Teaching music is a rewarding, yet challenging profession. Students come in with varying degrees of musical talent and knowledge and each progresses at his/her own pace. Fitting in some extra practice usually makes a big difference to a student’s advancement. You can remind students to practice at home, but there’s no telling whether or not they’ll take your advice. Fortunately these days, there are tons of apps available to keep music at your students’ fingertips even when you’re not there. Here are a few of our favorites.
This app gives users the opportunity to virtually play a range of five different percussion instruments. The instruments available on Persussive are Glockenspiel, Kalimba, Xylophone, Marimba, and Vibraphone. Once you’ve chosen your instrument, you also have the option of using hard mallets for a staccato sound or soft mallets for a legato effect. Users need only slide their fingers across the bars or lightly tap them to produce the sound. This app is great for students to use to increase hand-eye coordination and bolster musical creativity.
Ear Trainer Lite
Having an ear for music is a big part of developing musical talent. Some people just have a musical ear naturally, but others have to work at it. For students who need some help in this department there’s Ear Trainer Lite. Exercises within the app work on chords, intervals and scales. There are 32 exercises in all. The app employs a virtual piano keyboard to help users analyze the notes they’re playing. Ear Trainer Lite also records statistics as students work through the exercises so that progress can be tracked. Even better, students can work through the exercises multiple times, as the questions are randomly generated.
Notes for Little Composers
For music teachers who work with young children there is Notes for Little Composers. Rather than trying to learn notes from a book, children have the opportunity to become more interactive with the lessons. Students touch the screen to hear the note and can have it repeated when necessary. The app allows young children to get a better sense of what the notes sound like on an instrument and may even encourage them to start putting together their own musical pieces.
Advancing a student’s rhythm skills takes practice. Why not make that process fun (at least some of the time)? Rhythm Cat is an entertaining app that will keep music students engaged while they improve their rhythm know-how. Each level presents the user with a different rhythm. After hearing it the student must tap out the same rhythm to advance to the next level. Students start with just one button to tap, but as they advance they must use two or three buttons to copy the rhythm they’ve heard. There’s a free version of this app that has 15 levels. Alternately, a Pro version can be purchased for more in-depth rhythm training (4 stages with 15 levels each).
Piano Dust Buster
Piano Dust Buster, as the name implies, is an app created to help piano students brush up their playing skills. With an iPhone or iPad placed above the keyboard, the student plays and the app listens (through the microphone). Afterwards the student is given an analysis of his/her attempt. The app also includes a virtual piano to use if a real keyboard isn’t available.
Voice Cross Trainer
If cross training is good for your body, then having a Voice Cross Trainer has got to be good for your singing. This app has a little bit of everything. It includes video demos, written descriptions, and sing-along audio and it coaches users on everything from breathing to articulation to pentatonic licks. Created by top UK vocal coach, Kim Chandler, this app has something for voice students of all levels. Users can work through lessons at their own pace and they have the ability to slow down or speed up exercises as needed.
Having the opportunity to work one-on-one with a qualified music teacher is always an amazing option for developing music skills. That said, practice makes perfect and the more effort a student can put in outside of lessons, the quicker they’ll progress. Using a helpful app or two can often make the solo practice more engaging and often more focused.
For even more app ideas, check out 9 Apps for Musicians.