IPad Apps in the Music Classroom: Singing Fingers


How do you use “Singing Fingers” in the Music classroom?

I’ve just begun using it this week.  I have to say, the kids are absolutely fascinated.  Without fail they want to know “What app is that?”  We could go on for the entire class period just working on pitch with this app, if we didn’t have too many things to squeeze into 45 minutes already.

I asked two colleagues for some input on how I could use the app. Melanie Hazelrigg is a teacher in two other buildings in our district.  Here are her ideas:

first grade pitch exploration

first and second grade practice reading pitches as icons

any grade – simple composition (each student in a group records one note or phrase, then the students put them in order to make a whole composition)

creating sound effects to go with a book or poem

learning about the classroom instruments by mimicking the sound with a picture of the instrument

thinking about pitch: drawing short lines for high pitches and long lines for low pitches

thinking about sound waves: close together for high and far apart for low/tall for loud and short for soft


Martha Stanley is a colleague from far away in the state of Arkansas.  She regularly posts to the Music K-8 mailing list, and gave permission for me to re-post her ideas on singing fingers.  Martha teaches all grade levels. including high school.

“My HS students and I have messed with Singing Fingers and have gotten
useful and sometimes hilarious results.
It dawned on me that the app could be used for composing.

EX:  record a “line” of music.  Play it backwards and voilà, retrograde.
Play it slowly and voilà, augmentation.
Have two kids record identical lines and play in canon.  (That was really
fun, btw.)

Also for intonation – have a prerecorded “line”.  Let a student listen to
it and on another iPad, have him/her replicate it.  Then compare the two
auditor-ally  Compare the colors of the two lines.  The colors should more or less match because if you draw
a line and record do to do’, you’ll see the colors change by pitch.  So
both do pitches should be (say) red.

Have some kids do high sound lines and then low sound lines.  Have kids
play the lines and determine if the pitches are high or low.  Could work
really well with pitch direction or melodic notation.

It’s been awhile since I thought about Singing Fingers, so I can’t remember
all the ideas I had for it, but it COULD be very telling because it does record.

Be aware that if you make sounds while you play a line, you’ll record over
the line.”


I recently added video capability to Tuesday Music.  Unfortunately, I’m still learning the ins and outs of using it.  Every video I’ve uploaded so far has either loaded sideways or upside down. Apparently it’s a problem common to videoing with an iPhone. These particular videos aren’t quite as annoying to view upside down as others I’ve tried to post, so I decided to post this the way it is, and figure out how to correct the problem at a more opportune time.  (It’s 2 A.M.  I can’t sleep.)

This first one is a simple sound map.  Although the picture is upside down, the sound is not, so try to envision the map going upwards instead of downwards.

The second video is also a sound map which is supposed to move upward, remain on one pitch and then descend. First I demonstrated for first grade, and they (sort of) echoed.

The third is a map of approximate pitches for “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”.  I hope this upside down thing isn’t as annoying for you as it is for me.

“Twinkle Twinkle” kid version.

Second grade is working on Muppet songs for their spring program.  We started working on “The Rainbow Connection” today.  When you hear this, bear in mind that they’ve just begin learning it.   They’re not quite sure how it goes yet….obviously.

They did much better with “Jambo”, as you can tell by the colors as well as the pitches.

First grade, trying to match a single pitch.  It’s so cool that they can use their eyes as well as their ears to make it work.

First grade: 3 tries on “Jambo”.


I can see how this could be used for assessment as well as practice.

So, what are your ideas?  How else can we use this?


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: January 9-13, the Week in a Nutshell, Primaries « Tuesday Music
  2. Carla Meiers
    Jan 16, 2012 @ 10:23:13

    I’ve been looking for the book “What Makes Music”. Amazon and Barnes and Nobles does not have it. Any ideas where I could get it?


  3. Carla Meiers
    Jan 16, 2012 @ 10:33:03

    Found the book on Ebay!


  4. Jane
    Jan 16, 2012 @ 16:27:10

    The kids will love it!


  5. Dani
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 12:37:55


    Can you explain more specifically how you use Singing Fingers in your classroom? Do you project the iPad onto a board somehow? I am not understanding how to use the app in any other than a one-on-one way…Help!

    Dani in MA


  6. Jane
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 12:53:55

    First I use it to see how closely the group can come to natching pitches. I draw a line while I am singing, and another while they are singing. If the pitches match, the colors will also match, and they can actually see how close or far off they are. It actually gets a bit comical, (from my perspective), when there are only 1 or 2 kids keeping them off…they start turning around and looking for the culprit with frowns on their little faces. I never let that go far. Then I have individuals try to match….they ALL want to sing by themselves to see if they can make their line match mine. I have them sitting on the floor around my chair, so they can all see and hear what is happening. You CAN project an iPad, but I’ve never done it.
    By the way, the width of the line shows dynamics. Hope this is of some help. :0)


  7. Trackback: 19 Free iPad Apps for Musical Creativity: Play, Improvise and Record Music | Midnight Music
  8. Robyn Windham
    Apr 26, 2014 @ 22:31:59

    This is exactly what I was looking for -an article on HOW to use an ipad app in the Music classroom – not just as a game filler – love it – fantastic – any other apps that you use I’d love to hear what you do with them too – just starting this journey – only have one ipad in the room and project it onto the IWB


  9. Musicmom27
    Feb 09, 2015 @ 09:53:32

    This is AWESOME!! I teach autistic kiddos and they love their iPads and mine, too. I hate always asking them not to touch or our video will stop. Now touching will be part of the lesson! As for the upside down thing: viewers, lock your screen and turn it around. Problem solved.


  10. Trackback: Research into children’s iBooks – emmajanemusic

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