I was recently contacted by the developer of a new app in the App Store (released in June) called Note Rush. The app “gameifies” music reading by detecting the sound of an instrument versus the pitch showed on the screen. It is a universal app on both iPhone and iPad.
Note Rush features three skins (ladybug, space, and soccer) and fifteen levels (five for treble clef, five for treble and bass clef, and five for bass clef). The app first asks you to play middle c, which establishes middle c for the instrument. In other words, if you have clarinet, it will SEE c, but play B-flat. This allows the program to painlessly take care of transposing instruments. Then notes come across the screen, and you play those notes. Depending on your speed (the goal is displayed), you earn stars for your effort.
(The three skins of Note Rush)
The app will eventually allow you to set your own parameters for your own levels, and may possibly allow users to share self-created levels with other users.
I pulled out my ukulele, and was able to work successfully through levels 1-3 on the Treble Clef area. I couldn’t go any further, as the 4th level required G below middle C. The program worked perfectly with my ukulele.
The levels are geared towards pianists first, with the intent to move along rather quickly. This may not work with your instrument or how you would want to teach instruments, so the coming ability to create your own levels or to customize the game will be much appreciated. For example, I would want to make levels for ukulele using String 3 (C & D), then String 2 (E, F, an G), then Strings 2 & 3. If you are teaching beginner band, you might want to make different tests for different instruments.
In summary, Note Rush is attractive and innovative in its approach to transposing instruments (you don’t have to choose an instrument). It will truly show its value for music educators in the near future when you are able to design your own challenges. There are other apps that share the ability to assess played pitch versus printed pitch for various instruments with customized settings, such as Staff Wars Live, another app I recommend. However, Staff Wars Live only has one theme, whereas Note Rush has three skins, and Note Rush has the famous “three star” gameification which our students have been trained to crave through popular games such as Angry Birds. The app is currently (September 2016) priced at $3.99, and when customized exercises are available, will be very much worth that price. Just remember that the ability to customize levels is not yet available (again, as of September 2016).
Thank you to Note Rush for a promo code, and as a reminder, when you purchase an app from a referral link, a percentage of the purchase comes back to the author out of Apple’s 30% of the sale price–the developer continues to receive their full portion of the app purchase price.