Using the iPad for Music Theory

The iPad is a great piece of technology to use in music lessons.  

1. Students use these everyday so are overjoyed to use something they associate with games and fun!

2. Using it for music theory lessons saves on paper and ink, so the environment is thanking you.

3. Learning doesn’t need to stop when they leave the piano studio, being able to replicate what they did on class on their home iPad ensures they will reinforce what they learned at their lesson.

4. Parents love to see what their child is learning and how they are progressing.  Instead of sending home bits of paper that may never leave the music case, you can quickly take a screenshot of the work, or save it as a pdf. (To take a screenshot, hold the Power button and press the Home button then release both). These can be quickly attached to email and voila, the parent is instantly involved and very proud of their child’s work.


What do I need?

When teaching with my iPad I use a stylus which allows the student to navigate and execute actions with more precision.  I paid around $30 for mine 3 years ago, but you can pick these up relatively cheap now.  I just picked up another one last week for $5. There are many apps, (free and paid) that you can use in lessons, I like to use the Notability app, (link below) when teaching.  It allows you to change colors, change line thickness, undo, save as a pdf and is really straight forward to use. It has paid for itself 20 times over! 


How to use the iPad in lessons?

DYNAMICS  - With a blank page draw “mf” then ask them what it means and tell them to play it on the piano. Then ask them to draw the sign that tells us to play “quietly" but it has to be in blue.  Assign a different color to each dynamic marking, and have them play the sound on the piano, or say their name at that volume to reinforce.


NOTES - Download my large staff paper and have the student draw a purple E on a space, an orange C on a space etc… Learning stem direction is sometimes quite challenging for younger students, so the undo button (usually an arrow facing left) is great.  Not only does it erase the mistake, but from a practical standpoint, you are not left with eraser residue around a page, or shavings around the piano, so the students is left feeling really positive about the finished, clean result. 


CLEFS - Sometimes we get so caught up on notes that clefs get pushed to the side.  Download my large staff paper and have the student practice drawing clefs.  Start by drawing the first one and have them draw the following using a different color for each one.  If they make a mistake and need to start again, let them press “undo" and watch their smiling face as the mistake disappears and they set to work on redoing their masterpiece!


Incorporating music theory into piano lessons is a must, but unfortunately it can be a bit boring for students, so try some of these ideas, see how they work in your studio, with your students.  Feel free to share your own theory tricks for iPad.  Happy teaching/learning!


Copyright © 2018 Angela Dwyer