drop functionality used to reorder chords. To start the drag operation, hold a finger on an item for a second. On an iPad, chords can also be dragged directly from the suggestions to anywhere in the progression. To delete a chord, swipe the chord from right to left.

When students are satisfied, they can save their experimentations for later reference. Export them by email using either a Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) file or plain text. The MIDI file can also be opened in another app.

Every sound generated with the app is also sent to the MIDI output, configurable under options. These notes can be routed to another app on students’ devices, or remotely to another computer by setting up a MIDI network session.

Some of these features are locked in the free version; reach full productivity by purchasing a full unlock. It only needs to be bought once for all devices. To unlock the purchase on another device, select ‘restore purchases’ under options.

Of course, there are hundreds of other great apps for both iOS and Android, but these are the apps I have most enjoyed using in the last six months. I hope you enjoy them too.

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