Using the iPhone/iPad in Piano Teaching

I’ve been enjoying the wonders of my iPod Touch 4g for nearly two years now.  However, recently, my hubby and I upgraded our cell phones to the glorious iPhone 4.  There isn’t really much difference between the two, other than that now I don’t have to carry both a phone and the iPod around with me everywhere (my iPod had my calendar with teaching schedule, so I tried to keep it with me always), and now I can access the internet anywhere I go.

I know many piano teachers are using iPads in their teaching.  The iPhone is no different from the iPad, other than the larger screen and the fact that there are certain apps designed only to work on the iPad (because they require a larger screen).  My hubby has an iPad 1, which he allows me to use occasionally.  Someday, I’ll get my own iPad, but there are too many more urgent things on my studio wishlist right now!  🙂

Here are the most frequent ways I use my iPod/iPhone in my teaching: 

  • Calls/texts from parents, obviously.  (I love that parents text me — it’s so convenient!)
  • Checking my email quickly and easily — between lessons if need be.
  • Recording audio/video for instant feedback for my students.  It’s an incredibly effective teaching tool!
  • Pulling up YouTube videos of piano pieces or orchestral pieces (my beginners have great pride about playing the “Ode to Joy” theme after they’ve seen and heard an orchestra play it in Beethoven’s 9th!).  I have an external speaker ($2 from a rummage sale) that I plug into my iPhone to increase the sound quality — it makes a night-and-day difference!
  • Playing tracks that are on my computer (it’s easy to sync whatever iTunes albums you want onto your iDevice), like the accompaniment tracks for the My First Piano Adventures books.

I have downloaded some music apps too, but I will admit that I am very, VERY picky!  I do not use apps during lesson time unless I am convinced that they improve the teaching or learning process in some way.  Many of the music apps I have tried fall more on the fun/game-y side of things, at the expense of being very educational — which, of course, is fine for students to do at home.  But for during the lesson, I only use that which I feel is highly educational and effective (being fun too is a plus)!

It has taken some time (I probably haven’t been looking hard enough), but I have finally begun finding some apps that I feel are valuable enough to use during lesson time.  Stay tuned for some upcoming reviews.

Update: As of June of 2013, I now have an iPad Mini!  You can check out my reviews of various music apps on this page

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10 thoughts on “Using the iPhone/iPad in Piano Teaching”

  1. A reader just emailed to ask about how to set up a calendar so it can be viewed on the iPhone. I use Google Calendar, and then sync it with the Calendar app on my iPhone. To do this, go to the Settings app, go to “Mail, Contacts, Calendars,” and then hit “Add Account…” and follow the instructions to sync your Google account. It’s so convenient to be able to review my calendar online on my computer, and to have it with me wherever I go on the iPhone. I love it!

  2. What app do you use to keep track of student’s progress from week to week, contact info, etc? I’ve seen write-ups of teachers using Evernote but I haven’t quite got that part figured out.

    I agree about not using the iPad for teaching, but I allow 5 minutes at the end of a lesson for the younger students to play “Dust Buster” as a reward of sorts if and ONLY if they’ve had a really good lesson. It’s one of the few apps that actually incorporates a real piano instead of an onscreen keyboard.

  3. Check out the app “Flashnote Derby.”. It’s a great little game for note recognition on the staff (I use it on the iPad, but it’s also available for iPhone/iPod). If I’m teaching siblings, I’ll have whoever is waiting play for a few minutes. I also recommend it to parents whose children are learning their lines and spaces. my favorite thing about it is that you can customize which notes you want to drill: just treble clef spaces, just bass clef, just bass clef lines, c position notes, etc. – you select which notes you want to drill). It’s surprising how much 5-min of playing helps the information stick with them!

  4. Hi Joy!
    I’m excited to find out more about the apps that you use and find beneficial in your teaching. Do you have a specific app you use for recording audio? I would love to find an app to record audio and easily import it into iTunes, but so far I’ve come up short in my searches. Have you come across anything like this?

    1. I’ve been using the “iTalk” app for recording audio. I plan to write up a blog post about it sometime, but at least for now you can check out it to see if it suits your needs!

  5. Joy, I use a free app for older student theory ear training: Music Theory Pro. It is challenging and they shoot for faster times and higher scores on scale, chord recognition and many other theory terms. Also, ABRSM has ear training apps which are $3-4 and they prepare students for the exam at their level. It teaches pulse, meter, melody and tonal memory, etc. have fun checking these out!

  6. I often use My Note Games at the end of my lessons. The full version with all the levels is around $7 but well worth it! There’s actually a level where it shows you the notes on the staff and you have to play them on the piano. The app listens to see if you’ve played correctly and then you move on to the next level. My students love it!

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