My 10 Favorite Websites and Apps for Music Education

This afternoon, I was sitting in the Propel Charter School administration offices finishing paperwork for my daughter Maggie’s Kindergarten application.  There were no toys, no magazines, and I had 2 kids under 5-years-old who were ready to poke their eyes out because they were bored. 

My daughter, Maggie, playing Daniel Tiger.
This is not uncommon for my family.  The dentist's office, the doctor's office, the bank, the grocery store, and more, are places where my kids get bored. 

I’m all for keeping kids engaged in the world around them - not on devices all day.  But, when we go to the doctor, I really can’t send them to play anywhere, and especially when I need to fill out paperwork (and they aren't so helpful), I don’t mind handing over my iPhone for them to play with. 

I've let them play all kinds of silly games.  Angry Birds and Flappy Bird are their favorites.  But, since I don't want them sling-shotting birds all the time, and I decided it was time to find games that had a purpose.

This list isn’t complete by any means, but these are the games my kids (or, since my oldest is just going into Kindergarten, some of my voice students) actually like to play (that also teach about music).   We only have an iPhone, iPad, and a Mac computer, so these are the only types of games I can give advice about.  These games aren't in any order...just ones I see pulled up often.  Most are free, the rest cost very little.  Hope these help keep you and your kiddos entertained the next time you're at the dentist!  

For Little Kids (under 5 years old, who don't read music yet)

1.  Singing Fingers - This one is pretty goofy, but my kids love singing songs into it, and hearing it back.  We've "practiced" LPM homework by singing an ostinato into it, and letting the kids "paint" with it.  Lots of squeals.

2. Sound Drop - This one may seem like a dumb app that doesn't teach anything, but Maggie (who's going into Kindergarten) has been picking out intervals and solfege with it.  This one won't spell out that it's teaching, but is a fun time-killer.  And, truth be told, my husband loves it as much as the kids.

3.  Note Works - This one is terrific!  It is great for my 1st Year LPM kids because you can play games where you note-name in solfege.  You can also note-name with letters, so I'm putting it on my little and big kid list.  My daughter likes that it is a little more bright and colorful than basic apps like Tenuto.

4. PBS Kids - This is a favorite for my son (he's in Sound Beginnings), and 1st Year LPM kids.  This is a website, not an app, and has a plethora of games that are music-related.  Some are better than others.  Some of our favorites are the Daniel Tiger game that helps them talk about feelings.  It establishes major and minor tonalities, while also letting them work out happy/sad/angry emotions, too.  Martha's Make the Band is great to help the kids learn what different instruments look and sound like. Chuck's Classical Compositions is also a favorite, and I like that we recognize some of the songs on it!  There are other great ones, but those are the ones on the screen most often.

5.  Musical Autoharp - Of the Autoharp apps I've downloaded or played with, I like this one the best.  The chord buttons are spread out enough, that if you buy 1/4" sticker dots, they can go right on your iPad or iPhone screen to make red, blue, and yellow chords!  I had a 1st Year Let's Play Music student who wanted to play her mom's iPad Autoharp app for the spring recital.  She was GOOD!

For Older Kids & Grown-ups (can read music, but need lots of repetition to master skills)

1. Note Perfect - has some interactive, fun games to teach note reading.

2. Tenuto - This one is very bare bones - no cute animals jumping across the screen or what not, but it is GREAT at getting the job done.  Our family likes playing the games on better, just because it's a little bigger and easier to do than on my iPhone.  You can also get lessons on's other app, Theory Lessons.  They're for much older kids or adults, because they are very dry (maybe even as far as boring). My voice students like this one best, because they're "too cool" for the cutesy little games. It's a "just get 'er done" kind of app, and that's alright with me if the outcome is learning.

3. Note Works - (So great, I put it twice!) This is great for transitioning between reading solfege and reading letter-named notes.

4. Magic Music Tutor - We especially love the section of this that has boomwhacker music.  I've used this part many times for teaching music to elementary school students.

5.  Kinito Music Puzzle - I haven't played this, but lots of my elementary-age students love this one.  They tell me the story line goes that the orchestra conductor goes crazy, and needs help finding his scores and his musicians before the concert.  Maybe not so much theory (I really haven't tried it), but my 2nd and 3rd graders especially loved this one.

Does your family love an app or website that teaches music skills that isn't listed above?? I want to hear about it in the comments below!

If you want your kids to learn music, but don't want them glued to a device all day, sign up for a Let's Play Music Sample Class in the Pittsburgh area, or click on the green button to the right to learn more about a playful and active (device-free) approach to music education!

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