School holidays are upon us again and I’m being realistic. I know it’s unlikely most of my students will do any piano practise during the holidays. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be still keeping their other skills up-to-date.
Most of them have iPads and/or iPods and there are a wealth of apps they can use to help reinforce note recognition, rhythms and theory, as well as co-ordination. Best of all, they will think they are just playing but we adults know they are still learning while having fun.
Many of the good quality apps have a small cost attached, but usually have a sample/lite version for free so you can check it out first.
Following is a small selection of apps I use regularly:
Rhythm Cat teaches and reinforces the most commonly-used musical rhythm notation. The free ‘Lite’ version has 15 levels while the ‘Pro’ version works up to following three different colours in each rhythm, encouraging co-ordination of both hands.
The ‘Cat’ family also includes ‘Treble Cat’ and ‘Bass Cat’. I don’t tend to use Bass Cat with my beginners because it starts in a different octave, but Treble Cat is better suited. These games involve recognising the notes from amongst a group of notes, not just on their own. The notes also move slowly, giving you plenty of time to recognise the correct notes.
A basic note recognition app, NoteWorks is customisable for difficulty, including clef/s and range of notes. The interface and sound effects are fun for younger students, but the app still moves quickly enough to be challenging for older students and adults.
Part of the customisation is being able to choose whether you simply name the note, or name it plus locate it on the keyboard.
While this may seem a strange selection because it involves neither note recognition or a keyboard, I love it because it not only encourages eye-hand co-ordination and developing fine motor skills, but also exposes the students to a range of music they might not otherwise hear. Music education apps don’t always need to be obviously teaching 🙂
This addictive app also helps to develop a good sense of rhythm.
This app has a suite of different games within it and caters to a range of abilities. Also, some games use the microphone to hear what you are playing on your own piano (which the kids love), while others use just the device.
Tap that Note uses the device to identify notes, while Play that Note requires you to play to specified note on the piano (or whatever instrument you tell the app you are using). Play-a-day is a great sight reading exercise for intermediate students. As the name suggests, Hear It, Note It – also available as a standalone game – involves listening to what is played and notating it and has three difficulty levels within. Activities include tasks such as adding accidentals to correct a scale or completing rhythms with notes, rests and bar lines.
While it does contain basic note recognition, Tenuto is really suited to more advanced students, as the majority of activities are more complex.
The concept of this is quite simple… if the notes are going up, tap the screen more to the right; if the notes are descending, tap the screen to the left. It is designed to test your aural ability.
However, these are not simple melodies. If it’s not a tune you already know, the songs can be difficult as some can have up to 50 or 60 notes (or more!). Consequently, this is not for beginners. It’s a great aural tester for experienced musicians, though.
Enjoy your holidays!
If you are considering music lessons for your child or for yourself, please contact me to discuss the options. Piano lessons are conducted at my studio in Wallsend, NSW or mobile lessons are available in the eastern suburbs of Lake Macquarie.