Last week, we looked at ways you could use your iPad to help you practice the piano. This week, we promised to show you some of our favorite apps for these purposes. If you're a piano learner or teacher who's looking to get the most out of your iPad, you should definitely check these out:
Free or $28.99/year (see below)
This app is not made specifically for piano learners, but it's one of our favorite apps for taking notes...and more. You can download the Evernote app on all your devices, so that any notes you take on your iPad will also be available on your computer and your mobile phone.
This means you can easily go back and forth between devices - for example, maybe you want to jot down a quick reminder to yourself while you're at the piano, and then later sit down at your computer to do some research, draft a message to your teacher, or anything else that's more convenient to do on a regular keyboard.
What's great about Evernote is the ability to add audio recordings to a note. Create a new note with your iPad, tap the microphone icon, and play - it's that simple. Give the note a title, and add written notes if you want. Remember last week, when we said that you should be recording yourself often? Well, this is a great way to keep those recordings organized, so that you can easily go back and review your progress.
Another neat feature is the ability to share notes. Just ask your teacher/student to download Evernote for free, and share notes or notebooks with them. They'll be able to see your notes, listen to your recordings, and add their own comments.
All of the functions we just described are available with a free Evernote account, which is pretty awesome! However, the total size of the notes you make per month will be capped at 60MB, which might not be enough if you're making a lot of recordings. $3.49/month (or $28.99/year) gets you a monthly limit of 1 GB. Start with the free account and see if it's the right tool for you - you can always upgrade as needed.
2. Music Journal
Free, or $7.99 for unlimited space
If you want to keep a close eye on what exactly is being practiced, and for how long, Music Journal may be the app for you. It doesn't have the same power and versatility as Evernote - you can't add recordings, for example - but it may just meet your specific needs.
Here's how it works: choose the song or exercise you're playing, or add a new one. Then start the timer, and stop it when you're ready to move on to something else, and/or add a text note about what you're doing. The app can then generate graphs showing how long you practiced each day, and what your average time per day was that week. You can also see the total time you've put into each individual piece. You can even share this information in the form of an email, helping your teacher diagnose the problems you've been having.
The app also includes a built-in metronome to help you keep track of your efforts to gradually work a piece up to speed. Again, it will produce a graph showing your progress over time as you slowly increase the speed you can play at. We found it a bit annoying that you couldn't simply enter a number in beats per minute (instead, you have to tap buttons to increase or decrease the speed), but it's still a very handy function.
You can download the free version of the app to start. If you use it enough, you may have to pay $7.99 to unlock unlimited space for all your data.
3. Rhythm Lab
One of the hardest things about learning the piano is how many things you need to think about at once: notes on a staff, notes on a keyboard, key signatures, fingerings...and of course rhythm. You should be practicing each of these things separately as well as together.
Rhythm Lab is a great tool for this, letting you focus on reading rhythms correctly without having to worry about pitch. Choose the speed you're comfortable with, listen to the metronome, and tap out the rhythm. The app gives you real-time feedback to let you know how you're doing.
The app's rhythm patterns are organized by difficulty, and include rhythms for both one and two hands. This is a great way to improve your speed and accuracy in reading and playing rhythms.
Free, or up to $16.99 for all the bells and whistles
The great thing about learning to read music is that you can sit down and immediately play a new piece. Alas, not all songs have been written down and made available as sheet music. Sooner or later you're likely to come across a song you love, but you just can't find the music anywhere.
This is why it's worth developing your ear, and the ability to identify melodies and chord progressions. In fact, if you're studying a formal music curriculum, this kind of ear training will probably be included. But sometimes the music goes by so fast that it's hard to figure out what's going on.
Enter Anytune. This app lets you import a song from your iTunes library, slow it down without distorting the pitch, and loop sections that you want to focus on. This is a great way to either figure out how to play a song by ear or transcribe it. It's a valuable skill to have, and will make you a more versatile musician, and more capable of playing any music you want!
Once you move beyond basic piano pieces, you'll find yourself constantly having to stop to turn a page. Wolfie offers a simple solution - it listens to where you are in the piece, and turns the page for you!
For piano players, this is perhaps one of the app's biggest advantages, but there are others: similar to e-books for your e-reader, Wolfie lets you download and store sheet music on your iPad. Other features include a built-in metronome and an audio recorder.
E-readers have been rapidly changing how we read books, and apps like Wolfie promise to do the same with sheet music. The app is free to download, and includes free music, so it's definitely worth trying out.
Free content, full access to popular sheet music from $5.33/month
Your piano teacher can't follow you home and watch you practice every day, but we've tried to design our own app to be the next best thing!
We all know that simply playing through a piece repeatedly isn't a very efficient way to make progress. Teachers will always tell you to focus on practicing just the difficult parts over and over. When students make mistakes in their lessons, they'll point out the problem and circle it in the music.
But of course, teachers can't always be looking over their students' shoulders. That's why we wanted to design an app that gives you the same kind of feedback your teacher would. Something that might encourage you to step back and figure out what parts of a piece need the most work.
Like Tonara, Singspiel "listens" to your playing. Unlike Tonara, it gives you real-time feedback. Not only that, it remembers how you played it in the past, and lets you actually see where you repeatedly make mistakes. You can choose from any piece in our library, including easy and intermediate pieces - both classical music and the latest hits!
Teachers can also use Singspiel's teacher's dashboard to track their students' progress, which means that they can get a better sense of how their students are practicing, what they're practicing, and what guidance they need to improve.
If you want a rich and interesting sheet music library always at your fingertips, and games that actually help you diagnose areas for improvement, try Singspiel out and see if it's the right tool for you.
There are a ton of apps designed to help us be more efficient, better informed - and more entertained! We think these 6 apps are a great place to begin if you want to use your iPad to support your piano practice, and help you improve faster.