As teachers, we pull out all the stops to keep our students excited and interested about learning. A recent study showed that nearly 75% of teachers surveyed believe that technology motivates their students to engage with classroom material and maximises their access to new concepts and resources. Considering most students have access to smartphones or computers, apps can be an amazing way to integrate technology into your students’ music education. There are a ton of affordable (and even free!) apps to help with everything from music theory to mixing and mastering – so lets explore a few of the best places to introduce your students to music education tech!
Music theory can be a real hurdle for some students, but today’s technology has more than a handful of apps that help reinforce the essentials to our students. A longtime user favourite is NotateMe – or its free version, NotateMeNow – which allows students to convert their handwritten notations into digital notations so they can scan, share, and edit compositions with you and their peers more easily. With its instant playback and editing features, NotateMe encourages students to get comfortable with the transition from hearing music to seeing music.
Ear training takes time – often far more than what’s available in a single class session – but with ear training apps, students get as long as they need. These apps help students develop a comfort level with identifying notes and intervals, pitch and signature recognitions, and chord and music reading. The technology also responds to your students as they learn, increasing lesson difficulty levels as your student successfully progresses. The app Complete Ear Trainer is especially popular with students due to its videogame-like feel, but don’t get fooled – it is incredibly comprehensive. The app has over 150 drills covering intervals, scales, chord progressions, and melodic dictations; students can share their scores and compare them with friends’, keeping things fun while they learn.
There’s no way around it – the more you play music, the more comfortable you get with music, and nothing beats a performance for motivating and improving a student. Today’s music education technology includes apps that allow users to play along in realtime with popular songs by current artists in order to learn pieces. The program solfeg.io makes it easy to learn a melody, chords, and rhythm of a song by looping specific sections or using minus one accompaniment settings to isolate certain instruments or vocals. The program tracks song structure along with your students’ performances and up to thirty people can play on a single song together, making solfeg.io perfect for the classroom!
A huge part of music tutelage is correction and adjustment – after all, it’s impossible to get better without redirection. Apps like Soundcloud let you upload backing tracks for student practice, while allowing your students to play back their own recordings for self-critique. There are also apps that allow you to keep tabs on your students’ practice schedules outside the classroom: the cloud-based SmartMusic allows you to assign tracks for performance by your students, who can then listen and practice their own version of the same piece with immediate feedback from the app. After that, the students record and send their versions back to you for review via the same platform.
Music education isn’t just about playing someone else’s compositions, but creating your own as well, and music creation software may be the single most impressive way technology has influenced music education. With digital audio workshops (DAW), the sky is the limit; students can learn the basics of recording, editing, mixing, and mastering their own compositions, just like the pros and DAWs used in conjunctions with MIDI and sequencers teach students how to manipulate music, alter tempos, and change instruments. Garageband is an ultra-accessible way for students to start learning how to make music into records. The app really makes a student – especially a beginner – feel like a professional, with a display featuring piano roll and score views, an audio editor, a parametric equaliser, and LED-style readouts. It also has a healthy sound library, which enables your students to experiment with instruments and resources not available physically in the classroom. DAW software is a space where students can be creative and explore musically, goals we all share as music educators, and Garageband or Audacity is arguably the most affordable and immediate place for students to get started.
None of these apps are replacements for in-class music education, but they all have their place in encouraging our students to stay excited about learning how to play and perform music. These apps and programs keep students interested and introduce them to creative and professional opportunities they might not have known existed otherwise. Familiarising yourself with music education technology can only improve the way we educate and the way our students learn, so take some time to explore a few of these options for yourself and see which ones would work best with your curriculum needs!