iPads and Music Education

Area(s) of Focus: technology
Division(s): Intermediate, Senior
Level(s): Grade 9, Grade 10, Grade 11, Grade 12

The exploration of practical ways in which an iPad could be added into a music classroom. Teacher description guides and lessons were created for using GarageBand, iReal Pro, SoundCloud and Explain Everything.

Our project focus was for us, the teachers, to gain a better understanding of what is possible with iPads and how they can/could be utilized in a music classroom.

Our plan was to spend time learning what is possible, exploring by playing, and then work on creating some innovative teaching lessons that incorporate iPad use in instrumental, guitar, vocal music, music production and many other types of music focus courses. This would then provide us with other ways to achieve various curriculum expectations in the strands (foundations, creating and performing, and responding, reflecting and analyzing).

Team Members

  • Laura Lee Matthie

    Simcoe County DSB

  • Jay Rothenburg

    Simcoe County DSB

  • Robin Watson

    Simcoe County DSB

Professional Learning Goals

GOAL 1:   

Gain a better understanding of what is possible with iPads and how they can be utilized in a music classroom.


Collaborate with fellow music educators and look into a few other resources (e.g., TI:ME, Twitter, Facebook).

Things we want further information about:

  • apps and games for theory; Band-in-a-Box – is there an app for Band-in-a-Box or something similar; GarageBand; other neat and interesting things available on an iPad

Need support from school board – for adding apps; securing five to 10 iPads per school for our dedicated use


Creating activities/assignments/lessons for iPad (March 27–May 8) – we will each create a minimum of one lesson. We will email ideas of what could/should be created (following March 27). We will create a plan as to what we wish to create (April 8). Have lessons finished by May 8.

Activities and Resources

We met initially for a half-day to discuss our thoughts/goals for the project.

We then went on a field trip for another half-day to Cosmo Music to meet with Jeff Brown (technology specialist) who was able to show us what gear is available and how it can be utilized in a classroom. Here we learned about IK Multimedia products (e.g., iRig, iRigPro, iRigKeysPro, iLoud, iRigMicHD, iTrackDock).

Our first full-day meeting was where we joined two Apple Music Distinguished Educators who presented a number of different apps and had us exploring them with their instruction. We had the opportunity to be introduced to Apple TV, AirPlay, GarageBand, SoundCloud, M-Audio Box, Assessment-Based (Smart Music, Singspiel, Jamn PLAYER, Explain Everything), WD My Cloud, Notation-Based (ScoreCloud, NotateMe, PhotoScore), Theory-Based (Tenuto, Theory Lessons, Breezin’ Thru Theory, Breezin’ Thru Composing), and others (iTunes U, D2L, iBooks, The Orchestra, iMovie, Aurasma, Socrative, Kaywa QR Code Generator).

We then had two additional planning days for us to share, collaborate and ultimately plan our lessons.

Our final half-day was spent sharing what we created and providing feedback to each other and completing our reflections.

Unexpected Challenges

There were a few challenges that we faced as a group. We discovered that there were many challenges in adding apps to the school iPads. During the time of our project, some apps disappeared (e.g., GarageBand) and how we were to go about adding apps changed. Some iPads at our schools are supported by the IT department but others are not, so it has been quite the challenge to have apps added and then the greater challenge continues to be who pays and who has access to them.

An additional challenge was that we were not all at the same level of learning on the iPad, so sometimes this slowed us down, but we were able to assist each other with our needs to problem-solve.

Enhancing Student Learning and Development

As a team, we felt that if a teacher has a good understanding of the technology available and can use it themselves, then they would be more apt to integrate it into their regular practices. Our team was very excited and really want to use iPads in our classrooms more often. We feel that the level of student engagement will increase and will provide students with another option for learning and achieving success. It will also assist the students in exploring their own interests.


We plan to make them available on the Ontario Music Educators’ Association (www.omea.on.ca) website as they would be best shared online. We will gather the information about the useful apps and submit an article to the OMEA quarterly journal called The Recorder for a future issue.

We also are available to do workshops through our school board, OMEA, ECCO and anywhere else that is interested. The target audience would be secondary music. It would be ideal to have the participants equipped with iPads that have been pre-loaded with the apps. We could then explore the apps together working through our lessons.

A few of the lessons utilize #TTOG (Teachers Throwing Out Grades), so a presentation on assessment/evaluation could also be possible.

If OTF brings back a summer institute, I would be more than happy to present this to music educators.



Project Evaluation

Yes, it was very successful. Our goals were met, as we now feel very educated and familiar with many apps.

We have been able to successfully create some lessons and will be able to use them with our students. One challenge we have is actually adding apps to school iPads… perhaps trying to get the board “on-board” first with this project would have been useful as getting things installed may have been easier and ensuring that we could have unlimited access to a class set of iPads or at minimum five would have been beneficial.