iPads in the Music Classroom – Music Teachers' Q and A

Welcome back to Music Teachers’ Q and A for 2015 – Where Music teachers connect and share ideas and strategies to improve their teaching career.

Today’s topic is a common one in schools all around the world – technology!

The question comes from Lillian in Melbourne, Australia, and she writes:

“I would like to know how to incorporate iPads into more of my music classes, because students from yr.4 to 6 all have them”

Here are our thoughts on video – however this is just the start of our discussion:

Here are some links mentioned in the video

Of course what is really valuable about this resource is the comments section below… so if you’re one of the first to read this article and watch this video, then please contribute your suggestions in the comments box below. Every idea is welcome and valid!


  • By Amy M. Burns Reply

    Please check out my free iBook Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with One or More iPads! This book shows how you can integrate iPads into the elementary music class and also comes with lesson plans. The book can be downloaded here: http://mustech.net/2014/08/help-i-am-an-elementary-music-teacher-with-one-or-more-ipads/

    Thank you!
    Amy M.Burns

  • By Kim Le Reply

    I have used iPads for GarageBand projects (I do one like the one at midnightmusic.au). My students also use them to tune their instruments, and we use many apps, but our district is 1:1 from grades 4-9, so we also use a LMS (learning management system). We use Canvas in our district, and using a LMS is a great use of (iPad) technology – it makes it much more convenient to provide information and assignments to students (as well as allowing them to turn in assignments, and ease of grading with built in, customizable rubrics).

  • By Patty Reply

    Some of my favorite elementary ipad apps are: 123 Kids Fun Music Lite, Barnyard Bluegrass, Monkey Drum, ABC Music, Rhythm Cat, Piano Carnival, Whoos Making Music?, Go Go Xylo, 3 Strike instruments, Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra, and MSO Learn. Most are free, and really good for elementary music students!

  • By Ellen Wubbels Reply

    I have a set of 28 iPads in my 6th grade music classroom. We begin the year by exploring how music is organized – verse, chorus, bridge, intro, coda; then progress to counting/time signatures. We use keyboards and keyboard apps to learn to play chord progressions using a steady beat in duple and triple meter.

    Then we begin creating music in Garage Band. We begin with a simple smart drum track, then using all of the smart instruments, we record an 8-bar phrase using a progression of 4 chords.

    After learning how to use these functions in garage band, we explore how various “emotions” are elicited through music i.e. mysterious, comical, sad, triumphant, etc. We do this by watching various movie/video clips with and without music, and the same clips with various types of music to see how the mood changes depending on the musical style.

    By the last 10-12 weeks of the school year (we meet 2 times in a 6-day cycle for 40 minutes), the students are given a group of video clips in iMovie and put them together to tell a story.

    They can write the story right on the video. Then they create the music in garage band to go with their story and by the end of the school year, they are showing their video with the music that they have created to support the mood/feelings of the story they are telling.

  • By Alice McIntyre Reply

    I do not have an ipad. We do have tablets, but I mostly use them as a research tool for students to find answers and definitions pertaining to the subject we are studying that day.

  • By Pam Block Reply

    I wish we had I-pads! These activities look like fun. This is a small, rural school with extremely limited financial resources.

  • By Diana Giombetti Reply

    This was very helpful, for me. I’m old enough to be of the, “Just learn to play the real instrument.” generation, however, this did show me very easy steps to navigate Garage Band for enhancing theory instruction.

    The tutorial was very easy to follow, especially for a non-computer person, like me.

  • By Carol Koksal Reply

    I only have one iPad and it is for teacher use. I video my students for assessments. This provides extra insights into student performance.

  • By Bart Reply

    I teach at the K-6 level, and devote what little time is allotted to me for actual music making. I see “technology” as just another distraction and reduction in the time we have available for children to experience music. Should we be encouraging kids to spend even MORE time each day messing with their devices? We (teachers, students, society) can’t do everything—-what are the priorities? Do we have any? …. other than always adding a little more of this and a little more of that…and oh….here’s something new and cool…and don’t forget to make time for the testing and evaluation, and by the way, some students will be pulled out of this class for that other important thing…

  • By Michael Silk Reply

    For now, I just use the InTune app. I use it with choir and band students as a game to improve intonation and pitch sense.

  • By Brenda Slick Reply

    In addition to the GarageBand projects, these are a few apps and activities I use:
    1. Educreations – screen casting app, students record short compositions (they write their composition in the app), I’d also like to use this for a composer biography podcast but have not had the time to implement

    2. NotateMe – students compose in the app, the composition can be printed (presents a nicely formatted version, can also be opened in finale)

    3. IAmGuitar – great for teaching/playing chord progressions

    4. KidsMusicFree – gives a fun staff to use on the whiteboard for pitch reinforcement, the students can also notate simple melodies and explore timbre with the options for different sounds.

    5. VideoStar – a video recording app, students create their own choreography to a selected song, record and edit, adding special effects if desired.

    6. AppleTv – this is a device, but I highly recommend this tool as a way of projecting if many students have iPads – any iPad can be displayed, great for quickly sharing student work and good quality examples.

  • By tamsin murphy Reply

    I work for a local authority music service as a peripatetic teacher and we have just been told that we can no longer use any ICT equipment in schools that is capable of taking photographs for child protection reasons. I am furious as I was using my ipad for a variety of apps including metronome and some really good note reading games Apparently it is for my own protection too but I think it is ludicrous that professionals like myself are not to be trusted!

  • By Mary Foster Reply

    I do not have an iPad but I wish I did.

  • By Lizzie Watkins Reply

    I have different categories of apps I use.
    For Sounds I use:
    Epic Drum Set
    Music Sparkle
    Music Box
    Go Go Xylo

    For Orchestra:
    Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra
    Sound Game
    My Musical Friends
    Mozart Interactive
    Children’s Classics

    For Music Theory I use:
    Jelly Bean Tunes
    Musical Me

    For Rhythms I Use:
    Rhythm Cat
    Monkey Drum
    Rhythm Training
    Rhythm Rep

    For Note Names I Use:
    Flash Note
    Whack A Note
    Name The Note
    Staff Wars

    For Composition I Use:
    Kid Music
    Kids Music Free
    Rok Out
    Song Blaster
    Singing Fingers
    Score Cloud
    Notate Me Now
    Falling Stars

    For Aural Theory I Use:
    Blob Chorus
    My Note Games
    Hear It Note It

    For Pitches I Use:
    Music Lab
    Tap and Sing
    Tune Train

    There are Music Book Apps:
    Cabby Cat
    Pied Piper
    The Wheels of the Bus

    Presentation Apps include:
    Haiku Deck
    Pic Collage
    (These can be used to explain a musical concept.)

    For “Band in a Box” I Use:
    Garage Band
    iReal Pro

    Hope this helps!

  • By James . Reply

    Very good ideas. I’m a music student. ie- Piano. I use the computer a bit for mini lessons. I also use a music teacher. both are needed. My comuter by my piano is a good tool. This can help a great deal. Thanks for the tips.

  • By vicki Reply

    One of my favourite apps is Noteworks. It is a note reading game, has several levels, accidentals and different clef signs. Note identification can be as sol-fa, standard notation or on a facsimile of a piano keyboard.
    I use it for my fourth through sixth grade students and have found they acquire note reading skills and working with the staff very quickly. They also love working with this app. It’s game format with acquisition of higher levels challenges them in a fun and meaningful way.

  • By karen dannels Reply

    I don’t have one. I can’t use one in mu room.

  • By Kristin Browne Reply

    Hi, great ideas for using iPads in the classroom, I work with preschoolers , I own an iPad, so far have used it for showing film clips of instruments with the Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra. I would like to use my iPad more. My usual class size is 30 children, but I have a smaller group of 12 at a Montessori preschool. (I can do much more in depth teaching with them.) Looking forward to your inspiration! Keep up the good work!

  • By Mark Statler Reply

    Similar to what someone else said, I only have a teacher iPad, but I find it is an incredibly useful tool in and out of the classroom. In the classroom it allows me to split up my choir students into different rooms if we are learning a song. One group can stay in the choir room with the piano, and I can take the other group to a normal piano-less classroom and use the iPad as a way to lay their parts for them.

    I also use the iPad app Notion as a notation software tool. It does everything you would want Finale or Sibelius to do, but it’s only $15-20 USD in the App Store! Incredible deal. Works great with a midi keyboard and iPad camera connector hookup as well.

    Finally, using Notion, I am able to export the notated music as a sound file for my students to practice on their computers at home, allowing them to sing and practice their parts outside of the classroom. Very helpful for teaching music quicker and helping those students who need a little extra practice on their own!

  • By Christopher Reply

    One of the latest ways I have been using iPads in my music classroom is through the platform Canvas. My district has started using Canvas. I have created courses that my students can join via a QR code that will take them directly to the sites invitation, instead of searching the web for it. They then can view documents, videos, audio files, links, etc.. that will aid them in the unit they are learning. For example my students are studying recorder right now and they submit videos of them playing different levels of music in order to receive belts for their recorders. The students are able to do this from home also which saves class time for other activities. I use formative assessment strategies with them by communicating back and forth via messages linked to their login on Canvas. So far so good. I have also heard of using this to upload videos of specific movements the teacher is trying to teach with a song or for a musical and the students can practice the movements at home with a video of the teacher mirroring the movements.

  • By Dylan Symonds Reply

    I use an app called Notion with my year 5/6 students for writing music. It can get a bit technical but if you give clear directions and stick to the basics (a drum track and just 2 other instruments, one playing chords and one a melody) then they were able to create a 16 bar piece quite easily. Great for showing texture etc.

  • By Shirley Reply

    Only our Reception classes & their teachers have i-pads – the rest of us have just our classroom computers and a bank of laptops to share.

  • By PaulaJ Reply

    I use my own Ipad for listening exercises with the students and sound identification.
    i also use a keyboard app (virtuoso) for some piano work with students.

  • By Janice Reply

    Wow!! There is an absolute wealth of information here for any teacher to tap into. Thank you so much to everyone for contributing so much. I feel honoured to be in contact with you all and thanks for sharing your favourite apps and experiences- Each and everyone of you is an amazing teacher. You’re ideas are so creative and awesome- it’s certianly inspired me to go and try a few new things. Even if you can’t use an iPad in the classroom, I’m so glad you still contributed because if you’re experiencing those difficulities then many others are as well. Together we’re bridging the gap and hopefully it doesn’t seem so isolating when we can share our experiences – so it’s great to be continually learning together, it makes learning something new fun. Thanks again for taking the time to join this discussion everyone and let’s continually update it as it’s an important one 🙂

  • By Deanna Milligan Reply

    Here are some of my favorite apps.

    Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra – excellent app!, high quality music, I plan to use it with my 3rd grades this year. (Big app, takes awhile to download, but well worth the time and free!)

    Jelly Band – nice opportunity for kids to experiment with texture. This would work well for any elementary grade.

    Marimba and Zampona are both nice apps for playing simple tunes. They would work well with the Mr. Everybody books or recorder music.

    RainSong Free – good for creating with pitch and texture

    SingingFingers – great visual for pitch matching. I use it for individual echoes. I go around the room singing and drawing a line while I sing the pattern I want a student to match. Then I draw another line while they echo me. If they match the pitches, their line will be the same colors as mine.

    Little Fox Music Box – I use this with kindergarteners. It’s a nice child vocal model for London Bridge and Old MacDonald as well as an exploration area. (I don’t think the whole version is free any longer.)

    iDoceo – teacher app. Great for schedules, especially if you have a rotating schedule, seating charts (with photos), planning and calendar.

  • By Dan Reply

    I use Madpad quite a bit, working with both SEN and mainstream – allows you to do ‘found sounds’ projects very quickly, good for those students interested in electronic music, sampling and hip hop/beatbox, and also useful for SEN early literacy goals such as picture recognition. And it’s massive fun!

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