SpeakBeat - Cost: $1.99. View it in the iTunes store here.
SpeakBeat is a metronome app, but with a twist: it “speaks” the beats! Just choose the time signature and choose whether you’d like sub beats counted (the “and’s,” “one-and-a’s,” and the “one-e-and-a’s”) or not. The tempo can be adjusted from 20-240 bpm. There are also 8 different voices to choose from in the settings: a variety of male and female voices, as well as a few fun ones like Darth Vader and Kermit the Frog! The app’s interface is easy to navigate and quite nice-looking.
We all know the value of having students count aloud as they play, right? Counting aloud does more than self-correct the student’s rhythm — it also teaches students to be play in awareness of the meter. (See more about my thoughts regarding teaching rhythm here.)
I have always felt that having the teacher count aloud is no substitute for having the student doing the counting. When I first heard about this app, I was doubtful that it was much better than having the teacher count (other than the fact that it would save my voice!). However, like any metronome, this app keeps the student completely accountable to keeping a steady beat — unlike MY counting, which often end up being flexible to the student despite my best efforts. When I do that (be flexible with the beat, I mean), it allows the student to get away with ignoring my counting and play without a steady beat. SpeakBeat keeps them accountable and forces them really listen. I can ask students to count along with SpeakBeat, or just listen and stay with SpeakBeat as they play.
I probably won’t be using this app with every student; after all, it really still is best for the student to count aloud for themselves as they play. However, I’ve encountered students (as we all have) who forget to continue counting as they play, or even students who flat-out refuse to count aloud. I am always persistent with these students, but I am pleased to have another tool to use in these situations. Sometimes it is good for the student to have the metronome tell them they aren’t playing the rhythm correctly instead of the teacher always telling them!
In short, this app exceeded my expectations.
Disclosure: I was sent a free copy of this app, but was not required to write a positive review. As always, my reviews contain my honest opinions!
The developer of SpeakBeat has kindly offered to do a giveaway: FIVE lucky winners will win a promo code for downloading SpeakBeat for free! To enter, leave a comment below with a tip about counting aloud or using a metronome with your students by September 6 at midnight EST. The five winners will be chosen randomly and announced the next day. Good luck!