ProductivityResource ReviewUncategorized

The Apps I Can’t Live Without (2018)

must have teaching apps

There are just certain pieces of technology & must have apps that make life so much easier.  And honestly, if I didn’t have access to iPads, a cell phone & online apps my studio would look very different & wouldn’t be nearly as profitable. This week is the 2018 version of “The Apps I Can’t Live Without”!

If you are just getting started with technology (or want ideas on how to streamline), the list below is the one you need. None of the links are affiliate links (meaning I don’t receive any compensation for having them).

These are the apps that I use all the time & use to streamline my work week. They have ensured that I can make the most profit with my set work hours AND still have a personal life.

Must Have Teaching Apps

In the last few months, I’ve made a big change in how I do lab time with my students. While we still focus in on various concepts (improvisation, ear training, note reading, etc.), things are much more integrated than before. That being said there are some apps that just have to be listed.

Creativity/ Creating music:

  • GarageBand & iReal Pro:  Great for creating backing tracks that get students ready for recitals & are oh so much fun to play with!
  • Yamaha Chord Tracker: With an audio track, you can get the chord progression. This gives students a leg up when improvising using the same chord progression from a piece they are playing.
  • Music Memos: Have a musical idea stuck in your head? Record it & listen later to write it out.

Ear training:

  • YouRecord: Long time favourite in the studio because of how easy it is to use. Great for getting students to record, then listen for specific things in their recording.
  • Music Memos: Also a great app for listening back to practice. Or, sending a copy to your teacher.
  • Good Ear: Contains several apps that cover scales, intervals, chords, & melodies!
  • ABRSM Trainer: I really like how you can get a balanced set of exercises & that it always comes back to the music.

Note Reading:

  • Ningenius: continues to be the most popular note reading app in the studio
  • Kahoot: students love playing against the clock … more on how this relates to note reading later!


  • Rhythmic Village: popular with elementary aged
  • Rhythm Swing: popular with elementary age
  • Mind the Beat: popular with teens (no longer available)
  • Lost in Harmony: popular with teens
  • Metronome: A must in the studio, any app will work since it doesn’t have to be fancy

Sight Reading:

  • Scan Bee:  Scanning short exercise excerpts allows students to mark up the page with colours & not destroy your books. Scans must be shredded afterwards to comply with educational use copyright laws. (Check the copyright laws in your area to be sure you are complying).
  • Piano Maestro & Dust Buster:  Another long-time student favourite! Students will gladly spend all lab time trying to up their level.
  • Read Ahead:  My students will be using this as a warm-up in the upcoming months. It trains students to check for patterns, keep a steady tempo, & look ahead as they play.


  • MusiClock:  Who doesn’t like playing scales with backing tracks?  Also a great way to build up speed without students really noticing.
  • Tonic AR Chord Dictionary: AR (augmented reality) app that shows students where chords are on the keyboard using blue dots. Only downside, it only shows root position. But, that’s what we are for!

Theory (general):

  • Tenuto: I still love the customisation within this app, plus older teens & adults appreciate the simple look.
  • Notability:  This is THE app my students use to access their lab assignments.  Adding PDF’s with links is easy & students can mark up PDF’s to their hearts’ content.
  • Google Drive: Storing worksheets, sheet music & student portfolios … it all goes here.  And, makes it easy to transfer labs between my office to the student iPad.


  • Safari: (Comes with iPad)  Student is unclear on a musical term?  Look it up!  Student just HAS to play a new song they just heard?  Easily find a level-appropriate score!
  • Google Drive: Keep a folder of digital sheet music so it’s easy to pull up during the lesson.
  • YouTube: Love ’em or hate ’em, tutorials are all over YouTube & they give students a great visual practice tool during the week.  Set up repertoire lists for students that they can view new options during the week rather than using lesson time.
  • Native camera app: Have students use the Camera app on their device so they won’t forget what to practice in a new section.

Must Have Business Apps

While I love “the Beast” (my husband’s nickname for my awesome PC office set up), I’ve set up my business so that if worse comes to worse I can run many aspects of my business on my iPad Pro. Heading out of town used to mean a laptop bag, regular bag, purse … it was frustrating. Now, I put my iPad Pro in a carry-on bag with my purse & I’m ready to go!

Nowadays, I am always on the lookout to see if the programs I am using have an app for the iPad. While it’s not a deal breaker, I tend to think twice about new apps that don’t have that functionality.

Planning Lessons

  • Planboard:  I really love that my teaching day is organized for me.  With lesson plan/practice page templates, ability to add photos (like rhythm warm-ups) directly, & adding files in a flash.  Plus there is an iOS app!
  • Google Drive:  It just needs to be added in again.  Having online storage is a must in today’s studio.  This is also where I keep the annual overall studio plan & individual annual student growth plans so every lesson has a purpose.
  • Notability:  Organizing the app into days & then individual students ensures I can easily hand off the iPad to my students knowing they can work independently during lab time.
  • Evernote:  I love ease of saving resources as I go through email & taking notes at professional development workshops.  For more ideas on how to use this app, read this article at Piano Pantry.

To get access to my repertoire lists (created using Google Sheets), click below!  (From here you can see all available levels.)

Learn more about repertoire database level 1.

These repertoire list include all the concepts covered in each level of the top method books & which songs match up.  My students LOVE the choice in music & I love that we cover all concepts needed throughout the year!  Searching is easy using Google Sheet filters (video tutorial included with purchase.)

Running a Studio

  • Square:  Set up recurring invoices with automatic reminders BEFORE tuition is late.  Or, send receipts for clients that pay with post-dated cheques.  Either way, it’s easy to track income & make bookkeeping as painless as possible.
  • WordPress:  A website is considered a must for the modern studio.  And, WordPress makes it easy to have & maintain a professional looking site!
  • Canva:  I do love Canva.  Do everything from recital programs, social media images, worksheets, embedding images to your site (changes in the app show up automatically on your site) & adding links to your images (rather than doing this outside of the app).
  • Last Pass:  Let’s face it.  There are a million passwords to remember.  And, they are supposed to all be different!  Now, remember one master password & get strong passwords generated for you.

Social Media:

  • Facebook:  Parents love to brag on their kids.  Give them photos they can share from your studio Facebook page!
  • Canva:  While I’ve listed quite a bit, read this guest post for more ways to use Canva.

Keeping in contact:

  • Mail Chimp:  Scheduling newsletters ahead of time means less work at month end.  Include links for registering for group lessons & events in your studio makes it easy for parents to interact with you. AWeber is another option, but I like the Mail Chimp app better for functionality.
  • FaceTime/Skype:  This is the ONLY way I handle sick students & dangerous road conditions.  Rather than reschedule, we can have lesson at the regular time!
  • Facebook Live:  Parents are enjoying having this option in the studio.  Every two months, we cover a new topic & they leave knowing they have new tools to support their child(ren) at home.
  • Texting:  Many people find it easier to text & it is very easy to quickly share student wins from lesson.  But, if you don’t want to give out your cell number, use this tip to have students & parents text your email instead!

Must have apps … your list

If you are looking at this list & feeling overwhelmed, keep in mind you can start with just one app.  I’ve been building up this list of apps over years as I worked to solve the challenges in my studio.  As I mastered one app, I would add another to solve yet another problem.  But, it all started iwth one.

If you are just starting out, what is ONE app that you will try out this upcoming week?

Or, perhaps you’ve used apps for years in your studio.

What is a business app that I’ve missed that has made your studio run smoother?

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