Useful Music Apps

Useful Music Apps

Whether you are just learning to read music or an advanced musician, many iPhone, iPad, and Android apps can help you. And, if you are a teacher, particularly if your students are in the "younger generations," you definitely need to know your apps.

In 2016, 2019, and 2023 I asked the readers of my monthly e-mail newsletters to send me their favorite apps for musicians and for students learning to read music. This page is a compilation of their suggestions. You'll find a few of their quotes after an asterisk at the end of some app listings below.

The apps are listed alphabetically within each section. The italicized text directly below the names of the apps contains quotes from the apps' official websites.

Many apps are free, while others cost a few dollars. Most free apps offer "in-app purchases," meaning that paid versions are also available and may be necessary to unlock all of the app's features.

The red links below are for Apple iPhones and iPads, and the green links are for Android. A few apps also have computer versions, which are shown as blue links.

You may ask yourself, "Which apps are best for me?" The answer depends on your personal preferences. Choose an app from the list and visit their website, read the explanations, and watch any videos they present. You can also search on YouTube for videos on how to use the app. If available, start with the free version to see if it suits your taste and needs. Keep searching, and you'll find the app that is PERFECT for you!

Tuners and Metronomes

Cleartune Cleartune
Easy-to-use tuner.
Apple app :   $3.99

iStrobosoft iStroboSoft
Peterson Strobe Tuners' popular app offers the unmatched accuracy of a mechanical strobe tuner for the highest degree of precision available in a software tuning application.
Apple app :   $9.99
* "The iStroboSoft tuner is like a mini strobe machine and also hears everything!" - Felice Pomeranz

Pano App Pano Tuner
Excellent app for tuning your harp.
Apple app :   Free
Android app :   Free
* "Pano Tuner hears all the harp strings, every octave, and also tells you the frequency." - Felice Pomeranz
* "In over 40 years of teaching, I've finally found an app that even beginning students can use to tune their harps between lessons." - Karen Strauss
* "Pano is the app I now use to tune all of my harps." - Sylvia Woods

SoundCorset Sound Corset
Tuner, metronome, and recorder.
Apple app :   Free
Android app :   Free
* "Great for tuning your harp!" - Mary Garvey

Tempo Tempo
A versatile metronome.
Lite Apple app :   Free
Full Apple app :   $2.99
Android app :   $1.49

TonalEnergy TonalEnergy
A tuner and metronome with instant feedback and encouragement from Mr. SmileyFace.
Apple app :   $3.99
Android app :   $3.99

Tunable Tunable
Tunable is a chromatic tuner, tone/chord generator and metronome that helps you learn to play steadily, in tune, and on beat. Featuring a unique "tuning history" display for visualizing pitch over time.
Apple app :   $7.99
Android app :   $3.99
* "The best tuner app/metronome app is Tunable! It is far more accurate than any other tuner especially in the lower registers on CG harps. It has a pitch pipe feature that "pings" a pitch, if you are attempting to tune by ear, or if you just need to hear a pitch (which I sometimes use when conducting ensembles). There is a "piano" pitch on it, which allows you to find a note/piano key, by octave. It has a fully functional metronome which has flashes (or no flash, subdivision, pulses, etc.). It also has a recording function. It has replaced 10 of my normal apps that I used to keep. It's not a free app, but it's worth far more than any app I've ever had." - Calista Anne Koch

Reading Music

Flashnote Flashnote Derby
Flashnote Derby takes the drudgery of memorizing the notes of the music staff and turns it into a fun and challenging game. Simply select the notes you wish to practice, and it's off to the races.
Apple app :   $4.99
Android app :   $2.99
*"I use this app with all my students learning to read music. I love that I can choose the exact notes that will be presented in the game. I start with just F-A-C-E, then the lines, and then the whole treble clef. Then I do the same for the bass clef. For advanced students, I can choose just the ledger lines." - Nancy Black

Music Flash Class Music Flash Class
Music Flash Class is a highly customizable flash card application designed and used by a professional music teacher.
Apple app :   $3.99

Music Reading Essentials Music Reading Essentials
Music flash cards
Apple app :   $2.99
* "Music Reading Essentials is four "decks" of flash cards for your iPhone on note reading, rhythms, intervals, and music symbols." - Anne R.

Music Tutor Music Tutor
Develop your speed and accuracy in reading sheet music by identifying music notes in timed sessions.
Apple app :   Free
Android app :   Free
* "Music Tutor is like flash cards for notes. It scores you against a chosen amount of time. It's also fun and educational." - Dennis S.
* "I love the Music Tutor app and have been using it for years! It really helps with note reading." - Mary Garvey

Note Rush Note Rush
A fun game for practicing note reading on the music staff. Note Rush uses the microphone to listen as you play each note and checks that you're playing the right note!
Apple app :   $4.99
Android app :   $4.99
* "This app helps a student to learn to read music, not by naming the note, but by using the microphone of your phone/tablet to check if you play the correct note on your harp. It works for most instruments as long as it is reasonably in tune." - Marieke van Zwienen

Note Teacher Note Teacher
A fun and easy way to learn sight-reading and the names of musical notes. Notes move across the screen on the grand staff. Shoot the notes down by pressing the correct virtual piano key. You can select how fast the notes move and the range of tested notes.
Android app :   Free
* "When I began my journey to learn to play the harp, I was over 50 years old with no musical background except the little music courses I had in elementary school. What I like about this app is that I can select the speed of the notes moving on the grand staff. The app tracks my response time and makes the weak notes appear more often than the ones I can name without hesitation. The note names are written on the piano keyboard, so you don't need to know which piano key is which."

Noteworks Noteworks
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.
Apple app :   $4.99
Android app :   $4.99

Staff Wars Staff Wars
StaffWars is a game designed to help beginning and intermediate musicians learn, practice and woodshed the note names of the treble, alto, bass, tenor and grand staff clefs.
Apple app :   $0.99
Android app :   $0.99
* "My daughter is a middle school band director, and she recommends this app. She says the kids really like playing it and the competition is motivating. " - Peggy Bhimani

Timing and Rhythm

Complete Rhythm Trainer Complete Rhythm Trainer
Designed like a video game and with strong pedagogical concepts in mind, this app will make you master rhythm while rendering the learning process enjoyable.
Apple app :   Free
Android app :   Free
* "This rhythm trainer app is really well done. There are drills to imitate, there are drills for dictation for just about everything. It progresses nicely utilizing previously learned skills with each new drill." - Carrie Johnson

Music Rhythm Trainer Music Rhythm Trainer
Rhythm Trainer is a series of fun field-tested exercises for mastering your essential rhythmic skills no matter what instrument you play. Practice 15 minutes a day in an individual session. Test your rhythmic skills. Get hang of the metronome beat. Learn to repeat different rhythms. Improve your sight reading skill.
Apple app :   Free

Rhythm Sight Reading Rhythm Sight Reading Trainer
Improve your sight reading quickly with immediate feedback of timing accuracy. Carefully graduated levels from simple to professional allow you to start at your best level and improve at your own pace.
Apple app :   $3.99

Rhythm Swing Rhythm Swing
Kids learn about rhythm and how it is written with music notation. See if you can guide Quaver the monkey past the hungry crocodile to his hidden banana stash!
Apple app :   $3.99

Comprehensive Apps

Theta Music Trainer Theta Music Trainer
Theta Music Trainer contains 12 courses and 50 games covering all major categories of ear training and music theory: Sound, Pitch, Scales, Intervals, Melody, Chords, Progressions, Rhythm, and Notation.
Apple app :   Free for the first three levels; then by monthly subscription
Android app :   Free for the first three levels; then by monthly subscription
* "The games are well explained, and the site is easy to navigate." - Martha Dahlen

Melody Cats Series

Melody Cats
Melody Cats are games to learn notes and rhythms with levels that get progressively more challenging.

Treble CatTreble Cat is an entertaining game designed to help students of all ages learn how to quickly identify notes in the treble clef.
Lite Apple app :   Free
Full Apple app :   $4.99
Lite Android app :   Free
Full Android app :   $2.49

Bass CatBass Cat is an entertaining game designed to help students of all ages learn how to quickly identify notes in the bass clef.
Apple app :   $4.99
Android app :   $2.49

Rhythm CatRhythm Cat is an entertaining game with a great soundtrack to play along to, but it also has the added benefit of teaching you how to read the most commonly used music rhythms, with levels that build up progressively.
Lite Apple app :   Free
Full Apple app :   $4.99
Lite Android app :   Free
Full Android app :   $.99

Rhythm Cat 2Rhythm Cat 2 is a fun rhythm game that follows on from where Rhythm Cat left off -- with more rhythms and new music to play along to.
Apple app :   $4.99

Ear CatEar Cat is a fun game created to develop your musical ear, with 80 levels that get progressively more challenging.
Lite Apple app :   Free
Full Apple app :   $4.99
Lite Android app :   Free
Full Android app :   $2.49

Play Along Apps

Amazing Slow Downer Amazing Slow Downer
You can repeat any section of the music at full speed, slow it down or even speed it up by changing the speed between 25% (1/4 of original speed) and 200% (double speed) without changing the pitch. Amazing Slow Downer can also change the tuning or musical key.
Lite Apple app :   Free
Full Apple app :   $14.99
Lite Android app :   Free
Full Android app :   $9.95
for PC computers:   Free
for Mac computers:   Free
* "You can slow down a recording as much as needed to hear tiny details of a performance, transcribe a piece, and more." - Felice Pomeranz
* "It will take a music recording and allow you to change pitch and/or speed without losing quality of sound. You can select and store certain sections of the piece too so you can loop them as you play along." - Linda Hamilton

Anytune Anytune
A complete set of tools to learn and practice by ear. Slow it down, choose the perfect pitch and learn faster with Anytune.
Apple app :   Free
Android app :   Free
* "Anytune allows songs to be slowed down or sped up without changing the pitch. When learning a new piece, I'll create play-along versions at 50%, 65%, etc., until I get it to tempo. I also use it to separate audio from YouTube videos and then add the songs to a playlist." - Karen Nelson

DrumGenius DrumGenius
Play along with the greatest drummers in the world and improve your knowledge of rhythm.
Apple app :   Free
Android app :   Free
* "We use a couple of apps here in the harp department at the Berklee College of Music that might be of interest: Drum School and DrumGenius. They are great for practicing pieces that need a groove, so that you internalize the feel of the rhythm. Sylvia has arrangements of Beatles' songs. What better way to practice them than with Ringo drumming for you? He is featured on Drum Genius! They have many grooves, like rock, swing, Latin, etc., and in different time signatures, too. You can pick the speed and pick it up when you've gotten one speed down. Truly fun way to practice!" - Felice Pomeranz

Drum School Drum School
Whether you're a beginner or a pro, Drum School is the perfect tool. With a large selection of grooves, exercises, practice ideas and a library of professional sounding grooves for play along, Drum School will continue to take you to the next level.
Apple app :   $12.99
Android app :   $12.99
* "We use a couple of apps here in the harp department at the Berklee College of Music that might be of interest: Drum School and DrumGenius. They are great for practicing pieces that need a groove, so that you internalize the feel of the rhythm. They have many grooves, like rock, swing, Latin, etc., and in different time signatures, too. You can pick the speed and pick it up when you've gotten one speed down. Truly fun way to practice!" - Felice Pomeranz

Garage Band GarageBand
GarageBand turns your iPad, iPhone, or Mac into a collection of Touch Instruments and a full-featured recording studio -- so you can make music anywhere you go.
Apple app :   Free
Android :   Free
* "With GarageBand you can play along or practice sections of your pieces or your own compositions." - Felice Pomeranz

iRealPro iReal Pro
Master your art by practicing with the world's most versatile virtual band, tirelessly accompanying you in any style, tempo or key.
Apple app :   $15.99
Android app :   $15.99
* " iReal Pro has many songs you can use as a music minus one device to learn tunes." - Felice Pomeranz

Theory and Ear Training

Earpeggio Earpeggio
Master the identification of intervals, chords, scales and rhythms solely by hearing them. Earpeggio provides ten different exercises, including: interval identification, chord identification, chord progressions, melody dictation, and rhythm dictation.
Apple app :   Free
* "I like Earpeggio for ear training." - Elizabeth Volpé Bligh

Music Theory Pro Music Theory Pro
Theory and Ear Training in one slick package. You will be presented with a note, key signature, interval, chord, scale, or tempo. Your challenge is to identify what you see or hear as quickly as possible.
Apple app :   $4.99

Tenuto Tenuto
Tenuto is a collection of 24 highly-customizable exercises designed to enhance your musicality. From recognizing chords on a keyboard to identifying intervals by ear, it has an exercise for you.
Apple app :   $4.99
* "It is great! I have learned to be proficient in reading music. I can time how long I want to practice. Any student will find this App VERY helpful." - Dolores G.

Notation and Scanning Apps

forScore forScore
With forScore, your sheet music has never been better -- --it is everything you can do with paper and so much more. Go paperless. Get organized. Download and play something new in seconds.
Apple app :   $19.99
* "This is the app I use for my music when playing weddings and other gigs." - Sylvia Woods
* "ForScore is wonderful to use for digital sheet music." - Mary Garvey

MobileSheets MobileSheets
Get rid of your books and binders and experience the freedom of going digital.
Apple app :   $14.99
Android app :   $14.99
for Windows :   $14.99
* "I am not an Apple person, so I use MobileSheets Pro to store and read sheet music on my Android tablet. It took me a while to figure out all the functions, but I like it." - Marieke van Zwienen

MuseScore MuseScore
Free music notation software.
for Windows or Mac computers :   Free
* "Every now and again I want to notate music, not enough to justify buying Finale or Sibelius. I use Musescore." - Marieke van Zwienen

Newzik Newzik
Upload all your scores and keep your library with you at all times. Annotate your parts with professional tools. Add audio or MIDI tracks, record yourself or embed YouTube videos to your scores. Speed up, slow down or transpose your files. Share scores with other users inside shared folders.
Apple NewzikBasic app :   Free
Apple NewzikPro subscription :   $29.99 per year
* "I absolutely love Newzik! I had so much music and often couldn't find what I wanted and discovered this app. It will store all sheet music and also you can make playlists for different occasions. Coupled with a foot operated page turner it's also great when pieces are more than two pages long (and the wind doesn't blow the pages when playing outside!). You can annotate the music and record yourself and play along with your scores. There is a tuner and metronome as well and lots of other features. There is a free version which will accept up to 15 scores so you can try it out before committing to the version which will take unlimited scores." - Elizabeth Palmer

Notate Me Notate Me
Quickly and accurately enter music notation with your finger or stylus, on a tablet or smartphone.
Apple app :   $39.99
Android app :   $39.99

Music scanner Sheet Music Scanner
Scans printed sheet music using your smartphone or tablet camera and plays it for you.
Apple app :   $4.99
Android app :   $4.49
* "Import a PDF or take a picture of sheet music and the app plays it. It has midi tones for lots of instruments, including harp. I use it to scan the music in the Folk Harp Journal, so I can decide which songs to learn." - Karen Nelson

Scanners Other Scanners
The following scanners are not specifically for musicians. However, you can use them to scan music as well as photos, receipts, and other documents with your phone or tablet and save them as images or PDFs.
Genius Scan Apple app :   Free
Genius Scan Android app :   Free
Tiny Scanner Apple app :   Free
Tiny Scanner Android app :   Free

Miscellaneous Apps

Modacity Modacity
No more wasted practice time! Get organized, focused, and fulfilled in your music practice with Modacity.
Apple app :   Free
* "The Modacity app is specifically designed to support "deliberate practice," which research and experience show is the most effective way to make progress in learning or improving any skill. It does this in multiple ways, a microphone for recording and instant playback; a timer so you don't waste time repeating passages; the question asked after every practice session, "How did it go?"; a special section for targeting a problem with a solution, etc. There's nothing like it, as far as I've found. - Martha Dahlen

Musictionary Musictionary
Musictionary is a handy little music dictionary, always available in your pocket. The app offers more than 500 words with descriptions, many with images.
Apple app :   $1.99