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iPad as All Around Music Learning Tool

by Hanno Strydom Strydom.Hanno@MacPhail.org

Walk around MacPhail on any lesson day and it's hard to miss: iPads are everywhere. The halls are lined with kids and adults alike, all engrossed in their own private little worlds: playing games, reading, surfing the web, studying.

Spend any time following the latest thinking about the future direction of education generally, and the impact and presence of such devices is similarly hard to miss. Tablet computers may soon be—and in some cases already are—the new school textbooks and all-around learning tools, offering an unprecedented level of interactivity, interconnectivity, and content tailored to the needs of each student.

Given the prevalence of the devices, the incredible ease with which most of our students navigate in the digital world, and the immense educational potential, now seems like the perfect time for the iPad to become standard equipment for music students.

An iPad loaded with the right apps and connected to the internet is a powerful all-around practice and general music learning tool, lesson notebook, audio and video recording device, video viewing tool, etc. Below are a few of the functions the iPad might serve, along with some of the apps that might be used to do this...

Lesson Notebook
Using the Evernote app students can receive their lesson notes and assignments, document their practice, etc. All public domain sheet music and other materials can also be copied directly to students' Evernote notebooks, allowing students to access much of the music they're playing on their iPads. Notes can be enriched with audio recordings, photos, videos, etc. For more on this see my Evernote blog post.
MetronomePro Tempo transforms the iPad into a full-functioning metronome.
TunerTuneUp transforms the iPad into an excellent and highly sensitive tuner.
BPM Slow DownerTempo SlowMo is an app that makes it possible to slow down pieces being practiced, allowing students to play along with recordings at whatever tempo is comfortable. I personally find this app very useful in preparing for my own performances, allowing me to effectively "rehearse" pieces at various tempi with leading ensembles before showing up to my first real rehearsal!
Note Reading TutorApps like MusicTutor are fun and effective tools for students to hone their note reading skills.
Music Theory TutorLoaded with apps like Theory Lessons and Tenuto (customizabile music theory exercises) from MusicTheory.net, the iPad is transformed into a personal music theory tutor.

Audio RecorderThe Tascam PCM Recorder is a free app that transforms the iPad into an excellent audio recorder. Tascam also sells the Tascam IM2, a stereo microphone for iOS devices, that maximizes the quality of the recorded audio.
Video RecorderThe built-in iPad video camera is an excellent tool for students to review and analyze their playing. The iMovie app allows these videos to be edited and beautifully produced.
PDF Music ReaderLoaded with a PDF music reader app, the iPad can be transformed into a portable music library. There are quite a number of PDF music reader apps available; a comparison of music reader apps is available here. forScore is perhaps the most popular.
Video ViewerThe iPad is an excellent tool for students to access online video resources, either directly on sites like YouTube or Vimeo, or embedded on a studio or other website.
Studio Website PortalThe iPad provides a very convenient portal for students to access online resources, including a studio website. 
Recorded Music LibraryWith tools like iTunes (accessible on all iOS devices) and Spotify, the iPad is an excellent portal for students to access a vast collection of recorded music (for a fee, of course!).

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