I know… The whole point of playing the piano is to encourage less screen-time. But for the tech-obsessed piano kids, iPads can be a handy tool for reinforcing concepts, recording progress and encouraging repetition.
Here are 5 ways to include iPads during piano practice and avoid “technology FOMO”:
1. Record a Piano tutorial
Create a YouTube-style Piano tutorial using the iPad camera or a movie editing app. The tutorial should teach their friends how to play their piano piece. Even if they can’t play the whole piece yet, they will have some idea of the steps required to get started. This activity helps to cement knowledge, scaffold their learning and reinforce the practice process.
Use the camera to:
- Record the left-hand part and play along to the recording with the right-hand part
- Send a performance to a relative/friend
- Send a performance to their teacher for feedback
- Watch their performance and evaluate their technique, posture, expressive qualities and communication skills
2. Play along to backing tracks, drum tracks and Metronomes
Keeping a steady beat is one of the most important skills a musician needs to develop, especially if they intend to play music in a band or ensemble.
- Supersonicspiano.com has streamed backing tracks and a nifty score tracker for those who are using the Supersonics piano method. Score tracking is handy for parents who can’t read music but have children who need help following the notes on the page.
- Apps such as Drum Loop Lite and Drum Loops and Metronome provide user-friendly drum loops to practise playing along to a steady beat
- Soundbrenner is a basic metronome app that clicks the beats. https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/soundbrenner-daw-tools/id1106441253?mt=12
3. Lesson reminder videos (only available to my students!)
I often send video reminders with your lesson notes to aid students in learning rote pieces. I have produced these using Classroom Maestro and Screenflow and they are a similar format to those you find on YouTube. Click the links in your lesson notes and play along to master your left-hand part first, then practise the right-hand part. Clap along to the beat, work out the chords from the blue highlighted keys or just use them to help with tricky sections in the music.
4. ‘Writing’ Their Pieces
Being able to write down (or ‘transcribe’) their melodies helps students to read music more fluently and to memorise notes by visualising the musical patterns. Music4Kids is an engaging app that instantly plays back their transcriptions, allowing students to practise skills in listening and self-correction.
5. ‘Level up’ with iPad games
Many popular iPad games progress through levels by accomplishing goals. For the gamer in your family, suggest playing their piano piece twice (or just four bars of it, four times if it is a long piece) and then having a go at achieving a level in their game. Whether they achieve their game level or not, it’s back to the piano keys to ‘level up’ on their piano playing before returning to the iPad game again!
6. Perform a “Live” online concert
Don’t stress, this doesn’t have to be public! On platforms such as Zoom, Facebook Messenger and FaceTime it is possible to live stream a “performance” to just family and friends during a video call. I’m sure grandparents would appreciate a little live concert using the quirky capabilities of technology!