There is such a push in education to integrate technology into your teaching. In my discussions with fellow music teachers often they are at a loss in what tools can be used in the rehearsal or lesson environment that integrates technology. Teaching instrumental music and being the technology director in my district it allows me to combine two of my passions. I teach all band students in grades 5-12 so I find having different technologies at different levels helps me best but it can be cumbersome to find what works. Band directors teach in many different environments and situations so each one can be a little different in what will work best for you but I’ll share some of the tools I have used that help me out in my day-to-day teaching.
In my elementary office, I have a large TV mounted in front of the students with an Apple TV connected. In the Jr./Sr. High band room there is a projector mounted in front of the band that also has an Apple TV. I use a large 12.9″ iPad which has all the students’ lesson books on it along with all of my scores which I can project and use my Apple pencil to make marks. I use an iOS app called BlueNote which costs $1.99. It is flash cards to learn note names and you can use it for bass and treble clef and it has difficulty levels. It starts with notes in the staff and as the difficulty goes up it adds notes above and below. It has worked really well with the students to learn their notes and we spend a few minutes at the beginning of each lesson going through the flashcards. I also use TE Tuner which is $3.99 and is a nice tuning app with some good visualizations. Tempo is the app I use for a metronome which costs $2.99, it is nothing fancy but has a lot of the features you would need.
A new program I purchased this year that works on any web browser or can be used on your mobile device is called Sight Reading Factory. I use this heavily in all grade levels and has helped the rhythm reading all around. It is a wonderful program that you can customize what time signatures it can randomize, what not values, and anything else you want to program. I use it to just display random rhythms with no assigned notes. You can also have it create entire lines for all instruments in your band then they would read off the projection. It is very powerful and allows for complete customization depending on what you want to do.
The most used app in my arsenal is called Piascore, another one that does the same thing and is very popular is called rorScore. Both apps have some cost associated with them up front but not a subscription, depending on which app you go with the price will run between $4-15. Both apps offer similar functionality but I will be discussing Piascore as that is the one I utilize. In a nutshell, Piascore allows me to import, scan, take a photo, or download scores, method books, and music and have it displayed on my screen. I scan the scores for all the bands I conduct into it, all the method books, and all my own personal music. I used to carrow around a bag that just held all my music for school and personal but now it is all on my iPad and saves my back and shoulders a lot of extra pain.
Within the app, you can organize your music collection by tags. I have one called trumpet solos, trumpet methods, band scores, and so on. As the music is moved into the app I can assign one or multiple tags to it and then when I select a tag it shows me all the music that has that tag assigned to it. I have a tag called band scores and then I do another one for example called fall scores. Any music my bands are playing for the fall I will add both tags to it so I can quickly access just the scores I need for now but then I also have them organized into a larger section.
As an active musician, I play in a few groups and another feature is called setlists. One of the groups I play with we might have 30-40 songs we play at a gig. I can create a setlist for the show we are getting ready to play and then add music from my tags into that setlist and put it in the order of the gig. When the gig starts I pull up the setlist and click on the first song and as I swipe it just moves from song to song throughout the entire setlist I created. You can also purchase a Bluetooth pedal, many available on Amazon but I use the AirTurn and it allows you to turn to the next or previous page by pushing a pedal on the floor.
There are many great apps for music teachers to utilize in their daily lives and these are only just a few that I use just about every day. If you have any apps you would like to mention please leave them in the comments below or if you would like help in integrating technology into your music program drop me a note or leave a comment below with information on how to reach you.