Rhythm apps for teaching music

There have been several apps that help practice and learn rhythm concepts the past few months.

MyRhythmMyRhythm, from Gregory Burk, is an app that helps you practice your rhythmic skills, co-ordination, listening skills and memory. MyRhythm is full of features that anyone from a non-musically trained person to someone who is is music classes will appreciate. The app does not use traditional musical notation to show rhythms. It simply uses a grid of dots that are filled in, or not, to indicate whether you should be tapping the large pads in time with the groove that is being played.

When you start up the app there three main modes you can go into… 1)Challenge Mode 2)Study Mode and 3)Creative Mode. The screen shot you see to the right is about the same in any of the three modes. In challenge mode you listen to and watch a pattern being played then the little violet and blue dots are all taken away and you have to play back what you just heard. It’s an answer and call mode in other words. In the Study mode the idea is the same except that the violet and blue dots do not go away and you can still see them and you do not get to listen to the rhythm being played first. Then in the creative mode you are able to create your own rhythms. It is in this mode that you can do another time signature besides 4/4. In the other modes all I found were 2 measures of 4/4. Of course no where is there ever any mention of time signatures in this app. There are four levels of difficulty to play around with. No matter which level you are in the timing algorithms being used to decide whether or not you are playing the correct rhythms are very strict! It is not good enough to simply hit that pad “close” to the rhythm! You have to really get into the groove and sub-divide so you are accurate! Mentioning grooves…. there are options to play along with simply a metronome or a very long list of different grooves at different tempos. Gregory did a great job of making sure there was enough variety here to keep you interested and challenged for a long time!

option settings for MyRhythm

option settings for MyRhythm

I like the fact that there are many options in this app…. the different grooves, the call and answer, the creativity section, the ability to change several levels, the choice of what sound you hear when you tap the pads and how easy it is to quickly tap the new rhythm button to try the next rhythm. Even as a band director I like the co-ordination skills this builds even though my kids don’t always need to use two hands to play rhythms in class. I think students will find plenty in this app to keep them interested. There is an iPod/iPhone version of the app as well.

I don’t like that this app only deals with 8th notes. As a music educator I don’t like that music notation is not used and yet at them same time I think there is a place for this type of graphic notation in a music class. Another slight issue I have is that I am pretty skilled at rhythm and I have to work really hard to get all the notes green! Now, maybe this is because I’m not as good as I think I am at rhythm BUT I KNOW what I am going to hear from the kids! No, seriously though, I do believe the app has a little bit of issue “hearing” correctly played rhythms sometimes.

Wish list – I do wish there was a way for my students to keep score of their progress as they work with this app.

green and red dots on MyRhythm

green and red dots on MyRhythm

Indispensable app for Music Teachers?

I have in the last year used an app called AnyTune Pro+ when I have needed to learn a song for which there is no sheet music. I found this app because I needed an app that allowed me to slow down the music as well as create looped sections to repeat. I’m not sure how I found the app in the first place because if you do a Google search for “apps to slow down music” AnyTune does not come up. I have enjoyed using this app in its free version at first and then I paid the $1.99 to remove the ads. Then last night the developer contacted me and offered a promo code for the HQ version. I took him up on his offer. After using AnyTune HQ it becomes very apparent why we should be paying a little bit more for some of these apps. Let’s talk about what AnyTune does…

  • Slow down music, without changing pitch unless….
  • Adjust to pitch of a song without distorting the sound
  • Loops sections of the song
  • Name hit points in the song – like rehearsal numbers from a score or sections like Verse or Chorus
  • Use their Fine Touch EQ to do things like highlight a specific instrument or vocal
  • Plug your instrument into a USB audio interface and play along with the recording [from AnyTune’s website-(Use LiveMix together with Anytune’s FineTouch equalizer to pull out frequencies of a particular instrument. Then use LiveMix to insert yourself into the music while reducing the song’s original instrument! LiveMix and FineTouch EQ really help you to feel like you’re playing in the band.)]

Using just the basic version I did feel limited by the restrictions of that version. With the full version I am no longer feeling restricted. Things like being able to get music in to the app is easy. Being able to set up a bunch of hit points per song is easy. Being able to quickly jump back and forth in my loops is easy. I can quickly adjust the start and stop points of my loop point. I can even share all of the marks/hitpoints and settings for all of my songs that I import into AnyTune. The sound quality is wonderful and type of files AnyTune can handle is great.

GETTING MUISC INTO ANYTUNE:

  1. Access my iPad music library – not DRM files or iTunes Matched songs that are not downloaded to my device
  2. Use DropBox
  3. Use Wi-Fi
  4. Use the Open-In Menu (Which reminds me that I will be very glad to see iOS 6 which will allow us to see more than 10 apps in this menu)

MARKS/HITPOINTS:

  1. Each song imported into AnyTune will have it’s own list of Marks
  2. Select the Marks icon to see all of the Songs Marks
  3. Touch a Mark and the song jumps to that spot in the song. (Marching season just got a lot better! Now we can rehearse any given section of a song as many times as we want. The 16 count drill at Measure 30 need more work? No problem, open AnyTune, tap the Meas. 30 mark, set the loop points and 10 seconds later you are running that drill music for the band to practice marching to!
  4. Use Marks to quickly set loop points

VISUAL:

  1. The display of AnyTune is beautifully done. What you see is very appealing.
  2. You see a waveform of the song that allows you to visually see what the music doing.
  3. Use that waveform to easily set your Marks and Loops
  4. It is easy to figure out what is one the screen for most options. Some icons are not that easy to guess BUT…
  5. Tap the ? icon if you are not sure what an icon is and orange boxes appear and clearly tell you what everything is that you may be confused about.
  6. The help screen is nicely done and again is visually appealing!

AUDIO:

  1. I should have started with this because it is the most important but they do say “Save the best for last!”
  2. The HQ version of this app has wonderful sound quality.
  3. Even when you slow down the music all the way, .10x’s, the music sounds great! The app will go down to .05x but I’m not sure I would describe that as sounding GREAT. I would say that it still sounds good though.
  4. Even when you transpose music up or down by semi tones the sound is amazing. I had the music transposed up/down 12 semi tones and it was very much something that a person could use. Of course a Tuba part lowered by 12 semi tones is a bit strange! In my messing around though I had the music transposed more than a 1/2 octave and got distracted by other settings. I actually forgot it was transposed!
  5. You can even use the transpose and speed functions at the same time!

USES:

  1. Loop a section of a song and slow it down to learn it by ear. We should be learning music by ear all the time.
  2. Using Marks/Hitpoints on the Marching Band field to practice marching drill to a specific section of your show that needs work. Even if that section is in the middle of the song. With Marks you will be right at the exact spot you want everytime! You can even loop it so the kids can march back and forth without stopping to save time and keep focus heightened.
  3. Slow down a recording that is being struggled with and then play along with it. In fact there is a feature that allows you to loop a section 10x’s with each time being gradually faster until you arrive at the original tempo!
  4. Slow down a recording so that you can hear all the intricate details and give your ears time to pick up on it! Like those fast quad fills and mallet runs.
  5. Use the FineTouch EQ to bring out your part more, like a Bass guitar part.
  6. Use the FineTouch EQ to take your part out so you can play along with it kind of like a music minus 1 track
  7. Add lyrics into the Lyrics tool so you can sing along with it and not mess up the lyrics!
  8. Use this in Choir to rehearse with as it allows you to quickly jump to a specific part in your music. For instance if you only need to rehearse the Bridge of a song then you have no problem immediately jumping to the correct spot in the recording. In the old days you would have had to guess and we know where that gets you when your are in a room of middle school students!
  9. Use the app to adjust the key of a song for a particular singer until you find the exact key that works for that student.
  10. Set everything up for your tunes on your iPad and then email the Marks to your section leaders so that they can use them on their iPhones in AnyTune
  11. Sing Karaoke with this app as it allows you to quickly change the pitch of songs, jump between songs and use the LiveMix feature. Now if they would only add some effects to apply to your voice. This could be fun!

I will keep you updated on how I use this in class and how well it works when I actually have students in the room! In fact I will be using this tonight at DrumLine rehearsal! I already have my marching band show music loaded and all the rehearsal marks Marked out! There are some nice comparison charts on their website so you can see exactly the difference between the three versions of AnyTune. They also compare AnyTune to another app that has the same idea in mind.

Note for Note App

Are you a piano player but not a guitar player? Do you frequently have to work with a guitar player and help them figure out where to play chords on their guitar? Or maybe you play guitar but want to figure out how to play bass guitar. Well I’ve got an app for you!

The other night a developer contacted me about an app that was released in April. The app is called Note for Note. Now don’t go searching the app store for “Note for Note” just yet though because it will not come up in the search results for some reason. You actually have to search for “notefornote” without any spaces between the words. I found that a bit strange as the app name on my ipad has spaces in the name. Here is a link …. NoteforNote.

This app is one of those simple and to the point apps. It fulfills a need that I have had so many times in the past while teaching. I am a piano player and I also play bass guitar. For some reason, even though I have tried, I have never really been able to play 6 string guitar. Those chords and my fingers just don’t work well. Therefore when I have been working with a guitar player who is not a note reader it takes me too long to help them figure out chords and different voicings. With this app loaded on my iPad I will no longer have that issue. The app allows me to play a chord on the piano (on the bottom) and have all the different options of where I could play those notes on the guitar show up on the top. There are options for Guitar, Bass (4, 5, or 6 string) and Piano. If you are a guitar player but not a pianist then simply put the guitar on the bottom and the piano on the top. There is an option for playing only one note or chords.

If you are playing chords you have to play each note separately, hold it down, wait a split second then proceed to the next note of the chord. Otherwise the app does get freaked out.

Other than that one weirdness, I love this app. Like I said it fills a need in my teaching bag of tricks. I am appreciative of the developer letting me know about this app too. Of course that is one of the reasons I write this blog. We need to share great apps that we find that work well for us in our teaching of music education. That way we don’t have to dig through all the piles and piles of apps in the app store. Sometimes we would just not even be aware that there is an app that does a specific task. SHARE WITH EACH OTHER! Isn’t that one of those lessons our Mom’s made sure we learned a few years ago? Thanks Mom!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 761 other followers

%d bloggers like this: