At the iPad presentation I gave at the MMEA Mid-Winter Convention, I mentioned the three music apps on the iPads at GFW High School. After the session, the music director (band and choir), Mrs. Grack, stopped by to say hello. It was a pleasure to finally meet her!
Now that the presentations are over, I’ve had a chance to think about them, and I wanted to address the three music apps at GFW. I presented them as a matter of interest, but I can see how (especially compared to the other app lists I presented) having “only” three apps might appear as a negative.
So, let me clear the air on this–no insult was meant to GFW (I don’t think offense was taken, either). Some things to consider:
1) When GFW decided to adopt the iPad as a 1-to-1 device, it wasn’t yet available on the market. They were on the cutting edge.
2) Software continues to be developed for iOS and the iPad. Even though there may be 100,000/60,000 iOS apps (all/iPad Only), that doesn’t mean that there are a ton of apps or were a ton of apps appropriate for the classroom–particularly when requested apps had to be submitted by the end of the summer.
3) Apple changed the rules on iPad and iOS apps. In the past, the practice was, “Buy once, install unlimited.” in the middle of the summer, Apple changed the educational use of apps, ultimately offering discounts but requiring a purchased app for every device in a school. That was a huge shift in thinking and in cost for the school. Surely, it is more fair to developers,but it changes how many apps you can afford to buy. As a result, teachers were asked to request a limited number of apps, particularly those that cost money. It makes sense in my book to require a tuner (a reliable one) and a metronome (a reliable one) if your funding for apps is limited. Glee was a good app for vocalists (and other students) as it acknowledges the popularity and impact of that show on our society.
4) Most importantly, new apps are coming out, such as Symphony Pro, which have great potential for Music Ed.
As new and/or improved apps continue to be released, and as GFW continues the iPad project, I am positive that additional music apps will be added to student iPads.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Grack is adding great resources, like YouTube files, to her Wiki, and is even experimenting with some iBand activities. There is no “How-to” available for integrating an iPad in a music curriculum. So–by all means–I think three, solid starting apps on student iPads is a great place to start. I admire Mrs. Grack and all of the GFW faculty, staff, and students for being trailblazers in what will probably become the defacto piece of technology in our classrooms.