1. Piano Maestro
If you want to get beginner students excited about piano, Piano Maestro is the way to go. At the very beginning, students play simple melodies to accompaniment. Simply feeling like they are making music affects a beginner enormously.
In our studio, we have had a competition to see which student practices the most each week. The kids connect their studio account to their home account and go at it. The average winner each week practices about three hours. While this doesn’t replace the role of a teacher, it solidifies musical concepts and improves sight-reading.
2. Pro Metronome
A metronome is essential in helping students keep a steady beat, which in turn greatly improves a piece. Metronomes can be expensive though and digital ones require batteries. Downloading a free metronome app is a great alternative.
Pro Metronome is a free app, but you can make in-app purchases to have more features. The free version has plenty to get started, however. In it is a large display showing a play button, tempo marks, the time signature, and subdivisions. You can turn the dial to increase or decrease the speed or use the left and right arrows. As well, a button on the lower right allows you to tap the beat you want to use. This metronome is great because it emphasizes the downbeat with a higher note, so you always know where in the measure you should be.
Download the app and use it with one of your student’s pieces today and see the improvement in their playing.
3. Rhythm Lab
Many rhythm apps flat line after a certain difficulty, and they become useless when you improve far enough. Rhythm Lab moves from simple rhythms to complex polyrhythms. With this app, you can create custom drills and set up individual accounts. Using Audiobus and GarageBand, you can create tracks to back your playing as well. This app is ideal for any age or ability. The flexibility makes this app even more applicable to anyone.
Download this app today, and allow you child ten minutes to play during their practice time. You’ll see an improvement in their rhythms.
4. Note Rush
When most people learn notes, they try physical flashcards and apps based on flashcards to repeat the notes enough times that they will recognize the notes instantly. Note Rush is an app that uses the same principle of repetition, but without the annoying flashcards everyone gets annoyed with. Using the microphone in your phone or tablet, this app uses pitch recognition to determine if you are playing the right note. If you don’t play the correct note, it waits until you do. It also is time-based, so the kids can try to beat their previous times, but don’t have the pressure of a ticking clock.
Our studio loves Note Rush, and David has been showing it off to the teachers to convince them try it out. Not only can this be used for piano playing, but it can also be used for any instrument, including voice. You could use this in ear training and improve pitch.
One downside is that this cannot be used with headphones. The app needs to hear the note played rather than being hooked up by a midi cable.
As important as scales are, they often bore kids. The idea of Musiclock is to provide a fun way for students to practice scales. When you first open the app, you can choose which scale to play along to and which kind of track to play to. This engages the student more, and they feel that they are actually playing music rather than boring scales. This app works for both piano and guitar.
Annah grew up in Minnesota, but now lives in Rexburg. She is a visual communication major at Brigham Young University - Idaho, and also works at Love Family Piano. She grew up helping her family with her piano playing skills by editing songs her mother had written and writing duets for her clarinet-playing brother so they could play together. While serving in the Utah Salt Lake City West LDS mission, she accompanied a mission choir under the direction of Marshall McDonald, along with accompanying solos and group numbers. Annah has also served as pianist and organist in her local congregation. She loves being able to mix her love for communication and piano. Visit her personal blog and see what else she is up to.