Category - Note Reading

Become a WHIZ at the Grand Staff with ONE game and TEN Ways to Play

The grand staff is a vast and scary landscape to those who first encounter it’s lines, spaces and ancient signs.

Getting to know and memorizing pitch names on this complex grid is like learning the names of 88 new best friends! In addition, musicians need to know the “homes” of all those “88 friends” on the piano keyboard.

How does an early learner become a “whiz” at memorizing the names and locations of 88 pitches? It starts by making REPETITION their best friend. As like to say in my studio:

Repetition is your best friend.

Mind you, it’s not mindless repetition! It must be strategic repetition which will help learners not only memorize but, understand that the grand staff is a map pointing the way to pitch locations on the keyboard.

Strategic repetition with a good dose of gamification and socialization is the perfect combination.

When graphic designer, Andrea West, told me she had designed flash cards to review pitch names, I was moderately excited. I’ve got plenty of flash cards in my studio and my iPad is full of apps to review pitch names. However, when she informed me that these were playing-card size and that she plays all kinds of fun games with the deck in her studio, I was intrigued. None of my flashcards come in a deck and I was eager to hear about her games.

Go Fish and War are her student favorites along with Snip, Snap Snorem and Snap. I couldn’t wait to hear how she played these!

Reading through her thorough instructions inspired me as well, and so I created games geared to help beginners. The games require little knowledge about the grand staff and build discrimination skills.

The instructions from both Andrea and me included with your purchase of the playing cards feature ideas on how to set limitations and set stages so that students of any level have fun, learn and succeed.

With Inspector Whiz Cards, you’ve got games to suit every student!

The purchase of Andrea’s Inspector Whiz Cards includes:

  • Clever “wizard-like” magnifying glass “back” for each card
  • Sheets with cards of every pitch in the treble clef and bass clef with most ledger lines.

You’ll need to print 4 sheets that feature the pitches. Print the back side of each sheet with the “Back of Playing Card” sheet. This will give you a deck of cards with four of each note, plus additional accidentals that can be used as wild cards in any of your games. 

You may wish to laminate your cards so they last for while. Scotch laminators are top notch.

Even if you own flash cards, you’ll want to purchase Inspector Whiz Cards so you can learn about and play all the games featured in the instructions.

With your small investment, you’ll gain a deck of cards and at least 10 games of guaranteed fun. You’ll also enjoy seeing your students gain confidence as they dig deeper into the landscape of the grand staff and become friends with all 88 pitches!


Get your Inspector Whiz Cards

HERE or click on the image.

On sale for $4.99 (price goes up to $5.99, November 1, 2017)



Three MUST-HAVE Apps for Your Studio


Flashcards are a thing of the past thanks to Flashnote Derby. Rhythm Swing keeps students occupied for a full 30 minutes during Off Bench Time teaching rhythmic concepts with engaging tutorials and drills. Dragon Scales challenges students to spell scales before the dragon conquers the knight. They all offer SO much more than edutainment!


Off Bench Time is the perfect time to reinforce what you teach on the bench. You don’t need a lot of space to add this component to your lessons. You don’t even need a keyboard, you can use your acoustic piano! If you do want a MIDI keyboard so students can play games with headphones but, don’t’ have the space, this gal is using a small the XKey Portable Keyboard. Learn more about it by clicking on the picture.

I could not teach without these three apps. I thought long and hard before I wrote that sentence but, I know this statement is true so I want YOU to learn all about them. For these reasons, I made a point of contacting Luke Bartolomeo, the developer of the three apps.

In the “Here to Help” video below, you’ll hear how fellow piano teacher Luke, developed these apps because he saw the need for appealing apps that reinforce music concepts and has always liked video games. He steps through the process of how each app works. It’s definitely worth your time if you are not sure how apps can benefit your teaching and keep students happy and learning at the same time. I’m particularly excited about the new features just added to Flashnote Derby.

Here are the show notes which I quickly jotted down during the interview…

Show Notes

Learn about the new features of a favorite pitch recognition app called Flashnote Derby. See how the app Rhythm Swing teaches rhythm reading and learn how Dragon Scales builds scale playing skills and connects with students of all ages.

Rhythm Swing

For iOS only.
App that teaches basic note values, rests and rhythm reading.
Released a year ago.
The app is divided into Basic Notes, Rest, and Eighth notes.
Additional levels are planned for the future.

Three modes
Learn: Interactive videos giving instruction on note values and how to play the app.
Practice: Provides sample exercises which are perfect for using in a lesson.
Play: Exercises are given and students try to keep the monkey from the alligator by playing correct rhythms–perfect during Off Bench Time.
All exercises add melody to the rhythm and a backing track as the students play so it’s engaging and musically pleasing.

Tip: Ear icon on the right hand upper corner will play the rhythm if the student wants to hear it.

Tips on Settings:
You can turn off the pointer and it will reappear if student is off the beat.
Measure highlighting is an option if you the student needs help with tracking.
Required Accuracy can be changed so it’s not too difficult for first time players.

The Boss Stage: Like many other video games, this stage “makes it real” with much longer exercises.

Both Rhythm Swing and Flashnote Derby are iPhone friendly–great for students when they are on the road.

FYIRhythm Make it Count Facebook-2

Rhythm Swing is a major part of my Rhythm Make it Count resource. If you are interested in learning more about how to integrate apps, reinforce concepts and add more quality time to lessons, take a closer look at Rhythm Make it Count. It’s on sale for one week only so grab it now right here.

Flashnote Derby

Multi-platform friendly.

Happy 5th anniversary! Version three just came out at the beginning of 2017.

Treble, Bass, Alto and Tenor Clef drills are available.

Mistakes are reviewed after the race is completed letting students know what notes they missed.

Tips for Settings Gear
You can determine how many questions or tap “All selected” so that all notes that you select for the exercise are answered.
The time can be changed for how long students have to answer: Trot, Gallop…
Answer methods vary: onscreen piano, letter button, piano letters, listen mode.

NEW! The listen mode will hear the student play the pitches on an acoustic piano.
Sensitivity setting is important—make sure to adjust if needed.

NEW! There’s a MIDI option—this is perfect for those who want students to complete drills in the music studio with head phones. That would be me!

You can change the arrangement of alphabet letters to begin with C rather than A.

There’s an option for Solfege.

Two themes are available right now but, stay tuned for more.

Instructional videos give ideas on how to teach pitch reading. I GREATLY appreciate these!

Grand staff flash cards are available on the iPad so students get used to recognizing a note on the grand staff and not just on a single staff.

In the presets, you can create your own drills and send them to students.

NEW: you can set up Multiple User accounts and the app will track progress for each student.

Internet is required to download the exercises emailed from the teacher. Once they are downloaded, internet is not required.

Dragon Scales

This is a niche app that will have future versions. Students are asked to play scales correctly on an on-screen keyboard. This will help the knight slay the dragon and find the treasure.

There are presets for different tests.

Students of all ages like this “quirky” yet much-needed app.


Luke is happy to hear from you and can be reached at Thanks again to Luke for making three apps I couldn’t teach without!

This video is stored along with other “Here to Help Videos” found here.

Those who signed up for my newsletter learned about the giveaway Luke offered. Don’t miss another exclusive offer by signing up here.


If you can’t see the video, click here.


A Look Back at Trendsetting Piano Teaching Resources in 2016

Grab a cup of coffee–here’s 40 resources worth your time!

My friend and colleague Marie Lee and I compiled a list of winning resources that worked for us in 2016, and we can’t wait to share them with you. They are organized according to topic.

What did we forget? We didn’t include everything we intended–we had to stop some where.

What would you add to the list?

Professional and Creative Development


Piano Teacher Planning Center is a brand new component of I’m so excited to piano teacherplanning centerhave a store–no, a center–where teachers will find a growing collection of free and for-purchase teaching aids, some created by me but others created by fellow teachers who have great ideas.

In celebration of the new year, there’s a store-wide sale until January 15, 2017. By the way, if you have a cool game or product that you want to sell, contact me at and let’s plan to make it part of the PTPC in 2017. -Leila


I attended my first 88 Creative Keys Workshop in Denver this past summer. I waited almost an entire year and 88 CK was well worth it! It was one of the best things I could do for my continuing education as a teacher.  You can read reviews from 2016 attendees here and learn more about 2017’s workshop here. -Marie
Here’s a video of Leila leading a body beat activity with teachers.


Tim Topham’s podcasts keep me happily occupied on my Sunday afternoon walks. I look forward to them each week. Tim finds the best guests who discuss–you guessed it–trendsetting topics! Here are seven of my favorite podcasts because they deal with creativity at the keys. -Leila


I look forward to Amy Chaplin’s Piano Pantry Friday Finds. Amy is one of my new, favorite bloggers. -Marie


Even though I didn’t practice like I should have, I learned so much from Bradley’s online lesson session that I can use with my students. Bradley Sowash is encouraging and informative. It has opened up a whole new world of piano playing for me. -Marie


ForScore, Turbo Scan, the Air Turn Pedal and the iPad Pro is a combo I’ve used every Sunday since writing my December 2015 blog post. I’m not sure how I survived without this set up. In the post you’ll learn how I move hard copy sheet music to ForScore so I can enjoy hands-free page turns. This is the wave of the future for reading scores. -Leila Read More

A Favorite App for Sight Reading

About a month ago, I posted a review about SightReadPlus, an app that provides thousands of sight reading exercises in all MAJORmzl.dsvzstko.480x480-75 five-finger patterns. Good news, the developers have just released a new version called SightReadMinor™ that features all the MINOR five-finger patterns. With a price tag of $4.99 for 2880 exercises, you can’t go wrong with this addition to your studio!

My favorite things about both apps:

  1. The selection of exercises is extensive and versatile.
  2. There is no need for cables as the app records the pianist at any keyboard–electric or acoustic.
  3. Immediate feedback and reinforcement are provided with a celebratory fireworks show for accurate reading.
  4. No in-app purchase is required.  I really don’t like surprises.
  5. The developers claim they have carefully sequenced the exercises: “advancing from stepwise movement and basic timing patterns to more advanced intervallic reading and dotted note values.” Thank you!
  6. The app tracks progress for multiple users so it can be used by many students and there is no need for record keeping on a separate score sheet.

The only drawback is that the app does not include hands-together drills, maybe someday technology will catch up to my wish list!

mzl.wcucgcqa.175x175-75More good news–Melissa Harris, of the developing team, has generously offered me two free codes for SightReadMinor. I’d be happy to give them away to two lucky readers.

To qualify for the drawing, I’m asking a favor. Please complete the contact form below and include the name of a favorite app and why you like it. I’d like to build up my Music App Directory and thought I might take advantage of some helpers. To be honest, I’m terribly nosy about people’s iPads. I’m constantly looking over a shoulder to see if someone has an app that I’m missing. So, if you care to share, please let me nose in on your iPad screen. I’d appreciate it!

Thanks to a faithful reader Drema, I just learned about a new one I just added to Rhythm (and some other categories as I try to cross reference as much as possible) in my Music App Directory. Here’s her explanation:

Symphonica is a conducting game where you tap the color/type of sounds that appear to famous tunes such as Eine Kleine Nachtmusik…etc. When you first start using the app, you will need to walk through the story in order to complete the pieces and once a piece is completed, you can access it without playing the entire story again. I haven’t thought of how it could be used for lessons, labs or group classes but it makes listening to and moving to the rhythm of the music fun and interactive!”

Thanks Drema, you are entered for the drawing! Does anyone else have a favorite?


Looking for ways to integrate apps like SightReadPlus, SightReadMinor and even Symhponica into your studioStay tuned as I develop lesson plans and units as part of my ongoing additions to my book , The iPad Piano Studio: Keys to Unlocking the Power of Apps. Visit the website at to pre-order.

Sign up for my newsletter to stay up to date with  here.

[contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Favorite App and Why’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Link to App’ type=’text’/][/contact-form]


One App at a Time: SightReadPlus

480_360_csupload_56884925Always being on the lookout for the next best iPad app, I tend to collect quite a few (see my Music App Directory) and they patiently “wait” on my screen until I take (and find) the time to use them. If I deem them worthy, they are placed in their new iPad screen home–an appropriately named folder. If you are unsure how to create a folder for your apps, click here for instructions (it’s easy, I promise).

It’s hard to remember where I first learned about and purchased SightReadPlus. I must have seen an article, a Facebook conversation, something? When I finally made time to try it out I was more than pleasantly surprised. You know I like lists so here goes another one packed full of reasons why you should consider investing $7.99 to develop student sight reading skills with this app:

1) Splash Screen: I know younger kiddos appreciate the cute avatars, the bells and whistles etc, but those tend to clutter the screen and for me can be less intuitive. SightReadPlus offers a clear method of entering a new user name or finding a previous user. Because of the limited “kiddie” images, the appearance will appeal to any age which is especially handy for those older users.IMG_2966

2) Options–once a user name is entered, the Menu page provides an incredibly clear display of options:

  • Level (ten levels are broken down by note values, intervals and time signatures which are indicated by graphics)
  • Key (yes, ANY key with key signatures)
  • Hand (RH or LH, hands together not an option)
  • Exercise Number (there are 40 in each level)

3) Objective–to play a four-measure phrase in time with correct pitches:

  • The iPad must be placed on the keyboard rack of your REAL piano (this does not require MIDI or a digital keyboard)
  • A four-measure phrase is presented (I encourage readers to note the time signature, hand position and patterns, etc first)
  • An option to hear the rhythm is provided with a gal saying “ta-ah” (not the standard lingo I use, but developers advise to “clap along with Kodaly rhythm syllables for timing practice” before playing the exercise which can’t hurt)
  • An option to change the metronome tempo is available
  • The sight reader must press the record button, wait for a count off and play the phrase

4) Feedback:

  • As the pianist plays, the app records and listens to  the performance and features an image (green snowflake) to help track the beatIMG_2977
  • After finishing the 4 bars, students are given a score based on note and timing accuracy (gold stars are given for passing scores and top scores set off fireworks on the screen which spark cheers from the reader as seen on your right)
  • Students can see all their scores, stars and levels completed thanks to a progress button on the top right
  • All student scores are kept within the app so there is no need to record scores elsewhere.

4) Bonus:

Besides exercises with various pitch and rhythmic patterns, the app also provides a visual of  5-finger patterns in every major key. The sight reader can earn points for playing each one correctly. This is a terrific tool for me as I require students to master all white and black key major (and minor 5’s) and triads.

This format has been tested not only by me but also whole-heartedly approved by my early level student Matthew who breezed through a dozen or so exercises all on his own. A thirteen-year-old gal claimed the app was “epic”. Ginger kept asking to complete just one more level even though the lesson had ended and her Mom was waiting in the car.

Leila’s Opinion of SightReadPlus: $7.99

Application Potential: 4/5 The sequential work has been done for you in EVERY key. Plant the iPad on the keyboard rack and watch your students naturally progress from one exercise to the next. The developers have carefully “sequenced exercises, advancing from stepwise movement and basic timing patterns to more advanced intervallic reading and dotted note values.” It appears there is only the “Beginning Level: Major Five Finger Patterns” but I hear more are on the way. With the various rhythmic patterns available, the level of this app will keep even intermediate students challenged for quite some time.

What you may miss:

  • There is no opportunity for reading and playing hands together from the grand staff
  • Many method books focus on the notes around Middle C between Treble G and Bass F. It would be nice to see a primer edition testing these notes (along with accidentals) to get beginners off and running before advancing to the 5-finger patterns in various keys
  • Although there are separate scores given for pitch and rhythm, the method on how those scores are awarded is not clearly defined
  • The feedback provided for accuracy is vague.

Ability to Use with Ease: 5/5 Once introduced to the app, I witnessed youngsters (ages 7+) manage this app with expertise and were extremely eager to master the next level. I have had to push students (of all ages) out the door after lessons. The fact that I can see scores and results so easily for each student with a tap makes this app worth its weight in gold. It is so challenging to keep track of student scores in my studio lab and this feature alleviates that issue!

Assessment of Investment: 5/5 One book of exercises (with no feedback) would cost as much or more than this app of 4800 exercises. My favorite feature of this app, unlike many geared towards kids/students, there are no in-app purchases. Many times students get hooked on an app and then must stop playing the game as a purchase is required to continue. I’m not interested in making this type of investment during a lesson and therefore student interest wanes and progress stops as well. I prefer to pay a little more up front and enjoy no hidden costs.

Total Score: 14/15


Interested in learning more about using the iPad for your studio? I’m excited to announced that my new book will be released soon:

The iPad Piano Studio: Keys to Unlocking the Power of Apps

The good news: once you purchase the book you will be part of a larger environment offering updated information

and timely and friendly support for all things iPad/app related.

Sign up for my newsletter to learn more here.


Click here to sign up for more info about Creative Keys Events coming to Colorado in 35 days!

Maverick master teacher Bradley Sowash is worth the trip to  Denver!

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Interested in a code to receive SightReadPlus for free? Melissa Harris, President of Cape Cod Music Apps, has offered one free code!

To be eligible for the drawing,

sign up for my newsletter here (if you haven’t already)

leave a comment about how you encourage sight reading in your studio

A Combo of Apps at a Time: Notability, Tenuto and Web Rewards

Remember a past blog about how I used Notability with state theory tests? Here’s another about Notability and a few more. I image know, this blog is breaking my pattern of ONE app at a time but this combo works well together…

Although it may appear complicated at first, I assure you that you will not be sorry for getting your students set up with a file in Notability. You will have a virtual folder for each student that can hold assigned worksheets, theory tests, even recital programs. As a fan of Wendy Stevens’, I desired to use her superior products. Below are examples of how I combine her resources, Notability and also the Tenuto app to provide an outstanding and beneficial lab experience for my students’ lab time.

 Web Rewards from ComposeCreate.Com

WR-Sample-Pixel-71585_396x233First, here’s an explanation from Wendy about her Web Rewards:

Web Rewards is a free, comprehensive service provided by to help you assist your students as they prepare for Music Progressions and other state theory and listening tests (especially Kansas, Washington State, and North Idaho). As a teacher, you can use the online activities in your own lab or encourage your students to complete the activities at home online. Included in this service are free Melodic and Rhythmic Dictation exercises that are difficult to find. Worksheets, online games, and other preparatory activities are also included.

If you use Web Rewards, we ask that you purchase the new Web Rewards Answer Key and Checklists which will assist you in quickly checking the worksheets your students bring to you. Also included in this document are checklists for every level of Web Rewards that will help students and teachers keep track of their progress. Purchasing this resource will also help in deflecting the cost of creating these resources that we are providing for you. Thank you for your consideration of these things. I hope this service is a help to you and your students! -Wendy Stevens,

The diligent efforts of Wendy Stevens that she extends to her students and fans made me eager to integrate this 10-level program into my student’s lab experience. However, I was not excited about printing off the downloadable worksheets included in each level. Just really trying to avoid using paper if possible. Enter the Notability app. So in a similar manner as explained in a past blog, I created a Web Rewards “Category” and then created a “Subject” for each level of Web Rewards. Visiting, I downloaded all worksheets of Level One in the Level One Subject file and continued to do this for each level.  During the lab time, students are assigned a Web Reward level. In each level,  there are several times where the Web Rewards course asks students to download and complete a worksheet. Instead of  downloading the sheet, students duplicate the correct worksheet within the Notability App. Once it is duplicated, students edit the title, adding their name behind the title of the worksheet. After their lesson, I move the completed worksheet in the student’s personal file. Just so you know, my students have become completely comfortable with maneuvering through this app and are eager to “file” their worksheets into their own file themselves. Read More

One App at a Time:

Why are some people SO good at sight reading while others struggle with this skill? Won’t go into details but it is connected to processing and how fast the brain can send messages to the fingers. Some are wired for it, some are not–I say that not as an expert, just as an observer of my current students and past memories. Although I was OK at reading , it never came as quickly to me as it did for Julie, Nancy or Kim (other pianists from my childhood). They garnered plenty of attention because it appeared they could read and play at sight pretty much anything.

Years later, I’m pleased to say my sight reading skills have increased tremendously (not quite as good as my good friend and colleague, Cathy) but they are commendable. Why? Around 9 years ago, I was hired as a full-time church organist and accompanist. Preparing new repertoire and choir anthems each week honed my sight reading.

Over the years, I’ve found there are four essentials that enhanced my reading skills:

1) Expertise in theory, chords and rhythm.

2) The ability to improvise and see the “big” picture.

3) Listening to recordings of the repertoire to be played . (I know sight reading means playing things on the spot without hearing or seeing it before, however, when playing open scores, hearing the piece first definitely aids the reading.)

4) Reading new print music on a regular basis.

Recently, Evan R. Murphy contacted me about his online endeavor  Always on the lookout for tools to reinforce reading skills for my students, I was happy to take a look at his site. Usually, I write about apps that are designed specifically for the iPhone or iPad. However, I’ve included this post in my “One App at a Time” series as this falls under the definition of an app or application:  “Could be thought of software sold as a units or small portions”. *See definitions of “apps” below.

The key components of include:

1) Professionally composed music which provides never-before-seen pieces of music. Read More

One App at a Time: MultiTouch White Board

There’s nothing like writing on dry erase boards and I’m happy to say I have recently acquired one (with staff lines!) for my studio wall. Another studio essential for many years: the Hal Leonard All-Purpose Music Flash Cards–if you don’t have ’em, you might want some. However, an app called Multitouch White Board discovered a while ago, serves the same purpose and SO much more.

This app turns your iPad into 9 different white boards and allows you to add a customized background with photos, color, or pdfs. You and your students can then draw on the personalized background with various colored markers and erase with ease. Skitch, a free app, offers similar options. Combine the features of either app with the ability of the iPad to take screen shots and you have a winning educational combination. Let me explain…

As you may know, Piano Anne, Susan Paradis and others generously share their helpful pdf worksheets and tools at their websites. It is no surprise that both Anne and Susan have employed the iPad to promote and extend the use of their dedicated efforts. In a nutshell, with the White Board and Skitch apps, their pdfs and/or customized backgrounds can be completed over and over on the iPad without using expensive ink or paper.

Already back in 2011,  PianoAnne offered instructions on how to download her custom-designed backgrounds for the White Board app. Using a convenient Dropbox link, it is so easy to transfer them into the app (click here to learn more).  To the left you’ll see a screen shot of one of Piano Anne’s backgrounds (tracing flat key signatures) loaded onto my iPad.

Recently, Susan Paradis shared how to view and use her worksheets with Skitch. Click here to see her easy-to-follow instructions. NOTE: Susan’s worksheets work with the White Board app as well.

Inspired by their ideas, I recently created a pdf of a home-made lead sheet, took a pic, and loaded it into Skitch. During lessons the adult student (who owns an iPad) and I will be writing in new chords as the piece develops into a ragtime version of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”.  Skitch allows us to write in the chord plan but erase and substitute new chords with ease. At the end of the lesson, the final copy can be emailed to the student for home practice. Tip: you may want to use a stylus to write on the screen. A little bit neater than a finger.

One way I instruct my students to master note recognition on the grand staff is to use sentences such as “Elvis’s Guitar Broke Down on Friday” or “All Cows Eat Grass”. In honor of the pumpkin season and knowing my students could use a review of note names and theses sentences,  during lab time, they were asked to write in note names on the Pumpkin worksheet crafted by Susan Paradis.

When I learned how to take a screen shot on my iPad, it occurred to me that this could be handy but wasn’t sure quite how. Thanks to Piano Anne and Susan Paradis, it turns out this capability could be one of the best ways to  keep lab assignments innovative with handy worksheets but resulting in fewer runs to the office supply store.

If you were wondering how an iPad could be an advantage over an iPhone, here’s one more reason why you might consider it a worthy investment.  It can not only be transformed into a white board/worksheet about the size of a standard  8.5×11, but it can also reduce your ink expenses and keep your studio “green”. Honestly, what happens to most worksheets after completion, they’re tossed, right?


Leila’s Opinion of  Multi Touch White Board ($1.99)

Application Potential: 5/5  The unlimited versatility of this app is phenomenal!

Ability to Use with Ease: 4/5  Once you learn how to load the photos, you will wonder what you ever did without this. One drawback, the marker size is a little bulky, it would be nice if the tip could be reduced to a finer tip.

Assessment of Investment: 5/5  $1.99 is less than my Starbucks Grande drip coffee.

Total Score: 14/15


Leila’s Opinion of Skitch (Free)

Application Potential: 3/5–this will be very useful for teaching, presenting, creating, and more. However, I think I’ll still use the White Board app a little more, just easier to use.

Ability to Use with Ease: 4/5  The app was recently updated and I need to adjust to the format. It seems to be less friendly for youngsters than the White Board. You can manage the marker tip size, unlike the White Board app.

Assessment of Investment: 5/5  Free is always good. No reason NOT to add this app to your collection.

Total Score: 12/15


*If you are looking for more music apps, check out my Music App Directory


Music iPad App Directory

An ongoing work in progress, I have assigned myself the task of organizing a list of music iPad apps. Organizing has always been a favorite pastime so I consider this a true labor of love. Unfortunately, cyberspace doesn’t require a trip to the Container Store (my favorite) for the perfect storage space; however, I’m happy to invite you to benefit from my virtual filing cabinets here at 88pianokeys.

In order to make it easier to find a music app to fit your needs, I’ve designed pages or categories of apps. For each category you will find the apps I currently own. As I collect more, the pages will be updated.

Provided for your convenience, the pages also include:

  • a link to the iTunes store to simplify your purchase
  • the app price
  • a brief description
  • a link to a blog (if I have written about the app)
  • printables you may use for your studio (if I have created them for the app, more coming!)

Apps that I made printables for keeping score:

  • Flashnote Derby (see Note Names)
  • Music Cubes (see Ear Training)
  • Note Squish (see Note Names)

Apps that I ‘ve written about:

  • Anytune (see Power Tools)
  • Flashnote Derby (see Note Names)
  • iReal b (see Power Tools)
  • Note Squish (see Note Names)

Link to four articles about why you may want and even NEED to invest in an iPad featuring a list of a GREAT DEAL of  apps.

PLEASE, let me know if I am missing one of your favorite apps.

There are so many out there, I hope to secure a list of the “best”

and greatly appreciate your input and opinions.

What’s a Top App for Building Note Recognition Skills?

If you follow popular music teaching blogs and sites, you know there are countless apps with more appearing daily. Because of this, I’m guessing that some apps may  have a short life span due to lack of support, loss of popularity… (crossing my fingers that doesn’t happen) but if so, I want to be prepared, more like, armed and ready. So  I’m attempting to make a growing “app collection”, in which I want to access and compare each and determine the “cream of the crop” from which to choose. My “stockroom of apps” will help me be prepared when I need that perfect app for “slow-reader Suzy” or “term-challenged Timmy” or “lack-luster-listening-skills Louise”. There’s really not a better place in which to conduct this type of research than within my very own studio and with my faithful and opinionated students.

This past week, I asked my pianists to drill note names using Flashnote Derby. A couple of weeks ago they had enjoyed using Note Squish (here’s a past blog featuring this app). These are two similar programs that offer a unique venue to master note recognition. Really both are nothing more than ordinary flash cards but are much more fun than sifting through cards because of the graphics, the game format and of course the best part– they are played on the iPad.

From my magnetic board voting system, you’ll notice that Flashnote Derby took the “crown” over Note Squish. Students explained that Note Squish was harder to read because the answers “jumped around” and they liked the racing screen better than the arcade style graphics of Note Squish. However, some were VERY loyal to Notes Squish and adamant it was the “winner”

I like Flashnote Derby because…

  • it provides instructional videos of each portion of the grand staff, therefore it teaches as well as drills
  • settings feature the ability to isolate line-note names or space-note names (even as little as 2 notes)
  • settings feature the ability to isolate note names on the treble clef, bass clef or both

Here’s a printable I use to keep track of student scores. FlashNote Derby

Here’s a printable FlashNote Derby Hall of Fame where I post names of students with the highest score of the week in each “Speed” setting . As a prize, winners receive $100 in Music Money.

I like Notes Squish because…

  • settings allow for treble, bass OR alto clef (but not a combination of treble and bass)
  • settings allow for drills that include as little as two notes
  • the graphics and game are just plain fun

Here’s the sheet I use to keep track of student scores.

Here’s the sheet for the Note Squish “Hall of Fame” where I post names of students with the highest score of the week in each “Speed” setting . As a prize, winners receive $100 in Music Money.

Leila’s Opinion of Note Squish

Application Potential: 4/5  Menu settings provide review of Alto Clef, but line and space notes cannot be isolated.

Ability to Use with Ease: 4/5  Fun format but students found it more tricky to recognize notes (concentrate) because of on-screen distractions

Assessment of Investment: 5/5  Can you spare $.99?

Total Score: 13/15

Leila’s Opinion of Flashnote Derby

Application Potential: 5/5  Excellent menu options that provide limitless versatility of drills for all levels in treble and bass clef or grand staff.

Ability to Use with Ease: 5/5  The ability to select the exact notes to be drilled sets this app apart.

Assessment of Investment: 5/5  Can you spare $.99?

Total Score: 15/15

My recommendation–GET BOTH! They both offer a creative way for your budding musicians to master notes names, are inexpensive and offer a stash of games from which to choose to please even the most opinionated students!

In case you are interested in more traditional flash card apps, I also own these apps for NOTE RECOGNITION:

  • Piano Flash! Class
  • BlueNote
  • Flash Class

FYI: All of these apps are listed on at 88pianokeys on the page Note Name Apps.  They are filed in a folder labelled “Note Names” on my iPad as well. To combine similar apps into one folder, hold your finger on one app until it starts to wiggle, than move that icon over the top of an icon of a similar app. This creates a folder that you can then name and add more apps as you build up your stock room full of quality apps. To stop the apps from jiggling, push the home button.

BTW: This list does not include apps that offer note recognition in combination with other subjects. Those are stored in a different folder and will be discussed in future blogs.

What am I missing in my Note Name folder?