This year, part of my presentation process has been to demonstrate HOW specific apps work, rather than “just” to showcase a list of apps. The “list of apps” presentations are still popular, but after a while, the question moves from “What apps do I buy?” to “How do I use these in my teaching?”
Generally, I’m focusing on three apps in these presentations: forScore, Noteshelf, and Keynote. I think that these three apps, for the music educator, can take care of 95% of all the technology we’ve had in our classrooms from the dawn of classroom music instruction with Lowell Mason to today.
forScore is simply representative of PDF music readers. It is the prettiest app for doing so, and it truly has the most options of any PDF music reader. When I present the “list of apps” session I still show up to four PDF Music Readers, because in my opinion, you always want a backup program. I still like unrealBook, which has nearly as many options as forScore. The best part about unrealBook? The developer continues to update the app so it works better for him in live performance. He listens to user feedback and incorporates that feedback, but first and foremost, it is an app for his own use, which means that a great amount of passion is placed into that app. I really love that about unrealBook. Either forScore or unrealBook at $4.99. You can also safely consider DeepDishDesigns GigBook and The Gig Easy App.
Noteshelf is a notetaking app that can also be used to mirror on a surface, and it has a ton of features, including staff paper. $5.99.
And Keynote is Apple’s own brilliant presentation app. It only has two major downfalls…you cannot write on presentations and you cannot embed audio files (there’s a LONG work around, but it isn’t worth it). Hopefully these will be fixed in the next version on Keynote. $9.99.
Again, those three apps can do nearly everything we’ve been able to do with technology in music education from the 1800s to today. That’s a great starting point for “substitution” of what we already do. Other apps can take us beyond that point.
There are literally a ton of apps that can be used in music education at different levels in different ways (I don’t actually know how much they weigh, but there are thousands of apps). Some need to be used in a traditional format where the teacher leads the responses, others could be used in small groups or centers, and still others could be used 1-on-1. There’s no “textbook” way to do things, and that can drive some teachers crazy. Others will find that they love that freedom.
In music education, we’re still lacking “free and clear” legal resources for iPads. Publishers aren’t making digital music available (or if they are, it is at an unreasonable cost, the same as printed music). Elementary resources are not available as Interactive iBooks (how cool would that be?). We know the 2017 digitial-only deadline from the Department of Education and the FCC is coming soon (5 years away), but in a rare situation, we finally have the technology platform we need to go digital, but we don’t have those resources. And audio continues to be a stumbling point for the iPad. I’m hoping this gets fixed in the future as well.
In the next year(s), I see presentations continuing with “list of apps” and “how to” sessions. But I also foresee a series of presentations based around best practices and what really works with these devices. But first, you need to know what apps to buy out of the 200,000 that are available, and then how to use them.