3 Ways to create graphic notation on iPads

Graphic Notation Apps

Graphic notation – a visual representation of what you hear – can be an excellent stepping stone to more traditional notation methods. Naturally, graphic notation exercises can be done simply with pencil and paper, but there are a number of iPad apps which can help you take graphic notation to the next level with your students.

Here are 3 apps that you can use for graphic notation with your music students:

1. Singing Fingers

Singing Fingers is one of the most simple apps I own and it’s a great one to use when you’re introducing students to graphic notation. Make a sound and run your finger over the blank white screen to draw a picture. The beauty of this “drawing” app is that nothing will appear on the screen unless you are making sound.

Students can draw a line to match the melodic contour they are singing. A little bonus – the louder the sound, the bigger the line on the screen. Quiet sounds produce a thinner line. Pitches are also represented by different colours so you can use it in pitch-matching exercises. Sing a note while you draw a line on the screen and then have students imitate your note. Do the colours match?

Students can even “play their drawing” by running their finger along the coloured line on the screen.

2. Explain Everything

Explain Everything is a “whiteboard” or “screencasting” app which allows you to draw on a blank screen and record your movements. Students can select a drawing tool, press record and sing/draw at the same time. Explain Everything will record the creation of the drawing and also record the audio – their voice – at the same time. When they’ve finished, students can play the recording back and see their graphic notation magically appear on the screen.

Related post: Make Your Own Follow The Bouncing Ball Lyrics Videos

3. Pitch Painter

Pitch Painter allows students to draw a shapes made up of small blocks of sound shape on an empty canvas. They can then play back their canvas. It’s a good way to introduce the concept of time being represented by the horizontally axis and pitch being represented vertically. Students can use the Reverse or Flip buttons to change the direction of their drawing and hear it play back in backwards or upside-down. There are 3 instrument sounds to choose from (from a total of 4 different world regions) and they can create multiple parts by drawing subsequent patterns with new instruments.

Saving or exporting the graphic notation

Some apps, like Explain Everything, have an inbuilt export function which allows you get the graphic notation off the iPad. If the app you’re using doesn’t have an export or save function, you can always ask students to take a screenshot of their work. Press the Home button and the Power button at the same time to take a snapshot. The screen image will be saved into the iPad Camera Roll.