Ms. Lisa Burns

Teacher at Avenues: The World School


A super nice member!

I teach: Music


April 4, 2013

I have my students turn in essentially all of their individual work via Google Drive, and this app allows me to access their folders on my iPad.

So far, I found that this tool is not very useful for creating or editing Google documents on the iPad. However, it is fairly effective for viewing files. My students generate many short videos, and I am able to synchronize the ones I want so that they are available for viewing off-line. This is much easier than opening the videos in iTunes from Google Drive on my PC, creating a playlist, and then transferring to the iPad. This makes a big difference for me in terms of viewing/grading assignments, because I can do it on the subway, at the gym, etc.

I have not yet had students use this app, and I don’t see a reason to at the moment. It is not the most user-friendly app, and I think it is easier for them to stick to using Google Drive on their laptops.

This app has a number of great features. It includes a variety of different warm-up patterns, but not too many. There are pre-set warm-up sets that can be used, and it is also possible to customize a warm-up routine. Although this does not include all of the melodic patterns I use with my students, I like that they can easily customize the range, or select a pre-set range based upon voice type. Also, it is easy to adjust the tempo. I think this is a lot easier than having my students manipulate multiple individual files in Garage Band on one hand OR generating many, many different mp3s on the other hand, which would be my other best options for having students practice exercises at home. (I am looking at this as a tool for a choir class, rather than private lessons, so teaching them to guide their warm-ups on the piano is less practical).

April 4, 2013

I tried out this app as a possibility for my vocal students to do warm-ups on their own with their iPads, and decided against it for several reasons. It requires the user to build all of the warm-ups from scratch. Yes, this means you can customize it a fair amount, but it is too complicated for my middle school students, and probably too complicated for most high school students as well. The patterns that are built in are not patterns I typically use in class as they almost all span an octave or more. Also, the program mislabels accidentals and does not have natural signs when needed.

I decided that the Vocal Warm-Up app is a better option for students, even though it is less customizable.

April 4, 2013

Theory Lessons in an attractive mobile app that captures the lessons feature of the website Although I have used the exercises featured (captured in the Tenuto app) much more with students, this is also a useful tool.

Visually, this is a very attractive app. I find it useful for differentiation – students who are significantly ahead of or behind the rest of the class can study music theory concepts independently. However, this is much more effective for advanced students than for beginners, because the lessons, while animated, are not interactive. This is not my preferred way to teach music theory concepts.

It is a useful reference, though. It is quite comprehensive. Some, but not all, of the lessons have a listening feature. The language is technical. I think these lessons are most useful for high school or adult students, while the Tenuto exercises can be used effectively by younger students.

April 4, 2013

I compared several different sheet-music reading programs, and this one is my favorite. It is fairly easy to set up a PDF score to scroll automatically by tagging the measures and setting the tempo. You can identify different time signatures for different measures, and set particular measures to be slower or faster than others. You can also add repeats, first and second endings, etc. As I teach chorus, though, my students can turn their own pages and do not need this feature.

In terms of annotating, it is nice that the app allows students to automatically add some musical symbols in addition to marking up the music with a pen. It does not seem to have an audio annotation tool, however. I decided to have my students use iAnnotate instead, largely because they use it for English class, and find that it has many useful customizable features.

April 4, 2013

Rhythm in Reach allows students to practice sight-reading rhythms and to take graded tests on different levels. The app includes many different levels, and is fairly easy to use.

However, after comparing the two, I prefer "Rhythm Sight Reading Trainer" for several reasons. It is more customizable and includes more advanced levels. It has the option of sending reports, which Rhythm in Reach does not. It has a more attractive interface and is available for the iPad as well as iPhone. Finally, its visual method of assessing performance is, I think, much easier for a student to understand than the descriptive assessment in Rhythm in Reach.

On the other hand, Rhythm in Reach is simpler to use overall. Also, as far as I have discovered so far, Rhythm and Reach does not have any technically-incorrect notation at the advanced levels like Rhythm Sight Reading Trainer.

April 4, 2013

Tenuto is the attractive, highly user-friendly version of a website called In the past, I’ve used the website exercises with music students from age 10 through adult with great success.

There are a variety of exercises in Tenuto, and each exercise is highly customizable. For example, for a basic note identification exercise, I can choose any number of clefs and key signatures, turn accidentals on or off, and customize the range. There’s a keyboard note identification tool, chord tools (staff and keyboard), interval identification (by sight and by ear), etc. These are essentially flashcard-type activities with many options. It keps track of your score. Unfortunately, unlike the website, it does not generate reports. Thus I opt to have my students send screenshots showing their cumulative scores.

These exercises are great for students learning very basic concepts, but can also be quite advanced. I like to play with the 7th chord ear training tool. You can select which seventh chords are include, whether you will hear the arpeggiated, as block chords, or both, whether the arpeggios will be played ascending, descending or both, how quickly the arpeggios will be played, and what instrument sound you will hear.

I just started using Rhythm Sight Reading Trainer, a.k.a. ReadRhythm, with my 7th and 8th grade music students, and I am very excited for the possibilities. It is highly customizable. Students can practice rhythms with only whole notes, half notes and quarter notes all the way up through extremely complex rhythms. There is the option of playing the rhythms by tapping a little drum pad (you can customize the sounds) OR – and this I love – clapping or speaking the rhythm! (If you turn on the microphone). There is an endurance test where students see how many rhythms of a particular level they can do in a row, a speed test, an expert level, a flexible metronome… etc!

One of the best features is that the program allows students to send a variety of different reports directly to the teacher by email. All I have to do is have them input my email address once and then they can easily send reports by clicking a little mail icon.

A few downsides: because it has so many options, it takes a little bit of time to learn how to use it most effectively. Also, some of the advanced rhythms notate in a way that is actually not correct. I plan to steer my students away from these levels.