Monday, April 6, 2015

There's An App For That!

I polled some of the music educators I know to find out what concepts their students may be struggling with. The apps listed here are designed to be used in music instruction.Using the list that I compiled, I started searching for apps and programs that would be useful to the students and the teachers. My goals are to
  1. find apps and programs that students can use independently when practicing on their own or with their peers, and
  2. find apps and programs that Directors/Teachers can use in whole group, small group, and individual instruction.
Areas of improvement that were identified were diction, key signature recognition, Bpm (beats per minute), Solfège (fixed and movable do), sight reading, basic music theory and transposition. Most of the music educators that I talked to were in middle and high school learning environments, so the list is mainly aimed at those demographics. These students may be performing at beginner, intermediate, or advanced levels, so I wanted to find apps that could be customized to suit each student’s ability level. I aimed to find apps that students could download on their own devices for easy access at home, at school (inside or outside), or on the go. It’s my hope that by providing students with tools that could help them to guide their own private practice time, they will feel empowered to practice deliberately and more often.

The apps are arranged in order from the least expensive to the most expensive. The specifics of each app has a link that will take you to the app’s information page on the compatible platform. You can scan the QR Code with the iNigma/Android, iNigma/Apple or Barcode Scanner/Android apps on your mobile device to go straight to the app’s info page. If you need to view the apps in a chart, click on this link.



Platform: Android
Description: This metronome requires basic knowledge of musical notation. Once a student takes the time to get familiar with it, he can adjust the settings in each category to find the Bpm.
  • Subdivisions: 8ths, 16ths, Triplets, Quintuplets, Septuplets
  • Accents on any 16th- or triplet-note
  • Set different volume for each subdivision or accent
  • Set tempo by slide, tap, numeric input or tap-in
  • Visual and vibrating tempo feedback
  • silence: mute the playback for several bars
  • Metronome has lots of sounds, some of which are editable
  • Save different settings in the BeatList
  • Program complex beat sequences (arrangements)
  • Share arrangements with other devices
  • View metronome in portrait and landscape layout
  • In-app help
Price: Free
UDL: Multiple Means of Representation & Multiple Means of Expression
Meeting Student/Teacher Needs: 
Once a student takes the time to get familiar with it, he can adjust the settings in each category to find the Bpm. Students would benefit from using the app as a metronome for practice, creating their own rhythm sequences for practice, and trying out different rhythms to hear how they should be played. This app really does have a lot of features considering it’s free. I like how customizable the features are.



Platform: iPad
Description: This app gives students (and teachers) access to SmartMusic's extensive repertoire library, including over 50 method books, nearly 50,000 skill building exercises and a combined 22,000+ solo and ensemble titles by major publishers
  • Open sheet music on screen for solo & ensemble titles, including repertoire for brass, percussion, strings, woodwinds and voice with accompaniment.
  • Practice with over 50 method books and nearly 50,000 skill building exercises.
  • Record and listen to your performance.
  • See your successes and areas for improvement, and loop difficult passages.
Price: Free (access to the full repertoire comes with a SmartMusic subscription)
UDL: Multiple Means of Expression
Meeting Student/Teacher Needs: Sight Reading
The teacher can assign work for students to work on and submit through the app.
Students can receive, review, and submit SmartMusic-created assignments as well as custom assignments made with Finale-Created (SMP) files and MP3 audio files.


Platform: Android
Description: This simple app helps students learn Solfège, or how to sing the correct pitch of notes.
  • "Give me a root note!" will play a root note and add it to the score
  • "Give me a note to guess!" will have one guess the note displayed on the score.  The guide can be used to track your voice.
  • "Play" option to hear the correct note.
  • "Start over!" to begin again for repetition
  • Octaves are ignored so you can sing notes within your range
Price: Free
UDL: Multiple Means of Representation & Multiple Means of Expression
Meeting Student/Teacher Needs: Solfège (fixed and movable do)
The app leads students through practicing Solfège. Students will be able to practice singing correct pitches in multiple places, so they can take their learning on the go.



Platform: Android or iPhone & iPad
Description: Spotify is a way to stream and listen to music on mobile devices.
  • Search for any track, artist or album and listen for free.
  • Make and share playlists.
  • Receive personal recommendations, and readymade playlists for just about everything.
  • Free on mobile
    • Play any artist, album, or playlist in shuffle mode.
  • Free on tablet
    • Play any song, any time.
Price: Free
Premium features include the same features (ad free) and free offline listening
UDL: Multiple Means of Representation
Meeting Student/Teacher Needs:
Spotify made this list because students and the teacher would be able to create and share playlists with each other. There are many genres represented on Spotify, so students would be able to find audio examples of the pieces that they may have to play and listen to them for examples of how they sound.

Chord Wheel: Circle of Fifths LITE

Platform: Android
The Interactive Chord Wheel is an implementation of one of the most basic and significant music theories, 'Circle of fifths.' This app is designed to represent the relationship between a scale and a chord.
  • Switchable inner wheel
  • Scale modes
  • Diatonic scale chord
  • Chord wheel (Major & Minor)
  • Transpose wheel
  • Interval wheel
  • Notation System
  • Clef/Signature
  • Sounds
Price: Free
UDL: Multiple Means of Representation
Meeting Student/Teacher Needs: Key Signature Recognition & Transposition
In this app, the Circle is made up of several concentric rings, which provides various information. By rotating the 2 rings, inner and outer, the needed information can be got easily.
For transposing, a ring of key progression can be displayed instead of a chord ring. Unlike a paper copy of The Circle of Fifths, students can adjust this circle to find specific relationships that they are looking for.

Staff Wars



Platform: Android or iPhone & iPad
Description: Staff Wars is a game designed to help beginning and intermediate musicians learn, practice and woodshed the note names of the treble, alto and bass clefs.
Price: $0.99
UDL: Multiple Means of Representation & Multiple Means of Engagement
Meeting Student/Teacher Needs:
Do you have any gamers in your music classes? If so, Staff Wars might be the app for them. Students will get to practice identifying notes on the staff in the treble, alto, and bass clefs. This will assist them with transposing music.

Theory Lessons
music theory.PNG
Platform: iPhone & iPad
Description: Theory Lessons features 39 music theory lessons from, presented in their original animated versions.
Capabilities: The complete lesson list can be found on the app’s information page. The app also offers lesson support.
Price: $2.99
UDL: Multiple Means of Representation & Multiple Means of Expression
Meeting Student/Teacher Needs: Basic Music Theory & Key Signature Recognition
This app could be used to reinforce lessons that have been taught in class. Students would be able to see clean and simple interactive lessons.



Platform: iPhone & iPad
Description: Tempo features an interface that morphs between modes which present a different combination of functionalities optimized 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.
  • Visual feedback in the form of pulsating LEDs
  • Two pendulum types, each with two animation types
  • Flash whole screen
  • Full screen display mode with gesture controls
  • 35 different time signatures, including compound and complex meters: 1-13/2, 1-13/4, 3/8, 5/8(2 variations), 6/8, 7/8(3 variations), 9/8, 12/8
  • 6 rhythm patterns for simple meters and 3 for compound meters
  • Customize accents or turn beats off to create more complex rhythms
  • Tap tempo function
  • Tempo ranges from 10 to 800
  • Store presets in multiple setlists
  • Advanced setlist management including search, overwriting, copying between setlists and multi-deletion
  • Share setlists via email
  • Backup via iTunes File Sharing
  • Track number of bars played or time your practice
Price: $2.99 (there is a free lite version
UDL: Multiple Means of Representation
Meeting Student/Teacher Needs: Bpm (beats per minute) & Sight Reading
Students can use Tempo to keep time when they are practicing. Directors can use Tempo during rehearsal time with the whole ensemble or small group sectionals. The app also features a pitch pipe for tuning. The app also continues to run when the device is in lock mode, so students do not have to stop playing to reset the metronome.
Scales Practice Pro
Platform: Android
Description: With Scales Practice students can pick a scale or arpeggio to see all of its notes.
  • beats to count you in
  • different sounds (piano, strings, etc)
  • change the starting octave and number of octaves
  • customisable tempos
  • major, melodic minor, harmonic minor, and pentatonic scales
  • save to Playlists
  • arpeggios
  • chromatic scales
  • all of the modes of the major scale
  • dominant and diminished sevenths
Price: $3.64 (there is a lite version available, but it has limited scales and arpeggios)
UDL: Multiple Means of Representation & Multiple Means of Expression
Meeting Student/Teacher Needs: Key signature recognition & Transposition
Students can pick a scale or arpeggio to see all of its notes. They can press play to check how the scale sounds or play along with their instruments to check pitch. This would be an excellent supplement for their practice books.



Platform: iPhone & iPad
Tenuto is a collection of fifteen customizable exercises designed to enhance musicality.
Tenuto’s multiple lessons are grouped into modules.
  • Staff-based exercises
  • Keyboard-based exercises
  • Fretboard-based Exercises
  • Ear Training Exercises
Price: $3.99
UDL: Multiple Means of Expression
Meeting Student/Teacher Needs: Key Signature Recognition
Students can use this app to practice with key signature recognition and then take more advanced lessons based on specific areas of interest (keyboard, guitar, or ear training).

Music Theory for Beginners

beg music theory.PNG

Platform: iPhone & iPad

Description: According to the site, Music Theory for Beginners is the ultimate resource for anyone trying to get to grips with music theory. Split into 22 lessons that cover all the major music theory topics from reading notes and rhythm to basic harmony, exclusive lessons provide you with all the information you need in order to take on the interactive quiz.


  • Badging system
  • Quizzes for assessment
  • 22 lessons
Price: $4.99
UDL: Multiple Means of Representation & Multiple Means of Expression
Meeting Student/Teacher Needs: Basic Music Theory
This app has questions at various difficulty levels to address the different levels that its’ users may be at. Students can go through the app at their own pace because the lessons progress only after they have mastered the content from the current lesson.


Platform: iPad
Description: Sheet music has gone digital!
  • Create links to handle repeats with a single tap,
  • play along to an audio track, and
  • Use half-page turns to see the bottom half of the current page and the top half of the next one at the same time
  • Import almost any PDF file from the web and connect directly to services like Dropbox
  • Keep those scores organized by tagging your files Create, share, and play through setlists
  • Create and edit an unlimited number of drawing presets
  • Add text to your page with adjustable formatting
  • Add common musical notation symbols with the stamps feature
  • Share files and annotations via email, Bluetooth, AirDrop, or print them out with AirPrint
Price: $12.99 UDL: Multiple Means of Representation & Multiple Means of Expression
Meeting Student/Teacher Needs:
This app is helpful for both teachers and students in that either could keep sheet music on a device in an organized manner.Keeping up with a digital library could cut down on unpreparedness
For students who may have a hard time keeping up with multiple pages of paper, having another copy on their tablet might be a good way to keep up with it. Directors could have a copy of each part saved on a class set of ipads.
With notation and drawing tools, students can make notes on their sheet music without scrounging through their bookbags looking for pencils.


Platform: iPad
Description: Notion gives you the ability to compose, edit, and playback scores using real audio samples performed by The London Symphony Orchestra recorded at Abbey Road Studios.
  • Enter, edit, and playback notation, tab, or both
  • MIDI step-time entry with your favorite MIDI device
  • New Audition Mode: Use the on-screen virtual instruments to hear sounds before entering them into your score.
  • Clean and intuitive user interface
  • Interactive drum pad
  • Quick and simple selection palette
  • Full audio mixer
  • Full range of orchestral functions and articulations including: Staccato, Flutter tongues, Trills, Vibrato,etc
  • Convenient file sharing
  • Save as an audio file
  • Import .notion, MIDI, MusicXML, GuitarPro 3-5 files
  • Email .notion, PDF, MusicXML, .WAV, AAC or MIDI files
  • Search for tabs, MIDI, or MusicXML online from within the app
  • Import from Dropbox
  • In-Store app to add more instruments and gear
  • Help Files
Price: $14.99 (but all of the in-app purchases are “free.”)
UDL: Multiple Means of Expression
Meeting Student/Teacher Needs:
With this app, students would be able to compose, edit, playback, and share  scores of their own. This would be a great way for them to practice composing music.

All of the images in this blog post are screenshots that I made from each app's information page in the Google Play or Apple iTunes Store.