Favorite iPad Apps for Off-Bench Music Lab Time

This post highlights some of my favorite iPad apps that I use for my students’ off-bench music lab time.

While these are all great-quality apps, most apps do not allow students to sign in and thus track their progress.

Consequently, I have designed corresponding tracking sheets that are all available in the shop.

Today we’ll talk about:

  1. Waay (Theory/Songwriting App)
  2. Rhythm Cat HD
  3. Rhythm Lab
  4. Staff Wars




Waay (Theory/Songwriting app)

Waay is an app available on iOS that teaches music theory via four courses:

  1. Melodies
  2. Chords
  3. [Chord] Progressions I
  4. [Chord] Progressions II

The initial app fee is $5.99 and includes the first two courses. Progressions I and II are bundled as an in-app purchase for $4.99.

Each course is comprised of short videos and interactive practice exercises. Even more specifically, the app states that its intention is to teach “songwriting.”

While the app states that it is great for beginners, the videos and concepts move very, very quickly. My recommendation is that this app is actually best suited for late intermediate / early advanced high school students.

(My impression is that the app is developed with the amateur adult musician in mind who is a “beginner” to music theory/songwriting concepts. It’s definitely not geared toward student-age beginner music students.)

Students will do best if they’re already familiar with the concepts presented in the app.  The courses build on each other and progress in difficulty. Students assigned the first course should already be familiar with major and minor scale patterns in all keys.

The final two “progressions” courses are focused on teaching students how to use “tricks” to identify chords that fit together and identify the keys those progressions may be coming from. These are fairly challenging courses. Students assigned these courses should already have a strong understanding of chords built on scales degrees in all the major and minor keys.


Corresponding Music Lab Tracking Sheet

Each course can take anywhere from 30-60 minutes to complete (depending on how many times they repeat exercises for practice) so, using a tracking sheet makes it easier for students to remember where they left off from week to week.

(While the app will give students stars/scores for what they complete, if you are using it at your studio with multiple students, those don’t help individual students track their progress.)

This music lab sheet is 4 pages (one page for each course).

Add it to your cart now, or find it (along with other music labs in the shop).


Rhythm Cat HD

Rhythm Cat HD is a rhythm app available on iOS. If you would like to try it out, check out the free version, Rhythm Cat Lite HD.

The paid version, Rhythm Cat HD (currently $4.99), currently includes 6 stages – each with 10 levels. If you are looking to use this as a lab for your students, then you will need the full paid version.

Please note that this app does not have a way for the student to hear the rhythm in playback. They tap the rhythm along to an accompaniment track. Often the accompaniment does not include the rhythm in any way, so students must have a solid sense of beat. If they miss just one note, they will receive two stars rather than three.

Stages and levels can only be unlocked by successful completion. So, you cannot assign stage 4 to a student until someone has successfully mastered and unlocked stages 1, 2, and 3.


Corresponding Music Lab Sheet

I would strongly recommend not to assign a stage until the student is proficient at the rhythms included.

For example, even though level one only uses whole, half, and quarter notes, some of the exercises must be executed at fast tempos.

This download is 2 pages, covering all six stages and ten levels.

Add this lab to your cart now, or find it (along with other music labs in the shop).


Rhythm Lab

Rhythm Lab is a comprehensive rhythm app available for iOS (currently $3.99). Not only does it have an extensive amount of leveled exercises, but the app will allow you to create custom rhythm patterns. With so many levels, students could potentially use this app over several years of lessons.

There are two sets of pre-leveled rhythms already created for you. The A-1 rhythms are one-handed rhythms, and the B-2 rhythms are two-handed rhythms. Since they progress at about the same level of difficulty, consider assigning them simultaneously such as A-1 (Level 1A) and B-2 (Level 1B) before going on to A-1 (Level 2A) and B-2 (Level 2B).


Corresponding Music Lab Sheet

Rhythm Lab is one of the few apps out there that will allow you to create student log-ins to track individual progress and scores.

When you first install the program, you will want to set up usernames for students to log in.

Despite the app being able to track individual progress, manual tracking using this lab sheet makes it easier to assign work and view progress. It also includes detailed directions for students.

This download is 15 pages covering 59 sets of exercises.

Add this lab to your cart now, or find it (along with other music labs in the shop).


Staff Wars

Staff Wars is a note-naming app available on iOS (currently $0.99). As you can imagine, due to the play on “Star Wars,” this app is a hit for a lot of students.

As the notes are named faster, the game will speed up. They have three lives to lose before the game ends and they can try again. It creates a lot of energy and excitement as it goes faster and faster!

With eight different clef settings, students can go through a LOT of note-naming practice in a variety of ways. There are 7 pre-set “ranges” of notes available and as well as a manual version.

For the sake of simplicity and the fact that these labs are designed for piano students, this corresponding lab sheet only uses the treble clef, bass clef, and grand staff options and the manual range setting so the teacher can simply draw in the note range they would like the student to select. (You do so by using the up and down arrow selectors on either side of the little staff on the screen selector by using the left and right arrows.)


Corresponding Music Lab Sheet

This corresponding tracking sheet includes student directions, an easy way for you to assign students specific notes and clefs, and a section for students to track their scores.

While this lab only has 2 pages, there is no limit to how many times the game can be assigned. Simply reproduce the second page as needed – which is a full page of assigned boxes because it doesn’t include student directions.

Add this lab to your cart now, or find it (along with other music labs in the shop).



Music Labs Made Easy eBook

Curious for more details on how I run my music labs? Get this 15-page eBook that is chock full of all kinds of “pro tips.”

We’ll talk about scheduling, set-up, and organizing labs. Laid out in an easy-to-read and understand format, this book will answer all your questions regarding music lab time!



More Music Labs

If you’re interested in checking out more of the music labs available, there are ten in the Piano Pantry shopFor more detailed information on each, see the posts linked below.

1) Essentials of Music Theory
Details here: My Favorite Computer-Based Program for Music Lab Time

2) Fun Music Videos
Details here: More Than 100 Videos for Your Music Lab

3) Holiday Lab – Halloween
Details here: Halloween Music Videos Listening Activity

4)  Holiday Lab – Christmas
Details here: Christmas Music Videos Listening Activity

5) Music Theory Videos
Details here: More Than 100 Videos for Your Music Lab

6) Piano Explorer Magazine
*04/2021 Update: Unfortunately, Piano Explorer Magazine has been discontinued

7) Rhythm Cat HD
Details here: Favorite iPad Apps for Music Lab time

8) Rhythm Lab
Details here: Favorite iPad Apps for Music Lab time

9) Staff Wars
Details here: Favorite iPad Apps for Music Lab time

10) Waay
Details here: Favorite iPad Apps for Music Lab time


Shop the entire Music Lab Series now!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *