The rapid advancement of technology has not only made e-learning an extremely viable platform for education, but also popularized digital play as a mode of learning. Phone apps and games have burgeoned over the years as developers continuously race to construct the best apps and games to teach each and every subject.
According to Statista, there are 2.8 million apps available on Google Play and 2.2 million apps available on the Apple App Store as of March 2017. As the teachers and students here at D-Flat Music Academy prepare for the upcoming ABRSM practical exams, we’ve found a couple of apps that have been greatly effective in spicing up a practice session!
ABRSM Piano Practice Partner
This app has proven to be very useful for students who are at the early stages of learning their ABRSM exam pieces. Piano Practice Partner includes tracks of all the selected piano pieces from the ABRSM syllabus, and allows the student play along with real musicians’ performances during practice sessions. Within the app, there is a “Speedshifter” function which can be used to adjust the playback tempo of the track - exactly as recorded or at a slower tempo, in order to match the student’s progress at every stage of learning and performing. Additionally, the app also allows enables students to focus on the fluency of one hand by isolating and providing the “backing track” for the music played by the other hand.
ABRSM Theory Works
Also an app developed by ABRSM, Theory Works livens theory lessons through its interactive interface. Each theory topic is introduced with a tutorial, and there are over 6,000 questions and exercises that follow to test the learner’s knowledge. What makes this app engaging is its gamification of music theory by providing fun challenges and more importantly, incentives - every time a round is completed, the student or the player will be able to unlock the next level.
Ever wanted to discard your pencil and paper and still learn music theory? Tenuto allows one to do precisely that. With a minimalist design, Tenuto provides tutorials and exercises for fundamentals in music theory. The well-structured menu and user-friendly interface make it easy for any user to navigate, and one can choose from the topics listed and revise weaker topics even after completion. The in-app timer also acts as a gauge of understanding by measuring one’s response time to the questions of each topic. One particular feature that might appeal to teachers is the exercise customiser that allows a teacher to design specific exercises to cater to a student’s area of learning difficulties.
Disguised as a timed challenge, Music Tutor helps students at all levels to master sight-reading. One of its key features is the “1 minute” challenge, during which the player is required to identify as many music notes, as quickly as possible within a minute. At the end of the challenge, a score will be assigned to the player based on the number of correct answers provided, as well as the player’s overall accuracy. Music Tutor also allows the player to review mistakes, which aids in identifying one’s weaker areas in sight-reading. The player can also adjust the parameters of the game accordingly, if one wishes to practice sight-reading more bass clef notes, for example. Additionally, there is also an “unlimited time” mode for the user to practice before attempting the “1 minute” challenge.
Whilst learning through these apps can be effective and convenient, it is important to bear in mind that these digital devices will never automate the teaching and learning processes. An app can be a successful teaching tool in many ways, but it needs to be combined with other effective practice techniques and habits in order for one’s practice session to be fruitful. Check out our previous blogpost on deliberate practice in music for tips on how to make the most out of your practice session together with these apps!
Till the next, Play on and Tinkle Away!