2 New App Finds!

staffwars

 

We are quickly approaching the time of year where students are under a LOT of pressure. From recitals, concerts, local performances, school activities, midterms and finals students have a ton of things that need their attention. A great way to lighten things up in piano lessons is to use fun apps that keep the learning going but without the pressure.

With this in mind, I did a search for music theory apps and found some very cool ones that were new to me. The first one is Staff Wars. This is a game that was originally available only on desktop. I used to use it all the time before we migrated to using the iPad. I was thrilled to learn that it is now available as an app in the iTunes store for both iPhone and iPad!

Cool Things About Staff Wars:

It is an arcade style game. Kids drill music notation on either treble, alto, or bass clef without even realizing they are learning!

It has awesome sound effects

A student played it yesterday at the end of his lesson and scored very high on treble clef, so I challenged him to beat that score at his next lesson. As I wrote the challenge in his notebook he played the game again…AND BEAT MY CHALLENGE! Then it was time for his sister’s lesson. He usually leaves during her lesson, but this time he stayed and continued to play the game until he even beat the challenge I gave him to replace the previous challenge that he beat!!!

If you want a game that motivates students – especially boys – hurry over to the iTunes app store and pay just $0.99 for Staff Wars!

Another promising app I found is -

qastronotesThis app is also presented in arcade style. The learning here is all about note values and their relation to each other. Whole notes appear huge and must be destroyed. The catch is that the whole notes break up into half notes and the half notes break up into quarter notes. You can get QAstronotes here.

Tried these apps already? Let me know in a comment how your students liked them.

Other posts you might want to read:

Quaver’s Marvelous World of Music

Great Apps

Winner Of Musical Words Game!

Heidi's Piano Studio

Congratulations, Heidi on winning Musical Words!

Thank you to everyone for all the FANTASTIC suggestions for the Musical Words Game. I will definitely be using these in the blank spaces on my copy of the game just in case Kennedy or another student lands on so many blank spaces again the next time we play!

Congratulations goes to Heidi N. of Heidi’s Piano studio.

And The Winners Are…

congratulations-hi

Thank you to everyone who entered the contests for the Sight Read Minor and Hanon Plus Apps. You shared some wonderful stories about your encounters with Hanon and about how you use apps in your lessons. I hope you enjoyed thinking back and gained inspiration from each others comments. I sure did! Alas, there can only be one winner for each app so without further waiting the winners are…

Geri Miller – Sight Read Minor

She wrote:

“I haven’t used apps at all in my lessons, but I recently got an iPad and would like to start using them. This sounds like a good one.”

Beth Yantz – Hanon Plus

She wrote:

“I was never introduced to these as a young student. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t because I didn’t need them, as much as the teacher must have known I wouldn’t practice these gems. Sadly I have been trying to get up to speed when I heard about them in college. .. still working on Hanon and Czerny. This app would benefit myself as well as my students!”

Now… If your name is not Geri Miller or Beth Yantz and you are still reading this, I have GREAT NEWS FOR YOU! Somehow with all the giveaways last week I think the post on the SightRead Plus Giveaway got lost and people didn’t see it. So, I am extending that giveaway but only through the end of the day TOMORROW, Wednesday October 8th. Leave a comment below for a chance to win it!

Student Review and Giveaway of Musical Words Game

Kennedy Habeeb

Welcome Kids and Keys readers to our first student/teacher co-review of a music education product! 10 yr old Kennedy  liked playing the Musical Words board game so much that she wanted to tell other teachers all about it so they could use it with their students.

Musical Words was created by Gail Fischler. If you read The Piano Addict blog, you are familiar with this amazing teacher. Her game is great for not only piano students but students of other instruments as well! The game is highly suitable for group lessons, buy Kennedy and I wanted to find out if it would work in a private lesson.

mus-wds-blog-pic2

Kennedy’s song of choice was Fur Elise. This was perfect since she has the song memorized already and she was able to put all her thoughts on interpreting the piece rather than trying to read notes (which she does well by the way).

Initially I did not fill in any of the blank spots on the game board. My thought process was, “What are the chances she will even land on one of those spots more than once?” Well, what actually happened was that Kennedy landed on a blank spot on EVERY turn. So, we cheated and had her move to one of the pre-marked spots the first 3 times this happened. Finally I had no choice but to think of some words to put in the blank spots! One of the words I came up with was “popcorn”. Kennedy had a terrific time with that one playing the whole thing in staccato! On a different turn she landed on the word “Mysterious”. This was pretty easy for her to do considering her song choice of Fur Elise. (I mean, who really knows who Elise was?) Another memorable moment in the game was when Kennedy landed on the word “comical”. She began to play Fur Elise with a range of different expressions and then added in some nonsensical chords that just didn’t go with the song at all. The result was indeed comical. She laughed and I laughed at her creative genius.

If you decide to play Musical Words with your students (and why wouldn’t you?), there is no need to be afraid of the blank spots. You can just hop over to The Musical Adjectives Project page for ideas or get some ideas from your students.

Here is what Kennedy said when I asked her about the experience:

“I like the choices, but popcorn was my favorite. Do I think other kids would enjoy playing this game? YES! Some words I would suggest are roughly and smoothly“.

Kennedy also said she thought there were too many blanks. I believe that is my fault and the next time I will definitely fill them in!

As a teacher I like the fact that this game pushes the student to COMMUNICATE musical ideas. This is an excellent tool for performance preparation as well as improvisation practice.

Ready to play? There are 2 ways to purchase Musical Words.

1)You have the option to purchase a set that is already laminated and printed with FREE Shipping in the Continental US from Fistful of Notes for $34 or Music Teachers Store. You get:

Laminated Game board with velcro fasteners (2 pcs)
Directions & Tips (2 sheets)
6 card stock game card sheets
1 master card sheet

Free Shipping within Continental US

2) You can purchase a download to print yourself from Music Teacher Store. Studio and family licenses are $14 or you can purchase a school license for $50. (If you choose this option I suggest you take your file to a copy and print center instead of printing at home due to the amount of ink necessary to print it. It uses LOTS of color.)

Gail has agreed to give one lucky winner a FREE download with a single teacher license ($14 value). To enter leave an adjective that you would use to fill in one of the blank spots on the game board in the comments. The deadline to enter is Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014.

musicalwords

Sight Read Minor Giveaway!

sight read minor

If you’ve been reading Kids and Keys this week, you already know about the Hanon Plus Giveaway and the Sight Read Plus Giveaway. Well, guess what? We have another one! Today’s giveaway contest is for the Sight Read Minor App. It works in much the same way as the Sight Read Plus app, but for minor keys. So, if you want to get in on this giveaway, leave a comment below telling me how you use apps during your lesson time. For example, I’d like to know if you use apps to begin a lesson, end a lesson, or if you use them for at home assignments or as rewards.

The deadline to enter is Sunday, Oct. 5th, 2014 at midnight.

Alrighty, on your mark, get ready, get set…GO!

app contest

SightReadPlus App Review and Giveaway!

fame1444:

This is a review I did of this app last Fall. Read it now and leave a comment to get a chance at winning the app for your studio! Enter by Sunday, Oct.5th, 2014

Originally posted on Kids & Keys:

SightReadPlus

Sight-Reading can be a very intimidating thing for piano students. We take a great deal of time teaching students how to practice to perfect pieces, and although they may not enjoy doing so, at least they get to do it without having an audience present. On the other hand a significant part of being a musician involves playing from scores that you have never seen. Hence, the need to practice sight-reading. The difference with practicing sight-reading is that you cannot stop and correct mistakes. You cannot play the same exercise multiple times because then you are not sight-reading!  When using printed sheet music exercises for sight-reading practice students tend to practice in the same way that they practice their lesson pieces.  All of this can be very frustrating for both student and teacher. That’s why in my opinion the iPad app SightReadPlus is such a great tool. Read on to…

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Hanon Plus App Review and Giveaway!

Hanon

Hanon. Pianists hear the word and immediately visualize pages and pages of exercises that have fingers running up and down the piano keys. As a young student I looked at people who already “knew how to play” and wondered how in the world they got their fingers to move so quickly and so freely. Then one day I was introduced to the Hanon Exercises. From Hanon I learned to control my fingers and to will each one to move on command. Hanon set me free from finger positions and taught me how to look (and sound) like I “knew how to play” as well!

Your students should meet Hanon.

Today’s students are lucky. They can get the benefits of Hanon exercises without having to guess whether or not they are doing them right only to get to their next lesson and discover that their fingering was all off. Today’s students have the Hanon Plus app by mTA.

The first thing that makes the Hanon Plus app so appealing for learning to play the piano is that it works with an acoustic piano or keyboard. While there are many apps that require students to interact with an on-screen keyboard they cannot compare to apps that allow the student to practice on the instrument which they are trying to learn. This single capability makes Hanon Plus worth a try for any serious student.

With the Hanon Plus app students can develop their technical ability and dramatically improve their sense of where notes are on the piano keyboard. This is a major plus for those students who can’t seem to take their eyes off the keyboard while playing (one of my biggest pet peeves).

The app comes with 20 built in exercises from Hanon Book 1 which students can practice in ANY major or minor key! Each one is listed by the fingers that will be strengthened.Hanon Plus1

The exercises are also customizable! You or the student can select 1 of 3 rhythm levels from beginner to advanced when playing the exercises and there is an option for 1 octave or 2 octaves. The tempo is adjustable as well. If you look at the bottom of the screenshot below

you will see these features.HanonPlus Screen

And…wait for it… THERE ARE NO IN-APP PURCHASES. I am especially happy about this fact because I always find it disappointing to purchase an app only to find out that the features I thought I was purchasing are not included in the price. With this app you get it all.

Some of my other favorite features of Hanon Plus are the green tracking bar that moves along as the student plays. I find this to be extremely helpful for students who have difficulty tracking while playing from a score. This app also allows the student to practice playing and reading both treble and bass notes at the same time. Of course this helps improve coordination between the hands. If you like the Fingerpower Series, you will LOVE Hanon Plus.

Besides all the benefits for students, Hanon Plus is helpful for piano teachers because it is self-evaluating. In other words the student can use it independently and get feedback directly from the app. I have used the app at the start of lessons and I have also had students who are early or waiting on a sibling to use it while they wait. (If you choose to use the app with a waiting student while you are teaching another student you will need to have a separate room they can use due to the fact that the app is using your iPad’s mic to hear the student play.) You can also have students purchase the app to work with at home in between lessons. The app only costs $7.99 which is about the cost of a book but with all the added benefits of interactivity.

This app is so helpful that YOU as the teacher mApp Store Iconight want to use it to warm up your own fingers while your students aren’t looking. Go ahead…I won’t tell!

Now that you are sold out on this fabulous app and you know that you have to have it, one super fantastic teacher will win a FREE download of the Hanon Plus App. To enter, leave a comment below about how Hanon Exercises were introduced to you as a piano student.

The deadline to enter the contest is Sunday, October 5th at midnight EST.