If you are new to the iPad, I want to share the fastest no-fail way I’ve found to download and use graphic activities in piano lessons. Not all worksheets and activities are suitable for use with an iPad, but many are and not only is it more fun, but it saves paper and ink. The picture above shows a students doing rhythmic dictation on the iPad. For the purpose of this tutorial, I will use the Ladybug Board Game graphic that I posted on my website last week.
Download the Free App Skitch
To set this up, you will need to download Skitch., a free app from the iTunes store. Skitch is not a super complicated app that will do a million things, but it fast and easy to use. Once you have Skitch on your iPad, you can use any graphic from the web in your lessons.
I have tried out many apps to use with my graphics since I was given my iPad, some that I bought and some that are free. In my experience, Skitch is the fastest and easiest to use. In a piano lesson I don’t have a lot of time to fool around with trying to remember how an app works. It has to be as easy as picking up a pencil and paper.
Before Your Student Arrives At the Lesson Set Up Your iPad
1. Using your iPad, open the Skitch app. On the home page there are several icons on the top row. Select “Web.”
2. When next window opens, there will be a place to type in a website or do a Google search. To make it easy for this tutorial, you can click on this link. http://www.susanparadis.com/catalog.php?ID=SP310
3. Select “Download”. This opens my Ladybug Board Game PDF document, just like on your desktop computer.
4. Turn the iPad to Landscape orientation. (You need to do this for any graphic in landscape orientation but not portrait.) Using two fingers, center the graphic exactly like you want to use it. You can make a graphic smaller or larger by zooming in or out. This is one of the reasons I like Skitch.
5. When you have it just like you want it, click the camera icon on the left. Skitch saves the Ladybug picture and puts it on the home page for future use. You cannot change the graphic (other than crop it or zoom in or out), but you can draw or type all over it.
6. Notice now there are a lot of icons on the left side. The Ladybug graphic is saved on the home page of Skitch for you to use in your lessons. It will be there until you delete it.
With Your Student in the Lesson
1. Do not tell your students you are going to play an iPad game. This will confuse them, (especially the younger ones) because iPad games have animation, and all you are going to do is draw on the graphic. I learned this the hard way, with a disappointed little child. (There are plenty of iPad animated games but that is not what this tutorial is about!) I simply tell them we’re going to practice notes or whatever on the iPad. Then they will not expect the ladybugs and bees to fly around and be all let down when they don’t. Sometimes I ask if they want to use paper or iPad. They always choose iPad because it is new and different.
2. Open Skitch and select the previously saved Ladybug graphic from the home page.
3. When it opens, select the colored *dot* on the left and select the size and color. Now select the *pencil* tool. So far it has only taken 20 seconds of lesson time to get ready to use with a student. Practice this before you use it in a lesson and see how long it takes you! That’s all you have to do!
4. To do the activity, use the same directions as the paper board game. Using either keyboard of grand staff flash cards, students select a card and move to the correct letter. Using the pencil tool, the student will cross out the letter he lands on. Use different colors for two or more players. Keep drawing, moving, and crossing out until the student gets to the end.
If you are on the bench, you can play a piano key instead of selecting a card. Be creative! I try to make activities that teachers can use in different ways.
The picture above is a screen shot that I used with my student. He crossed out in green and I used yellow. We find it a lot easier to use a stylus (around $15.00) than drawing with our fingers.
There is no eraser tool in Skitch, but there is an undo tool, and it will go back as much as you need. The garbage can icon will clear the entire board of any writing you have done, but it won’t clear off the Ladybug graphic. The shapes (the circle icon) are difficult for little ones to use, so I prefer the pencil tool. The pointed finger icon is the select tool, and if you select something you draw, you can move it around the board!
What I like about Skitch is that it makes it easy to use any picture on the web that gives you permission to download. You can use a giant staff and draw notes. You can draw a note, select it, and move it around the staff. You can use Skitch’s (typing) keyboard, type in letters, and move the letters around a grand staff. By modifying the rules of your activities, you can think of many ways to use Skitch. On my game, for example, you can draw a little ladybug and move it around the board with your finger. Or you can draw a circle to use as your “token” to move around instead of crossing out letters.
I plan to show you some more graphics that are good for the iPad this summer. In the meantime, check out the beautiful ones by Anne Crosby. (Go to her links section.) Jennifer Fox has written a lot of ways to use the iPad in piano lessons, so be sure to check out her blog. If you are willing to share your iPad graphics, please let us know!
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