What is the most useful music app for schools you can imagine? Read on and I don’t think you will disagree that PlayScore 2 for iOS, and soon Android is it. The best and most versatile music app for school music.
Music in schools is thriving. Certainly some are more involved than others, and there are always aspects that could be better, but there is more music in schools today than has ever been the case. This is not only due to the enthusiasm of teachers, parents and students, but also to the tools, online resources and music apps for schools now available to make music learning easier and more effective.
For those from the most musical families, music lessons can begin even before a child’s first day at school. But for most, school provides a child’s first exposure to the joy of music making and music education.
So, what are the main elements of musical education, and what are the main skills for a child to acquire in the course of a good musical education? And not least, what are the resources and tools that can help aid the process?
Most important of course is the first opportunity to participate in real music making and to do so in some way with other students. In the first instance this will usually be in the form of singing. And it is this that will supply the motivation for, and arouse the interest in those more technical topics necessary for development as a musician.
For any level of skill in music, two faculties must be developed. The ear must be trained through singing, playing and through more formal ear training. At the same time the ability to read music is as important a counterpart to aural music as writing is to language. Fundamental for both is the ability to connect the written notes on the page with the sounds that are the music. This has never been an easy skill to acquire, but recently this have changed for the better.
New ways of learning musical skills
How often has a student practicing at home puzzled over a tricky rhythm, or needed an accompanist, or just needed to hear the music assignment played back.
In all educational musical activities one app, PlayScore 2 stands out as the best general purpose app for school music. PlayScore 2 is designed to help whatever the style of teaching, whatever the repertoire, and whatever the voice or instrument. PlayScore 2 is not limited to specific music built in to the app. PlayScore 2 can accept any music, off the printed page or as a PDF, or however it comes. Wherever the student is, at school or at home, PlayScore 2 can accompany, can isolate the student’s part, can show how a difficult rhythm should sound – in short an app act as an on the spot teacher – a music teacher in an app.
For the more advanced student, PlayScore 2 app for school music can do things otherwise possible only when there is a good pianist to hand. PlayScore 2 can just the inner parts of a string quartet; or it can let the student experiment with different orchestrations. PlayScore 2 can export any notated music as MusicXML straight into a score editor such as Finale or Sibelius.
For most people sight reading has never been an easy skill to acquire. However sight reading is so fundamental to music making that any means of making the process easier is a big plus.
Learning to sight read
For singers, and for those learning an instrument such as the flute, the piano or the guitar, the process of acquiring skill has been practice, practice , practice. That is not going to change of course, at least not until there is a magic pill. But now, with PlayScore 2, the process of learning to sight read just got easier, more productive and more enjoyable. Now the student can have an accompanist wherever they happen to be, making the process of practicing their instrument more enjoyable, more rewarding and more productive. Not only that but PlayScore 2 is a very patient app accompanist! Just drag your finger over the music and PlayScore 2 will accompany you over the same passage again and again, fast or slow, just as you like.
Because it is more like real music making, these abilities turn the process of practicing from a chore to a pleasure.
In some ways, singers who have a part to learn have a harder task than instrumentalists. On an instrument such as the piano or the guitar, at least there need be no doubt about the notes. If the part starts on an A the piano or any other instrument will give you the pitch. A singer has no help getting from the dots to the aural melody. When it comes to rhythm however, both instrumentalists and singers are in the same boat. Somehow the rhythm has to be figured out.
This is why PlayScore 2 is such a game changer. Now a singer can simply take a picture of the music and hear their own part or the whole choir, notes, rhythm, everything. This eliminates all the guesswork.
Not only that, with PlayScore 2 playing the other parts, the singer can learn all those musical cues and signposts, and do so intuitively, so that when the choir gets together all the hard work is done and the rehearsal can focus on interpretation, and on sounding great together.
School music exams
Whether it is Grades I to VIII, or 10th grade music or any other music exam, the ability to play sight-singing exercises, analyse harmony examples from a text book, try out orchestrations makes the whole process more engaging. The ability to listen to the bass on its own, and then add the parts one by one teaches a student things that otherwise available to an advanced keyboard player.
And best of all
Of all PlayScore 2’s features, perhaps the one that makes this app so perfect for school music is the is the fact that in most cases, for the students it is completely free!
To give an example, suppose you are in charge of the school choir. Using PlayScore 2 you can import (or photograph) the whole score into the app. Then you can create a playing score for each part, with just that part of with the others in the background. This is the beast way because the app follows the music, loops, plays at any tempo etc., or you can do it the old way and create MIDI files if you prefer (PlayScore 2 can do that too). Either way you can share these with the singers who can use them for their private practice.
But for all the students PlayScore 2 is absolutely free. That is because although a subscription is needed to play and export multi-page scores and PDFs, a subscription is NOT needed to play them back.
And incidentally, the free app will also play any page of 1 or 2 staff-per-system music, and that includes just about any instrumental part.