In 2009, Apple informed us that – no matter what we want to do – “There’s an app for that.” …and WOW were they right! Today almost every product has its own accompanying APPlication. Kids can scan their Happy Meal toys and incorporate them into custom-made video games. Folks can walk around hunting imaginary monsters with their smart phones. We can even play along with our favorite bands whenever we want! There’s an app for everything!
Especially since Bluetooth technology has simplified and stabilized the connections between devices, it’s easy to drown in available software. …so here’s a list of the our favorite Bluetooth Apps for your Digital Piano:
Anytune is an iOS exclusive title, but they claim to be working hard on an Android version. In the meantime, The Amazing Slowdowner works well for Android – despite its unfortunate name. That said, Anytune is a wonderful tool for educators, singers, traveling musicians and music ministers. It allows you to increase or decrease the tempo of a given song without changing pitch. You can also minimize the vocals for most songs – giving you the incredible opportunity to transform most CDs into karaoke or play-a-long albums. You can even create practice loops so you can learn songs faster and with more expression than ever before. Especially for piano teachers who never use the “CD accompaniments” because their students can’t manage the tempos, this tool is life itself! The basic version is FREE. The advanced version gives you HD quality, better sound editing tools and an overall better sound.
4. Sheet Music Direct Play-a-Long.
Hal-Leonard is the World’s largest print music publisher and I am thrilled to see them bring their massive library into the digital era. They have two apps (Sheet Music Direct and Sheet Music Direct Play-a-Long), but we’re going to focus on the SMD Play-a-Long app because it is SO incredible. Yes, it is still an iOS only title for now, but the things this app can do are stunning. Purchase songs from their online database. Each one comes with a full, professional studio recording with a LIVE band or orchestra! This means you get to “play along with the band” on all your favorite music from TV, the movies, Broadway, the radio and more! You won’t believe how many options they have! Play the song at any speed. The app has a built-in tempo regulator. Practice with or without metronome. You can even transpose the song into ANY key! It doesn’t get any better than this. The app is free. All you pay for is your music.
3. Roland Piano Partner 2 (Version 2).
Available for BOTH Android and iOS, this revolutionary app not only gives you wireless control over your Roland Bluetooth Piano, it adds FREE features like digital flashcards, practice diary, personal recorder and a rhythm machine! Select any song from your piano’s built-in library. Piano Partner 2 will allow you to play it, view the music notation, adjust the tempo and volume… you can even take out the right or left-hand parts and play along yourself! Use the app to change the sounds, layer voices or even split your piano keyboard into two. You’ll be amazed at how easy Piano Partner 2 makes using your piano! Finally, enhance your student’s piano training with digital flashcards that provide instant feedback (in a video game format) for BOTH sight reading AND ear training practice! Never before has a single app added so much to a piano player’s experience. You’ll be blown away. FREE (Most features require a Roland Digital Piano with Bluetooth).
2. Roland Piano Every Day.
Also available for BOTH Android and iOS, Piano Every Day is the next generation piano companion app from Roland. Packed with all the features found in Roland’s popular Piano Partner 2, Piano Every Day also includes a “fit bit” style practice calendar – helping you track your practice times and setup friendly competitions with the other members of your household. Piano Every Day also allows you to import your favorite music from Hal-Leonard or work with songs you recorded yourself! You’ll never run out of music to play! Warm up with the One Week Master program or match yourself up with a famous pianist using the Pianist Matching function. There’s so much to do you’ll never get bored! FREE (Most features require a Roland Digital Piano with Bluetooth).
1. Faber Piano Adventures Player.
The only complaint I could find for this app is that it is an iOS only program. Faber has done a tremendous thing here. They’ve combined their custom-made app with their incredible (and ever-expanding) library of lesson books to create the “Holy Grail” of piano lesson tools for modern piano students. Practice ALL your exercises with full band accompaniment. Slow your songs down until you can play them with the band and then, gradually speed them up. Check your notes with the “Wait Mode” feature – that won’t progress unless you’re playing ALL the correct notes! You can set practice loops, practice one hand at a time and even record yourself so you can better judge your success. It even has built-in FREE video lessons for adult students! There IS no better learning tool than Faber Piano Adventures Player App for iOS. The app is FREE. All you pay for is the music (and the music is REALLY affordable)!
Honorable Mention: The Most Addictive Sheep Game.
No list would be complete without The Most Addictive Sheep Game. This cute game helps kids build rhythm skills by encouraging them to tap or drag their fingers along the screen in rhythm with the background music. As they do, they are helping their little sheep progress through a side-scrolling maze that is as adorable as you are probably imagining right now. Check out this fun and simple time sink. It’s a FANTASTIC way to keep kids occupied in a piano store! Hahaha! FREE.
No matter which app you start with, keep in mind that it’s important not to overwhelm yourself. Start with a couple of key programs and increase your “APPtitude” slowly over time. You’ll be surprised at how easy to use and FUN these simple programs are. …and you won’t believe how much they enhance your musical life.
What are your favorite apps? Comment below and let us know!