Many of my students have mobile devices. It's what drove me to buying a Android smartphone and most recently, an iPod Touch. Now that I've had a bit of time to play with some of these apps that either my esteemed colleagues Alessandra diCenzo and David Story told me about or that I've stumbled upon, I can put a decent list together of music education apps for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.
Recording and Backing Track Apps for iOS
Garage Band for iPhone ($4.99) turns your iPad, iPhone and/or iPod touch into a collection of "touch instruments" and a full-featured recording studio. Want piano? Guitar? Drums? You can do it. You can even plug an electric guitar into you iThing to play through amps. Someone will have to let me know how well it works as I don't have an iPhone.
iReal b Music Book & Play Along ($7.99) is currently on my Android smartphone. However, I believe it was available for iOS devices first. What can I say about it? You get a mobile band with iReal b. Download the chord charts for over 1,200 songs available in the forums. Or, enter in the chord progression for any song, choose your instruments, tempo and style and play away. Instead of using a metronome, why not try practicing with a virtual band?
Note Reading, Theory and Ear Training Drills
Master in a Minute (FREE) is a fun music app for kids. It helps students develop their note reading skills. I like how it teaches intervallic reading. It has certainly been helping some of my students who are struggling with note reading. There used to be a full version, but it is no longer available in the App Store.
Music Reading Essentials ($2.99) has four sets of flash cards to choose from: notes, rhythms, intervals and symbols. Students can focus on one area or combine decks. The timer sure adds a bit of pressure. My students have been playing a round of this while waiting for their lesson.
Music Theory Pro ($4.99) has note naming games, key signatures and interval ear training. So far, I've noticed that it's better suited to my older beginners, intermediate and advanced students. Very slick design. I'll have to try the pro levels. I like how this app includes jazz chords and scales, altered dominants and extended chords. MTP is also available for Apple computers in the App store.
My Note Games! (FREE) was featured on BBC Click! and was nominated for a "Learning without Frontiers Innovation Award" in 2012. It has six games: Hear it, Play It; Play that Note, Play-a-Day!, Play-a-Carol!, Toonr the Tuner and Hear it, Note It. My beginner students enjoy it, although they don't get very far with the free version. I just bought the $6.99 upgrade to unlock all 18 levels..
Note Works Free (FREE) is for iPad. I was quite sad to see that I couldn't get it on my iPod Touch. It looked like pure fun when Alessandra showed it to a bunch of us at the 2013 CFMTA Convention. This game is designed to teach note recognition and improve sight reading skills. Your mission is to help Hungry Munchy catch each note as quickly as possible before it skitters off-screen. The full version has more bells and whistles (Note Works Full) for $4.99.
Rhythm Lab ($2.99) allows users to copy, save, or share any rhythm pattern as an image. You can send tapping results in an e-mail, create and print worksheets. My students and I haven't tried this app out yet
I have long recommended Musictheory.net to students and am glad that the creators have made a mobile version. Tenuto ($3.99) offers fifteen customizable exercises to help you with chord recogniation, intervals and ear training. There are also musical calculators and twelve-tone matrices. They also have a Theory Lesson app for $2.99.
Metronome and Tempo Related Apps
Metronome Ϟ (FREE) is what I have installed on my iPod Touch. It's simple and gets the job done. The "tap tempo" feature is greatly appreciated. Also, the practice timer is a neat. You can actually set it to hammer out the beats while you drill a trouble spot for one, two, three, four or five minutes.
I've just installed Tempo - Metronome with Setlists ($1.99). It has made the Top 100 List in the Music category. There are five modes: Basic, Preset, Setlist, Practice and Gig. Each mode presents a different combination of functionalities optimized for the task at hand. I look forward to exploring this app.
Tempo SloMo (FREE) allows you to practice at your own pace. This is great not just for music students, but language and dancing students as well. Take a whatever you are working on and slow it down or speed up the audio track without affecting the pitch. I think this will become a popular app with my students, especially with their pop songs.
There are countless apps for music education. I'll update the list as I discover new apps. Feel free to suggest some of your favourite iOS apps for learning and playing music.
Next, I'll take a look at some Android apps for music education.