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Classroom piano lessons... on iPads.

Can students in music class be taught piano lessons on iPads? The answer is yes! Many music teachers may think of teaching classroom piano lessons, but the problem is that most classrooms don’t have enough space to house twenty or more electric keyboards. Similarly, many students would like to learn how to play the piano and have explored computer games that introduce keyboards. They may even be motivated to learn melodies from YouTube piano instruction videos. However, without a weekly piano lesson from a piano teacher and regular practice, it’s almost impossible to learn how to play. As a solution to all of this, I couple my private piano lesson techniques with one or two iPads, per student, in a music classroom.

The iPad has several keyboard apps, but I use Virtuoso Piano. It’s especially functional because the size of the keys can be adjusted to match the size of the player’s fingers and hands. The volume can also be adjusted. Students have options to turn letter names on or off, use a double keyboard to play with both hands, play in any octave, and change the sound to a variety of instruments. For even more octaves, two iPads can be set next to each other, one for the right hand and the other for the left. The 7/8th grade boys at Wood Rose Academy have mastered beginner right-hand songs and will soon be using two iPads for two-handed songs. They are all quite proud of their accomplishments. I do provide one regular electric keyboard in the classroom so that students can take turns experiencing a three-dimensional keyboard. It’s also used to play accompaniments with students’ melodies.

Our iPad classroom piano lessons are a lot like my private piano lessons: (1) students glue new song in music journal (2) student learn new notes and new theory (3) students write in counts and clap rhythms (4) students practice new piece as I go around to observe, correct, and answer questions (4) students review previous pieces or problem areas and (5) students play new piece together as an “iPad Orchestra”. If students master a piece, they get a sticker on it. Those who have iPads at home can practice at home, too. We have two 45 minute classes per week. I think some of these students are practicing more in these two classes than they ever would if they had to practice on their own after weekly private lessons. iPad piano lessons really are the next best thing to private piano lessons!

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