Staff Wars Available on iPad!
Hats off to Katie Wardrobe, author of Midnight Music for mentioning this the other day, but Staff Wars 1 (link to the app) is now available on the App Store for iPad. The app was released on February 8th, so I consider it a brand new app.
Staff Wars is a Star Wars inspired note naming game that was originally (and still is) offered on PC and Mac at themusicinteractive.com. There is also a Staff Wars 2, where students play a note on their instrument to “name” the note. Staff Wars 2 is not available on the iPad (at least, not yet).
I attended a session at the Iowa Music Educators Professional Development Conference a few years ago where Chad Criswell, author of Music Ed Magic (as well as technology feature writer for NAfME and its journals, such as Teaching Music), talked about Staff Wars (2) and how much his students loved the program. The Mac and PC apps on themusicinteractive.com are free; but I personally support developers getting into iOS and charging a small fee for their apps (think Ricci Adams, bringing musictheory.net to iOS with Tenuto ($3.99) and Theory Lessons ($2.99)
As a secondary teacher who has been teaching in middle school and high school, I can attest that in general, students don't know their note names–even with the best efforts of their elementary teachers in general music and elementary performance groups. Anything we can do to gameify this process can help.
The concept of the app is pretty simple: as each note appears, you touch the corresponding letter name. The app works well, and difficulty ramps up rather quickly. I find the letter names hard to work with, such as when completing a “B” (at the end of the row) and then a “C” comes along at a high rate of speed (right now, I have only reached level 13). As you select the right note, a laser emits from the X-Wing and takes out the “Death Star” note (It's a whole note, not a Death Star, but I figured I would reach for it.).
I think students will resonate with this app, and I know music teachers are hoping that Staff Wars 2 will come out for iPad. At $0.99, the app is inexpensive. Apple recently changed its App Store, removing the ability to check out academic volume pricing for an app without holding an authorized VPP account (I wish they would add this back), so I do not know if the app is available for volume purchase pricing with orders of 20 or more. And yes, as usual, I sent an e-mail to Apple as soon as I discovered this.
There are other apps that will serve a similar function as Staff Wars, such as Flashnote Derby ($2.99) and Treble Cat HD ($4.99). However, at $0.99, Staff Wars (if you choose note to use the links, which are referral links, be sure to look for “StaffWars” with no space in the App Store) is undoubtedly the best deal for such a note naming game on the App Store. Also consider pairing this game with Quaver's QAstroNotes (also $0.99) to reinforce subdivision of rhythm with students (Asteroids with musical notes–fun).