Best iPad Apps for Music Teachers

Blog, Education, Reviews, Technology

Late last year I got myself an iPad 2. Since then it has hardly ever left my side. In the classroom I use it to film music performances, keep track of student progress, make resources, plan lessons, play music to students and more.

The great thing about the iPad is that it’s multiple devices rolled into one. Whilst still quite an expensive luxury item, it’s changed a lot about the way I teach in the classroom. I’ve decided to review and list some of the best iOS apps I used in the classroom and write a bit about them. Some are paid, some are free, but it’s worth clicking the links and checking them out.

Planbook Touch

£6.99 – Download from iTunes
Planbook TouchPlanbook Touch is a lesson planning app by Hellmansoft. It allows you to set up a custom timetable with multiple courses and different times and can easily accommodate a 1 or 2 week timetable. There are custom fields that allow you to layout each lesson as you see fit. I tend to use ‘Starter’, ‘Main’ and ‘Plenary’ with other fields for ‘Teacher Information’ and ‘Homework’ also available. Each course or class can be set as a different colour which although simple, I’ve found particularly useful when planning ahead or needing to have a quick reference as to which classes I have next. There is also an excellent desktop version available for Mac and PC from the Mac App Store which allows you to attach resources too. At £6.99, it’s quite expensive as apps go, but worth a go if you’re looking to get rid of your old bulky teacher planner.

TeacherPal

FREE – Download from iTunes
TeacherPalTeacherPal is a virtual mark book that allows you to keep track of your students progress class by class. It’s a nice looking app that has some decent features, good value considering it’s free. You can import photos of students, arrange them into a seating plan and also keep behavioural and attendance notes. In terms of the types of marks you can keep, it is rather limited. It doesn’t allow letters to be input, which removes the possibility of GCSE/A-Level grades or National Curriculum levels. However, I’ve improvised a little bit and have a system where 3.3 is a 3a and 4.1 is a 4c etc… Once you have a system in place that works for you, it’s a great little tool to have.

GarageBand

£2.99 – Download from iTunes
GarageBandIt’s a pretty obvious inclusion on this list, but GarageBand is an immensely powerful tool in the classroom. Hook it up to a projector and do an instrumental demonstration that everyone can see. Alternatively you can record student performances to keep for assessment purposes. Need a guitarist to perform somewhere quietly? Get an iRig adapter and he can practice away with the built in guitar amps. Considering it’s only £2.99 it really is a bargain for what you get.

Pro Metronome

FREE – Download from iTunes
Pro MetronomeThere are loads of metronome’s available for the iPad, but I quite like this one. Firstly because it’s free, secondly, because the interface is nice and intuitive with custom features if desired. Getting the kids to play in time is a particular challenge, but giving them a metronome that they understand and can use will go some way to helping. The automatic inclusion of Italian tempo terms like ‘Andante’ and ‘Allegro’ depending on the speed is also a nice touch.

Pro Tuner

FREE – Download from iTunes
Pro TunerThis app is by the same person who made the Metronome listed above. Again, it’s really simple and intuitive. It’s quite within the realms of possibility that you could give this to a student and leave them to tune their guitar on their own. The string letters are listed above with a traffic light coloured dial to give students a good idea of how much more the string needs to be tuned. Definitely a good free app.

Notion

£10.49 – Download from iTunes
NotionAt a hefty £10.49, this is the most expensive app on this list, but in my opinion worth every penny. Notion is a music notation software app which enough features to give computer based software packages a run for their money. Many powerful notation tools and samples by the London Symphony Orchestra make this a great sounding, easy to use app. It costs several hundred pounds less than software like Sibelius or Finale which means it’s now relatively cheap to make parts up for the school choir, orchestra or other ensembles. Okay, having no mouse will take some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it’s great.

Dropbox

FREE – Download from iTunes
DropboxSeriously, by now everyone should have a Dropbox account. It’s probably one of the most useful tools I’ve had in the last couple of years. Dropbox is an online storage facility that syncs between your computers, laptops and portable devices. There is also a web interface for you to access your files from anywhere in the world. When you sign up you get 2GB of space for free, but that can easily be increased either by payment or for free by inviting your friends. To get a free account click here, then download the free app. What makes it especially powerful is the way it integrates with other iOS apps such as Notion, TeacherPal and Planbook. A vital tool.

Penultimate

£0.69 – Download from iTunes
PenultimateSometimes when you want to show a student something, sometimes it’s just easier to draw it, you know? Obviously having a stylus is helpful, but Penultimate is a lovely notebook app for writing and drawing in. It’s very simple to use and supports multiple notebooks so organisation is easy. You can write in different colours too which is a nice touch. There’s not much more to it than that really, but definitely one of the better ‘writing’ apps on the app store.

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