Sunday, September 8, 2013

If you have iPads but no Orff Xylophones... - 2 great apps for the music room

This is my first year teaching, and consequently my first year at my school. I found one lonely soprano xylophone, but nothing else in the way of Orff instruments in the music room. However, my school does have class sets of iPads available to check out from the tech lab. With these two FREE applications, I plan to introduce my students to playing Orff compositions!

First up is MusicSparkles, an instrument sounds app. The FREE version comes with a one octave glockenspiel graphic and four octaves of sound. Above the glock graphic are four buttons which add the additional octaves. That means there are four available instrument sounds in the one image!

There are two mallet graphics that mimic playing with two mallets. It will sound as many bars as you hit, even all eight bars at the same time. Each bar is a different color. They are not labeled with letters and the bars are not removable.

There are a few things I wish I could change about the app. First, every time you tap a note an eighth note graphic floats out. I think this would be distracting for some children. Second, the sounds are a bit synthetic. However, at the price of nothing, I'll take it!

Second is Marimba byBuzlyLabs. With an octave and a fifth from A to E it has superb sound quality. In contrast with MusicSparkles, the bars are all the same color and are labeled with letter names. No mallet graphics and no kid colors. You also cannot play chords, it only plays one bar at a time. With the low A this would be a great one to use for la pentatonic on C.

With these two apps I will have contrasting metal and wood sounds, the option for dynamics with the volume controls, and the ability to create layers of different sounds. I am very excited to hear what it will sound like with 28 iPads playing!

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