How do I get started with ipads

So, I have this iPad

Where do I start?

So, you’ve been given some iPads to use in your music classroom…where do you start?

Music teachers have been utilising iPads since they were first released in 2010.

While many purchased their first iPad with a view to using it as a digital sheet music reading device, it soon became apparent that the iPad could be used for music performance, composition, productivity, assessment, presenting and much more.

Personally, when I bought my first iPad in 2011 it was a bit of a mystery and I think I barely used it for the first three months! Now it’s part of my daily life.

Over time I realised that as a music educator, there are two main ways you can utilise iPads in the music classroom:

  • For your own personal use
  • For hands-on activities with students

Teachers can use their own iPad to create resources, increase productivity, present lessons to students, record performances, notate compositions, create backing tracks and to digitise and store their sheet music library.

If you have access to multiple iPads for students to use, your students can use them to compose music, demonstrate learning, take quizzes, create videos, perform, read music, drill notes of the staff, learn music theory and more.

One thing I’ve discovered is that different types of music teachers use iPads in VERY unique ways. The local studio piano teacher will use their iPad very differently to their elementary music teacher friend or their high school band director colleague.

For this reason, it’s not always helpful to ask a group of music teachers what their favourite apps are.  One teacher’s “can’t live without it” app may not be useful to you in your teaching situation!

What to do…and what to avoid

Some basic tips

First of all, here are my top tips:

  • Start small. Try just ONE thing. Do that one thing a few times over until it is working well and then try another thing
  • Focus on your teaching outcomes first and decide whether incorporating iPads can enhance what you’re doing
  • When using iPads with students, pick one lesson and consider weaving the iPad into a single activity, or part of an activity
  • Tell your students “We’re going to try something new today and I’d love your help to make it work”. This usually gets students on your side from the get-go when testing out a new tech-related activity!
  • At first, make use of the apps you already have on your iPad.  The GarageBand app and the in-built camera are great places to start

What NOT to do

Some things to avoid:

  • Don’t go and download a whole list of apps because someone told you they were “must-haves”
  • Don’t attempt to incorporate iPads into lots of classes at the same time. Start small!
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel – look around for existing iPad music lesson plan ideas

Inspiration: some ideas for using iPads in music education

How are other teachers using iPads?

Sometimes when trying a new tech tool you simply want to know what the possibilities are.  

When I bought my first iPad I had a feeling it was going to be a useful tool but the best thing was hearing how other teachers were using it.  I had a lot of “aha” moments during those initial 12 months.

So how ARE other music teachers using iPads to create teaching materials? How are they using iPads with their students?  What do their iPad music lesson plans look like? How are they using them as a work tool or to increase productivity?

I’m going to share with you a list of iPad ideas for music teachers of all types, BUT before you look through the list I want to remind you of this:

>> Remember the Golden Rule: start small and pick just one thing <<


  • Set timers and alarms
  • Replace your old-school metronome with an app (Metro+, Metro Timer, Tonal Energy)
  • Use a tuner app (Tonal Energy, Cleartune)

Play and learn music

  • Store and play your audio music library (Apple Music, Spotify)  
  • Slow down or transpose a song or set up sections markers (Anytune Pro, Amazing Slow Downer)


  • Manage to-do lists and tasks (Notes, Asana, Trello)
  • View Youtube videos (Youtube app)
  • Manage student work, behaviour and attendance (iDoceo, Class Dojo)
  • Create documents, spreadsheets and forms (Google Suite/Classroom, Pages, Numbers)

Make teaching materials

  • Create presentation slides (Keynote, Google Slides)
  • Create tutorial videos (Camera app, iMovie, Luma Fusion)
  • Make “whiteboard” tutorials (Explain Everything)
  • Create and deliver quizzes (Kahoot, Plickers, Socrative, Quizizz, Quizlet)

Related: MTT03: 4 Fun Formative Assessment Tools For Music Educators

Compose and create

  • Audio record student performances (GarageBand)
  • Compose songs, video game music, soundtracks (GarageBand)
  • Record found sounds and create a piece of music with them (Samplebot)
  • Play and record digital software instruments (GarageBand)
  • Create beats and loops (GarageBand)
  • Use the iPad as a guitar amp and effects “pedal” (GarageBand, Amplitube, JamUp, Amplikit+)
  • Create a musical “drawing” that you can playback (Singing Fingers)
  • Create audio backing tracks for students (GarageBand, Notion)
  • Create an interactive “singing wall” display and use a QR code reader to audio files (Camera app, i-nigma)

Related: Free Webinar How to Create An Interactive Wall Display For Your Music Classroom

Capture student learning

  • Collaborate and contribute to a class bulletin board (Padlet)
  • Engage students in a video discussion (Flipgrid)
  • Photograph student work or video record assessment (Camera)
  • Create digital portfolios (See Saw, Explain Everything, Keynote)

Music notation and sheet music library

  • Store your sheet music library in a digital format (ForScore)
  • Annotate sheet music (ForScore)
  • Read chord charts and lead sheets (OnSong, iRealB)
  • Write music notation (Notion, Noteflight,, NotateMe Now)
  • Use a music scanner app to transform printed music into a playable interactive notation file (NotateMe with Photoscore in-app purchase, Sheet Music Scanner)

Related: MTT05: How to Scan Sheet Music

Related: 3 Ways To Create Graphic Notation on the iPad

Teach or reinforce musical concepts

  • Drill notes of the staff (Staff Wars, Flashnote Derby, Tenuto, Musition)
  • Learn music theory concepts (Tenuto, Musition)
  • Develop ear-training skills (Auralia, Karajan)
  • Practice rhythmic accuracy (Clapping Music, Rhythm Sight Reading Trainer)

Related: 30+ Fun Ways To Teach The Notes of The Staff Using Technology

Related: Clapping Music [Free Music Tech Lesson Plan]

More useful iPad music education links

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Want more help? iPad lesson plans and online courses

Hello! I’m Katie Wardrobe – an Australian music technology trainer and consultant with a passion for helping music teachers through my business Midnight Music.

I’m a qualified teacher but no, I don’t currently teach in a school. I help teachers through my online professional development space – the Midnight Music Community – where there are tutorial videos, courses, links and downloadable resources.

I like to focus on easy ways to incorporate technology into what you are already doing in your music curriculum through a range of creative projects.  I also run live workshops and have presented at countless conferences and other music education events.

If you want simple, effective ideas for using technology in music education, I would LOVE to help you inside the Midnight Music Community.

Learn more and take a sneak peek inside