Category Archives: iPad Ideas

Let’s Learn Scales



Printable Keyboard (for Scales F-B)

C Scale Keyboard (New)

Last year I posted a game, the Whole Half Step Game, that I developed to construct scales on the piano keyboard. Recently, I made a paper keyboard using the same colors as the game so it will be a set. Students often have trouble transferring knowledge from one skill to another similar skill. I’m sure you’ve noticed that in your teaching. This paper keyboard is big enough so that students can use manipulatives on it to construct scales. At the bottom is the whole half step pattern for major and minor scales, as a reference.  

I’m sure you creative teachers can think of a game to go along with this printable. Please share if you do!

Before you use either of these materials, be sure they understand the difference in a whole and half step.

As a bonus, this keyboard is so large that it works well on the iPad!

So what comes first, a paper keyboard or a real keyboard? Generally, a real keyboard works best for most children. They need to go from concrete to abstract. However, some children benefit from getting away from the piano. All of us learn differently, so a multi-sensory approach is a good thing. If they don’t get it one way, try another! It’s worth remembering that when they do theory worksheets, they will not have a real keyboard, so they need to learn how to transfer information.

By the way, the Whole Step Half Step Game, which I posted about a year ago, is an excellent game to teach scales.  It’s colorful and fun, and it really teaches the concept of how to construct a scale. I know my directions seem hard to understand, but give it a try, because it’s really very easy.

Whole Half Step Game to Learn How to Make Scales

Whole Half Step Game to Learn How to Make Scales

Whole Half Step Game

Both are these files are free downloads.

You will need to have the latest version of Adobe Reader installed on your computer, which you can download free here. I am not affiliated with Adobe in any way, so I am just posting this link to help you out.



Filed under iPad Ideas, Music Printables, Theory

Jot! A Great iPad App for Education


Jot! An iPad App

I’ve noticed a lot of piano teachers have iPads. I see them at conventions typing away on their tablets while I’m still trying to find a pen in my purse as I remember that I left my paper back in the room. So I take scribbled notes in the margins of the presenters handouts. I have files of scribbled notes with very wise sayings from some of the great presentations I’ve been fortunate enough to attend. I think I’m rambling, so I’ll get right to the point.

Jot! [$4.99] is a white board app for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod, and I think it’s a fine app to use with older elementary students. It’s easy to learn, quick to set up in a piano lesson, and simple enough for even me to use.

After you download the app from the Apple app store and open it, there is a page to show you how to use it. You will need to refer to this later.

Once the app is installed, it is easy to use with any PDF printable. Here is how to open one of my documents.

Open up my website on your iPad. It’s faster for me to use  but you can use my WordPress blog, too. Follow the links until you get to “download PDF document“. Select it, and it will open on your iPad. Turn your iPad in the same orientation as my printable. This is important. Most of the material I use on the iPad is in landscape orientation, so turn your iPad to the horizontal (landscape) position if the PDF is also in landscape.

Touch the top right corner of your iPad, and the words “Open In” will magically appear. Select, and a pop-up box will appear with an icon of every app on your iPad that will open a PDF document. If you do not see Jot, go to the second or third page by using the tiny buttons on the bottom of the box. Select “Open in Jot!” (You have to have iOS 6 installed or it will not show up.)

Now comes the only hard part of Jot. On the next screen there is a pop-up box that says “Background.” You will see a mini version of my printable. Using your fingers, drag it to fit inside the even smaller red rectangle. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but get it all inside. Any part that is not inside the red box will not show up in Jot! Obviously the guys who made this app are not used to granny eyes!

Click done, and the printable will open and you can draw on it. You can still adjust the size by using the two finger iPad gesture to stretch it bigger.

The menu is on the right side if you are in landscape orientation. Select the squiggly line, a color, and draw away. You can adjust the size of the drawing line. Try out the other boxes and notice you can draw shapes.

There is an undo selection, a way to save documents or send them to parents, and best of all, an eraser. If you press hard on whatever you draw, you can move it around the screen without changing the PDF background. That comes in handy if you want to draw whole notes and move them around the staff.

There is a free version of Jot, so you can try it out. [Edited: This tutorial does not work with the free version, but the free version can give you an idea of how it works. Also, you can take a screen shot of a PDF and use that in the free version.} It is supported by advertisements, which distract me, so I upgraded to the paid version, and it was worth it.

There are other interesting things you can do in Jot, such as real-time drawing collaboration. You can share your document in real-time with users on the internet.  Students can do worksheets on their iPad at home while you watch back in your studio, just as if they were sitting beside you. I have not been organized enough to try that out yet!

I would like to be clear that I do not find writing with a stylus or a finger on a tablet easy for younger children in the  limited time session of a piano lesson. I think it is better for younger children to use hands on activities and not writing on a computer tablet. Jot is better with children over 8 years old. However, parents who have the time to sit and work with their child and guide them will have a better experience.

Disclosure: This review is my opinion after using Jot! for almost a year. I was not paid and I did not receive compensation in any form.  My review was not solicited, nor do the developers know I am writing this review. I discovered Jot! in the app store and bought it after using the free version for several months.



Filed under iPad Ideas, Music Reviews, Teaching Aids

A Handy Set of Grand Staff Printables

Grand Staff Set

Set of Grand Staff Printables

This is a versatile set of grand staff printables. Two are in color, and two are black ink. Two have the notes typed in, and two are blank so that students can label them. There is a handy keyboard at the top to show where each note is located on the keyboard. The middle C is directly between the two staves so students can see how the bass and treble staff continue with the music alphabet.

  • Instead of printing out a copy for each student, put them inside sheet protectors and use dry erase markers.
  • If you have a beginning student who needs to learn the notes very quickly for an exam or test at school, this might be just the thing they need. It also coordinates with the polka-dot theme on the printables I posted last week.
  • Put the labeled version inside their binder,  or insert one in the plastic, see-through binder cover.
  • Using the Skitch app (or your favorite app), download the black and white version on an iPad. While the notes are tiny, elementary students can still write on it or even draw lines to the keyboard at the top. To save time, call out letters and let students match them.

Be sure to only print the version you need. See my last post if you are not sure how to do that. Set you printer to  landscape orientation.

If you are looking for larger staves to write in note names, please check my website, because I have multiple versions for just about every holiday.

I hope I thought of everything! If you have any ideas, please leave your suggestion in the comments to share with other teachers.


Filed under iPad Ideas, Note Identification, Teaching Aids, Worksheets

I Can Count Rests

I Can Count Rests

I Can Count Rests

As a teacher or parent, you already know that children vary greatly in the ages they learn cognitive skills. I tried today’s I Can Count Rests  and its companion,  I Can Count Rhythm, with preschool children and they had no trouble writing the number of beats the notes/rests received, but had trouble drawing the notes. They also drew a blank when it came to the last section, counting the notes. So I am not recommending these rhythm worksheets for children who cannot add and subtract. The part where they have to cross out the extra rest is too complex, and it is a lot harder than the math they are doing in school.

On the other hand, a 7-year-old loved the last section the best and thought it was so much fun she asked me to make her some more examples just like it.

[I have a silly poster that helps them learn the difference between whole and half rests. If your students get mixed up, try using this printable. It really helps.]

In my last post, I listed some easy rhythm games. To keep you from having to go back,  here are the links again for simple  games to review rests and notes: Quarter Note Hunt, Fish Rhythm Matching Cards,  Rhythm Round About, Counting Up the Mountain, and the black ink Rhythm Memory Game.

I hope you find just the right age for these worksheets. They are large enough to use on an iPad or some tablet of that size. Click on the title link under the picture to print them, and be sure you are using the latest version of Adobe Reader.

Some teachers in places I would love to visit have asked about a version using the UK names for notes and rests. I don’t have time to post it, but for a limited time if you will send me your email address,  I will be happy to email it to you.


Filed under iPad Ideas, Texas State Theory Test, Theory, Worksheets