Piano Dust Buster by JoyTunes — FREE, but in-app purchases are required to attain additional song sets.
There are two games within this app: “Germ Attack” and “Staff Master.” Each game has two playing modes: using your own real piano or using the on-screen keyboard. If you use your piano, the app will “hear” the frequency of the sounds you play through the mic to check if you are playing correctly (so cool!).
Each game also allows you to choose between a “Practice” mode (accurate rhythms are only loosely enforced) and a “Showtime” mode (the app will not wait for you to play correct rhythms).
Playing the “Germ Attack” game reminds me a lot of playing Guitar Hero on the Wii. The notes (“germs) scroll downwards on the screen towards the keyboard, and the player must press the right piano key at the right time.
Your students are not likely to learn how read notes or rhythms from playing Germ Attack — the educational value of Germ Attack is in the ear training that players will receive by learning to play tunes by ear. Players will also become familiar with a variety of old folk songs and classical themes. The app comes with 21 free songs. If you’d like to purchase addition song sets, you can choose from folk tunes, pop music, movie themes, classical themes, kids’s songs, holiday music, etc..
The soundtracks sound great in this app and make the game fun to play.
The other game in this app, “Staff Master,” is a little more challenging. The same song selections are used in this game as in Germ Attack, but now the “germ” notes appear on the staff moving across the screen from right to left.
I am surprised that the developers decided to put the letter names next to each note (which discourages both note-name reading and intervalic reading). I recommend turning this setting off — which you can do by pausing the level you are working on and then hitting the button with the letter on it. Playing the tunes in “Showtime” mode goes so quickly that there is little time to read the letter names, anyway.
I think Piano Dust Buster is a great app to recommend to your students to play for fun! Students will enjoy using the skills they’ve learned in piano lessons when playing the games in this app, and they will benefit from some ear training to boot. This app provides a fun way for some recreational music making.