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A Few Favorite Apps

by Kristin Shoemaker  Shoemaker.Kristin@MacPhail.org

For fun, I went through a bunch of “best of” lists for apps for education.  Just as MacPhail faculty have creatively used apps not originally intended for music education (like Evernote), I think that there are lots of possibilities for use of other “educational” apps, especially for music theory.  Here are some that rose to the top for me…

EconBiz App


ShowMe (or Doodlecast Pro or Educreations)

These apps are near the top of my list right now: they are whiteboards with audio-recording capability.  If you’ve watched any Khan Academy videos, this is a similar approach; the recordable whiteboard provides a simple but novel way to explain a concept.  This kind of app could have some fun uses in the studio: 

  • The teacher records a “whiteboard” video to unveil the new concept, then shares the video with the student electronically, allowing the student to digest the concept prior to the lesson.  I really like this easy option of extending learning beyond the lesson; I also like that it’s a time-efficient option because once the video has been created, it can be used for multiple students! 
  • The student uses this whiteboard video app to demonstrate understanding of a concept, and sends it to the teacher as a homework assignment between lessons.  I really love this as a teaching tool because it clearly shows the student’s understanding, and any gaps that  need to be filled in, like in this simple student video: click here.

 Whiteboard Pro (Greengar Studios)

This whiteboard app allows you to join iPads wirelessly.  This is a fun way to mix-up teaching routine theory concepts.  In this short video example, the student and I are on separate iPads, but working together live.  We can’t talk to each other, but we can write back and forth in real time.   This is a really basic example, but with a little more creativity, I think that this app has a lot of potential.  

Percussion SS

This is a simple app with some nice sounds, and for my piano students, this is a great alternative to reinforce scale patterns away from the piano. Click here for an example of a possible use within the lesson.

 A+ Flashcards Pro

There are lots of great flashcard apps out there.  I like that this one because it nurtures basic study habits by allowing students to categorize flashcards by how well they know the answer.  Click here to view an example of a student using this.

 Evernote Peek

Evernote Peek is similar to the above flashcard app.  I wish I could have had access to apps like this years ago when I was preparing students for the Italian terms portion of the Royal Conservatory of Music theory assessments!  More engaging and time-efficient than a set of handmade flashcards!  For a quick example of a student using this app, click here


I have used this in my teaching studio, but I have used it even more personally!  This app is amazing for marking up scores and lead sheets (highlighters, red pens, etc.).  The best part is that I can create multiple versions of each piece/song, with different mark-ups on each.  Worth every penny at $4.99!


This has been really handy!  This app allows me to wirelessly mirror what is on my iPad to any Windows or Mac machine.  That means that you and your student could be viewing together what is on your iPad on the monitor in your studio, or on a SmartBoard in a public school.  To learn more, check out this blog.  Only downside: some firewalls restrict this app, so talk to your school’s IT department to gain access to using it.

Photo Credit: EconBiz App by DieZBW, on Flickr  CC: BY-SA

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