The playpad pro Music Theory Stave Instrument app is a very visual way of getting pupils to understand notation, and the relationship between lines and spaces and what they actually sound like. Here’s why we think it’s a great tool for music teachers…
What is playpad pro?
playpad pro (Musical Trixstar, £2.99) is basically an interactive musical stave which you can play by tapping on the lines and spaces. From the left hand bar, you can choose different clefs and keys, and even transpositions. The pro version has several instrument sounds (piano, electric piano, organ, guitar and electric guitar) and backing tracks pupils can play along with, and even record their performance. It’s an excellent example of how touchscreen devices can aid education, as there isn’t really any way you could intuitively link notation up with keyboard functionality on a computer.
How can it benefit the classroom?
I haven’t seen such a direct link between the notational stave and a playable instrument before playpad pro, and it really helps students to understand the relationship between played and written music. It takes music theory and makes it much more practical.
Music teachers will be impressed with the fact you can actually set the key, as well as treble and bass clefs, as this makes it really easy to teach what happens to the scale of notes in different keys. There are even transpositions for woodwind instruments within the app. You can also show or hide the names of notes too, so you can introduce pupils to where, say, C is, then when they are more confident with where notes sit on the stave, turn the note names off.
What’s the best feature?
playpad pro comes with a number of basic backing tracks and children’s songs pre-loaded to play along with and record, but also some more complex pieces in styles like the blues. This gets pupils used to what different styles of music, such as the blues minor scale, sound like. A nice feature I’ve noticed is that you can actually take any track from the iPad’s Music app and play along to it, by multitasking and having playpad pro open while the Music app runs in the background. This means music teachers could set exercises like recording a melody based on a chord backing track the teacher has created and shared to the pupils’ devices.
Where can I get it?
While there’s a free version of playpad, it’s quite limited, so we’d suggest going for playpad pro (Musical Trixstar, £2.99) from the App Store or iTunes. It’s also available under Apple’s Volume Purchase Programme (VPP) for Education, so if you’re buying more than 20 copies of the app, you get a 50% discount at £1.49 per licence. Bargain!
– Missed out on last week’s app? Check out our review of Penultimate for iPad.
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