The Ipad Vs the Interactive Whiteboard : What’s best for the Music Classroom?

We are constantly creating and inventing new programs for both Interactive Whiteboard and for Ipads and we are strong advocates of using technology in the music classroom, but what actually works best?

In other words…

Is it better to use an Interactive Whiteboard or an I-pad in the Music Classroom?

So here’s the situation:

If you were to walk into your classroom, what would you want to see?

a) Your class sitting down close to an Interactive Whiteboard screen which is accessible to everyone, they can enjoy group activities together with sounds directed by the teacher. It makes it easy for a student to get up quickly, do a short activity and sit back down without the fear of someone tripping over extra wires and cords;

b) A student up the front holding an IPad tablet device, probably with a wire attached so you can get it to project up on a spare space on a wall or on an existing whiteboard with his or her head down on the device while the others watch on.


c) Your whole class working independently on their individual IPads which are open to sounds and other distractions.

Because in reality, this is how these two devices work. They seem like they can do the same things, but actually they work better in different situations.

Now I don’t want you to take me the wrong way here!

In the past I’ve told teachers that they don’t have a whiteboard to use our resources – and it’s true- you don’t!

If you don’t have an interactive whiteboard, you can simply purchase an iPad and attach it to a projector so that it can function in a similar way to an Interactive Whiteboard or simply use materials on a computer. Now this strategy works well if there is nothing else available and it allows low income schools and budgets to get access to interactive materials where it wouldn’t be possible in any other way – and it works for small groups.


If I had a choice between the options above in a school classroom setting which had access to technology, I know that the best choice for me would be to use the Interactive Whiteboard.

I’ve been so fortunate to have shared stories and feedback from so many teachers all over the world and I understand that many want to be able to control sounds and distractions; they don’t want obstacles (like wires ) for students to have to climb over; they don’t want the threat of having something with glass in it dropped because it’s being passed around from student to student; but they DO want classroom games and activities based on subject content to make learning relevant, educational and fun, but without having to spend time setting it all up.

These are all reasons why the Fun Music Company products are not interchangeable! In other words we don’t make the same materials and resources for interactive whiteboard available as an IPad Application. The classroom group activities and games are made specifically for use with class groups to play together and while it’s possible to use an iPad to play them in some situations, they are not quite as effective as playing them as a whole class on an Interactive whiteboard. Also the nature of programming on Interactive whiteboards means that the display would look slightly different at times on IPad and wouldn’t all the activity’s and they generally don’t work as effectively as they do on interactive whiteboard.


We are currently creating interactive textbooks specifically for IPads which can be used effectively with a teacher showing a class or as students using them independently at their desks.

We will also have Interactive whiteboard materials to go along with each of our textbooks so that group learning activities based on the book content can still happen and used together it really brings the iPad Interactive textbook learning alive. I can really see this working well in the upper primary and middle school. Anyway It’s all coming soon and I’m so excited to show you more in the next weeks ahead, however I hope you can see that they serve very different purposes.

But for now…..
What are your thoughts? Do you think interactive Whiteboards are better to use in the classroom than iPad’s? Let’s continue the discussion by using the comments section below.


Ready-Made Resources for
primary or elementary school

Whiteboard Music Lessons

interactive whiteboard program with theory book

Whiteboard Music lessons module 1 - introduction to music

Grades K-2
Introduction to Music

A complete lesson curriculum for early elementary/primary school for music lessons.


Whiteboard Music lessons module 1 - introduction to music

Grades 3-5

Music Jam

A curriculum for middle elementary/primary school featuring lots of singing, playing, composition, aural training and musicianship games.



  • By amy gier Reply

    I have a large smartboard in my elem music classroom and this year my 6th grade students have personal iPads that are equipped with garage band and a piano tutor.

    Love them both. Couldn’t live without the smartboard these days. I am finding a huge amount of musical experiences for students to be involved with using the garage band app.

    Thanks for asking.


  • By Linda Jones Reply

    The private school where I teach uses iPads with Apple LED TV’s. The iPad’s wireless “mirror” to TV feature eliminates cords. Quick, easy, effective.

  • By Ellen Reply

    I’m sorry but these are not the only options. In my classroom, we have iPads and begin the year learning about form – (verse, chorus, bridge, intro, outro or coda). Students then learn the basics of how chord progressions, tempo, time signature, counting, and balance work. During this whole process, I am projecting my iPad onto the screen to show them what I am doing and then they – in groups of 2-4 create their own rendition on the iPad. Without going into great detail, by the end of the year, the students have moved to smaller and smaller “groups” until they are working individually on their own compositions – I will have about 300 individual compositions created by my students by the end of the year!!!! They will know and understand form, texture, dynamics, tempo, time signature, counting, rhythm, and the basics of how to play keyboards, drums, and possibly even guitar, bass, and strings. Our district emphasizes what is known as the GRR model – Gradual Release of Responsibility, so the iPad works great in this setting where students watch me compose (I do it), then we compose something together (we do it), then they compose pieces in smaller and smaller groups (you do it in a group), and finally, they compose something all their own (you do it by yourself). These are 6th grade students who, traditionally have not liked general music at all, but in my class, they absolutely love it and can’t wait to get to music class. How many of you out there have 300 original compositions written by 6th graders who adore music class? Hmmmm???

  • By L.Traquair Reply

    I enjoyed the article. For me the advantage of iPads are that they allow the children to play the games more than once, which is better for drill and understanding. ( Flashnote Derby). I also have fingering charts downloaded, metronomes and tuners. I like the SMART Board to deliver entire class instruction. Also the sounds is much better for a larger space coming through the speakers on my computer. I do like Pedaplus note naming Flash games on the computer. I prefer to use the interactive board when looking at rhythms, I keep a master set of infinite clones notes, rests and bar lines t the top of the screen and drag them down to zero in on rhythms. I like to use doc readers or web cams to look at actual parts in the music. Group You Tubes are much better bigger and louder. IPad vs. Interactive boards- they are two quite different technologies. Keep in mind, it is always about the methodology, not the technology. Used wisely, the technology can either be a blessing or a burden. As we continue to WORK in music, we need to keep our music fun, but the discipline of learning a new language needs carefully chosen materials that you do so well and now we need to make sure we are optimizing the time we have to share our craft. Choose carefully!
    – L.Traquair, B.S. Sec. Ed, M.D.E

  • By marian Reply

    What about those of us who are private music teachers? Your materials are brilliant but I would use them one on one. There is no room in my studio for an interactive whiteboard. What would you recommend?

  • By Suzanne Reply

    I love the idea of interactive textbooks for the smartboard. Much better than ipads as a whole class activity. I see the ipad as an enrichment activity for the music classroom for those who need a little extra.

  • By Janice R Reply

    Having materials that we can use with the iPad from the fun music company woud be great.

  • By Colin Bailey Reply

    Hi Janice, Fully agree that a group scenario would work best on whiteboard. However, I want to use the tools for 1-2-1 music theory tuition as part of general instrument lessons. I find it can really helps to break up the lesson with some Youtube type examples and interactive tasks to help re-enforce the learning experience. The appeal is not having to rely on internet connection to access modules. Don’t forget not all of us are on ipad and I really, really, hope you provide an android based product at the same time. Regards, Colin

  • By Bonnie B. Reply

    I stopped reading the article after “you can simply purchase an ipad”! Are you kidding? And where would that money come from? There are only 2 smart boards in our whole building and of course there isn’t one in the music room. Our teachers have the oldest, cobbled together computers and we have to beg for any scrap of technology. I wrote a grant for an elmo camera and projector and was told I could have the camera but no projector!! This is my reality.

  • By Anjie Reply

    I think the richest information has come through the comments. The article reads to me like the author runs more of a ‘delivery from the front’ teaching model – all students working on the same thing at the same pace, with the teacher more often in front than the students. This model misses the opportunities that opening up the learning environment offers students who learn in a variety of ways, are spread across a spectrum of ability and interest, and the power of collaborative knowledge construction. Solutions were mentioned with the Apple TV. In NZ these are around $138 +GST. You can ‘bump’ any student’s iPad screen onto a larger screen via the projector. One comment talked about sing different tools. Best teaching practice allows students and teachers to choose the right tool for the task at hand. I think the comparison and contrast between iPads and interactive whiteboards is irrelevant and redundant. The question or rather challenge is embedding different technologies and tools into the leaning context that may produce the best outcomes for students through the specific attributes and effectiveness of that particular tool. A point of interest- Boys in particular (but not exclusively) respond to the ‘hands on’ nature of any tool rather than sitting passively at a screen or book based text. They also respond favourably to having a defined purpose in what they’re learning. The moment you direct them to something on the iPad you’ve already created purpose and intention and offered a ‘hands on’ learning experience.

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