I’ve previously blogged about my favourite iPad apps for rhythm teaching: see Best iPad apps for piano teachers, but now another app has been released, and it’s called Rhythm Lab, combining the best of ReadRhythm, Rhythm Repeat and My Rhythm. In fact, this one is now my favourite!
It’s most similar to ReadRhythm, so if you use this app already in your studio, you’ll know what Rhythm Lab is all about. Basically, the app shows a line of rhythm that the student has to correctly tab back by tapping the bar at the bottom of the screen.
The thing I like most about this app is the examples are really easy to get to – just slide the current rhythm to the right or left to get new ones to use (much faster than ReadRhythm) and there are so many examples, you’ll find heaps for every student at every level.
Even better, Rhythm lab allows for right and left had parts to be tapped simultanueously and it features some great exercises for practising polyrhythms (3 against 4, 2 against 3 and harder!).
You can adjust the precision required, the tempo, the sounds of the beats, the volume, etc., etc.
And just when you thought it could do everything, you’ll find out that you can select rhythms used by a number of composers – eg. Beethoven, Debussy, Bach, etc. taken straight from examples of their work, and it even tells you where the excerpt is from!
For example, under Beethoven, you can find the heavily dotted rhythm of the opening to the Pathetique Sonata ready for both hands to tap. Great stuff and really innovative.
The top menu of the app is simply: Levels (pick how hard the rhythm is, with examples of what to expect in the menu); Patterns (eg. Triplets, 2 vs. 3, hemiolas, ragtime, 5/8, etc.) and Composers (chose your composer excerpt).
All in all, this is a winning app and the only rhythm one I’ll be using in lessons from now on. Its intuitive, fully featured and pedagogically sound.
While on rhythm apps, I wouldn’t want to completely ignore MyRhythm which is a little bit like a game-show version of Rhythm Lab. It’s more for fun than anything in my opinion as students only follow dots on the screen, not notes. However the advantage (and I think kids will like this), is that it sounds really cool to play. The sounds aren’t try claves and snare drums, when you hit start, it plays a really funky backing track and your rhythm taps are actually keyboard chords to go along with it. Worth checking out for fun!
Tim Topham is the founder and director of TopMusic. Tim hosts the popular TopCast show, blogs regularly at topmusic.co and speaks at local and international conferences on topics such as pedagogy, business, marketing and entrepreneurship. Tim has been featured in American Music Teacher, The Piano Teacher Magazine, California Music Teacher and EPTA Piano Professional. Tim holds an MBA in Educational Leadership, BMus, DipEd and AMusA.