This post, Summer Project – Music Apps Review, is the first in a three-part series under the category of Piano Teaching. I have been inspired by my membership in the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) this past year. One of the highlights of the year was the webinar titled Fresh Approaches to Old-School Teaching, presented by Peter Oehrtman. Part of the focus was on apps, and that is the entire focus of this post. I have chosen the following five iOS apps from Mr. Oehrtman’s list to review. Android versions of these apps may exist but are out of scope for this review. Since some of my students will be taking the summer off, I’ll dedicate that teaching time to researching the following apps.
Update – I have reviewed all of the apps with a “free” option, and the results weren’t good! In a nutshell, you get what you pay for! My analysis of each is in italics below the description of each item. Out of this entire list, the only app that I’m keeping on my iPad into a new testing round is Note Rush. That was the only one that I didn’t test at the time because it only had a paid option.
Note Rush: Learn to Read Music
Flashcard drilling. Notes pop up on screen, student plays notes on the piano. The app identifies that you are correct by using the microphone on your device.
Broc: I did not try this one since I wasn’t willing to commit to paid apps before trying the free ones. Moves on to the next round of testing.
Simply Piano by JoyTunes
Tons of material (Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift) at the beginning to mid-intermediate level. You have to play the notes as they approach the blue bar. The app identifies that you are correct by using the microphone on your device.
Price: FREE with in-app purchases
Broc: I found out that any of the fun stuff you want to do, including the songs, requires a yearly subscription, with the cheapest monthly option being $9.99 per month with 12 months paid in advance! It may be the best app in the world, but I’ll never know. I’m not willing to chance a short one-week trial period expires and a $119.99 charge appears on my credit card bill without getting a chance to test the app. Uninstalled.
Super Metronome Groove Box
A more fun type of metronome with different instruments, beats, compound meter.
Price: Lite – Free; Pro – $6.99
Broc: It’s really just a tease, a big come-on to the pro version: After you get all of your settings established, the app times out after playing just 16 measures. I think the product is solid, but I question not only the price but also whether you should be using a $400 iPad for a job that a $25 metronome can do! Uninstalled.
Another metronome possibility, though Mr. Oehrtman liked Super Metronome Groovebox better.
Broc: So, what do you do with it? I thought this was supposed to have some type of teaching purpose, but I couldn’t find what that is. It seems to be a powerful program for audio recording and editing, and all of it is free. But that still leads me back to my original question! Uninstalled.
Aids with scales. Not bad, but a little hokey.
Price: Free with in-app purchases
Broc: Really, really hokey. If someone hates scales already, this app could make them hate them even more! Uninstalled before all of the others!