Scale Helper

Scale helper is an app designed to help improve your scales.  You can purchase scales for a specific grade or make your own syllabus. The strength of this app is in the different ways that it can be used. You can play any scale, choose a specific scale from a list or challenge yourself.  The app lets you see and hear what you have played and gives a score, which is recorded.


scale box

Scale box is intended to make scale and arpeggio practice more fun.  It covers ABRSM grades 1 to 5 for 11 common instruments. You can choose practice or exam modes. Practice  which gives the options of quick (5 tests), regular (10 tests), extended (15 tests) or open-ended. The player has to select how they played the scale by a traffic light system, red (many errors), amber (a few errors) or green (mastered). The player is given feedback on their performance at the end of the session. Users can share their progress by email, twitter or facebook.

iOS and Android

aural tests
aural trainer grades 1-5

The official ABRSM app for practising aural tests for grades 1-5. Available in lite (free for grades 1 and 4) and full versions. The navigation takes a little getting used to, but it is an excellent tool to use in lessons and for the pupil in their own time.


audio recording
PCM recorder

A recording app by Tascam. Very simple to use and allows you to set the input level (not all voice record apps do). Produces acceptable quality recordings without an external microphone. Records in WAV format and recordings can be uploaded to Soundcloud or transferred to a computer. 



This is an 4-track recorder for iPhone or iPod touch, StudioMiniXL is an 8-track recorder for iPad. StudioMini is intuitive to use and allows you to easily make multi-track recordings. This can be used in a one to one lesson to get a pupil to record both parts of a duet. Songs can be exported by email, iTunes File Sharing, or WiFi Sync.


my rhythm

MyRhythm takes a different approach to practising rhythms focussing on developing rhythmic co-ordination. There are three different modes, study, creative and challenge. Learners are shown a grid with corresponding pink and blue pads that have to be tapped in time to the play back. Excellent for improving awareness of pulse and much more fun than a metronome.


rhythm in reach

Designed to improve reading rhythms, this app offers up to 10 levels of difficulty in four different time signatures, 2/4. 3/4, 4/4 and 6/8. Level 1 uses whole beats. It could be off putting to have a count down to the start of each test, but pupils don't seem to find that a problem. There isn't any reminder about the length of notes. A report at the end gives a score and identifies missed or late notes. Scores and the levels reached are saved for each user. More suitable for high school children


rhythm cat

Ideal for young  or young at heart beginners with its graphics and sounds. Intuitive to use there are clear explanations of how long each note lasts. Users have to tap the correct rhythm in time with the music, which changes style and tempo between exercises. There are four stages with 15 levels in each stage


reading notes
note squish 

Another fun app making a game out of learning to read music. Ideal for younger primary school children, they have 60 seconds to identify as many notes as possible and tap the correct cartoon mole on the head as it pops out of the hole. The game can be customised with different, ranges of notes, clefs (treble, alto, and bass) and speeds.



SightRead 4ABRSM piano is perhaps one of the best know in this series of apps. Choose the grade from 1-8 and you are given 30 seconds to prepare. Tap the screen to begin the test, you are given a metronome click to play with. Using this system you can not go back if you make a mistake as the music disappears from the screen once you get to the end of a bar. The SightRead4 range has now been extending to include bowed strings and guitar. This is a well thought out app, easy to use and good for developing sight-reading skills.


music theory pro

Offering tests in note names, key signatures, chords, scales and ear training (tempos, intervals, chords, and scales), this app offers a useful way for pupils to develop their musical knowledge and listening skills. Easy to use with a score presented at the end of each test. There is customisation available, with the option of a beginner mode.



Tenuto is the mobile version of the exercises and calculators on the website. This provides exercises in identifying notes, key signatures, intervals, chords and much more. It is very quick and easy to customise exercises to make them suitable for all levels, even complete beginners. This is extremely useful to use in a lesson where internet access isn't available. Using the website allows teachers to customise exercises and create a permanent URL linking to the exercise that can be shared with pupils. 


mobile metronome

Easy to use, a range of sounds and a range of time signatures. There are metronomes that offer more such as different subdivisions of the beat. An excellent replacement for a traditional metronome and it is free. Ideal for pupils who would never consider buying a traditional metronome. 


time guru metronome

A metronome with a difference. This will leave out beats at random so you don't become reliant on the click and have to strengthen your own internal sense of pulse. Interesting to practice with especially at a slow tempo

​Android and iOS


One of many apps that allow the user to  slowdown the tempo of a recording. You can also adjust the pitch (very useful for singers) . The basic app is free, Anytune Pro+ also allows the creation of loops, which makes it a useful practice and teaching tool. Very easy to use, and songs can be imported straight from the playlist.


tuner/tone analysis
total energy tuner

There are many tuners on the market, which function in the same way as a standard tuner. Total Energy Tuner is a multi-purpose application aimed helping the user develop their tuning, tone and phrasing. There are three different screens, Tuner, Tone Generator, and Analysis. The first tuner screen is always popular as you get a green smiley face when the note is in tune. Equal and Just temperaments are supported. The analysis screen provides a waveform analyser, you can use this with recordings or in real time to visually see the attack and decay on a note or how a whole phrase is shaped. This is a well though out app useful for teachers, musicians of all standards and child friendly.



A simple replacement for a tuner. Ideal for pupils who would not otherwise buy a tuner, easy to use and free (with adverts). Features include different temperaments,  microphone sensitivity set up, and a pitch pipe.


sheet music

musicroom/sheet music

These are two very similar apps (different in name only) offering instant download of digital sheet music (one printout can be made from your on-line account).  The music player is adequate and as you would expect sounds mechanical. Where the app scores highly is the ability to transpose, change tempo and change the instrumentation. If you have a student who wants to play more popular music this app could be very popular. 


music creation
garage band

In addition to all the creative compositional possibilities offered by Garage Band, one of the most interesting uses of this app is how it allows the iPad to be used as an instrument. Pupils can access good quality string, guitar, bass, and drum sounds which can be played simply by a touch or swipe. At the next level the app offers virtual fretboards, keyboards and drum kits allowing pupils to learn more about how the sound is produced, something which a keyboard couldn't do. For children this can offer a way into learning about music and encourage them to play a real rather than virtual instrument. 


music readers

This app is one for the teachers. It allows you to organise and annotate your digital scores. The view is extremely crisp and clear so the size of the screen isn't an issue.  Page turns are just a tap on the screen, there is no delay. Set lists can be created and bookmarks added to long scores with multiple scores. The app incorporates many features that have been requested by users. A joy to use.


teacher records

iDoceo is advertised as a teacher's assistant. It combines a grade book, planner, diary, schedule and resources. You can import data from spreadsheets and email records. It is very easy to keep a quick record of each lesson, or if you use written notebooks, just take a photo of the page at the end of the lesson. For each class/group you set up there is a virtual pin board to which you can attach notes or import documents from Google Drive or Dropbox. No internet connection is required. The drawback to this is that you can't use it on different devices or on-line, but a very useful tool and customer support is excellent.




This one has already had a mention in the pages on sharing information. It is a social media platform for education. One way of using it in instrumental lessons is to create a small group for each lesson taught. Lesson records can be recorded in a new note which can be viewed by the pupil, teacher, and parents (you have the choice to give them access). The app needs an internet connection to work and works best in conjunction with using the website to add other resources. Students can also use the app to see their records and resources and post notes.

iOS and Android


There are a huge range of applications for mobiles and tablets on different platforms. The following is a selective list  of apps current at the time of writing (August 2014) that have been identified by instrumental teachers as being useful in lessons. There are lots of essential apps replacing existing hardware (e.g. metronomes and tuners), so this list looks at apps offering a new way of learning or practising music, apps offering functionality that was previously only available using expensive software or hardware.

Android has plenty of tuner and metronome apps and offers a multitrack audio recorder (Audio Evolution Recorder), but the industry preference for iOS is apparent in the availability of apps.

With the exception of Edmodo, all apps work without an internet connection.

ideas for teaching with technology

Technology Toolkit