Technology is an incredible tool in the classroom. It can give teachers new and exciting ways to engage students, improve the learning process and make tracking progress easier. So why can’t this same philosophy extend to music?
There are more than 80,000 education apps designed just for the iPad alone, and many are designed with music educators in mind, according to Apple. With mobile devices serving as invaluable tools to supplement lessons, music educators have a unique opportunity to take advantage of the massive library of education apps as well as many focused on music specifically.
The Impact of Music Education Apps
Mobile apps offer new methods to accomplish things in the classroom. In music classrooms, technology can spark motivation. While some students are more apt to participate in a music lesson, technology can help other students become engaged. Whether it’s a music-related game or just fun with a keyboard on a tablet, children will be more motivated to take part in learning.
Technology has made it easier to analyze and create music. In music classrooms, students can use apps to break down a piece of music, its rhythms, tempos, harmonies and more. Students can use apps to look at music from the point of view of different instruments.
For teachers, apps provide a chance to differentiate instruction. If music teachers need to work with certain students, they can use technology to ensure that others are engaged. Apps can help students work at their own pace. If students need more instruction on a particular topic, an app can give them the practice they need to ensure they understand.
Types of Music Education Apps
There are countless options for teachers looking to integrate mobile apps into the music classroom. They may focus on teaching students a particular skill, showing them the intricacies of a particular instrument, making music creation easier, teaching how to read music or even serving as a performance tool.
Singers, songwriters and producers can explain firsthand the powerful effect mobile apps have had on the music-making process. While many use professional-level equipment and software, music educators can take advantage of many intuitive and user-friendly apps.
The gold standard for a simple music-making application, GarageBand allows iOS users to record high-quality songs with a variety of instruments and effects. GarageBand is ideal as a learning tool, by making chords as easy as tapping one button. Beats can be mixed and matched by moving loops onto a grid. GarageBand is perfect for students as an outlet for creativity and a playground for learning.
What if making music was much more of a game? That’s the premise behind Musyc, an app that generates sounds based on interactions between shapes that bounce around a user-generated environment. This app draws inspiration from games like Peggle and Geometry Wars to make serious sonic experiences. On the surface, it seems like a silly diversion, but Musyc allows experimentation that isn’t easily replicated.
iOS & Android/ Free
With Beatwave, a 16-by-18 grid of glowing squares is your instrument. Each square activates notes, with solid lines making chords, zigzags making arpeggios and drums occupying two lines at the bottom. With a wide variety of sounds to choose from, this app is another great and engaging way to make music. It seems simple, but Beatwave offers students the opportunity to understand chords, harmonies and arpeggios in a unique way.
iOS only/Free with in-app purchases
Learning how to read music takes time and effort. Like learning to read, children need practice and repetition to get a strong grasp. Several apps are designed to help music students of all ages gain an understanding of reading music.
Piano Dust Buster
Piano Dust Buster relies on a microphone to ensure you are playing the correct notes. However, this app is more of a game—like Guitar Hero or Rock Band—that uses actual notes. The app uses classic pop tunes that students will recognize and even offers a mode to compete against others.
iOS only/Free with in-app purchases
One way to encourage learning is to offer students something familiar. Yousician inspires learning by letting students upload their favorite song and then teaching them how to play it. With a simple and colorful interface, the app works well for students of all ages. With options to learn via piano, guitar, bass and even ukulele, Yousician is a great way to supplement students’ studies.
iOS & Android/Free with in-app purchases
A more straightforward method of learning to read music is Music Tutor. This app is a quiz game designed for students at all stages of learning. It can help both music readers and music writers identify and choose notes quickly. The app includes timed tests and a free-flowing option without a time limit. These quizzes can help students practice their music reading ability and even give insight into music theory and the important skill of sight-reading.
iOS & Android/Free
Concerts, recitals and other performances can be just as tough for teachers as they are for students. Luckily, there are plenty of tools for teachers to ensure that students are prepared to play and that performances go smoothly.
Billed as the most accurate metronome app available, Tempo offers a wide range of options to help you keep time. With 35 different time signatures, nine rhythm patterns in both simple and compound meters and an easy preset feature, Tempo has everything that a musician needs. This app is invaluable for teachers wanting to help students understand how tempo works, performance needs and much more.
All music teachers have to ensure their students’ instruments are tuned perfectly. Cleartune is a tuner with customization for instrument calibrations available.
iOS & Android/ $3.99
This is the ultimate sheet music app for musicians. forScore allows musicians to import sheet music from the internet and make annotations. It can turn the page at the right moment, allowing students to stay focused on the music. The app lets you organize music into set lists, rearrange pages automatically and even play along to an audio track. This is perfect for teachers whether they’re practicing in the classroom or having students perform.
Understanding Technology in the Music Classroom
Mobile apps are just one way to incorporate technology into music education. At Campbellsville University, our online Master of Music in Music Education degree helps teachers build the skills they need to share the gift of music with students in a variety of settings. The fully online program is certified by the National Association of Schools of Music.