In 2009, Apple informed that World that – no matter what we want to do – “There’s an app for that.” …and never has that slogan rang more true than today. It would seem that nearly every business has its own app. Almost every product has it’s own accompanying software. Kids can even scan their Happy Meal toys and incorporate them into custom-made software. There’s an app for everything!
Especially since Bluetooth technology has simplified and stabilized the connections between devices, the trick now is to find the BEST app for your particular… APPlication.
5. PiaScore / Sheet Music Reader.
Though it loses points for being a bit quirky and for being an iOS exclusive app, PiaScore is a tremendous tool for musicians of all skill levels. You can bring music into it through a variety of ways, including: purchasing from any online store and importing the digital music, downloading free songs from the Classical Music Database, purchasing from PiaScore’s online store or even using your tablet to photograph your paper music and bring it into the software. It also has simple – yet powerful – tools built in that let you annotate and/or edit your music in a variety of colors without destroying your original score. Finally, thanks to Bluetooth technology, you can connect PiaScore to a Roland Digital Piano and turn the pages of your digital sheet music wirelessly using the Roland’s pedals – without ever taking your hands off of the keyboard! Create playlists, use the built-in metronome – the sky’s the limit! …and it even comes with a video manual. FREE. Click here for more info.
Anytune is also an iOS exclusive title, but they claim to be working hard on an Android version. In the meantime, The Amazing Slowdowner works well for Android – despite its unfortunate name. That said, Anytune is a wonderful tool for educators, singers, traveling musicians and music ministers. It allows you to increase or decrease the tempo of a given song without changing pitch. You can also minimize the vocals for most songs – giving you the incredible opportunity to transform most CDs into karaoke or play-a-long albums. You can even create practice loops so you can learn songs faster and with more expression than ever before. Especially for piano teachers who never use the “CD accompaniments” because their students can’t manage the tempos, this tool is life itself. The basic version is FREE. The advanced version gives you HD quality, better sound editing tools and an overall better sound. Click here for more info.
3. Sheet Music Direct Play-a-Long.
Hal-Leonard is the World’s largest print music publisher and I am thrilled to see them bring their massive library into the digital era. They have two apps (Sheet Music Direct and Sheet Music Direct Play-a-Long), but we’re going to focus on the SMD Play-a-Long app because it is SO incredible. Yes, it is still an iOS only title for now, but the things this app can do are pretty stunning. Purchase songs from their online database. Each one comes with a full, professional studio recording with a LIVE band or orchestra! This means you get to “play along with the band” on all your favorite music from TV, the movies, Broadway, the radio and more! You won’t believe how many options they have! Play the song at any speed. The app has a built-in tempo regulator. Practice with or without metronome. You can even transpose the song into ANY key! It doesn’t get any better than this. The app is free. All you pay for is your music. Click here for more info.
2. Roland Piano Partner 2 (Version 2).
Available for BOTH Android and iOS, this revolutionary app not only gives you wireless control over your Roland Bluetooth Piano, it adds FREE features like digital flashcards, practice diary, personal recorder and a rhythm machine! Select any song from your piano’s built-in library. Piano Partner 2 will allow you to play it, view the music notation, adjust the tempo and volume… you can even take out the right or left-hand parts and play along yourself! Use the app to change the sounds, layer voices or even split your piano keyboard into two. You’ll be amazed at how easy Piano Partner 2 makes using your piano! Finally, enhance your student’s piano training with digital flashcards that provide instant feedback (in a video game format) for BOTH sight reading AND ear training practice! Never before has a single app added so much to a piano player’s experience. You’ll be blown away. FREE (Most features require a Roland Digital Piano with Bluetooth). Get it here.
1. Faber Piano Adventures Player.
The only complaint I could find for this app is that it is an iOS only program. Faber has done a genius thing here. They’ve combined their custom-made app with their tremendous (and ever-expanding) library of lesson books to create the “Holy Grail” of piano lesson tools for the modern piano student. Practice ALL your exercises with full band accompaniment. Slow your songs down until you can play them with the band and then, gradually speed them up. Check your notes with the “Wait Mode” feature – that won’t progress unless you’re playing ALL the correct notes! You can set practice loops, practice one hand at a time and even record yourself so you can better judge your success. It even has built-in FREE video lessons for adult students! There IS no better learning tool than Faber Piano Adventures Player App for iOS. The app is FREE. All you pay for is the music (and the music is REALLY affordable)! Get it here.
Honorable Mention: The Most Addictive Sheep Game.
No list would be complete without The Most Addictive Sheep Game. This cute game helps kids build rhythm skills by encouraging them to tap or drag their fingers along the screen in rhythm with the background music. As they do, they are helping their little sheep progress through a side-scrolling maze that is as adorable as you are probably imagining right now. Check out this fun and simple time sink. It’s a FANTASTIC way to keep kids occupied in a piano store! Hahaha! FREE. Click here for more info.
No matter which app you start with, keep in mind that it’s important not to overwhelm yourself. Start with a couple of key programs and increase your “APPtitude” slowly over time. You’ll be surprised at how easy to use and FUN these simple programs are. …and you won’t believe how much they enhance your musical life.
What are your favorite apps? Comment below and let us know!