Elementary School, Middle School

Five iPad Apps for Learning to Create Music

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 9.45.52 AMLast week’s post about Piano Maestro prompted a couple of people to write to me with questions about other apps for helping students learn to play music. Here are some iPad apps for that purpose.

Chromatik is an iPad app that makes it fun to learn and practice new music. Chromatik offers recordings of popular songs along with the sheet music to play them on more than a dozen instruments. The recordings and sheet music are yours to use for seven days. Chromatik includes an option to make a recording of your playing of a song. You can share highlights of your recordings with others through email, Facebook, and Twitter. Chromatik does require you to have an email address and some of the songs may not be appropriate for students younger than high school (the songs are all hits you’ve heard on the radio, but that doesn’t mean you want 12 year olds playing them in your school). A classroom-friendly of Chromatik is offered to schools. That version requires a $3.99 in-app purchase to unlock all of the features.

Notezilla is a neat iPad app that features sheet music synchronized to recordings. As you listen the recording the sheet music scrolls along. You can choose to see a red line moving to indicate the notes being played or choose to not see the red line at all. You can select sections of a recording to hear and see in your Notezilla library. For the student who is learning to play a new selection Notezilla provides an option to slow the tempo for a recording could be helpful. Students can also choose to turn on or turn off the display of sheet music for specific instruments heard in a recording. Being able to see and hear where their instruments fit into the overall score of a piece could help students be better prepared for the transition from practicing in isolation to rehearsing with a full orchestra or band.

Figure is an iPad app for creating music and sound loops. You don’t have to have any musical talent or inclination to create music with the Figure app. To create music you simply have to drag your finger across an instrument to create a pattern. You can combine patterns across drums, bass, and lead guitar. Each pattern can be adjusted for tempo and key. The volume of each pattern can be adjusted individually then blended with the others. When you’re happy with the music you have made you can export it to SoundCloud or iTunes or send it to a friend via email. Figure could be a good app for students to use to develop soundtracks to use in video projects or to use as bumper music in podcasts. Of course, the app could also be good for students to use to just experiment with tempo and key change.

JoyTunes Recorder Master is a fun iPad app that students can use to learn to play the recorder. The app asks students to play specific notes to complete games on their iPads. Students play notes to their recorders to avoid obstacles, collect bonuses, and scare away evil birds.

Piano Maestro (formerly known as Piano Mania) is a neat iPad app from Joy Tunes. The new Piano Maestro app offers lessons on playing the piano. Students place their iPads on their pianos or electronic keyboards to view the lesson as they play along. The app offers challenges of varying difficulty from simple one-hand lessons to complex lessons requiring the use of both hands. Students earn points for completing each lesson and mastering new songs. Teachers can check their students’ progress by having students use the “connect to teacher” feature of Piano Maestro. Piano Maestro is free to download and access for basic lessons. More difficult lessons and the larger catalog of music requires purchasing the premium features. This fall Joy Tunes is offering Piano Maestro’s premium features for free to registered music teachers and their students. The premium features includes a library of more than 800 songs including pop music songs from artists like Bruno Mars and Taylor Swift.

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