We are so fortunate to have so many great resources available to help us learn piano right now! While nothing beats good old-fashioned practicing at a piano, there are some great iPad apps available to supplement practicing and to hone all the skills needed to play the piano.
When parents ask how to incorporate apps into practicing, I suggest that they can be used as a treat or reward when a student has completed regular practicing, or in rare cases, they could replace practicing when it is impossible to practice at real piano, like while traveling.
There are hundreds of apps out there for piano, but here are the ones we use the most in my studio and that I recommend to my students.
I have to list Piano Maestro first, because it is absolutely the most used app in my studio, and for a good reason! It is an excellent way to practice note-reading skills, and it’s a lot of fun. It plays like a game, but students learn really valuable skills such as sight-reading, rhythm, thinking and reacting quickly, eye hand coordination, finger numbers and much more. I build time into almost every lesson for this app because it works so well. But, students can definitely continuing working on it at home as well.
Since I have a teacher’s account, all of my students have access to it for free using a link sent from my account. Other teachers or students can download it from the app store. The cost for teachers and students to access all of the material within the app is well worth it!
Sidenote: I use this MIDI cable to connect my Yamaha P115 to my iPad. Piano Maestro can work using the mic on the iPad, but I prefer the precision of the MIDI cables, and the fact that it makes it possible to use with headphones.
This is a fun little game that truly is addicting! The main musical benefit is that in order to pass each level, you have to tap the screen to the beat of the music to help the animated sheep character jump over obstacles. I find that students can’t get enough practice at feeling a steady beat, so this is a super fun and easy way to get that practice in.
Notion is my go-to app for any kind of notating that I need to do. Previously, I have used computer software, but the touch-screen of an ipad makes it super simple to make changes and enter notes. My students use this to notate their own compositions and I occasionally use it to make simplified arrangements of song requests.
This is another app that works best with a MIDI connector, like this one, to connect the iPad to a digital piano or keyboard. With a connector, you can play notes on a keyboard and they instantly notate in the app. This is by far the easiest way to notate music!
We have recently discovered Note Rush app and it has been a hit in my studio. It’s a basic note-naming app that uses the mic of your iPad to hear piano keys that the student plays. It has really fun graphics, which makes it really appealing. My only complaint is that it can only function with the mic, rather than with a MIDI connector. This means that it doesn’t work well in a setting where a student needs to work quietly with an iPad.
5. Rhythm Cat
My students are hooked on Rhythm Cat. We’ve used it for a couple of years and it is still frequently requested. This game shows notated rhythms and the student has to tap them on a button on the iPad screen. The leveling makes it really engaging and addictive! I’m ok with my students being addicted to practicing their rhythm! 🙂
I like to use Music Theory Pro with students who are preparing for theory tests. It is full of all kinds of theory drills. You can adapt each drill to match each students level. It’s pretty no-nonsense and straightforward, which is good when you just need to learn the material!
My students and I have spent a lot of time using flowkey in the past few months.
Flowkey is a piano tutoral app that combines 3 different modalities: auditory, visual of piano keys and visual of sheet music. There are hundreds of songs that anyone can learn to play. I find that often, my students technical skill advances much faster than their reading skills. Flowkey provides a nice outlet for them to play more satisfying music that they may not be ready to learn in a traditional approach. I often use it in the web browser of my laptop, but there is also and iPad app, which is a nice alternative. Get started here.
I recently learned about Moana Rhythm Run from my friend Judy at violinjudy.com. I’m always a few years behind on movies, so when I learned about Moana, I decided to be proactive and learn all about it to impress my students and stay on top of their music requests!. We’ve been trying this out in lessons this week and it’s a hit. It’s similar to The Most Addicting Sheep Game because your success is dependent upon feeling the beat of the music.
Along with Piano Maestro, this is the other top app in my studio. I assign all of my students assignments through this app. They log and track their practice with it. There are great interactive features to keep students engaged. You can attach helpful files to assignments, link to YouTube videos, set goals and much more. This app is web-based, so there is nothing to download and it works on any computer or device.
My students all have accounts through my teacher account, and I’d encourage other teachers to give it a try. (You can sign on for a free month by following this link. Be sure to reach out to the helpful customer service folks and schedule an orientation. There’s a lot to learn, but such a great resource for your studio! They walk you through every step!)
What other great apps do I need to know about? Comment below with more suggestions!