My DREAMs for a Brilliant 2017!

DREAMsMany of us are pretty happy to welcome 2017 as a fresh start after a challenging 2016. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty relieved to see the hind end of this bad-tempered mule of a year, which included the near loss of one of my kids, the partial loss of my index fingertip (I’m a pianist, argh), and actual loss of my furnace just this week?   B’byyye 2016, begone!

Now,  that said, I’m the proverbial “hopeless optimist”  and I figure the best defense is a good offense.  What’s the best offense for a brilliant new 2017? A good plan, of course! And now that my Christmas shopping is done, I’ve sunk my teeth into DREAM’s recent additions. Remember DREAM, that digital compendium of all things musical? Here’s my “explore over the break and use it in the new year” list of finds:


Little Hands on RhythmDREAMs...Like so many good resources, this one isn’t cheap at $99, but what child (or adult!) can resist magnets? It’s a proven thing that it’s easier to learn many concepts through tactile learning and I’ve spent a fair number of hours and dollars in the past to come up with good rhythm manipulatives. This one looks like a first-rate fun and tactile time saver and contains everything needed to explore 4/4, 3/4 and 2/4 time signatures (including bar lines), whole, half, dotted half, beamed 1/8th, dotted quarters and single 1/8th notes, and whole, half and quarter rests.


DREAMsNote Quest...Though it specifies piano in the description, I’ve successfully tried singing the notes, so any instrument with adequate range for the chosen level should work.

-Range spans 4 octaves
-Grand staff displayed on every screen instead of just treble or bass
-Includes sharps & flats
-Includes 2-note intervals to encourage intervallic reading, not just single note
-Choose Real Piano (play your own piano) or Virtual Piano (when you are away from home)
-5 levels of play with freedom to move up or down as you choose

We all have students (especially recent transfers in my experience) who could use more regular practice with note reading between lessons. For students with special needs (I have a couple) the design is clean and simple without distractions, appealing to older students as well.   (For iPhone, iPad, iPod touch)

Noteworks.…finally, a cool app available for both IOS (Apple) and Android! NoteWorks is a musical game, designed to teach note recognition and improve sight reading skills. Hungry Munchy is eager to swallow elusive blue notes. Your goal is to help Munchy catch each note as quickly as possible. The game combines learning and fun into a single gratifying experience. The app is both educational and entertaining, with an intuitive and visually appealing interface. Includes alto and tenor staves for more advanced challenge.

Ningenius….this app is already popular among my students.The only complete instrument mastery app for studio music teachers! Help your piano, string, brass, and woodwind students learn and master their NOTES and FINGERINGS on EVERY INSTRUMENT through exciting gameplay. Supplement your studio with this app, and let NinGenius test each student’s knowledge and motivate them to improve. Your assessment and remediation troubles are over!

Your students will work like never before to conquer the most essential music elements under the pressure of frenzied music and a timer moving closer to zero! Each young musician will want to play over and over to make it to the top of the High Scores list, increasing their speed and accuracy as they earn a collection of ninja belts. NinGenius keeps track of every game played, allowing you to view complete stats for each student in your studio.  (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch)


Piano Maestro.DREAMs…Though it’s not brand new by any means, this app has already earned huge popularity among my students, early beginners to late intermediates and possibly up.  Using their own acoustic (or electronic) piano, students exercise the challenging sight-reading skill of “keep moving forward” in an addictive and motivating, playing along as accompaniment or lead piano. (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch)



Scales – A Practice Assistant….To help students prep for the semi-randomness of technical exam keys, I used to make up kits with key-name cards.    Now, with the Scales app, you can get truly random scales with just a flick of your wrist! Simply shake your iOS device and a random scale will magically appear on the screen! You can also customize what maximum amount of sharps and flats you want to play from, what types of scales (Major, Natural Minor, etc.) you want to see appear, and even which exact scales you want to see. Also, coming soon via In-App Purchase, you’ll be able to see information about the scale on the screen such as the notes and key signature.   Now included:  C sharp and C flat and their relative minors for the pro’s (or masochists!).   (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch)


…and finally, some stocking stuffers to make our teacher lives easier and more interesting….

Sing, Swing and Think – David Fray.…For David Fray one of the major problems facing the contemporary performer of these works is that they have been “visited” by Glenn Gould. In other words, the objective is to find a way of playing Bach after Gould. By copying him? By standing resolutely apart? The film follows David Fray in his attempt to approach these beautiful works in a highly personal way.  The programme focuses on the concerto in A and on the concertos in F minor and G minor.

Our very own Professor Rena Upitis was recently a guest blogger on the enormously popular, “The Curious Piano Teachers” blog.

“For centuries, private instrumental teachers and their students have performed an extraordinary task. With only one short lesson each week, students learn to play their instruments. It seems nearly impossible, when you think about it. Between lessons, the student has to manage with only the instructions provided by the teacher and the memory of the lesson itself. Compared to learning at school, where students see their teacher for many hours, every day of the week, it is clear that private music tuition faces enormous odds. No wonder we lose some of our students.

….What if we could make the time between lessons more fruitful? More enjoyable? More motivating? Music tuition has not changed significantly since the Victorian era. But it could. We now have the capacity to create online tools to bridge the great divide between one lesson and the next. And Cadenza is one such tool.”   Click here to read the entire 4-part blog and find out what the Cadenza Music Tool has to offer!