Using the iPad in the Music Classroom

Using the iPad in the Music Classroom

By: Jim Phillips 


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So, by now, unless you live under a rock, you have seen what an iPad can do for you as a teacher. This is my attempt to share a few of the things I do in my classroom with this wonderful piece of technology.

There are dozens if not hundreds of great music-based apps, and I will share a few of my favorites, but first, let’s talk about the basic features of the iPad that you can use out of the box.

One thing I use the video camera for is immediate feedback. It seems a bit obvious, but have you used the video camera to record your group and play it back to them? Immediate response. Don’t record a whole piece, just a passage. You can put it on a big screen if you have Apple TV or “AirPlay”. (This little gem of software is worth investigating).  I usually avoid recording kids faces, just follow the score so they are not visually distracted. Now make a list of the board (or the screen) of things they did well as a group, individually, etc. Then a contrasting list of things they need to improve.  There, your students just wrote four days of lesson plans for you! Lather, rinse, repeat.

I often take this a step further and record the group then post it to YouTube (UNLISTED link, of course) and come up with a few analysis questions they have to answer in an essay. Submit the essay via email. The possibilities are endless. Come up with your own ideas, or ask the students what they would prefer for feedback.

I’ve been doing this with my jazz band, concert bands, and string orchestras for years. Sometimes it works well. Other times, not so much. Try it out, and if you like it, make it your own.

Here is another idea I use in each ensemble at the beginning of the year to learn names. Take a photo of each student with their instrument during the first rehearsal with your iPad (the camera is quite good). Using iMovie, make a slide show of all the faces and enter their name, or nickname if you choose, and add a fun soundtrack. Now, watch this 250 times until you have all of their names memorized. This little project only takes a few minutes, is very useful, and will be lots of fun to show at the end of the school year!

Apps on my iPad that I use regularly:


iMovie – tons of fun and can be a good teaching tool. Time intensive.

Istrobosoft – great tuner made by Peterson

Metronome1 – there are many, I like this one

iTunes – I make playlists all the time

YouTube – I use this daily. I wish I had this growing up!

iReal Pro – one of the BEST apps out there for jazz. Make your own okay-a-longs like Aebersold

Clef Tutor – basically a music theory video game, highly adjustable (

High School Cube (The Cube) for live video streaming of concerts

Fingerings Woodwinds by Patrick Q. Kelly – fingering charts with good graphics

Fingerings Brass by Patrick Q. Kelly – fingering charts with good graphics

Doceri – control your PC with your iPad, no – really!

SR Machine – sight reading program, highly adjustable

Google Drive – wonderful for file sharing, backup and overall organization. Accessible everywhere.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it may be a starting point for your reference. I try to learn at least one new app a month, or when I come across something that looks worthwhile.

The iPad has certainly change the way that I approach daily rehearsals. I’ve only been using it for a few years, but I plan to continue using this technology for years to come. We’ll see what they come up with next.


About the author:

 Jim PhilipsJim Phillips has been teaching at Coeur d’Alene High School since 1998. He directs the Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, Chamber Orchestra, String Orchestra, Marching Band/Pep Band and Jazz Band. He served as Chairman for the CHS Fine Arts Department, and is a frequent guest conductor and clinician throughout the Northwest. Currently he is the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Northwest Representative on the Council for Band Education.

He has been listed numerous times in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, and has been honored multiple times with the North Idaho Student Teacher Achievement Recognition award for outstanding educators.  He attended Washington State University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music, Bachelor of Music in Trumpet Performance, K-12 Teaching Certificate, and a Master of Arts in Music.


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