One of the cool teaching tools the iPad provides the piano teacher is the possibility of completing worksheets digitally during the lesson — or using the iPad like a music whiteboard with a custom background. A few of my favorite piano teaching blogs have shared some great resources for using the iPad in this way:
- Anne Crosby — Check out her colorful whiteboard backgrounds by searching “iPad” on her blog, and be sure to see her Music Discoveries digital method book, too (pictured at right).
- Wendy’s Piano Escapades offers a few different types of colorful whiteboard backgrounds.
- Susan Paradis has a variety of colorful worksheets/games that would work well on the iPad.
- Jennifer Fink from Pianimation has some sight-reading cards (sets of jpg files) that are fantastic.
To use these wonderful resources on your iPad, you will need some kind of whiteboard or annotator app that allows you to upload custom “papers” or “backgrounds” upon which you can draw and erase. There are many different options available. Over the weekend, I spent some time researching and testing apps until I found my favorite. Here are the features I was looking for:
- Ability to annotate both jpgs and pdfs. (Some apps allow only jpgs. Pdfs are handy because you can upload a multi-page document at once as opposed to dealing with individual jpgs).
- Attractive, intuitive layout. The background image should upload to fit well automatically, without requiring resizing or rotating.
- Ability to create and save “notebooks” containing different jpg or pdf files. I thought it would be nice to be able to organize the files by topic or for a particular student.
- Three ways to return the “background” to normal: (1) Undo button; (2) Eraser tool; (3) “Clear drawing” button (without affecting background).
- Files can be uploaded via a variety of services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, iTunes, etc. Files can also be printed or exported via a variety of services.
- A variety of fun options for pen color and stroke thickness. :)
I tested 13 different apps (it doesn’t take long before you know if it is right or not!) and my favorite was GoodNotes. GoodNotes costs $5.99. I was happy to pay for it when I realized that GoodNotes did everything I wanted it to do!
(Update: Since the time I wrote this review, GoodNotes is now GoodNotes 4. The appearance within the app has been updated from the screenshots you see here, but the basic functionality is the same.)
The homepage looks similar to the iBooks homepage. In the screenshot below, you can see some of the “notebooks” of worksheets/backgrounds I’ve uploaded so far.
To learn more about how GoodNotes works, watch my video below:
Stay tuned! Tomorrow, I will share a couple of free downloads that are perfect for the GoodNotes app. :) Update: Click here to see some of the iPad PDF freebies I have created.