U Better Sing!

U Better Sing! is a really neat sight-singing app trainer.  It is challenging enough for any singer to get something out of it, but accessible enough for younger students to enjoy.  I don't typically teach voice, but one of my students is really motivated by singing, so we have been doing some voice lessons for the past 6 months.  

This app is great.  It uses a fun cartoon environment to teach the basics of solfege singing.  The students earn and unlock new levels.  There is a microphone input so the app can tell if you are matching pitch.  There are also listening clips to make sure the student can hear what the notes will sounds like.

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Flashnote Derby

Flashnote Derby is a fun app that has many options for learning notes.  You can drill by note name, piano keyboard, or microphone input.  It is cross-platform  for iPad, Android, and even Kindle (the Kindle version does not have microphone input)

The range of the notes is great and the flexibility to choose the exact notes you want to drill is wonderful.  There are some downsides - there are no options for drilling flats or sharps, and the microphone input will only work for instruments in the key of C (and also not guitar, as the guitar notes sound 1 octave lower than written).  But for getting students started on the basics of note reading, it has been an indispensable app for me! 
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Touch Notation

​I found a fun and amazing new iOS app over the holidays - it is called "Touch Notation."  It is an app where you draw in the notes and music notation on to the staff and it creates nicely-formatted sheet music!  This app is a better fit for more advanced students as it requires a little more music knowledge and precision to the writing in of the notes than other apps designed for this purpose.

It works very well together with the Apple Pencil if you happen to have that fun gadget!

There is a free version that allows you to have one song, and no exporting or importing features.  For around $12 you can upgrade to the full version that includes these features.

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Suggester is a fun app for iPad, iPhone and Mac.  There is a free version that allows you to save only one song, has only the Major scales, and you cannot export your sound file.  The full version includes all these features but is a bit spendy at $5.99.  However you can still get great use out of the free version of the app with its library of popular chord progressions to jam along with for improvising ideas, and when you create your own chord progressions you do have access to the full library of chords which is quite extensive.

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Yamaha Synth Arp and Drum Pad App

This app is super-fun and amazing!  It is a synthesizer with so many fun arpeggiator patterns it is mind-blowing.  In the drum pad you can set up drum patterns to be triggered, and also chord patterns.  You can go back and forth between the drum pad and synthesizer seamlessly to perform a song live, and there are 16 sound channels you can preset to switch on the fly.  I think some of my students will end up doing this for their recital project!

I am planning to make some instructional videos for some of the features, but I must plan this out because there is so much to learn about this app - AND IT IS FREE!!!!!!!!!!!

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Our Favorite Composers/Books

  • Frederic Chopin
    Chopin is Elizabeth's favorite composer for the piano. In fact, he composed ONLY for the piano. It is no wonder many of her more advanced students enjoy playing his music also!
  • John Williams
    John Williams has been composing music for movies for such a long time! Many of the students enjoy playing the music from "Star Wars" and "Harry Potter," two of his most loved musical scores.
  • Melody Bober
    Melody Bober is such a popular composer with our students! We think it is because she is from Minnesota. So she knows what Minnesotans like in their music!
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