How to Use Yamaha's NoteStar App in Your Studio

Wendi Kirby-Alexander, iPad Teacher Extraordinaire If you've purchased The iPad Piano Studio: Keys To Unlocking the Power of Apps, you own more than just a book. In your hands (or on your shelf) is a paperback hybrid experience. Because of the QR (Quick Response) codes sprinkled throughout the chapters, you have access to new blogs and videos geared towards making YOU the best iPad Piano teacher you can be.

Speaking of iPad piano teacher, check out what my new friend (we met at 88 Creative Keys!) Wendi Kirby-Alexander generously shared in her guest post. She has found incredibly creative ways to use Yamaha's popular NoteStar app.

Here's a portion of the post featuring Wendi's ideas:

Wendi, is there one app that seems to be a studio favorite?

My favorite app is NoteStar!  I first started using NoteStar for my own enjoyment.  I wanted to learn to play more pop music.  I find that the written score for a lot of pop music often doesn’t sound much like the recorded version and I was looking for a way to make my playing sound more rhythmic and closer to the real thing.  NoteStarimmediately made that happen for me.  I was able to learn tricky rhythms by ear rather than fussing with counting every second.  The music I was making sounded better right away.  I also wanted to improve my improvisation skills so having a live band to play along with proved very helpful! In the beginning, I found I couldn’t play the bass line and melody and still work out my improvisations so having the band to play along with really helped me to improve faster.

As soon as I started using NoteStar, I was excited  to share it with my students and quickly found many applications!

Ensemble Skills:  Each month, my students come to a group class where we do a variety of activities. I have two pianos in the studio.  With four students at the pianos, I connect my iPad to my Bose speaker dock and off we go.  Two students play the accompaniment part:  one on bass clef, one the treble clef, then one person plays the vocal part (melody) and then another does improv at the top.


For more advanced students that are good sight readers, they play exactly what is written in the beginning.  For the beginners we modify this.  One person plays the tonic following the chord chart, another plays the chord or a rhythmic bass of their choosing and one person reads the melody line and another does the improv.  There is always a basket of simple percussion instruments (shakers, sticks, hand drums) handy for the rest of the class to play along while they wait for their turn.  We rotate until everyone gets a turn playing a couple of the parts.

Ear Training:  I choose three songs and tell them their three possible song choices.  One student just plays the chord progression for either the chorus or the verse (usually the first 4 to 8 bars).  The class guesses which song it is.  If they can’t guess, the student starts by playing one melody note at the beginning of each measure and then if they still can’t guess, the student playing loves to choose random notes from the melody to put into to the progressions as hints.  It is amazing how many times they guess correctly!...

To read the entire post, scan the QR code in your copy of The iPad Piano Studio. Don't have one yet? Alfred Music is now distributing the book so it can be found at your local music store. If you can't find it there, visit The iPad Piano Studio.

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