There are so many music apps out there for iDevices making it may be hard to decide which ones are best. Once you find apps that you may think would work for you and the musicians in your classroom, it is important to decide if it will create opportunities for musicians to do new things in new ways. I would recommend that you download the chosen app yourself and play with it. Create something. The musicians that visit your room will have no issues navigating an app themselves, but I find it useful to know the app well enough to be able to authentically create a musical experience that is relevant to the musicians and to scaffold a musician if needed.
We are not teaching the apps. We are creating experiences for musicians to listen, perform and create music supported by technology. I have had a set of iPads in my classroom for the past 2 years and have gathered some apps that support the ways we experience music. These may or may not work for you and your students. Many have multiple entry points to support musicians with differentiated prior experiences. Some cost more than others, but well worth the cost.
From the multi-touch instruments to smart instruments, this is a powerhouse music creation app. GarageBand has multiple points of entry to create opportunities for musicians with different experience levels to perform and create together. The new update supports up to 32 tracks of recorded sound and hosts many internal loops. Starting a Jam Session allows you to play or record live over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth with up to three other musicians. The musician who initiates the Jam Session collects everyone’s recordings so they can be mixed as a song and be shared later. This is an app that is used by all of the musicians in my classes for many of the projects they create.
2. MadPad HD
Remix your life with MadPad! Turn everyday sounds into an instrument. You can create custom soundboards with the sounds from your surrounding environment and remix them into a musical creation. Record loops and add layers live while recording the piece to share later. You can also share your soundboards on Twitter and FaceBook. This app is great when discovering organized sound, simultaneity, and texture. I also scaffold this app with VidRhythm.
Korg has created an incredible interface using an intuitive X-Y pad to provide expressive musical control. The Pad loads entire scenes and gives control to single tracks of many different electronic genres. From Electro House to Dubstep, musicians manipulate melody, harmony, rhythm, texture, and mix by stroking, tapping, or rubbing the screen with their finger. The built-in loop sequencer lets you layer up to five musical parts on one scene. You can record your performance in real time, or export a completed loop as an audio file and share directly to SoundCloud. My colleague who teaches middle school choir wanted to recreate a dubstep remix of a piece they were performing. The singers asked me if there was an app to add wobble bass to their piece. This was it.
4. Traktor DJ
This is a Pro DJ app. Create remixes and mashups quite easily with Traktor DJ with direct access to your iTunes library. The 2 deck interface continues the familiar swipe and pinch gestures. This app gives you complete control of your music beginning with automatic tempo and key matching, a crossfader, 3-band EQ, and filter on each channel. There are built in DJ effects including reverb, delay, and dramatic glitch effects like BeatMasher. My secondary general music class used Traktor DJ for their final project. They put together an Electronic Music Event. Each musician contributed a 5 min. live set mixing music of their choice. It was an incredible evening.
When performing, this app is awesome for soloing. ThumbJam enables expressive performances by making use of tilt and shake to add vibrato, tremolo, note bends, and volume swells for more realistic results. There are many instruments to choose from and the sounds are very nice. ThumbJam broadcasts tempo, key, and scale to other nearby devices via Bluetooth so many musicians can be in sync live.
As I finish this post, I think I need to create a series of posts for different areas of experiencing music. I will write posts for listening and performing as well. Stay tuned.