Reviews, Technology

App Review: NotateMe

Screen shot 2013-10-22 at 1.07.21 PMNotateMe (this public beta release is currently half off: $13.99) — for iPad/iPhone (also available for Android).

NotateMe is a music notation app that allows users to enter music by finger or using a stylus.  As the notes are drawn, the app interprets your handwriting and creates printed notation.  This technology is impressive!

Here is a screenshot taken from the app store:

screen480x480 Continue reading “App Review: NotateMe”

Reviews, Rhythm, Technology

Review: Rhythm Lab app

11397_492880264102613_200460320_nRhythm Lab app — $2.99  *for iPad only*

Rhythm Lab is an app created by Jon Ensminger (a piano teacher in Michigan) that is designed to help students improve their sense of rhythm.  The app provides a series of graded rhythm examples for students to tap using the large, on-screen buttons.  The app even evaluates the accuracy of the students’ performances.

I frequently use printed rhythm cards with my students during their lessons, but I have also been using this app recently with a few of my older students who really need help with rhythm and who have their own iPads at home.  During the lesson, we practice a few rhythms and discuss strategies for accurate and musical rhythm performance (e.g., helping the student feel the meter beforehand).  Then I can ask students to practice certain rhythms on their own at home.  For students to use at home, Rhythm Lab is better than printed rhythm cards because the app can provide students with instant feedback.

There are a variety of one- and two-handed rhythms available, divided into 10 levels.  The simplest rhythms feature basic rhythms and time signatures (2/3, 3/4, and 4/4).  The more advanced rhythms feature mixed meter (5/4, 7/8, etc) and various tuplets.  Continue reading “Review: Rhythm Lab app”

Technology

App Review: Treble Cat & Bass Cat

imagesTreble512-300x300 (1)Treble Cat & Bass Cat ($2.99 each for the iPhone versions and $3.99 each for the HD iPad versions)

These two apps are excellent for students to practice identifying notes on the staff.  It is a great pair of apps to recommend to parents/students to use at home.   I love how simple the concept of the game is — even young piano students will be able to independently use this app.

In each level, the player is given sixty seconds to find all of a given note(s) as a variety of different notes scroll across the screen.  If the player misses more than 3 notes, they must re-try that level.

treble cat

The graphics and the background music in these apps are fantastic! Continue reading “App Review: Treble Cat & Bass Cat”

Reading Notation, Reviews, Technology

Aug 2013 Giveaway: SightReadMinor app for iPad

mzl.kzclobbb.480x480-75Remember my review for the SightReadPlus app for iPad?  Well, here is an update:

I’ve been using it here-and-there with students during lessons with great success.  I love being about to choose the key and make the student have to really think about the various key signatures.  As I mentioned in the previous review, I appreciate that the app keeps the student accountable to the beat so the student does not feel it is an option to stop playing if they make a mistake.

I’ve also recommended SightReadPlus to a few of my adult students, who love that fact that the app shows them how well they did — both with the pitches and the rhythm.  It’s like having your teacher at home with you when you practice!  I have really been impressed with the usefulness of SightReadPlus.

Good news — The developers behind SightReadPlus have just released a sequel: the SightReadMinor app.  SightReadMinor works much the same way as SightReadPlus, but it contains 2880 short exercises in all minor keys for $4.99 (SightReadPlus contains 4800 short exercises in all major keys for $7.99).

More good news — The developers have also offered two promo codes of SightReadMinor for a giveaway!  In order to enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on this post about how your Fall studio planning is going.  🙂  A winner will be randomly chosen after Midnight EST on Thursday, August 15 and announced the next day.

Reading Notation, Technology

App Review & Giveaway: SightReadPlus

bg-1-273140SightReadPlus — $7.99 *for iPad only*

Update: also check out my short review of SightReadMinor ($4.99).

SightReadPlus is an app for iPad for piano students.  The app not only contains thousands of sight-reading exercises, but it also “listens” to the student play on their piano and evaluates their performance based on accuracy of pitch and rhythm.  I love this technology!  SightReadPlus is a great tool to improve students’ sight-reading abilities, especially in preparation for examinations or adjudications that require sight-reading.

The 4800 sight-reading examples in this app are appropriate for beginning and elementary students.  The range of notes in each exercise is limited to major five-finger patterns, and all exercises are either for RH or LH (never together).

The exercises are divided into 10 levels.  Level 1 begins with half note and whole note rhythms in 4/4 time, with intervals limited to 2nds.  The more advanced levels contain intervals up to a 5th, rhythm values such as dotted quarter notes and eighth rests, and a variety of time signatures (2/4, 3/4, 4/4, and 6/8).  The exercises can be played in any key.  Continue reading “App Review & Giveaway: SightReadPlus”

Technology

iPad Staff Paper Background

Remember the music whiteboard I created using a plexiglass frame from IKEA?  Here is my new digital version.  🙂

IPadminiWhite staff paper

In the photo above, the staff paper is being used in the GoodNotes app.  You can download a multi-page pdf containing the various types of staff paper by visiting the Printables > For iPad page.

These files will probably work just as well on non-iPad tablet devices with a similar app.  If anyone tries it, please let me know!

Technology

Annotation Apps for iPad / GoodNotes Pro Review

IPadminiWhite screenshotOne 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:  Continue reading “Annotation Apps for iPad / GoodNotes Pro Review”

Reviews, Technology

App Review: Piano Dust Buster

mzl.xunvpmji.175x175-75Piano 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!).

mzl.sevzupfp.320x480-75

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).  Continue reading “App Review: Piano Dust Buster”

Technology

New Page: List of Music Apps for Teachers & Students

Screen shot 2013-05-30 at 12.12.30 PMI just wanted to let you know that I’ve added a new page to my website, where you can find a list of different music apps for piano teachers/students.  The apps are organized by category and contain links to the full reviews I’ve written.

I will be adding more apps to this list in the future, so stay tuned!  Let me know if you have any suggestions for apps to add to the list.

Click here to view the brand new “Music Apps” page!

P.S.:  Here is the direct link to my article about rhythm which was published in the 3-D Piano Method’s “Soundpoint #12” Newsletter yesterday!

Technology

Make Music Worksheets Using My FREE png Files

Making Music WorksheetsOver the last few weeks, I’ve shared a couple of video tutorials about how to create rhythm worksheets using two rhythm music fonts and how to create other types of music worksheets using two other music fonts for putting notes on the staff.

If you watched either video, you probably saw how wonderfully easy it is to use the rhythm fonts.  You probably also saw, in the second video, that the non-rhythm fonts are more challenging to use and rather limiting in what they can do.

I have a solution.  🙂

To make the worksheet-making-process a little bit easier, I recently decided to create photo files (in this case, png files) of various music symbols.  Clicking and dragging photo files into a worksheet is much easier than inserting a text box, calling up the font you need, and then locating the music symbol from with the font’s character map.  Hooray!

I’m sharing this set of png files for FREE, and I’ve also made another video tutorial about how to get started using them.

To get started, you’ll need to download and unarchive the zip file containing the individual png files on the Printables > Worksheets page.  Then, be sure to save the folder of png files to a safe place on your computer so you can use them for years to come.  Then, using Microsoft Publisher (or a similar program), you are ready to start creating!

  ***Music Symbol PNG Files - for Making Worksheets*** (698.9 KiB, 86,588 hits)

I hope this video helps you get started, but please do let me know if you have other questions.  I can’t wait to see what worksheets and other creations you will be able to create using those png files!

Copyright Information: These images are released under a Creative Commons copyright, allowing users to create and sell their own projects that make use of these images. However, the image files themselves should not be freely distributed or sold to others. Instead, please direct others to download the files directly from ColorInMyPiano.com. Thanks!


Technology

Tutorial: Making Melodies for Music Worksheets using Music Fonts

This tutorial is a follow-up on my last tutorial, which was about making rhythms using music fonts when making music worksheets.  This tutorial is about writing melodies using two music fonts: MusiQuik and StaffClefPitchesEasy (click here to read my complete post about music fonts).

These two fonts are a little more complicated to use than the rhythm fonts mentioned in the previous tutorial, however, they still work pretty well for creating simple melodies for your music worksheets or other projects.

Stay tuned — another tutorial is on the way!  Update: The next tutorial is about using my free png files of music symbols to create worksheets, instead of using music fonts.  It’s easy — check out the tutorial!