iPhone Music Apps: Overview

The iPhone has revolutionized hand held computing.  I just love my device and I am careful not to call it a phone.  Personally, I can’t say I am very happy with it as a phone.  First and foremost (AT&T, I hope you are listening), there is no reason why in 2009 that I can’t drive down I-95 from Stamford, CT to NYC and have an uninterrupted conversation.  Not one but SEVERAL dropped calls. We’re talking about a MAJOR route not some back roads. Enough ranting, the phone aside, it’s the computing device that I love.  Instant access to my email, Internet, maps with Google locater and directions and a variety of applications, ranging from free to on average $10 to upwards of $50.  It’s those applications that I think are particularly interesting to music educators that I’ll focus on in coming articles. Today, here’s a brief overview.

If you don’t know how to view and get apps for the iPhone, see my article iPhone & Music Apps.

Go to the Apps Store, and find the Music category. I wish Apple would come up with subcategories (instruments, sequencers, recorders, etc) but you are stuck sifting through the 23 or so pages of applications in the Music category. In the center/main screen you can then sort them by Name, Most Popular or Release Date. The default is Release date so you’ll be looking at the most recent releases or updates. The sidebars have the most popular Paid and Free. If you click on the arrow in the Paid or Free sidebar, it will list them according to the top 100 in that category to date.


Looking at the number of apps can be a bit daunting at first so here’s a tip to initially sift through them. Sort them according to “Paid” or “FREE”.  Free is good so I like to start there.  Free programs can be teasers for the paid versions but often enough they are complete programs. The Top 100 downloads doesn’t mean that they are the best-liked programs so you’ll need to look at the reviews and star ratings. It’s actually easier to see the reviews if you are looking at the Apps Store on your iPhone.  The reviews are right there.  Unfortunately, when you are looking from your computer, you have to click on the app to reveal more details to see the reviews.

My experience has shown me that the Apps Store reviews are much like reviews anywhere, some reviewers know what they are doing and others don’t.  Take a look at the number of reviews and the star ratings.  Common sense will dictate that the higher number reviews and the high star rating will yield a pretty well liked and used product.  If an app has reviews of three or more stars with thousands of people reviewing it, chances are you’ve got a well-liked and tested product you might want to take a closer look at.  Unfortunately, the number of reviews in the App Store on my iPhone are different from these on my computer based App Store. I think what’s happening is that every time a company releases an update, the store lists the app as “recent release” and begins the review count all over.  For instance, my phone lists the app Chords with 1501 reviews and three stars.  The App Store on my computer lists Chords with only 44 reviews.


The product page in the Apps Store has some info and you can click through several screen shots of the application.  Don’t forget to go to the companies website for more info. Here’s where they make their money. Hits to there websites get them ads or they might put ads in the actual app that you’ll see when you use the program.


Here are few, not all, “Goodies” (my criteria: over 100 reviews off my phone with three or more stars to date) I created a few subcategories and the apps are listed in no particular order except where noted. My apologies in advance to any companies I may have missed.  I’ll be reviewing in detail several of these over the next few months:

“Traditional” Instruments
Band (I am listing them first because they were the first, even before “legal” apps existed)
Mini Piano
Digi Drummer Lite
Pocket Guitar
Free Piano
Ocarina (yes, you can actually blow into the microphone on your phone and play)
Free Drum Pad
Drum Kit
Cowbell Plus (who doesn’t need more cowbell?)
Finger Paino
Therminator (yes, it’s a Theramin and in the 21st century, that’s a traditional instrument!)
Parranda (OK, only 56 reviews but it’s got Latin Percussion instruments and I’m a percussionist!)

Inovative “Instruments”
SynthPond Lite
ZooZBeat Lite

Tools and Info
Guitar Chords
Piano Chords
Metronome – reloaded
Metronome – iTick
Instruments In Reach (Ok, it doesn’t have three stars but it was created by a former music teacher and where else can kids find fingerings for their instruments on an iPhone?)
Four Track
iTalk (not listed in Music Apps but in Productivity, a nice little recorder)
DrBetotteTC (Like a Dr Beat for your iPhone)
ITM MIDILab (turn your phone into a MIDI controller)

BeatMaker (yes, it’s $20 but it’s a real, full feature sequencer)
iDrum: Ministry of Sound Anthems
iDrum: Hip Hop Edition
iDrum: Club Edition (are you getting the idea that people like to make and remix their own drum beats?)

Karajan Beginner
Pocket Piano Song
Ear Test
Tap Tap Revenge (Guitar Hero for the iPhone)

Pandora Radio
iHeart Radio
AOL Radio
Tuner Internet Radio
Last FM
Fine Tune
Minnesota Public Radio (there are several “local” and ethnic stations radio stations available)
Songs of Love (they have a limited number of songs but it is to raise awareness for a good cause, not-for-profit)
Wunder radio


7 Responses to “iPhone Music Apps: Overview”

  1. margaret tyson Says:

    Have you seen Loopy? The link to it is You can use it like a little recording studio, building up harmonies. Really easy to use.

  2. MusicEdTech Says:

    I will check out Loopy. Could be cool. Thanks!

  3. Patrick Kelly Says:

    I created an metronome app that conducts real musical patterns. Maestro – presently there are eight different patterns (beats per bar) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (2+3), 5 (3+2), 6 (2+2+2), and 6 (3+3). Each pattern has three styles – legato, staccato, and non-espressivo. There is a Lite version that gives you just the 3 pattern. – also the Legato patterns – at a certain tempo – change into a “reduced” pattern. ie: the three pattern goes into one while still clicking three beats.
    Check it out. – Thanks.

    • MusicEdTech Says:

      I checked it out in the iTunes Store and your website. It looks good especially compared to other apps that try to do the same or similar. Good luck!

    • Patrick Kelly Says:

      I updates Maestro – and I have an iPad version as well – it really looks great on the bigger screen. – Maestro XL.
      anyway, both have 30 patterns now. well, 120 patterns really since each pattern is in 4 styles. the patterns are like 10 beats (per bar) divided 3+2+2+3 and also 2+3+2+3 and 3+3+2+2 etc. all the combinations for 1 through 12(3+3+3+3)
      I also added subdividing clicks – eighths and triplet eighths on the iPad version.

  4. Ricky Cody Says:

    Symphony is an interesting one. It’s like a miniature Finale

  5. Patrick Kelly Says:

    Hi folks,
    I just released a collection of fingering apps.
    Fingering (iPhone version) , Fingering Brass for iPhone, Fingering Woodwinds for iPhone,
    Fingering for iPad, Fingering Brass, Fingering Woodwinds
    also Note Names & Pitches.

    The iPhone version has:
    Note Names (Treble, Alto, Tenor & Bass clefs); Piano; Piccolo, Concert, Alto & Bass Flutes (with minor 2nd, major 2nd, minor 3rd, major 3rd trills); Oboe, Cor Anglais (with minor 2nd, major 2nd trills); Soprano, Alto, Bass & Contrabass Clarinets (with minor 2nd, major 2nd trills); Bassoon & Contrabassoon (with minor 2nd, major 2nd trills); Soprano, Alto, Tenor & Baritone Saxophones (with minor 2nd, major 2nd, minor 3rd, major 3rd trills); F/Bb Double French Horn (Treble & Bass clefs); A, Bb, C & D Trumpet / Cornet / Flugelhorn; Tenor/Bass Trombone (Treble, Tenor & Bass clefs); Euphonium & Baritone (Treble, Tenor & Bass clefs); BBb & CC Tubas (Treble & Bass clefs)

    Fingering for iPad has Eb and F Tubas as well.

    I think it’s a valuable resource for teachers to have (it has over 1100 woodwind fingerings)
    the website explains it better. 🙂 http://fingering.patrickqkelly.com


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: