Posted by: tammyspianostudio | July 29, 2011

New Apps for the Pianist

New apps have been added to the previous (May 20) app post & they have been updated with iPhone, Ipod Touch, iPad, and Droid labels.   The Android Market and the iTunes store are full of music apps, a few of them good, but many of them a waste of money.  I test drive all of the Apple apps myself.  Unfortunately, I have no experience with any of the Droid apps, but I have done extensive research on the ones I recommend.  If you own a Droid device and have experience with any of these Droid apps, I would love your feedback to help make this post better.

My devices are an iPod Touch and an iPad.  I use the iPad with piano students as a teaching tool, the iPod Touch to play their accompaniment tracks (which I have previously uploaded), and I use both devices in my personal time to test every music app.

**Please let me know if any prices, or anything else about these apps, are out of date.  I will update them immediately.  Thank you.**

NOTE NAMES

iPad only:  Music Theory for Beginners - Twenty-two lessons that make learning music theory fun.  Start with the basics of learning notes, rhythm, basic harmony, taking quizzes, tapping out rhythm on a drum, playing an actual score of music on the piano keys while keeping time.  Over 2000 questions to keep you on your toes.  Great app for beginners and students who have been around for awhile, but could use reinforcement.    $4.99    Level:  All ages.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5M97xZeuOt4

iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad:  Notes for Little Composers – A treble clef-only note learning app.  Tap the screen on any line or space to make the note appear, then tap the note itself to hear its letter name spoken.  Set the range of notes you wish to work on and practice memorizing the note names before you tap the note to hear its name.  Treble staff only.  No keyboard display.   $0.99    Level:  All ages.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FXVTp3lgNE

iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad:  More Notes for Little Composers – A bass clef-only note learning app.  Works exactly as ‘Notes for Little Composers’, except this is for bass clef notes.  Bass clef only.  No keyboard display.  $0.99    Level:  All ages.

iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad:  Note Goal – A great note-reading game for beginning through intermediate pianists.  Set the range of notes (lowest to highest), the number of pages you would like to be tested on, which clef (treble or bass), and whether you would also enjoy being quizzed on sharps and flats, too.  $1.99     Level:  All ages.

iPad only:  Note Goal Pro – This is the same app as described above, however, this version covers more octaves (more notes), has three different sized keyboards, and can handle multi-user profiles for keeping score if you wish.    $2.99    Level:  All ages.  http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/note-goal-pro/id374011376?mt=8#

Droid only:  Easy Piano Notes - Visual, aural, and kinesthetic approaches to flash cards, making it fun to learn piano notes for everyone.  Level:  All ages.  $1.99

Droid only:  Grand Staff (Black and White) – Created by a piano teacher.  Quizzes on 12 levels of the Grand Staff, covering various ranges of notes.  Designed to give the student a strong foundation of white key note reading.  Each range is shown before play.  Quizzes are scored and timed.  Correct note stated when incorrect note given.  Phone vibrates when incorrect note given.  Installs straight to SD card.  Level:  All ages.  Cost:  .98

Droid only:  iNote Trainer (Pokmis) – A simple game to challenge your note reading skills.  Select your answer from 3 multiple choice possibilities or enter your answer with the onscreen keyboard.  When playing as multiple choice, incorrect guess are removed so the correct answer can be shown.  Select from a variety of difficult levels or create your own.  Track your high scores.  Focus on treble, bass, or the grand staff.  Level:  All ages.  Cost:  $3.99.

Droid only:  Music Flash Cards Pro (MusEd Mobile) – Randomly displays note in treble clef or bass clef.  Practice mode and quiz mode.  Customize practice or test mode by clef, accidentals (black keys), and/or note range.  Customize in note name mode by accidentals (black keys) and major & minor scales.  Use the auto-switch timer for hands-free use.  Start slowly by allowing yourself to guess with 10-second intervals & challenge yourself to work up to 1-second guessing!  Level:  All ages.  Cost:  .99

iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad:  Note Squish – A fun note-learning game in which little gophers pop up with note names above their heads.  When the gopher appears with the correct name matching the note on the staff, tap the gopher.  You could guess by tapping random gophers, but the more note names you know, the better your score.  This is a timed game you can play over and over (or maybe ‘best out of 3′ with a sibling or friend).  Play in treble clef mode or bass clef mode.  Set the note range for just a few notes you might need to practice, or set the note range for all 23 notes in the program.  The more notes you learn, the more fun it is to play the game, and tap the gophers!  Perfect for beginners who are learning one to two new notes each week or for any student needing to brush up on their note recognition skills.  $0.99    Level:  Elementary – Intermediate

iPad only:  Piano Bird –  Select the notes you wish to be quizzed on and then defend your trees by “playing” the correct notes.  If you can deal with a couple of odd settings (a single key can be used to play two notes & black keys are alwayssharps ~ never flats) and you know where those two notes are exactly on the piano and what they are called, then this app might be right for you.  Just because it is free, does not mean it is the best.  This app can be helpful, but only if you already know the location and note names.  Cost:  FREE    Level:  All ages.   http://www.iosnoops.com/appinfo/pianobird-for-ipad/436304297

iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad:  Piano Flash! – Grand staff flashcards with a piano keyboard!  Finding a grand staff app is brilliant for  piano students because we use the treble clef and bass clef at the same time.  Drilling each clef separately is good, but drilling notes and key locations on a grand staff is the best.  Five sets of four octaves of cards makes this an excellent app for the piano student.  $2.99    Level:  All ages.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WBtPmjVS-E

iPad only:  LineSpace – Allows you to name the notes of the grand staff by playing an asteroid space game.  Three minutes are given to fight off the asteroids.  Improve your scores the better you become at note names.  If you change the setting to “two notes at a time” and you hit both notes in the game, you get a double score.  $4.99   Level:  All ages.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CSAvZm0uzY

 

 

 

iPhone & iPad only:  Piano Tutor - To start the game, select “Practice Sheet Reading” or “Practice Pitch Listening”.  When you select “Practice Sheet Reading”, random notes will be displayed and they will slowly move across the screen.  Try to play the notes as fast as you can on the onscreen keyboard.  At the end of the game, you will see on average how long it takes you to recognize the correct note.  You may set the options to your liking and have as many or as few black keys as you like, turn on key hints, see key signatures to practice your sharps and flats,

iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad:  Zen Brush – Although this is not a music app at all, I use this app as a white board/black board in the studio.  We use this app to draw a staff (5 horizontal lines), treble clef or bass clef, any kind of note value (quarter note, half note,…), note names, stem direction, intervals, sharps, flats, key signatures, scales, etc.  Kids love pressing the ‘trash can’ to immediately erase the page, too.  $2.99    Level:  All ages.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1nlzHzuYaY

Droid only:  Simply Draw (Tristan Mann) – If I were to seek an app similar to ‘Zen Brush’, this is what I would find.  A simple program with nothing fancy on it to distract a student from what we are doing, and that is drawing the things mentioned above.  Level:  All ages.  Cost:  FREE.

AUDIO RECORDING

Droid only:  DroidRecord – This is as simple as it gets and is a useful device for listening back to practice sessions or capturing lyrics & song ideas when you don’t have time to write them down.  “Record”, “Play”, and “Save”.  Level:  All ages.  FREE.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dAlhu82fNo

Droid only:  Rehearsal Assistant - This app allows you to record your practice session and then record your spoken thoughts and observations about it later.  You can stop and start recording many times throughout the session.  Once finished, you can email it to others.  Level:  All ages.  FREE.

EAR TRAINING

iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad:  Ear Trainer Lite –  Helps you learn to recognize intervals, chords, chord progressions, and scales.  Cost: FREE    Level:  All ages   http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ear-trainer-lite/id398326427?mt=8

iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad:  Ear Trainer – You do not need to be an expert to practice ear training.  Young beginning piano students will benefit just as much as an adult student.  This app helps you learn the above elements in ‘Ear Trainer Lite‘, except for the following: there are 160 exercises covering intervals, scales, chords, and relative pitch.  Cost:  $6.99    Level:  All ages    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cGXZzb_M4g

Droid only:  Piano Pitch Training (Learn to Master/The Melody Master) – Given a single note, can you play it back?  This exercise allows you to zoom in on the note & will record how many notes it takes for you to correctly identify it.  Level:  All ages.  Cost:  .98

iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad:  Interval Ear Training –   A fun and simple way to recognize intervals, which improves your sense of pitch & improvising skills.  Cost:  FREE    Level:  All ages    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ear-training-lite/id356650278?mt=8

Droid only:  Interval Recognition (marchantpeter.co.uk) – A random interval is played from their pre-determined list: two notes at the same time, two notes one at a time in ascending order, or two notes one at a time in descending order.  You can set the BPM, instrument, and note velocity (I like to set the note velocity so that I have time to hum along to both pitches).  You can also create multiple pitches, random rhythms, pitch range, and the length the pitch(es) are held.  Select ‘listen mode’ to compare (hum along with) intervals.  If you guess incorrectly, a familiar song that features that interval will be played to help you remember that interval.  Perfect fourth, anybody?  (“Here Comes the Bride”)    Level:  All ages.    FREE.

iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad:  iPerfectPitch –   No app can train you to have perfect pitch.  This app will, however, help you improve your sense of relative pitch and interval recognition.  Cost:  FREE    Level:  All ages    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/iperfectpitch/id406038123?mt=8

iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad:  Nail That Note Lite – Learn to recognize the quality of notes, chords, arpeggios, intervals, and scales as major, minor, major 7th, augmented, diminished, minor 7th, and many more.  Learning to do this takes time and practice and will help you play music by ear and recognize intervals and chords in songs, which will help you learn new pieces.  The audio quality is excellent ~ very clean.  The ‘Lite’ version contains 7 notes, 7 intervals, 8 chords/arpeggios, and 7 scales.  Cost:  FREE    Level:  All ages    http://itunes.apple.com/br/app/nail-that-note-lite/id439298298?mt=8

iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad:  Nail That Note – This app does the same thing as the above ‘Lite’ version, but it has many more notes, intervals, chords, arpeggios, and scales.  Start with the ‘Lite’ version and work your way up to the ‘Full’ version.  The ‘Full’ version contains 12 notes, 12 intervals, 35+ chords/arpeggios, and 35+ scales.  Cost:  $4.99    Level:  All ages    http://itunes.apple.com/br/app/nail-that-note/id438286527?mt=8

iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad:  Relative Pitch Lite – A terrific ear training app perfect for everyone.  If you have never tried ear training before, this app will show you how to do it, step by step.  Moms, dads, grandparents, siblings,…can learn right along with the student.  Cost:  FREE    Level:  All ages    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/relativepitchlite/id315130701?mt=8

iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad:  Simon’s Cat “Purrfect Pitch” - The most fun ear training app yet.  Play in ‘challenge’ mode.  Students in my studio love playing this game…and they are getting great ear training at the same time.    Cost: $4.99    Level:  All ages    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_DqKM9LYvU

iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad:  Step and a Half: First Steps - An ear training game.  Listen to the short melody and drag the yellow blocks to the green blocks to recreate the music you just heard.  Click “Guess” to see if you are right.  Start with just two notes and, as you improve, play a 6-note melody at a faster tempo.  No two tunes are ever played twice.  (The other apps made by ‘Relative Pitch’ are very good.)  Cost:  FREE    Level:  All ages    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/step-half-melody-training/id371875746?mt=8

MUSIC TOOLS

Droid only:  Musical Lite w/ Piano - Metronome, pitch pipe, scrolling 3-octave piano, and 2-octave full-screen keyboard.  Level:  All ages.  FREE.   (“Musical Pro w/ Piano” is $3.99)

iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad:  Just Practice! – Track your practice with this app.  Enter which pieces you practice and for how long.  Plan your upcoming week of practice.  When it’s time to practice, click on the ‘practice’ icon and the piece you are going to practice.  The app then tracks the number of minutes you practice, has a metronome, and a recording function.  Hearing your progress over time, by using the ‘record’ feature, is worth the price!   Cost:  FREE    Level: All ages    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWsGpVQ2UWM

METRONOME

Droid only:  HS Tempo - Measures tempo in ‘beats per minute’ as you tap the Android’s screen.  Also see “Tube Tempo BPM” below.  Level:  All ages.  FREE.

iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad:  Metronome Plus –   The best (and loudest) metronome app yet.  Very easy to use interface.  Add accents to each beat if you need the metronome to be even louder.  $0.99    Level:  All ages    http://susanparadis.wordpress.com/   (Post: May 19, 2011)

Droid only:  Tube Tempo BPM - Same as “HS Tempo” described above.  Level:  All ages.  FREE.

PIANO PLAYING

Droid only:  Angel Piano - Fun, simple piano game, even if you have never played piano before.  I think it involves a cat.  Level:  All ages.  FREE.

iPad only:  Duet Piano - Made for iPad only, this app allows two people to play piano ~ a keyboard for each player.  Cost:  FREE  Level:  All ages    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVumrGOTF-I&feature=related

iPad only:  Garage Band - The pianos offered in this program are incredible (grand piano, electric pianos, organs,…)!  Features: 88 keys, a ‘sustain pedal’ (which acts the same as a piano’s right pedal), touch-sensitive keys (play hard = loud sound; play lighter = softer sound), and so much more I could never write it all down here.  Let the kids play the drums!  (…with headphones?…)  The ‘Smart Instruments’ (drums, guitar, keyboard, bass) are designed for those who have never played an instrument ~ so everyone can have fun with Garage Band!  There is a ‘record’ feature for every instrument.  Write your own song, lay down up to 8 tracks with any instrument, then share it easily with others.   $4.99    Level:  All ages.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMRTvU17dMI

iPhone, iPod touch, & iPad:  Virtuoso Piano Free 2 HD – Features:  six octaves of piano, key labels option, play along with your music library, and play chords with up to 5 fingers at once.    Cost:  FREE    Level:  All ages    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/virtuoso-piano-free-2-hd/id304075989?mt=8

iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad:  Virtuoso Piano Free 3 –  Same as ‘Virtuoso Piano Free 2 HD’, except there are seven octaves of piano, a sustain pedal, optional double keyboard (for iPad only – similar to ‘Duet Piano‘), soft mode, and play chords with all 10 fingers.   Cost:  FREE  Level: All ages    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/virtuoso-piano-free-3/id391994966?mt=8

RHYTHM & COUNTING

iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad:  Rhythm Sight Reading Trainer - Students love using this app in my studio.  Before playing the rhythm on the iPad, we first clap and count the rhythm out loud.  Then, press the ‘play’ arrow and tap in the circle to be in ‘practice mode’.  Swing the metronome’s arm and tap in the circle for ‘test mode’.  The best rhythm and counting app yet.  With over 200 rhythms to practice, students have the potential to become excellent counters.  Cost:  $2.99    Level:  All ages     http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/rhythm-sight-reading-trainer/id396302174?mt=8

iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad:  Rhythm in Reach – This app includes ‘practice mode’ and ‘test mode’ and allows you to change the meter, tempo and difficulty level.  The tone of the beep cannot be changed, but if the volume is lowered or you use headphones, this is another, yet different, rhythm reading and tapping game.  Cost:  $2.99    Level:  All ages    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BEvNT30NaS0

iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad:  Rhythm Quiz – This is the free version of ‘Rhythm in Reach’.  Only ‘practice mode’ is available, which may be OK for awhile, but I would want to have my counting skills put to the test to see my progress.   Cost:  FREE    Level:  All ages    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/rhythm-quiz/id397813946?mt=8

SCALES

Droid only:  Theory, Practice! (by Subibot) - Practice scales by selecting the correct accidentals (black keys) associated with each scale.  Each game gives you 60 seconds to get as many correct scales as possible.  Level:  Intermediate – advanced.  FREE.

iPad only:  Scales Lexicon - Such an inclusive scale app!  90 different scales.  Transpose to any key by simply touching a key on the keyboard.  Proper accidentals, including double flats and double sharps.  Have the scale played in a variety of ways: Choose from 13 rhythm patterns, choose a range to play (2 octaves below the displayed keyboard to 2 octaves above the displayed keyboard), select if you want the scale to loop continuously or play just once through, choose if you want the scale played up and down or just up, select if you want the top and bottom notes repeated (with a pause between repetitions).  Listen and watch the piano keys highlighted as it plays up and down the keyboard.  Level:  All ages.  Cost:  $3.99

SIGHT READING

Droid only:  Sight Read Music Quiz 4 Piano - A simple, but effective, quiz on reading notes.  Identify as many notes as you can using the 12 piano keys.  Level:  All ages.  FREE.    (Also available for iTunes)

Droid only:  Music Sheet Workout -  Identify the notes on your screen as fast as you can to win the game.  Level:  All ages.  FREE.

Droid only:  MusicTutor SightRead Lite (VirtualCode.es) - In “Read” mode (AKA “Learn” mode), you must identify random notes on the staff & answer them using the keyboard on-screen.  To get more points, give more correct answers before time runs out.  After that, you can see your current and previous scores, to watch your progress.  In “Quiz” mode, you must answer by placing the note on the staff using your finger.  Level:  All ages.  Cost:  FREE.

Droid only:  MusicTutor SightRead (VirtualCode.es) – In “Read” mode (AKA “Learn” mode), you must identify random notes on the staff & answer them using the keyboard on-screen. To get more points, give more correct answers before time runs out.  After that, you can see your current and previous scores, to watch your progress.  In “Write” mode (to learn how to write on the staff), the app asks random notes by their note name (for example, “C4″) to which you must answer by placing the note on the staff using your finger.  If you already sightread well, you can improve your speed.  If you are a beginner, you may focus on difficult staff areas using “Learn” or “Read” mode in which both the keyboard & the staff are present, so you can study note-by-note.  Customize by note (letter names or sol feg), staff/clef (treble, bass, Grand Staff), number of ledger lines, timeout for “Quiz” mode.  In “Play” mode (which is just playing the keyboard), there is a 3-octave piano (horizontal orientation) or a 2-octave piano (vertical orientation).  Level:  All ages.  Cost:  $2.60

SINGING

Droid only:  Pitch Perfect - A free digital pitch pipe!  This is for the singers & choir directors who need to find that perfect pitch before beginning a song…or checking pitch at the end of the song to see if everyone stayed in tune!  Also great for finding a key that everyone can sing in comfortably.  The screen displays the key signature among other visual aids.  Level:  All ages.    FREE.

CREATIVITY & COMPOSITION

iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad:  Classical Music I: Master’s Collection, Volume I - No internet required to listen to great classical music.  Cost:  FREE  Level: All ages    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/classical-music-i-masters/id388835399?mt=8

 

iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad:  Composer of the Day – Short bios of classical composers on their birthday.  A link to iTunes will give you a sample of their work. Cost:  FREE  Level:  All ages  http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/composer-of-the-day/id336077559?mt=8

 

iPad only:  Garage Band - The pianos offered in this program are incredible (grand piano, electric pianos, organs,…)!  Features: 88 keys, a ‘sustain pedal’ (which acts the same as a piano’s right pedal), touch-sensitive keys (play hard = loud sound; play lighter = softer sound), and so much more I could never write it all down here.  Let the kids play the drums!  (…with headphones?…)  The ‘Smart Instruments’ (drums, guitar, keyboard, bass) are designed for those who have never played an instrument ~ so everyone can have fun with Garage Band!  There is a ‘record’ feature for every instrument.  Write your own song, lay down up to 8 tracks with any instrument, then share it easily with others.   $4.99    Level:  All ages.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMRTvU17dMI

iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad:  iLuvMozart (Boost Your IQ) - Music and trivia about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  Cost:  FREE  Level:  All ages    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVumrGOTF-I&feature=related

iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad:  Slow Down Player - Slow down or speed up your songs.  Take your piano book CDs and play along with the tracks at a slower tempo.  As you progress, increase the tempo gradually.  This app does not change the pitch one bit, so pianists are free to change the tempo just as you would on a metronome.  Incredible app for the price!  Cost:  FREE  Level:  All ages    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/slow-down-music-player/id314296369?mt=8

iPad only:  forScore – Scan your piano music and have an organized musical library from which you can play right from your iPad.  Download any PDF from the internet or your own files.  Write or draw, right on your music, with different colors and writing tools.  Cost:  $4.99   Level: All ages    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/forscore/id363738376?mt=8

I receive no compensation for my reviews of the above apps.  I have found these apps by simply searching a variety of categories on the iTunes App Store and Droid Market and trying them out for myself.   Each weekend, I check for newly released apps as well as the most popular.  Check back regularly for the latest updates.

 

Posted by: tammyspianostudio | July 28, 2011

Refurbished iPad

Apple leads the way in tablet devices.  If you are considering purchasing one, but price is a deep detractor, have you looked into a refurbished iPad?  The refurbished iPads (first generation) offer a 1-year warranty, a brand new battery, and outer shell (front and back), and free shipping.  Different specifications apply to the current stock available, but it is something worth checking into.  We have two refurbished iPads in our house and they are 100% excellent.  No problem whatsoever.  Love them!

http://store.apple.com/us > (scroll down to left side of screen: Special Deals) > Refurbished iPads

For an updated list of apps, see the May 20th, 2011 post.  I investigate new apps every Friday and if they are worthy, they are added to the May 20th blog.

 

Posted by: tammyspianostudio | July 2, 2011

Knitting Class

Learning how to play piano and learning how to knit have certain similarities.  They both require intense hand-eye coordination, they both require the use of patterns, and they both develop fine motor skills.  And the only way to become better at both is to practice.  If you were here for the knitting class, then you know it was a lot of fun.  If you missed the class this summer, think about participating the next time it’s offered.  Fun times!

owl & scarf

Posted by: tammyspianostudio | June 27, 2011

Game Day Class

What is a fun way to spend a day of summer vacation?  Playing music games at your music teacher’s studio!!  Practicing piano each day helps you become a better pianist, but playing games is so much fun and there are some light bulbs that turn on because you are able to see something from a fresh perspective.  We have board games (turned into music games), games from others who have shared their gifts (Susan Paradis, Natalie Wickham, etc.), software, and apps.  Why not take some time today to play a music game?  Can’t wait to see you at the next class!  Here are a few pictures of the games from today’s class:

Posted by: tammyspianostudio | May 31, 2011

Listening 35

This is our last listening assignment for the school year!  It has certainly gone by quickly.  We have listened to many composers and heard the gift of music each one has written.  With such variety in the world, and with the piano being such a beautifully capable instrument, we are blessed to be able to play many versions of these pieces ourselves.

Activity Sheet:  http://www.classicsforkids.com/activitysheets/August2009.pdf

Hear the Music:    http://www.classicsforkids.com/music/music_view.asp?id=27

If you missed any of the listening assignments this year, just click on the “Listening Room” icon.  For further music by even more composers, continue reading and listening to ‘Classics for Kids’.  http://www.classicsforkids.com/

Until our next listening adventure…..

 

 

Posted by: tammyspianostudio | May 23, 2011

Listening 34

This week’s listening assignment is brought to you by John Philip Sousa.  “Stars and Stripes Forever”!

Hear the Music:    http://www.classicsforkids.com/music/music_view.asp?id=11

Activity Sheet:  http://www.classicsforkids.com/activitysheets/May2009.pdf

Posted by: tammyspianostudio | May 20, 2011

Apps for the Piano Student

The iTunes App Store has many useful apps for piano students, parents, and teachers.  Many students and parents have asked me about the apps I use in the studio, so this list is designed to help you wade through some of the available apps and decide which ones are right for you.  Many of these apps are appropriate for all ages, but young children will need your navigational help.

NOTE LEARNING

  • Music Theory for Beginners - Twenty-two lessons that make learning music theory fun.  Start with the basics of learning notes, rhythm, basic harmony, taking quizzes, tapping out rhythm on a drum, playing an actual score of music on the piano keys while keeping time.  Over 2000 questions to keep you on your toes.  Great app for beginners and students who have been around for awhile, but could use reinforcement.    $4.99    Level:  All ages.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5M97xZeuOt4
  • Notes for Little Composers – A treble clef-only note learning app.  Tap the screen on any line or space to make the note appear, then tap the note itself to hear its letter name spoken.  Set the range of notes you wish to work on and practice memorizing the note names before you tap the note to hear its name.  Treble staff only.  No keyboard display.   $0.99    Level:  All ages.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FXVTp3lgNE
  • More Notes for Little Composers – A bass clef-only note learning app.  Works exactly as ‘Notes for Little Composers’, except this is for bass clef notes.  Bass clef only.  No keyboard display.  $0.99    Level:  All ages.
  • Note Goal – A great note-reading game for beginning through intermediate pianists.  Set the range of notes (lowest to highest), the number of pages you would like to be tested on, which clef (treble or bass), and whether you would also enjoy being quizzed on sharps and flats, too.  $1.99     Level:  All ages.
  • Note Goal Pro – This is the same app as described above, however, this version covers more octaves (more notes), has three different sized keyboards, and can handle multi-user profiles for keeping score if you wish.    $2.99    Level:  All ages.  http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/note-goal-pro/id374011376?mt=8#
  • Note Squish – A fun note-learning game in which little gophers pop up with note names above their heads.  When the gopher appears with the correct name matching the note on the staff, tap the gopher.  You could guess by tapping random gophers, but the more note names you know, the better your score.  This is a timed game you can play over and over (or maybe ‘best out of 3′ with a sibling or friend).  Play in treble clef mode or bass clef mode.  Set the note range for just a few notes you might need to practice, or set the note range for all 23 notes in the program.  The more notes you learn, the more fun it is to play the game, and tap the gophers!  Perfect for beginners who are learning one to two new notes each week or for any student needing to brush up on their note recognition skills.  $0.99    Level:  Elementary – Intermediate    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/note-squish/id381536270?mt=8
  • Piano Bird –  Select the notes you wish to be quizzed on and then defend your trees by “playing” the correct notes.  If you can deal with a couple of odd settings (a single key can be used to play two notes & black keys are always sharps ~ never flats) and you know where those two notes are exactly on the piano and what they are called, then this app might be right for you.  Just because it is free, does not mean it is the best.  This app can be helpful, but only if you already know the location and note names.  Cost:  FREE    Level:  All ages.   http://www.iosnoops.com/appinfo/pianobird-for-ipad/436304297
  • Piano Flash! – Grand staff flashcards with a piano keyboard!  Finding a grand staff app is brilliant for  piano students because we use the treble clef and bass clef at the same time.  Drilling each clef separately is good, but drilling notes and key locations on a grand staff is the best.  Five sets of four octaves of cards makes this an excellent app for the piano student.  $2.99    Level:  All ages.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WBtPmjVS-E
  • LineSpace – Allows you to name the notes of the grand staff by playing an asteroid space game.  Three minutes are given to fight off the asteroids.  Improve your scores the better you become at note names.  If you change the setting to “two notes at a time” and you hit both notes in the game, you get a double score.  $4.99   Level:  All ages.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CSAvZm0uzY
  • Zen Brush – Although this is not a music app at all, I use this app as a white board/black board.  I find that ‘Zen Brush’ is so much easier, faster, and just plan fun to use.  Students get much more practice drawing staves and notes just because it is so easy to pull out the iPad/iPhone and draw 5 lines and a bass clef, or 5 lines and some line notes, or 3 quarter notes with stems up, or 2 half notes, or 2 treble clefs, or a key signature, or …… you get the idea.  Kids love pressing the ‘trash can’ to immediately erase the page, too.  $2.99    Level:  All ages.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1nlzHzuYaY
EAR TRAINING
  • Ear Trainer Lite –  Helps you learn to recognize intervals, chords, chord progressions, and scales.  Cost: FREE    Level:  All ages   http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ear-trainer-lite/id398326427?mt=8
  • Ear Trainer – You do not need to be an expert to practice ear training.  Young beginning piano students will benefit just as much as an adult student.  This app helps you learn the above elements in ‘Ear Trainer Lite‘, except for the following: there are 160 exercises covering intervals, scales, chords, and relative pitch.  Cost:  $6.99    Level:  All ages    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cGXZzb_M4g
  • Interval Ear Training –   A fun and simple way to recognize intervals, which improves your sense of pitch & improvising skills.  Cost:  FREE    Level:  All ages    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ear-training-lite/id356650278?mt=8
  • iPerfectPitch –   No app can train you to have perfect pitch.  This app will, however, help you improve your sense of relative pitch and interval recognition.  Cost:  FREE    Level:  All ages    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/iperfectpitch/id406038123?mt=8
  • Nail That Note Lite – Learn to recognize the quality of notes, chords, arpeggios, intervals, and scales as major, minor, major 7th, augmented, diminished, minor 7th, and many more.  Learning to do this takes time and practice and will help you play music by ear and recognize intervals and chords in songs, which will help you learn new pieces.  The audio quality is excellent ~ very clean.  The ‘Lite’ version contains 7 notes, 7 intervals, 8 chords/arpeggios, and 7 scales.  Cost:  FREE    Level:  All ages    http://itunes.apple.com/br/app/nail-that-note-lite/id439298298?mt=8
  • Nail That Note – This app does the same thing as the above ‘Lite’ version, but it has many more notes, intervals, chords, arpeggios, and scales.  Start with the ‘Lite’ version and work your way up to the ‘Full’ version.  The ‘Full’ version contains 12 notes, 12 intervals, 35+ chords/arpeggios, and 35+ scales.  Cost:  $4.99    Level:  All ages    http://itunes.apple.com/br/app/nail-that-note/id438286527?mt=8
  • Relative Pitch Lite – A terrific ear training app perfect for everyone.  If you have never tried ear training before, this app will show you how to do it, step by step.  Moms, dads, grandparents, siblings,…can learn right along with the student.  Cost:  FREE    Level:  All ages    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/relativepitchlite/id315130701?mt=8
  • Simon’s Cat “Purrfect Pitch” - The most fun ear training app yet.  Play in ‘challenge’ mode.  Students in my studio love playing this game…and they are getting great ear training at the same time.    Cost: $4.99    Level:  All ages    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_DqKM9LYvU
  • Step and a Half: First Steps - An ear training game.  Listen to the short melody and drag the yellow blocks to the green blocks to recreate the music you just heard.  Click “Guess” to see if you are right.  Start with just two notes and, as you improve, play a 6-note melody at a faster tempo.  No two tunes are ever played twice.  (The other apps made by ‘Relative Pitch’ are very good.)  Cost:  FREE    Level:  All ages    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/step-half-melody-training/id371875746?mt=8
RHYTHM & COUNTING
  • Rhythm Sight Reading Trainer - Students love using this app in my studio.  Before playing the rhythm on the iPad, we first clap and count the rhythm out loud.  Then, press the ‘play’ arrow and tap in the circle to be in ‘practice mode’.  Swing the metronome’s arm and tap in the circle for ‘test mode’.  The best rhythm and counting app yet.  With over 200 rhythms to practice, students have the potential to become excellent counters.  Cost:  $2.99    Level:  All ages     http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/rhythm-sight-reading-trainer/id396302174?mt=8
  • Rhythm in Reach – This app includes ‘practice mode’ and ‘test mode’ and allows you to change the meter, tempo and difficulty level.  The tone of the beep cannot be changed, but if the volume is lowered or you use headphones, this is another, yet different, rhythm reading and tapping game.  Cost:  $2.99    Level:  All ages    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BEvNT30NaS0
  • Rhythm Quiz – This is the free version of ‘Rhythm in Reach’.  Only ‘practice mode’ is available, which may be OK for awhile, but I would want to have my counting skills put to the test to see my progress.   Cost:  FREE    Level:  All ages    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/rhythm-quiz/id397813946?mt=8
METRONOMES
  • Subdivide Metronome FREE – This app has been removed from the iTunes store.
  • Metronome Plus –   The best (and loudest) metronome app yet.  Very easy to use interface.  Add accents to each beat if you need the metronome to be even louder.  $0.99    Level:  All ages    http://susanparadis.wordpress.com/   (Post: May 19, 2011)
PRACTICE HELP
  • Just Practice! – Track your practice with this app.  Enter which pieces you practice and for how long.  Plan your upcoming week of practice.  When it’s time to practice, click on the ‘practice’ icon and the piece you are going to practice.  The app then tracks the number of minutes you practice, has a metronome, and a recording function.  Hearing your progress over time, by using the ‘record’ feature, is worth the price!   Cost:  FREE    Level: All ages    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWsGpVQ2UWM
CREATIVITY, IMPROVISATION, COMPOSITION, PERFORMANCE
  • Garage Band - The pianos offered in this program are incredible (grand piano, electric pianos, organs,…)!  Features: 88 keys, a ‘sustain pedal’ (which acts the same as a piano’s right pedal), touch-sensitive keys (play hard = loud sound; play lighter = softer sound), and so much more I could never write it all down here.  Let the kids play the drums!  (…with headphones?…)  The ‘Smart Instruments’ (drums, guitar, keyboard, bass) are designed for those who have never played an instrument ~ so everyone can have fun with Garage Band!  There is a ‘record’ feature for every instrument.  Write your own song, lay down up to 8 tracks with any instrument, then share it easily with others.   $4.99    Level:  All ages.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMRTvU17dMI
  • Classical Music I: Master’s Collection, Volume I - No internet required to listen to great classical music.  Cost:  FREE  Level: All ages    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/classical-music-i-masters/id388835399?mt=8
  • Composer of the Day – Short bios of classical composers on their birthday.  A link to iTunes will give you a sample of their work. Cost:  FREE  Level:  All ages  http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/composer-of-the-day/id336077559?mt=8
  • iLuvMozart (Boost Your IQ) - Music and trivia about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  Cost:  FREE  Level:  All ages    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVumrGOTF-I&feature=related
  • Slow Down Player - Slow down or speed up your songs.  Take your piano book CDs and play along with the tracks at a slower tempo.  As you progress, increase the tempo gradually.  This app does not change the pitch one bit, so pianists are free to change the tempo just as you would on a metronome.  Incredible app for the price!  Cost:  FREE  Level:  All ages    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/slow-down-music-player/id314296369?mt=8
  • forScore – Scan your piano music and have an organized musical library from which you can play right from your iPad.  Download any PDF from the internet or your own files.  Write or draw, right on your music, with different colors and writing tools.  Cost:  $4.99   Level: All ages    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/forscore/id363738376?mt=8
PIANO
I receive no compensation for my reviews of the above apps.  I have found these by simply searching in various categories on the iTunes App Store and trying them out for myself.   There will be many more app reviews as new apps become available, so check back every now and then.
Posted by: tammyspianostudio | May 16, 2011

Listening 33

Dear Listeners,

Week 33 brings us Modest (accent on the second syllable) Mussorgsky and his “Pictures at an Exhibition”.  Mussorgsky wrote and create this “musical tribute” to honor his friend, an artist, after seeing an art show of his work.  The music depicts 10 pieces of art in the show.  “Pictures” was written originally for piano, but it has also been arranged for orchestra and many other orchestrations.  If you would like to play some of Mussorgsky’s music, follow the links below.  The 10 movements are:

Promenade (this music depicts Mussorgsky walking through the art exhibit, sometimes slowly and sad while thinking about his friend who just passed away; and sometimes quickly to see the next piece of art ~ the “Promenade” returns between each movement)

  1. The Gnome
  2. The Old Castle
  3. Dispute Between Children at Play
  4. Cattle
  5. Battle of the Unhatched Chicks
  6. Samuel Goldenburg and Schmuyle
  7. The Market at Limoges (The Great News)
  8. The Catacombs (With the Dead in a Dead Language)
  9. The Hut on Fowl’s Legs (Baba-Yaga)
  10. The Bogatyre Gates (in the Capital in Kiev)

Hear the Music    http://www.classicsforkids.com/music/music_view.asp?id=14    (“Promenade”)

Activity Sheet    http://www.classicsforkids.com/activitysheets/October2008.pdf    (“Gnome”)

Would you like to play some of the movements?  Follow these links and look for “Download PDF”.  These are all FREE.

  1. http://imslp.org/wiki/Pictures_at_an_Exhibition_(Mussorgsky,_Modest_Petrovich)    Click on ‘Piano Scores’ > ‘Complete Scores’
  2. http://www.free-scores.com/download-sheet-music.php?pdf=3853
  3. http://cantorion.org/music/1202/Pictures_at_an_Exhibition_Original_version
Posted by: tammyspianostudio | May 9, 2011

Listening # 32

Verdi is this week’s Italian composer.  He was a popular and famous composer and wrote many operas.  Take a listen:

Hear the music:    http://www.classicsforkids.com/music/music_view.asp?id=29

Activity sheet:    http://www.classicsforkids.com/activitysheets/May2010.pdf

Posted by: tammyspianostudio | May 4, 2011

Helping Your Kid Succeed in Music

Three pro musicians sit down and talk candidly about raising kids, giving them balance, and helping them succeed in music.  Really good video that I thoroughly enjoyed and hope you will, too.

http://studio5.ksl.com/?sid=13914138&nid=71

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