What's a Top App for Building Note Recognition Skills?

If you follow popular music teaching blogs and sites, you know there are countless apps with more appearing daily. Because of this, I'm guessing that some apps may  have a short life span due to lack of support, loss of popularity... (crossing my fingers that doesn't happen) but if so, I want to be prepared, more like, armed and ready. So  I'm attempting to make a growing "app collection", in which I want to access and compare each and determine the "cream of the crop" from which to choose. My "stockroom of apps" will help me be prepared when I need that perfect app for "slow-reader Suzy" or "term-challenged Timmy" or "lack-luster-listening-skills Louise". There's really not a better place in which to conduct this type of research than within my very own studio and with my faithful and opinionated students. This past week, I asked my pianists to drill note names using Flashnote Derby. A couple of weeks ago they had enjoyed using Note Squish (here's a past blog featuring this app). These are two similar programs that offer a unique venue to master note recognition. Really both are nothing more than ordinary flash cards but are much more fun than sifting through cards because of the graphics, the game format and of course the best part-- they are played on the iPad.

From my magnetic board voting system, you'll notice that Flashnote Derby took the "crown" over Note Squish. Students explained that Note Squish was harder to read because the answers "jumped around" and they liked the racing screen better than the arcade style graphics of Note Squish. However, some were VERY loyal to Notes Squish and adamant it was the "winner"

I like Flashnote Derby because...

  • it provides instructional videos of each portion of the grand staff, therefore it teaches as well as drills
  • settings feature the ability to isolate line-note names or space-note names (even as little as 2 notes)
  • settings feature the ability to isolate note names on the treble clef, bass clef or both

Here's a printable I use to keep track of student scores. FlashNote Derby

Here's a printable FlashNote Derby Hall of Fame where I post names of students with the highest score of the week in each "Speed" setting . As a prize, winners receive $100 in Music Money.

I like Notes Squish because...

  • settings allow for treble, bass OR alto clef (but not a combination of treble and bass)
  • settings allow for drills that include as little as two notes
  • the graphics and game are just plain fun

Here's the sheet I use to keep track of student scores.

Here's the sheet for the Note Squish "Hall of Fame" where I post names of students with the highest score of the week in each "Speed" setting . As a prize, winners receive $100 in Music Money.

Leila's Opinion of Note Squish

Application Potential: 4/5  Menu settings provide review of Alto Clef, but line and space notes cannot be isolated.

Ability to Use with Ease: 4/5  Fun format but students found it more tricky to recognize notes (concentrate) because of on-screen distractions

Assessment of Investment: 5/5  Can you spare $.99?

Total Score: 13/15

Leila's Opinion of Flashnote Derby

Application Potential: 5/5  Excellent menu options that provide limitless versatility of drills for all levels in treble and bass clef or grand staff.

Ability to Use with Ease: 5/5  The ability to select the exact notes to be drilled sets this app apart.

Assessment of Investment: 5/5  Can you spare $.99?

Total Score: 15/15

My recommendation--GET BOTH! They both offer a creative way for your budding musicians to master notes names, are inexpensive and offer a stash of games from which to choose to please even the most opinionated students!

In case you are interested in more traditional flash card apps, I also own these apps for NOTE RECOGNITION:

  • Piano Flash! Class
  • BlueNote
  • Flash Class

FYI: All of these apps are listed on at 88pianokeys on the page Note Name Apps.  They are filed in a folder labelled "Note Names" on my iPad as well. To combine similar apps into one folder, hold your finger on one app until it starts to wiggle, than move that icon over the top of an icon of a similar app. This creates a folder that you can then name and add more apps as you build up your stock room full of quality apps. To stop the apps from jiggling, push the home button.

BTW: This list does not include apps that offer note recognition in combination with other subjects. Those are stored in a different folder and will be discussed in future blogs.

What am I missing in my Note Name folder?