Thursday, July 5, 2012

Treble Cat HD 1

Treble Cat HD 1 is a free app which allows students to practice quick recognition of notes on the treble staff. Notes move across the staff and the user is asked to touch every C in 60 seconds. In this level, all pitches are labeled. The next level asks you to touch the Cs and Ds in the 60 second time limit. In this level, the Cs are no longer labeled, but the other pitches are. The labels are present until each note has been introduced. Once that pitch has been introduced, the labels disappear for that pitch. The settings allow you to choose if you would like letter labels or solfege labels. It also allows you to choose the speed of the game.

I can see some value in this game for increasing the speed in which students recognize notes. At this point, the app makes a positive chiming sound when you touch a correct pitch. I wish it would actually play the pitch you touch, a C plays when you touch a C, etc. Perhaps that is something the developers will address in a future update.

There is an in-app purchase which allows the user to upgrade to the full game for $2.99. I have not upgraded at this point and have not evaluated the paid version of the game. If you are allowing students to use your iPad, please be sure you have turned off in-app purchases in settings.

I mentioned another drill-and-practice note recognition app, Flashnote Derby, last September. This app is a better choice if you wish to limit the pitches in which you want students to focus.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Mozart by Radio Classique

Mozart by Radio Classique is another app I grabbed when it was free for a day. Right now it is listed at $3.99. There are three different sections of the app:

Story - This is a narrated and slightly animated story of Mozart's life. You have the option to look at the text as it is being read to you, but you need to pull down a tab on each page to do that and it does cover up part of the illustration. The information is good, but the narration bothers me. It is very stilted, robot-like as if it is being read by a computer and not a recording of someone. There are some things that are pronounced strangely (27th sounds like twenty-thevents). If I were using this in the classroom, I would mute it and read it myself, which means you don't get the nice Mozart background music, but it's better than the irritating narration

Works - There are excerpts of The Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute (2), Requiem (2), Ah vous dirai-je maman, Symphony 38, 3rd mvt, Clarinet Concerto, and Abduction from Seraglio. Having these excerpts at your finger tips may be worth the price of the app since you could not purchase all of those on iTunes for less than $3.99.

Games - This contains a multiple choice quiz based on the information in the story, instrument cards to which you match the correct sound of the instrument, a Where's Waldo-esque game of searching for specific items in a picture., and game called Notes which is like the old game Simon where you watch and listen to notes that are illuminated and then play them back in the same order. One thing I noticed about the instrument cards game is that the tuba is called the bass horn. I think this app may have been developed in France and instruments may have different names there.

The developers of this app have also created an app about Beethoven.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Little Fox Music Box

I downloaded Little Fox Music Box just the other day because it was Apple's Free App of the Week. It's a very nice looking app. There are three songs (London Bridge, Evening Song, and Old MacDonald). There is an option to have the song sung along with the text or to sing karaoke-style where the words are highlighted in time with the music, but the user needs to provide the singing. There is also an area called Fox Studio which has "found sounds" such as bottles, teapots, spoons, etc. for the user to use to create music. I see limited use for this app in the classroom unless you teach preschoolers, but I know my preschoolers at home will love it, so it will keep it's place on the iPad.

iPad Apps Out-of-Control

I have a problem and may need an intervention. I have a LOT of random apps on my iPad and no idea what they do or how they work. The problem is because I learn of an app that has a reduced price or is free for a limited time and I immediately download it regardless of whether I have time to explore it or not. The result is a crazy amount of apps that are never used. I need to start going through them and figuring out which ones are useable and which are not. I'll use this blog to post about the ones I have that are music related. I'll start with Little Fox in the next post.

Guest Post on

Good morning. Yesterday I had a post published on about the use of a single iPad in the music classroom. Welcome to those of you who have found this blog due to that post. This blog has been semi-dormant in the last few months partially due to the chaos of the end of the school year and to the start of summer vacation. I hope to be a little more diligent in posting now. I will be posting about some music-related iPad apps in the near future. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What a goldmine! Have you looked at the tutorials on I'm planning an iPad GarageBand project with my 5th graders at the end of the month, so I am using the tutorial for GarageBand for the iPad to help me plan it out. It's superb. It's 40 minutes long, but broken into eleven parts so you can watch a little at a time (and skip the parts you aren't interested in). I highly encourage you to check it out.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Apps for Beat Keeping Practice

I've recently discovered two apps through the Music K-8 Mailing List. Both of the apps are games that require the player to be able to keep a steady beat.

The first app is a free app called Talking Gina. Talking Gina features a giraffe who plays hand clapping games. I find the name of the app interesting because I've played five levels and I have yet to hear Gina talk. If you "clap" her hooves at the appropriate times, the area you hit turns green. If you are early or late, it turns red. Gina is very particular. If you miss, you don't pass the level. I can see that it may be frustrating for some students for that reason. The other aspect of the game is that you need to care for Gina. She needs to be fed, watered, and loved. Kids probably like that portion of the game, but it annoys me. I also don't like that there are in-app purchases available. Be sure you have disabled in-app purchases in your General Settings.

Pros: Practice keeping the beat, sharpens reflexes, kids will enjoy it
Cons: In-App purchases, having to care for Gina beyond playing the clapping games, some kids will get frustrated easily

The second app is called Beat Sneak Bandit. The app costs $2.99. All the clocks in town have been stolen and the Beat Sneak Bandit needs to retrieve them. The character will only move if you are tapping the screen to the beat of the game music. I've played a couple of levels and I think upper elementary students will really like this one. As you progress through the levels, there are various obstacles to avoid such as spotlights and security guards. If you get stuck on a level, you have the option to skip it and come back later. I like that option since there are some students who will get frustrated otherwise. My only complaint about the app is that the music I heard in the first few levels was pretty much the same. I would have loved to have some tempo changes periodically.

Pros: Practice keeping the beat, problem-solving skills, kids can skip levels if they are stuck
Cons: No tempo changes, cost

I don't plan to spend any real amount of time in the classroom with these apps. I will introduce the kids to them so they know about them. If they are interested, they can download them on their devices at home. I will also load them on to our iPad labs so that students who have free time in their classrooms can explore them.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Creating Apps for the iPad

I can never find exactly the right app to meet my needs. It seems like I am always looking for something that doesn't exist. Am I the only one? I'd really love to be able to create my own iPad apps, but I lack the coding know-how.

I've been researching this a bit and recently discovered an app called Codea. I've resisted buying it because it is $7.99 and I'm not sure if it will be useful to me or not. I bit the bullet and bought it yesterday. I haven't had a lot of time to delve into it, but I have discovered thy there are tutorials and examples within the app.

The app looks promising if I can figure out the Lua coding. There is one large drawback: You cannot submit an app made with Codea to the iTunes App Store...yet. Supposedly the ability to do so is coming. I really hope so.

Stay tuned for more info as I play with this app and figure it out a bit.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Apple TV

I recently acquired an Apple TV. The name is slightly misleading because it is not a TV at all. It's a little black box that allows you to stream content to your TV (like Netflix, iTunes videos, etc.). The cost of Apple TV is $99 and you need an HDMI capable projector in order to use it. My main reason for trying Apple TV is that you are supposed to be able to use it to wirelessly mirror your iPad2. I just got it hooked up. It does work, but I am noticing a significant lag. This must be due to some issue on my end because if everyone experienced this lag, there would be no way to watch a video or play a game. So...the trouble shooting begins. If anyone out there has experience with Apple TV and the iPad, I'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

DoReMi 1-2-3 iPad App

I learned of this app from Dr. Christopher Russell's blog, Technology in Music Education. Dr. Russell did a very comprehensive review of DoReMi 1-2-3 and there isn't anything additional I can add, so I encourage you to read his review to see if the app may be of use to you in your classroom.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

iTunes Match Continued

Oh my goodness, this was a long process. It turns out that it is probably more of an issue with my home internet though. After completing Step 2, there was something like 8000 songs in my library that iTunes was not able to match in their store. That means the rest of the library needed to be uploaded. I expected this process to take a while, but not nearly as long as it actually did. Songs were uploading at a rate of about 100 songs an hour. I think that the computer went into hibernation mode the first night it was working on it, so it quit working during the night. I was nervous about unhooking the external hard drive (that houses my iTunes library) so that I could pack up the laptop and take it to school the next morning. I was afraid I might have to start the whole process again. I decided to bite the bullet and do it though.

The bad news is that I discovered the wireless Internet access in my classroom was not working. Which meant I was at a complete stand still until I got home that evening. So I went home and started it up again. It does need to go through Steps 1 and 2 every time you re-connect. However, it goes much faster than the initial time. It also will continue where it left off for Step 3. The bad news is that I was back to the same snail's pace for uploading. I did turn off the hibernation option for the laptop so that it could work all night long.

That brings us to this morning. I unhooked everything and packed up for school. The wireless internet was working again. And....I was able to upload the remaining 5000+ songs in about 3 hours. Hooray! I also started the process on my school computer which has a separate iTunes library, so I will be able to combine the two. When I opened up iTunes Match on the school computer, it appeared that I would need to pay the $25 again. I was a little nervous that I would be charged again, but it asked for my Apple ID and password and then gave me a message that I had already subscribed. Because there are a lot of duplicate songs between my two libraries, I expect adding the school computer will be much faster (especially considering the upload speed at school compared to my house).

I have now activated iTunes Match on my iPhone and iPad, plus my school desktop computer and my school laptop. This combined the two iTunes libraries I had. I'm really hoping this will make lesson planning easier since I can access any of my songs from any school device I am using. I'll try to update again after I've had a chance to try things out and see how they are working.

Oh...the reason there are fewer songs available in iTunes Match than in my original library is because some of the "songs" in my iTunes are really voice memos, which can't be uploaded to iCloud.

Monday, January 2, 2012

iTunes Match: Setting Up

Currently, I have my school iTunes library on an external hard drive that I carry back and forth between school and home. It works, but it's kind of a pain to be sure I have it with me all the time. I have it backed up in two other places just in case it gets lost. I've been considering iTunes Match since I first learned about it a couple of months ago. Today I decided to give it a try. I'm sure most of you have an extensive library as I do. Currently I have 9516 songs (and I know I'm missing A LOT of my Music K-8 songs that still need to be imported). I was wondering how long this process would take and it is proving to be lengthy. I started at about 4:30 this afternoon. About an hour later, I checked the process and discovered that it was stuck on Step 2 at about a third of the way through. I clicked stop and restart and it seemed to solve the problem. By 7:30, it had completed Step 2 and found only 1556 matches in the iTunes store. That means it needs to upload all the rest of my 8034 songs to "the cloud." I really hope the process is complete by the time I wake up tomorrow. I'll keep you posted.

Note Squish

Note Squish This is a cute drill and practice app for note names. The cost is $0.99 for iphone (but it can be enlarged for iPad). It's kind of like Whack-a-Mole. You can choose the clef (treble, bass, C-Clef), range of notes used, speed, and letters or solfege. The object is to whack the mole with the correct note name on it. You can whack the other animals that appear for bonus points.