The Traveling Music Therapist – Apps I LOVE part 2

When I posted about the apps I love to use on the road, there are a few of my absolute favorite that I forgot!  Here are a few bonus apps to round out the bunch I listed yesterday!   Enjoy!

1. On Song – A wonderful app for downloading, organizing, and creating lyric and chords sheets that you can always have on hand digitally.

2.  Music Notes – I have an account with where I download the majority of music for my students.  What’s nice about the app is that once you purchase the song, you also have a digital copy available that can be transposed into most any key!  You can also add any of the notes you need, highlight specific words, notes, or parts, and easily flip between pages.

3.  Wordpress – Because my website it done through wordpress, I love having the app handy.  This way I can write blog posts from Starbucks, my car, or hotel room (at conferences or on vacation) without having to lug my computer along!   I can also make several edits to my pages as needed.

4. Dropbox – for sharing & keeping files

Other apps that have been suggested to me that you may want to check out on your own: 

  • Dragon Dictation 
  • Super Duper Data Tracker
  • Expensify
  • DocScan – Mobile scanner for iPad

Do you have other favorite apps?

There’s an App for That! – Music Therapy Ed Course

This past summer we bought an iPad for my business.  I was so thrilled!!!   At the same time I was terrified!  Technology and I have not always had the best relationship but I knew how much my clients would benefit from using an iPad within sessions.   Because I had never used an iPad or iPhone before, I had no idea where to start.  Thanks to the awesome team at Music Therapy Ed and their 2 iPad courses, I have become much more comfortable using the iPad!

Bonnie Hayhurst of The Groovy Garfoose has put together two amazing courses detailing over 150 apps, best practices of how to use the iPad appropriately in sessions, tips on keeping your iPad in tip top shape, and ideas on how to choose the best apps for your clients!

Within the courses Bonnie has divided the apps by category.  So whether you are looking for an app to support sensory needs, expression, motor development/planning, instruments playing, or nearly anything else, Bonnie shows you that there is certainly an App For That!  Bonnie walks you through how to use the apps, demonstrating their features, things to consider, and what goals the app can help support.   Have any questions after watching a video?  No worries!  There is facebook group were you can get assistance with near lightening speed.

Thanks to these awesome iPad courses my iPad is now chock full of awesome apps that I have already started incorporating into my sessions!  I would highly recommend this course to iPad users of all abilities.  Whether you are just stating out or looking for a few new ways to enhance your practice or spark some idea, Bonnie will show you that there is an app for that!

Apps I Love – Dust Buster

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts (DoReMemory, Piano Monkey, and Apps I love For Teaching), sometimes my students need a little extra help comprehending and practicing what we are learning in lessons.  I use the iPad at the end of lessons both as a reward for doing good work and as an reinforcement of what we worked in the lesson.

Dust Buster is an app both my students and myself love.  Unlike the other apps I have posted, Dust Buster feels a little more like a game, uses full songs, can be used with or without a keyboard, and can be played by students who are not yet reading the staff.

When you view the home screen you have the choice of using either an on-screen touch piano or using a real piano/keyboard. You will then be guided to a screen where you can chose from the simple “Germ Attack” game or the more advanced “Staff Master” game.

Dustbuster gamesIn “Germ Attack” mode, the notes fall from the top of the screen on to the key that needs to be played.  This mode is wonderful for orienting students with the note names on the keyboard, using one finger at a time, rhythm, cuing, fine motor skills, visual tracking, and so much more!

Germ Attack

“Staff Master” uses note on the staff.  If you pause the song, you can select whether or not the note names are placed right before the notes on the staff.  I love using Staff Master to reinforce the names of the notes on the staff, work on rhythm, and using different hand placements on the piano, and visual tracking.

staff masterBefore you play each game, you have the opportunity to select which song you play and if you want to play it in practice mode or showtime mode.  When “practicing” a song, the screen will slow down and stop on each note until you play it, giving you hints by highlighting the key that should be played.  In showtime mode, the song will not slow down, forcing you to play the notes accurately or skip them, and will have accompaniment as well.  Performance mode is often a true test of my students that gets them laughing and wanting to practice even more.

At the end of the piece you are given a score based on the number of notes you got correct, your timing, and if you used a real piano.

dustbuster scoreThere are a couple drawbacks to this app.  First, there are no rhythmic values for the notes.  Second, you are only given a few free songs to choose from.  Each pack of song is $2.99 or you can pay $19.99 to download them all.

Despite those couple things, I love using this app with my students and I hope you can find a way to incorporate it into your lessons!



A Music Therapist with No Voice

I love to talk and sing.  I rely on my voice all day, every day to create live music, interact with families and clients, convey my thoughts, and give directions.  SO, what happens when I lose that voice?  When illness strips me of an essential tool!  That is what I’ve been dealing with the past several days.  Thank goodness there was a weekend in there to relax and regain a little, but my voice is still shaky! Here are a few things I’ve been doing to help myself function!

1.  Music based interventions that don’t require singing.   I have been using a lot of instrument playing, improvisation, and relaxation.  Try thinking outside the box.  Use ALL of your music skills.  Also, you can encourage clients to sing!  Focus on the clients strengths and goals instead of on your inability to use your voice!

2.  Recorded music. I much prefer using live music when I can, but when I cannot sing or talk creating live music can turn distracting and obnoxious. The client focuses on how the song sounds different from the original instead of the therapeutic reason you are creating the song.  So, recorded music sometimes comes into play when I am sick.

3. Technology. There are so many apps that require very little verbal input from the therapist but still help address the clients goals and objectives.  Check out some of my recent app reviews for a few ideas!

Singing Fingers

My Note Games


Choice Board Creator 

4. Song Writing! My clients LOVE song writing!  I use song writing to address a variety of needs and change the song writing process depending on the needs of the clients.

5. Letting my clients know I cannot talk loudly or repeat directions.  I had a short discussion with most of my clients that I had very little voice and that they really needed to pay attention because I had very little voice

6.  Using proper vocal technique!  If you do have to sing or talk, use proper vocal technique.  Be sure to take appropriate breathes and don’t force your voice.

7.  Rest.   I try to get as much rest of possible when I’m sick or have no voice.  The less talking and the more sleep the better!  Sometimes there is no other option but to cancel a couple things a take a nap!

Rachel Sleeping

My Favorite Apps – Singing Fingers

I love using my iPad to reinforce the goals and objectives I am working on with my clients. This next app is great for meting a variety of needs with clients of all skills and abilities.

Singing Fingers!!

When you first enter the app, it will look a little something like this


Tap on the blank page icon in the top left corner to start a new drawing. To draw, create a sound, sing, or talk as you drag your finger across the screen. Different pitches create different colors on the screen. Nothing will appear on the screen unless you create a sound while drawing. To demonstrate how this works, I sang different pitches while drawing keyboard.


I have used this app with clients with speech delays, encouraging clients to create specific sounds while drawing. I have used this app to help teach different sounds, words, letters, and number; creating the sound of the letter or number while drawing it.


I have also used this app to work on pitch matching, tone, volume control, attention, fine motor skills and interaction. I will often draw something on the iPad and ask the client to create the same picture. To make it look similar, the client not only has to move their finger the way but also has to create the same sound. I will start by creating simple designs that match what I am singing or saying. If I slide my voice down then up, I would create a picture that looks like this:


There are so many other fun and interactive ways you can use this app! To see a few more examples (with sound), check out the video on the Singing Fingers Website!