Monday, March 24, 2014

Classical Music for Smartphones: Education

The invention of tablet computers has given developers access to a whole new way of delivering educational content. Proponents see interactive, dynamic, touch-based interfaces as a vast improvement over textbooks, especially for teaching about music, itself an art form that is experienced in time (as opposed to “static” visual arts such as painting, photography, and sculpture). Music education apps cover a wide range of subjects, including musicology, instrumental method, music theory, music appreciation, and ear training.

The Orchestra, by Touch Press (, allows users to explore the makeup of a symphony orchestra through extended video excerpts of eight works that span three centuries, from Haydn’s Symphony no. 6 to Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Violin Concerto, a 21st century work. The user can zoom in on specific instruments, follow along with an on-screen score, or even watch an overhead view that highlights the individual instruments as they play to demonstrate the orchestration. The Orchestra is available on both iOS and Android platforms.

Australian developer Rising Software offers a pair of ear training apps, Auralia Interval Singing and Auralia Interval Recognition for iOS ( These apps offer snippets of the company’s flagship Auralia ear training computer software. Interval Singing displays a notated music interval and listens via the device’s microphone to the user singing the interval, providing appropriate feedback. Interval Recognition does the reverse, playing an interval via the devices speaker and asking the user to identify it. Wizdom Music’s EarWizard ( takes the process a step further, playing a progressively longer sequence of chords in a progression and asking the user to name them.

These are only sampling of the many apps music education apps available to users. These can offer educators a 21st century addition to their toolbox, but require them to find apps that suit the curriculum well. Currently, there is very limited adoption of tablet-based software in collegiate music programs, but the technology’s adoption is sure to spread with time.

Check out all the articles in the Classical Music for Smartphones Series:

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