2011 MTNA Conference | iPods, Guitar Hero, And YouTube. Oh, My!

I just love the title for this session!

TUESDAY @ 2:15pm: iPods, Guitar Hero, And YouTube. Oh, My!

This session was given by Samuel Holland and Kristin Yost.

Sam Holland began by talking about the world of the student and the world of the teacher (represented by two big circles on the powerpoint slide).  Our responsibility as teachers is to move our world towards theirs until they intersect, so learning can take place.

One important method of intersecting the student’s world is through technology.  The average teenager spends about 36 hours a week using technology.  Students are now beginning to spend more time online than they do watching TV.  The top activity they spend time doing is messaging – and second is downloading music (this is where we come in!).

Reasons teachers give for not utilizing technology with their students:

  • Costs too much
  • Too complicated
  • Detracts from real learning


Sam Holland asked his students: “What’s on your iPod?” and shared some interview-type videos with us containing their responses.  The results?  Students are eclectic in their music choices.  They have many different genres.  They have access to everything – so we as teachers can turn this into a resource.

Ask your students what they have on their iPods.  Recommend some great performers and pieces.


Kristin Yost demonstrated how she uses GarageBand (a Mac software – you can download Audacity for free if you are a PC user) to record the RH and then the LH of a pop song for the student to practice with at home.  She believes in the importance of pop music in the students lives as well as classical.  GarageBand allows you to add a fun percussion loop to the track, which not only sounds great but helps them feel the beat and stay in time.  You can even speak into the recording to give instructions/reminders to the student about practicing.  GarageBand makes it easy to share the file via email, YouTube, cd, flashdrive, or sync straight to an iPod.


YouTube.com contains tons of great videos of famous performers.  It’s an incredible resource that should not be overlooked.  It’s completely free, and you can send students to watch videos of the greats like Rubinstein, or of Rachmaninoff playing his own music, etc.  Using YouTube, the boundaries between the past and present are broken!

YouTube can also be used to put up videos of your students playing their pieces, so they can share them with their friends and family on facebook.  Note: ALWAYS get written permission from the parent/student before posting their videos online.  You can also ask students to post videos of themselves practicing, and you can leave a comment with feedback between lessons.

Guitar Hero

Although Guitar Hero is no longer sold, it is worth mentioning breifly.  Guitar Hero is a video game that allows the player to “play” versions of pop songs on a guitar controller.  What is the pedagogy of a game such as this?

  • Concentration
  • Awareness of pulse
  • Rhythmic motor skills
  • Relaxed musical energy
  • Self-directed learning

Besides – what student wouldn’t find it cool that their teacher has Guitar Hero available to play in the waiting room!


The iPad (as well as the iPod Touch) allows you to download apps (some free, some $0.99 or more) for music education.  Breifly, some of the music apps include:

  • Music flashclass (allows you to customize flashcards for you students to work on on-the-go)
  • Forscore (a music reader for iPad only)
  • Music Reader (another music reader for iPad only)
  • Virtuoso (a keyboard to play)
  • Nota (drills scales, chords, flashcards of note names, etc.)

These are just a few ways teachers can utilize technology to not only connect to the student’s world, but also to promote learning in ways that were never before possible!


Joy Morin is a piano teacher in northwest Ohio (United States) who enjoys keeping her teaching fresh with new ideas and resources. ColorInMyPiano.com serves as a journal of her adventures in piano teaching as well as a place to exchange ideas and resources.

Joy has blogged 1142 posts here.

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  1. Posted 8 April 2011 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    I’m curious why they chose to talk about Guitar Hero vs. Rock Band? Personally, I don’t see much difference between the 2 and Rock Band is still sold.

  2. Posted 8 April 2011 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    I couldn’t do without my ipad – check out the musicnotes.com app – it collects all of the music you’ve purchased online and stores it in an easy to use format right on your ipad – no more binders full of loose sheet music!
    Youtube as been wonderful – especially to have it right at the piano in the lesson enabling you to teach a student to evaluate different performances/versions of a piece they are working on.

  3. Fiona Mendes
    Posted 15 April 2011 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing this – very informative for me as I am considering buying the ipad.

  4. Posted 23 July 2012 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Did they list any decent apps for android? I am having the most difficult time finding some.

    • Posted 24 July 2012 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      I am not familiar with android devices, but I have heard that there simply are not very many music apps for android yet. I’m sure there will be more as time passes!

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