There are a number of apps available that are excellent for practising note naming, rhythm, sight reading and so on. Listed below are some of the apps I may use during lessons – you may like to consider using them at home as well.
Piano Maestro (JoyTunes)
Use of this app and its companion “Piano Dust Buster 2” is free while you pay for lessons with me as I pay a monthly subscription for the Studio + Home option to cover all my current students. Otherwise it has a cost of $14.99 per month to use it without being connected to a teacher.
Piano Maestro (which only works on an iPad) is an incredible app that helps students of all abilities improve their sight reading. Students play along to songs and exercises, and the app listens to what they play and provides feedback on the accuracy of the rhythm and melody.
I assign songs for them to practise at home – which complement what we are learning in class – and students are also free to explore other songs at their level.
I receive a report each week about what each student has practised. The student that completes the most practise that week earns a “Star Student of the Week” certificate.
As the name suggest, Rhythm Swing purely focuses on tapping along to increasingly complex rhythms. Where Piano Maestro is more forgiving about rhythm accuracy, Rhythm Swing is pedantic, only marking a note as correct if it is (a) played exactly on beat and (b) held down for the full length of the note value. It likewise gives feedback about what was done incorrectly, and students very quickly learn to count the beat accurately.
As an incentive, I update a Hall of Fame to record which students successfully pass the Boss Level at the end of each stage (as it is quite a challenge to do so!).
Rhythm Swing is available on the iPad and iPhone for a small once-off cost. It can also be purchased as a bundle with Flashnote Derby, which is a Notespeller app that we also use during the lesson (Flashnote Derby is also available on Android).
[Another fun app to work with feeling the beat is The Most Addicting Sheep Game. We don’t use this one in class (yet!) but it is a heap of fun!]
Tenuto is a very comprehensive app with 24 different exercises which tests recognition of a wide variety of things.
We focus on the staff and keyboard identification exercises, such a note naming and naming the keys on the keyboard, which is more relaxed than the other note recognition apps in that there is no time pressure.
This doesn’t have the childish interface that most of the time-based games do so it’s a fabulous app for all ages – and has a one-off cost of $3.99.
There is also an online version which you can use for free!
NoteWorks (Azati Corporation)
Available in a free (Lite) version with 1 level, or a paid (once-off cost) version with 17-21 levels depending on the device, NoteWorks is a great little game to help boost recognition of the notes on the stave which is quite popular with my students. I mostly use this for students to identify notes on the stave and find them on the correct part of the keyboard without any sort of time pressure to start with, and as they gain confidence the time element can be added in.
I work with a number of different note reading / spelling apps, which all have slightly different customisations or time elements to test speed of recognition / reaction. These include (in order that they are typically introduced in lessons with children):
- Flashnote Derby which I use when I want to drill specific notes with a set amount of time to choose their answer;
- NinGenius which focuses more on how many notes they can correctly identify in a set time – I record their “belt” level to give students something to try to beat to record progress; and
- Note Rush, a neat Australian-made app which can be customised to specific notes (like Flashnote Derby) and like Piano Maestro they play on the piano itself rather than on the iPad and it listens to see whether they have selected the correct note.
A metronome is a MUST for students preparing for exams, and ideally should be used by beginners as well to get used to keeping to a regular beat.
Metronome apps are far more customisable than old fashioned metronomes, and there are a wide variety available, both free and paid.
I personally use Metronome by Musicopoulos. If you don’t use Apple products, there are plenty of great metronome apps for Android or your PC as well.