If you are a private music teacher, you probably have a bag full of things you have to carry around daily. Your teaching bag doubles as your mobile office and you use absolutely everything in it on a regular basis.
Modern technology has changed the game. Apps are available for almost anything you could imagine. The following apps are must haves for private music teachers or any freelancer. They will make your studio run smoothly while helping you avoid the hassle of carrying around everything but the kitchen sink.
Evernote is a great app for teachers in general. It is a note taking app that you can sync across multiple devices. In addition to note taking, you can upload files and photos into your digital notebooks and have anything you need at your fingertips. It is a great tool for organizing your schedule and keeping student records.
I create a notebook for each school I teach at. In each notebook is a file for every student I teach at that school. I record lesson notes, assignments, repertoire, and can even upload a copy of the solo they are currently working on so I have everything I could possibly need in lessons.
Evernote also has a variety of templates available to download and use for free.
Tonal energy is a paid app that is totally worth the price. It’s primary purpose is to be used as a tuner but it also has a metronome as well as recording capabilities.
It measures cents sharp/flat and will give the student a green smiley face if they are in tune or a purple “concerned” face if they are very out of tune. You can adjust the settings to accommodate Winds, Strings, or voice as well as set the tuning range to make it more challenging to get the smiley. I find that students are more likely to practice with a tuner at home solely because of the smiley face feature.
In addition to being a tuner, students can also use Tonal Energy to practice with a drone using the pitch wheel. Using the sustain feature on this wheel allows you to sustain one or more pitches. Students can then tune to the drone or practice fitting their pitch into a chord.
Sight Reading Factory
Sight Reading Factory is both an app for music teachers and students, as well as a website for those who don’t have access to a tablet or prefer a larger screen. It requires a subscription but again is worth the money. It uses an algorithm to generate unique sight reading excerpts for up to six difficulty levels. It is highly customizable and can be used with all wind instrument, strings, percussion, piano, voice, guitar, concert band, choir, and orchestra. Each difficulty level can be generated in a variety of key signatures, as well as in any major or minor key.
The sight reading excerpt can be generated instantly in “regular practice” or you can set it up as a timed practice which gives the student from 5 to 60 seconds to look at the piece before playing it. It can also be played with a metronome, a moving cursor, or a midi recording. This is one of the best music education apps out there and will make your students proficient sight readers in no time.
Trello is an app that lets you create boards to organize your business and your life. Like Evernote, it will sync across multiple platforms so as long as you are logged in, you can see your boards on your phone, tablet, or computer.
The boards are fully customizable. You can add multiple cards and then place multiple tasks on those cards. It is also very easy to move tasks back and forth between cards. I use Trello for this website, my private studio, trip planning, personal finance, and any other projects I am currently working on.
Trello is a great way to keep your business tasks organized. The number of boards you can create is unlimited, and like Evernote, there are a variety of sample boards available to download for free.
The Music Tutor app is a great fun and free app to use with your younger music students to work on quick note recognition. Once you press start, the student has 60 seconds to get as many note names correct as they can. Students love it because they are always trying to beat their best score.
The app is simple to use but is still customizable and allows you to change the flash cards to treble, bass, or alto clef. You can also change the duration of the game from 60 seconds to 5 minutes, 10 minutes, or infinity as well as add sharps or flats to the notes.
Youtube is an app every private music teacher needs. It offers a vast array of videos and to be honest, your students probably know how to use it better than you!
Today’s students live on youtube so why not work that to your advantage. There are a number of live recordings of almost any standard solo available out there as well as instructional videos (how to make an oboe reed) and masterclasses taught by prominent teachers.
Voice memo is an app that comes on most phones. Most of us don’t even think about using it in private lessons but it can be quite useful. It is a great tool to make quick notes on the way to the car, or between students. You can make quick reminders to send a late payment notice, pull a solo from your home library, or remember to bring something to lessons next week.
It can also be used to make a recording of your student for instant playback to review with them, or you can record yourself playing their solo or etude and either text or email it to them. I will often record a student’s audition piece slowly with a metronome so that they can play along with it in their home practice.
Forscore is a great way to digitize your music library and cut down on the amount of music you have to carry around on a daily basis. At a tap of the screen, you can instantly have access to handouts, solos, etudes, duets…basically anything you want to upload.
Forscore also allows you to annotate the music, make notes (so you can remember what student played what solo), and even has a metronome and tuner built right in.
Unfortunately, Forscore is only available on the iOS platform.
Why you should cross over to the digital side…
Say goodbye to shoulder pain, back pain, and the sheer frustration of forgetting to throw something in your teaching bag. All of you music, calendars, metronome, and tuner can be carried on one light weight tablet.
Say goodbye to copying handouts or music for your students. You can simply email them the file they need and they can either print it out at home or use their own tablet to read it.
Embrace the digital age and use these apps to organize your studio and your life!