Welcome back, Becki Laurent! We first spoke to Becki in her teacher interview on Episode 037.
Today Becki and I are discussing our favorite apps for helping kids learn to play piano. Apps help teachers and students isolate a specific skill for improvement in understanding and performance. Once students are confident and fluent with these basic skills, they are more able to play harder, more interesting music. Using apps at home will allow your teacher more time to work on other concepts during the lesson.
Here is the list of apps we discuss on the show plus loads of other apps for you to check into.
Piano Maestro – a portion of the app use is free through iTunes. The full music library is available for an annual subscription.
Students play a wide variety of music along with backing tracks. Piano Maestro helps students process reading skills, feel pulse/steady beat of music, build quicker responses with their hands and fingers and have a lot of fun in the process.
Becki wrote an ebook, “The Parent’s Guide to JoyTunes’ Piano Maestro” to help parents and their piano kids use Piano Maestro at home.
NinGenius – student edition $2.99 iTunes
NinGenius is a flashcard app that allows students to choose a variety instruments and clefs to drill note recognition. Students identify written notation and match it with a letter of the alphabet, piano key or fingering on their instrument.
Flashnote Derby – $4.99 iTunes / $2.99 Google Play
Flashnote Derby is another flashcard app that allows students to select specific notes to drill. Teachers have the ability to select notes within the app for a certain student and email that deck directly to the parent for home practice. The parent clicks the link in the email on their mobile device and Flashnote Debry will be automatically preset with the notes the teacher selected. Flashnote Derby has the ability of hearing the piano keys directly. This helps students learn to associate a note on the staff with a specific piano key; an essential skill for fluent notation reading.
NoteRush – $3.99 iTunes/Google Play
NoteRush is Shelly’s pick for a favorite flashcard app. This app also listens to the piano keys students play and features a variety of themes for staff notation. Students are timed as they find notes and are able to level up as their reaction time decreases.
The Most Addicting Sheep Game – $0.99 iTunes
Students learn to feel the beat of the music as well as discern between small and large intervals. Understanding and recognizing intervals (the space from one note to the next note on the staff and on the piano keys) is vital for fluid music reading. Students must be exactly on time with their rhythm or the sheep falls off the grass. They also must keep going and not go back to fix errors, which is a skill teachers are always trying to help students develop.
Shelly challenges piano parents to play this with your piano kid! (Remember Episode 009: Let Your Child Watch You Learn Something New?)
Mind the Beat – FREE iTunes
Mind the Beat is great for older students (10 and up, way up!). This is a ‘call and response’ game which a great introduction to improvisation and replicating patterns students hear.
Students also have the opportunity to develop hand-hand coordination by playing left hand, right hand, or both hands together. The physical activity of working with hand-to-hand coordination also strengthens the neural connections in the brain that are used for math (understanding symbolic representations), reading (understanding phonics and the point of the story), as well as comprehension (being able to summarize a paragraph).
Loopimal – $3.99 iTunes
An excellent looping app for young students, Loopimal teaches students to see and hear patterns. Teachers love this app for teaching form, the formula in which a piece of music is built. Moving from pattern to pattern in Loopimal gives students a visual way to learn continuity.
Woodchuck Rhythm App – FREE iTunes
This app helps younger students associate rhythm patterns with words: cat = quarter note (one syllable = one sound on the beat), woodchuck = two eighth notes (two syllables = two sounds on the beat).
Super Metronome Groove Box – FREE iTunes (lite version)
Shelly recommends Super Metronome Groove Box for students to play along with. While this keeps a steady beat like a regular metronome, it is so much more fun to play along with the drumbeats!
Notation and Composition
Rhythm Lab – $4.99 – a great app for developing rhythmic skills and improving rhythm precision
ScoreCloud – $2.99 iTunes / FREE for Windows – music notation software. The developers says it is “Like Google Translate for music.”
Noteflight.com – FREE – Noteflight is not an app but is available online via computer and mobile devices. It is also music notation software.
Jelly Band $1.99 iTunes / FREE Google Play – fun for kid compositions
Yamaha Chord Tracker – FREE – play songs from your music library with the chord chart this app creates for you
***Decide Now – $0.99 iTunes / FREE Google Play – handy app for any situation. Put in each item of piano homework, spin the wheel and let the app decide which one you play first.
For the Littles
Music for Little Mozarts – $0.99 iTunes/Google Play
Jam that Jelly – FREE
Becki’s Bonus Not-To-Be-Missed App
Zoombinis – $4.99 iTunes/Google Play
Zoombinis is a logical thinking app. While it may not look like is has practical use for a piano or music student, it absolutely does. Music is all about advanced matching and Zoombinis is an advanced matching game. Playing the game helps students to think and to be logical.
Becki says it is so good for their musical brain!
Thank you Becki!!
Come find Becki or Shelly at the Texas Music Teachers Convention in Dallas this weekend!