Early Level Theory

Audio Ninja

Ninjas or players are challenged to defeat their enemies by using their weapons within a steady beat. The app truly cloaks its teaching agenda with action-packed fun.


Use this when a tricky spot needs work. Everytime the section is played correctly, the student can build more of the crazy balloon shape.

Blob Chorus

A goofy yet extremely effective game for training discerning the difference between pitches. Good for all ages.

Bubble Tones

I like this app because of its simplistic and effective method of comparing pitches. It comes in handy when helping students understand the difference between pitches especially when introducing half steps and whole steps.

Dust Busters

The premise: a “ninja” granny needs help dusting off the keys. My students thoroughly enjoyed this app (including those with little to a great deal of experience at the keys). However, they all claimed it was more fun than educational. The app has a large selection of songs from different genres and at various levels of difficulty. Additional songs are added automatically all the time.

Falling Keys

This  Tetris-type game helps cement the names of the keys for beginning students. Ten levels cover CDE through all the black keys.  It’s a challenging and fun app to assign when you sense a student needs a bit extra reinforcement in that area.

Flash Note Derby

One of the top apps for drilling pitch recognition that is customizable, MIDI compatible.


Remember the Simon game? Just like it but for the iPad. It’s a great builder of memory capacity and variances in tones.

iSpud Free

Use this to motivate during lessons. Dress the spud every time a phrase is played correctly.

Jelly Band

A crazy and entertaining way to experience track layers and building loops.


An entertaining way to teach form and movement to the beat. You’ve got to see it to believe it!

The Most Addicting Sheep Game

To keep your sheep “alive”, you must perform jumps of different heights and roll over stacks of black sheep … and you must time this “perfectly” to the background music. I have found this to be really helpful with students who are just beginning to work with eighth notes (or sixteenths!) — since they always want to rush TO the notes.  This trains you to rely on your ear and your (developing) sense of steady pulse.

Music Cubes

A simple educational music game. Listen to the cubes and repeat the sequence of notes back. It starts with one note and after that is your turn. In the next round you hear the same first note plus one new. You must then play those notes back. Reminds me of the “Simon or Bop-it” games but with pitch only. Here’s my blog about it and a printable for keeping track of studio high scores: MusicCubes

Music for Little Mozarts

The Music for Little Mozarts Piano App was specifically developed for the preschool age group (four-, five- and six-year-olds). The games provide a balance between learning key aspects of the piano and the pure enjoyment of making music. I particularly like this app as it isolates concepts such as high and low, up and down and loud and soft. Includes note name drills as well that are too difficult for most preschoolers. I do question the level of some of the games in an early level app like this.

Music Room Music Theory for Beginners

Split into 22 lessons that cover all the major theory topics from reading notes and rhythm to basic harmony, lessons provide you with all the information you need in order to take on the interactive quiz. Pass the quiz and earn your achievement badge for each topic in turn.  The app contains over 2,000 questions of varying difficulty to test theory knowledge.

My First Classical Music App

An app geared towards children thanks to the kid-friendly graphics and interactive screen. The premise: read about and listen to classical music. Brief bios of many famous composers and information on instruments are included.

Here’s my blog about it. Even my high school students raved about this app!

My Rhythm

The app uses untraditional box notation to build rhythm reading skills. No experience required, the app requires tracking and a good ear. Perfect for beginners to advancing students.

Music Lab Pro

This is PERFECT for young, beginning pianists to help them discern high and low pitches, match pitches and identify pitch patterns and be creative with the basic elements of music.


If you are collect PDF worksheets from favorite websites, import them to Notability where they can be organized, duplicated and students can complete them all in the app. No more printing worksheets!

Check out my blog post (and second blog) about this remarkable and versatile app which will replace reams of paper and maybe save a tree or two.

Piano Maestro

This must-have app isn’t just for building better sight readers, it also includes TONS of exercises to build technique and theory skills including recognizing intervals on the staff and playing them on the keyboard.

Princess Piano

Princess Piano has escaped a spell cast by an evil witch thanks to her magic ballet shoes. By learning to read and play music on the piano, you will help the princess dance her way back to the Cloud Kingdom to rescue her family. In this melodious adventure, Princess Piano introduces the notes of the scale and how they are written on the staff. As Princess Piano climbs the skies towards the Cloud Kingdom, you will start with simple melodies, but will soon progress to be able to play well-known folk songs and selections from classical masters such as Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Debussy. Along the way, you unlock outfits that Princess Piano can model in the “Dressing Room.” You can take photos of the ensembles you create and send them to your friends. And, using the music composition tool, you can even compose music yourself and have Princess Piano dance along to the notes of your very own song.

FYI: this has won some fans in my studio, it’s worth a look if you need an app to reinforce note reading on the staff. BUT it’s not easy for pre-readers.

Rhythm Swing

The app includes video tutorials, practice exercises and then drills on what was taught. A teacher’s dream app for learning basic note values! One of my students was a little frightened for the monkey’s well being but most students loved the animation and interactive format.

Tonal Recall Pairs Flash Cards

Just like the old-fashioned card game of finding matches by turning over cards, the user must tap on a card and find the other card with the matching pitch. The first level offers pitch names and the sound, the second level only offers the sound of the pitch but no letter name.

Treble Kids

This has an option to test the name of piano keys. Just the names of keys, it does not connect the name of the key with grand staff. It’s hard to find an app that isolates this concept!

ShowmeInteractive Whiteboard

A default app for when I need to illustrate or notate things in a hurry. Here’s a video of a student learning to draw notes using this white board.

BONUS TIP for white boards

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: the Hal Leonard All-Purpose Music Flash Cards. However this white board app provides a fun twist at lessons–students love using the iPad for any reason and has some wonderful potential. Click here to read how.

Simply Piano

Although it’s a guided course for any age, this is a great tool to reinforce what you are teaching at lessons for beginners.


A must have app for any music teacher. Worksheets that can be completed on the iPad or downloaded for print drill most of the basics of music theory including chords, rhythm, pitch recognition, finger numbers, five-finger patterns, intervals and more.

YYTeaches Intervals

Besides intervals, this app also drills high and low sounds. Perfect for beginners!


Want an excuse to come to Denver, Colorado in July?  Then attend our 88 Creative Keys Workshop improvisation workshop.

At workshops you’ll learn first hand how to use AND teach with these top music apps.


9 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Hi Leila,
    I got the iPad Piano Studio book at the WSMTA state convention in June. I have a Mac computer and would like to know which theory apps work on a computer. I am very interested.
    Thank you for your research and willingness to share.

    • Hi, Georgene. So good to hear you purchased my book. Here are some apps/programs that I can think of off the top of my head that would work on a Mac Computer: MusicLearningCommunity.com, Music Maestro, iRealPro, AnyTune, iBooks, Meludia….and I’ll keep thinking but that’s a start. Keep in touch!

  • I’m needing some theory games for elementary grades I can download on my PC (my iPad is First Generation and most Apps won’t load–I can’t upgrade to IOs 9, or whatever it is). Do you have any suggestions?? Thanks!

    • Hi, Connie. Have you looked into MusicLearningCommunity.com? It offers TONS of games for various levels of students–especially elementary-level–and is an online program, not an app. Hope that helps!

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