The iPad Chronicles, part I

Posted: January 24, 2012 in Music Therapy, Resources

I just started trying to use the iPad in sessions this week.  So far, results have been mixed, but I’m experimenting.  I’m starting with higher functioning clients, and we’ll see how it goes from there.  I did want to talk about a few of the apps I’ve downloaded so far.

Super Duper Data Tracker: I’ve been trying to find a way to reduce the amount of paper I use, particularly in data tracking.  This app is very handy for that.  I can enter my clients and their goals, then simply track by clicking a check, an X, an approximation symbol, or a cued symbol.  I can also customize to use just the check and X, or just the check.  You can then track session data, and the app stores it all.  It’s a very handy way to keep track of things.  However, I’m finding it to be a bit limiting right now.  For example, I have a couple of clients that have duration goals, that they’ll play an instrument or participate for a certain amount of time.  I can’t track that as it is now.  A certain amount of spreadsheet capabilities might make this app perfect.  There are the capabilities to take notes, but you have to go to a separate screen.  It costs $5.99 in the App store.

Beatwave: This app is more advanced version of the Sound Generator game I mentioned in my Musical Computer Games post back in August.  It’s a 16×16 grid with a pulsing line moving from column to column and repeating.  You touch different squares on the grid, and different sounds play when the line reaches them.  It’s a very fun way to create music.  With the app, you can change the types of sounds you make, make up to four different layers, change levels, even save some patterns that you like for later use.  And it’s free.  This is my favorite music app so far.

Singing Fingers: This is a very close second.  The Singing Fingers app is for the artistically inclined.  You make sound, such as singing, talking, or playing instruments, while drawing on a white screen.  This will leave multicolored trails behind, as if you’re finget painting.  When you’re done drawing, you can run your fingers over the image and hear the sounds you made played back to you.  You can go fast, slow, backwards, skip around, whatever you want to do.  The app is a little sensitive, and sometimes you’ll find yourself drawing when you want to be listening.  Also, the nature of the programs makes it all sound a little robotic.  Still, very fun.  And free.

Piano Notes Pro: I downloaded this app primarily so I could have a keyboard to play parts on at singing practice for church.  However, I really like this program.  It’s mainly a learning program for people who don’t know how to play, but has a nice three octave keyboard with thin keys that could mess up someone like me that has big fingers.  However, you can adjust the size of the keys by dropping an octave or two.  You can turn on note names and color coding if you want.  It comes with a game that’s somewhat like a typing quiz.  And it’s free, which is always a plus.

SingFit: It pains me to say that this is really my biggest disappointment so far.  It’s an app that was created by a music therapist that is intended to help teach people to sing.  The basic version is free.  It has a lyric coach that tells you the words before you sing; a guide singer that sings along with you; and backing music.  The volume for all of these can be turned down, up, or off.  You can record your singing to become part of the experience.  And the app works well for all of that.  The problem I have is that the app comes with five songs, and a ton you can download if you choose to become a subscriber.  Subscriptions run $12.99/month.  I understand that there are copyright issues, and you want to get paid for your work.  But that’s just too much.  My disappointment is not for the app, just that I’ll have to pay $156/year to get the full experience.  Most of my clients are nonverbal, so it’s not worth it to me.

(EDIT: Since the publication of this post, I was contacted by the publishers of SingFit.  You can read Rachel Francine’s explanation of the cost model here.)

Reactable: This is the app that got me the iPad, so I figured it was the one I needed to get.  And I’m still playing with it.  Basically, there are blocks you position and rotate to get different sounds, different leveling and mixing modules, connections, etc.  It’s very complicated.  It’s probably more intuitive for people who know a lot about audio mixing, but I’m just trying to get a hang of all the lingo.  I like it, it’s just gong to be a while before I’m ready to use it with anyone.  It costs $10.

I do have a story about how the iPad has helped me so far.  Today, I showed up at a client’s house, and his staff told me that he was out on a ride, should be home any minute.  I said I’d wait, but they never made it back.  Nevertheless, I sat on the couch for thirty minutes and successfully avoided having to watch The Jetsons by playing Plants vs. Zombies and Ascension on my iPad.  So hooray for something to do.

As time goes on, I’ll be on the lookout for new apps to get for use on the iPad.  If anyone has suggestions, let me know.  Thanks!

-Jesse

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