This post highlights two of my current favorite apps that teach music theory (at various levels). I’m sure there will be more to come in the future but for now, let’s have a look at the Waay app and The Royal Conservatory’s Theory apps.
(This post was updated on 12/23/2020 to include the two new Progressions courses on the Waay app.)
Waay is an app available on iOS that teaches music theory via four courses:
- [Chord] Progressions I
- [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
This is an app I use during my music lab time. Unfortunately, like many apps, it does not allow students to log in to track progress, so I have students use a tracking sheet.
This app does not allow students to log in to track progress, so I have students use a tracking sheet.
Using a tracking sheet is also useful because each course can take anywhere from 30-60 minutes to complete depending on how many times they repeat exercises for practice.
Having students checkmark which parts of the course they have completed will help keep track of where they are in the course so they can pick up where they left off the next week.
This tracking sheet is four pages long (one page for each course).
Add it to your cart now, or find it (along with other music labs in the shop).
The Royal Conservatory (RCM) Theory Apps
The Royal Conservatory has a series of theory apps available on iOS that correlate to their Celebrate Theory books. These five apps are very high quality, top-notch apps with beautiful, appealing graphics and interface.
There are five levels: Prep, 1, 2, 3, and 4. While these apps correlate to the RCM program, you do not necessarily have to use the theory books to use the apps.
At the time of this post, you can get a free version of each level with limited access. For full access, you can either purchase individual levels ($1.99 each) or the all-access pass which includes Prep – Level 4 ($6.99)
In order to use this app for music labs, you will need to purchase the all-access pass.
The PREP-level includes five different categories: (1) pitch & notation (2) rhythm & meter (3) scales (4) chords (5) terms & signs.
Levels 1 – 4 each include eight different categories: (1) pitch & notation (2) rhythm & meter (3) scales (4) intervals (5) chords (6) music history (7) terms & signs (8) melody & composition.
If you click on that link, it will download a PDF that includes a more specific breakdown of each category. (Instructions based on RCM’s website layout July 2019.)
Corresponding Music Lab Tracking Sheet
Like many apps out there, students cannot sign in to track their progress, so I have my students track their progress is by filling out their music lab sheets.
While I recommend that you wait to assign the entire app/level at once rather than individual categories within the app, the music lab sheet allows you to assign individual categories by checking the “assigned” box.
Add this lab to your cart now, or find it (along with other music labs in the shop).
Each download includes two to three lab pages. You can purchase each level separately or as a bundle.
Level – Prep
Bundle (Prep – 4)
Music Labs Made Easy eBook
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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!
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