Bubble Harp

Bubble Harp draws bubbles around your fingertips, recording and replaying your movements while creating music. It’s a combination of drawing, animation, music, art, geometry, and gaming.


Here’s a blog from Paul Shimmons about this unique app. Ideal for a student who isn’t afraid to experiment as it’s quite sophisticated.

Decide Now 

It is not related to music but I use it ALL the time during lessons. Decide Now allows you to create an infinite number of wheels. Students love to spin to see who will perform first at a group lesson or to determine what key for a transposition challenge or…

FREE apps that promote creativity.

Katie Wardrobe offers terrific advice for iPad enthusiasts and has come up with a wonderful ist of free apps that encourage creativity. The list includes many that record, edit, share, create beats, loops and more. Click HERE for the entire list.

Fingertip Maestro

If you are looking to experiment with a melodic lines or chord progressions, this app offers a unique interface.

Garage Band 

An app that promotes creativity more than any other! Although I am more familiar with the software program, it didn’t take me long to figure out how to lay tracks to create my own loop with the app version. As you learn to create with it, remember the recording feature–Garage Band will record anything and share the file to iTunes or email with ease.

Hook Theory

The site includes the most popular chord progressions of all time (in pop music, that is.) These progressions offer a great jumpstart for improvisers and composers looking for ideas.
A good friend and outstanding iPad (!) piano teacher, Wendy-Kirby Alexander, recently told me how much she enjoys teaching with Here are her thoughts:
HookTheory is a great resource for students of all ages that are interested in learning pop music.  I have an adult student who has a hard time playing by ear and HookTheory has become her favorite resource.  The HookTheory1 book is a great way to learn about chords and scales and how pop music is constructed.  It has live links so that you can listen to the concept being played on the piano which helps the ear develop.  I have my students read this book first (no matter what level they are) and then start using the TheoryTab on the website.  The TheoryTab has hundreds of songs to choose from and students quickly learn about scale degrees and chord function.”


With the help of some beat boxers, this clever app covertly teaches form, texture, melody, rhythm. The app appeals to ANY age.


This qualifies as a just plain fun app. It’s under Creativity category because it does encourage musical imaginations. I’m sure this will be a favorite in your studio.

iReal Pro

Bradley Sowash told me about this app and has become a staple in my studio, too. As I encourage my students to play pop and jazz from lead sheets, this app enhances their playing as it provides a back-up band for built-in jazz and pop exercises and chord charts. I or my students can create and edit lead sheets.  Here’s how Bradley uses it with his students and a video of how I use it with students circling the keys in major fives.

Isle of Tune Mobile

Besides the immediate engaging factor, I like the app because it demonstrates and teaches students how to create musical patterns in pitch and rhythm.


This app is probably best used as a reference app for discovering how to match chords work with scales. It has some limitations but does offer colorful options for chords besides the typical triad.


Here’s THE best way to teach form to any student at any age and at any level. This is also a great app to give a student when your looking for something fun yet valuable AND addictive.

Musical Paint

First draw on the iPad with various sizes of brushes and an array of colors. Then save the picture and HEAR what it sounds like.  This is a great app to give a student when your looking for something fun yet valuable AND addictive.

Musical Paint for Kids

The same as above but geared towards early elementary students.


When you need something to liven up scales, use this app. After the key is decided, ask students to choose a style and play the scale ascending and descending along with the groove provided by the app. Then let them improvise along with the MusiClock backing track. The app also points out the best notes to use when improvising. It’s the perfect lesson opener. Here’s how I used the app around Easter time with the help of some eggs.


Music Lab Pro 

There are few apps for young beginners that teach and gently guide them along through new concepts. Music Lab Pro sequentially teaches the basics like up, down, higher, lower, louder and softer with the help of some friendly animals and arcade-like games. The app includes options for students to create, too! I was stunned when my young pianist showed me each track he pre-recorded to lay down a groovin’ pattern. The interface resembled a kid-friendly Garage Band experience.

Music Theory for Song Writers

This ebook has excellent, easy-to-understand, student-tested chapters dedicated to theory. The book’s direction offers theory basics for those interested in song writing and composing.


This is my favorite program for student composition and notation. It is web based so students can access their account at your studio or at home.

Besides your laptop or desktop, you can view and play Noteflight scores on most mobile devices and platforms, including iPad, iPhone, Android and Kindle Fire. Just login to on your mobile device and tap any score. There’s no app to install or purchase – the mobile viewer is a feature of the website. It automatically comes up when you view a Noteflight score on a mobile device. Here’s a blog about their newest release for the iPad.

The Colorado Composes Project uses this platform for their “academy” for young composers.

Notion  (discussed in my book The iPad Piano Studio: Keys to Unlocking the Power of Apps)

This is a notation editor and playback tool for your iPad, giving you the convenience of an easy-to-use music creation tool right at your fingertips. A composition app for any musician, NOTION gives you the ability to compose, edit, and playback scores using real audio samples.

NEW: An in-app purchase that allows you to notate scores with your own hand writing.


This is a terrific app for helping students developing a melody for a future composition.


If my 20-year old son who is a math whiz finds this app intriguing, I’d say it’s proven its worth.

Tin Pan Rhythm

I teach “Heart and Soul” to every student so they memorize the four chords: I, vi, VI and V. This knowledge helps to unlock the “secret formula” of most pop songs and triggers student musical imaginations. That’s why Tin Pan Rhythm is right up my alley! It allows users to easily create a four-chord pattern with piano, guitar, bass, drums and percussion. The selection of chords are organized into a pyramid of primary, secondary chords (diatonic) and then color or borrowed chords. Users can see their chord-knowledge put to use in this app but they also do not need to know much about chords in order to create a pleasing instrumental pattern. Patterns can be looped to an infinite number of combinations, recorded and shared. Follow this link for more info and to download the app.

This app has been a HUGE hit with my students of all ages!

Waay App

The full title of the app includes “music theory that matters.” The app offers theory instruction that features video tutorials, interactive lessons, exercises, and tools to track user progress. I’m thinking this would be terrific for teen wanna-be-song-writers that need a brush up on their theory skills.

Yamaha Chord Tracker

Fellow savvy colleague Linda Christensen informed me of this hip, new app. After opening Chord Tracker, you can important any tune in your iTunes library into the app. Push play and as the tune plays, chord symbols of all the chord changes stream by so you can play along. This is a must-have app for your students who are eager to learn their favorite playlist tunes.

Interested in seeing how many of these apps are used to boost creativity?  Then plan to attend  88 Creative Keys Camp improvisation workshop in Denver, July 9-22, 2017.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.