Practice Plus App Review and Giveaway

 

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It’s been a while since I have heard from the folks at Dynamic App Design, who made Metronome Plus, my favorite iPhone and iPad metronome app. Well,  they sent me this great new app that has just been released and now I have a new favorite. I found it easy to use, with music teachers and students in mind.

Let’s face it, I don’t have a lot of time at a lesson to fiddle around with an app, trying to remember how it works. Maybe if I were a 5th grader it would be easier.

Practice+ is a music practice app for musicians, teachers, and students.  All the fine features of Metronome Plus are here, but much more has been added.

Here is the exciting part that is such a helpful practice tool. Let’s say I have a tricky spot I want to speed up gradually. Usually I have to set my metronome, play it, go back to the metronome, reset it, and play again.

Now, I can set the metronome to the number of measures I want to practice and to increase the tempo after each play-through.

I tried this out with a section of music I am working on.  First, I set the starting metronome tempo to 80. Then in the top left box, I set the measure numbers to 2. In the middle box, I set the number of clicks I wanted the metronome to increase after each play-through loop.  The first time it was 80, the second it was 81, etc. I could have set it to increase more after each loop.

The box on the right shows how many times you have played the loop and what tempo range you used. The metronome speed is easily changed using the big plus and minus signs on each side of the metronome.

The loop practice feature really raises a metronome app to an entire new level!

Another extra is the recording feature. A teacher can record a tricky passage and email it to the student.

It also has a tuner, which will come in handy for piano students who play a band or orchestral instrument.

This app is $3.99 in the app store. Trust me, (having observed someone develop an app), it takes months to write the code for an app, and I think the price is very reasonable.

To learn about more features in the app, go to http://dynamicappdesign.com/practiceplus/
The iTunes link is here.

Today, I am happy to be able to give away this great new app to 3 lucky winners!

To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment below by Saturday, August 23, at midnight CST. The winners will receive a code to redeem the app from the Apple iTune store. I will email the code to the winners after the deadline. Be sure you are using a valid email address when you comment.

This app requires iOS 7.0 or later. It is compatible only with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. If you’re not sure what iOS version you are using, go into Settings>General>About>Version.

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Grand Staff Binder Covers and Using Binders in Music Lessons

Covers for Student Music Binders

 Binder Covers

The front and back covers of binders are valuable real estate for learning. I noticed when I started incorporating theory information on the binder cover, they learned it easier because they see it all the time. Well, that is, if they practice they see it all the time! :)

It is well worth the few extra dollars to buy your students the kind of binder that works the best in your lessons. In my studio, the cost of the binder is deducted from their book and activity fee. However, some teachers include the price in either a registration fee or build it into the tuition fee.

I use one inch binders, and I buy the more expensive  “Clear Cover Heavy Duty” binders made by Avery. (I’m including a link to Amazon for those of you who can’t get to a store.) These are often a lot more expensive, but you can get them at the big box stores in the Back to School section for a few dollars this time of year. The thing I really like about this particular binder is the “one touch” open and close. It easily opens with one hand and I do not need to take the binder off the music rack to open it.

I print my assignment sheets on both sides, and I punch holes in both sides of the page. Then all I have to do is turn the page over to reuse it. All that page hole-punching is a lot easier since I bought an electric hole puncher  on Amazon. I’ve had it now for 3 or 4 years and it’s still going strong. It punches about 15 pages at a time. My advice is to keep it cleaned out and if your paper is thicker, such as card stock or 24 pound, put in less than recommended. My assignment page is a free download. The early childhood one is here.

The binder covers you see today match the design I posted two weeks ago. I have some students who are too young for key signature charts, so I use the grand staff binder cover instead.

Included in today’s PDF printable are:

  • A front cover with the notes of the grand staff labeled for students who are too young for a key signature chart.
  • A black and white version of the same staff.
  • The grand staff in landscape view with the notes labeled.
  • The grand staff in landscape without the note names so students can write them in.
  • The grand staff in landscape in black and white.

The version of the landscape grand staff  is similar to the one I posted last year, but it uses less ink. I laminated it and made a poster out of it but it also makes a nice binder cover. The unlabeled one is great to put inside a clear sheet protector to practice writing note names with a dry or wet erase marker. It also works on an iPad. If you don’t know how to print one page from a multi-page PDF, please see my FAQ.

When I decided to switch over to using binders, I was a little worried it would be too cumbersome and a lot of trouble. Now I have it down to a science and it works great. Teachers have a place to add Picture Scales, (legal) music downloads, and theory sheets. The pocket on the front makes a great place to store sheet music. Many teachers add a small yearly charge for the cost of ink and paper.

[Disclosure: If you buy something from my link to Amazon, I make a few cents to support the expenses of maintaining this website, so thank you for your support.  However, I encourage you to check out prices to find the best buys in your area. I absolutely do not link to something unless I have it myself and I think it is a good price.]

 

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Composer Memory Game

Composer Memory Game

Composer Memory Game

Would you like your students to learn a little bit about famous composers, but you don’t have a lot of lesson time? I’ve made a set of composers you can cut out and glue on the inside of a milk caps. I used card stock and Elmer’s ‘Extreme School Glue Stick’.

If you don’t have a set of caps available, ask your piano parents to collect them for you. My students really enjoyed bringing the caps to me. I have enough now to last as long as I teach piano!

If you don’t have caps, the printable is made with a cutting grid, so you can cut out the composers as small cards. However, my students really liked the milk caps and thought they were a lot of fun, so I encourage you to make them that way.

I had a hard time deciding which composers to include. If I’ve left off your favorite classical composer, leave a comment and when I get enough suggestions, I’ll make a second set!  Stick to the old composers because the portraits of modern composers are protected by copyright, although I can use just their name and not a picture.

An important part of the game is for students to say the composer’s name as they turn over the cap to help them learn the correct pronunciation. After a while, they will be saying Tchaikovsky and Chopin like a pro!

This printable is for private use only. You are welcome to print this and use it with your students. Please read the first page and follow the terms of use included in the PDF.

Objective

  • To become familiar with the names of the great classical composers.
  • To learn how to pronounce their names.
  • To reinforce visual recognition skills.

 Ages

  • All ages of students.

 Number of Players

  • Two or more players. The teacher can play with a student, or students can play in groups.

Materials

  • Sixteen plastic beverage caps (lids) the size of milk jugs.
  • The PDF printable included in this post.
  • Scissors and glue stick to construct the playing pieces.
  • If caps are not available, the cards can be cut out and used.

Directions

  • Print and cut out the pictures of the composers, cutting them in small circles that fit the inside of the lids.
  • Glue the composer pictures on the inside of the plastic caps.
  • Place the caps on a table, face down, with four rows and four columns and the composer face not visible.
  • Players take turns selecting two caps and turning them to the picture side to see if they match.
  • Students say the names of the composers as they turn the caps.
  • If the two caps are the same, the player gets to keep them. If not, they return the caps to the same spot, face down again.
  • Play continues until all the caps are matched.

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2014-2015 Calendar, Key Signature Chart, and Reminder Cards


2014-2015 Calendar Set

Calendar 2014-2015

It’s time to start planning for fall semester lessons. An organized studio is a happy studio where parents and students know well in advance what is coming up!

There are 3 pages in this document, a calendar, a matching key signature chart and a set of reminder snail-mail postcards.

This 2014-2015 calendar is designed for you to type your studio events in the center. I suggest you put dates for:

  • Festivals, including sign-up deadlines
  • Recitals
  • Holiday breaks
  • Days your studio will be closed
  • Group lesson dates
  • Deadlines to memorize music for events

After you print the calendar, measure where you would like to set your margins in a word processing program like Word or Pages. Here are the margins I used:

  • Left – 2.50
  • Right – 1. 25
  • Top – 1. 25
  • Bottom – .75

Calendar Binder Cover

However, the margins are going to depend on your printer and the font size you choose. I suggest using only one font with a size of around 11. The above photo uses 11 point Arial.

In the first line, I put my studio email address. In the second line, I added my phone number where parents can text me if they are running late. Skip several lines and start your studio schedule on the left margin. When you finish, go back and center the headings. I also increased the font size and changed the color.

After printing the calendars, place them in the see-through cover of the student’s binder. On the back of the binder, you can insert the key signature chart. I always feel like the more they see it, the more familiar it becomes.

Once you get used to using binders with your students, you will never want to use any other kind of assignment book. You can use dividers for music, scales, theory, downloads from the web, etc. Feel free to use my assignment pages, found here, Assignment Page, and the one for young students here, Assignment Page for Young Students.

Now when your forgetful students ask, “When does my sonatina have to be memorized?” or “What day is the theory test?” tell them to look on their binder. They usually say rather sheepishly, “Oh, yeah.”

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