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.


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Ear Trainer Lite –  Helps you learn to recognize intervals, chords, chord progressions, and scales.  Cost: FREE    Level:  All ages
  • 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
  • Interval Ear Training –   A fun and simple way to recognize intervals, which improves your sense of pitch & improvising skills.  Cost:  FREE    Level:  All ages
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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   (Post: May 19, 2011)
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Classical Music I: Master’s Collection, Volume I – No internet required to listen to great classical music.  Cost:  FREE  Level: All ages
  • 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
  • iLuvMozart (Boost Your IQ) – Music and trivia about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  Cost:  FREE  Level:  All ages
  • 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
  • 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
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.

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