Apps for Jr. High Band Class
for good practice, theory and performance
The following are five apps that can be used to enhance learning in a School Band Program. While I chose these apps specifically for beginner band students, most of the apps can be used even at the university level for brush ups or continued study. All of these apps are free and are available through iTunes.
App 1: Musician's Kit
This is a 3-in-1 app comprising of a tuner, metronome and sound recorder. The tuner and metronome are essential to at-home practice for any musician. The metronome can be set to Beats/Bar, Beats/Minute, or Subdivision. All three functions can be used at the same time.
The sound recorder is very useful for practice assessment: the recording can be sent via email. Instead of having students fill out weekly practice sheets for assessment, the students can send in a short recording of the practice they are doing, using the metronome and tuner.
App 2: PlayAlong Apps from AtPlayMusic
This is a series of apps directed at beginner musicians. Through six per programmed songs students can get instant objective feedback on their playing. In Auto mode students play a selected song and the app "listens" to the piece prompting correct notes, monitoring duration, etc. at the end of the piece, the app gives a proficiency score and keep a cumulative statistical record of the correct notes and durations played. The app makes it very easy to share performances of the piece. All of the wind and brass instruments, with the exception of bassoon and oboe, are a part of this series.
This is another tool that can monitor practice. Additionally, I can look at what students are consistently struggling with in these easier pieces and tailor extra help sessions to the specific issues the student is having.
App 3: ClefTutor
This app makes learning theory and gaining fluency in reading fun. Through quizzes, drills and lessons, students learn the fundamentals of theory and reading music. Some of the exercises focus on reading the staff, notes, ledger lines and key signatures. The exercises are all in game mode and include statistics and high scores.
As a replacement of, or a supplement to theory worksheets, students would work through an assigned number of lessons and send me a screen shot of their stats page.
App 4: AudioBoo
With this app, one uploads a photo and puts any type of audio over top. This app is ideal for podcasts, but could have many other uses.
I would use this app as an occasional alternative to playing tests. The key word is occasional, I would not eradicate them completely.
Student would choose one of a few short selections (for example: a short rhythmic piece or a section of a concert piece we would be working on in class), take a photo of the piece they selected and record their selection. The student would then upload or share the selection to whichever LMS assignment page I would be using at the school and I would assess it. This takes off a lot of the pressure and anxiety over playing a piece alone in front of the class. Personally, that pressure terrified me in band class and I could never do well on playing tests because of it.
App 5: VoiceThread
This is an app for VoiceThread.com. VoiceThread is a tool to make a completely multimedia centred project. One can add text, which comes through as a speech bubble from your avatar/profile picture. One can add a recording of one's voice, pictures, screenshots, videos, music, etc. The audio and text centre around the images.
I would get the students to do a project on famous composers, as part of the music history section of the curriculum. They would have a picture of the composer as well as a famous piece by that person. They would add biographical details, famous works, and their reason for choosing that composer. The students would the share it to the class site and comment on at least three other students projects. This creates an opportunity to teach about digital citizenship and internet etiquette as well as helping those students who have presentation anxiety and would not do well relaying this infromation in the form of , say, a PowerPoint presentation. This format also gives students a lot of leeway in terms of creativity.