38 Apps for Music Ther(app)ists

by Taylor Cockrum, MTI

Full disclosure: I have a love-hate relationship with technology. It can be frustrating at times, but think about all we CAN do with the click of a button! While I am no technology expert, I do believe that it can be our friend in sessions with clients of all ages and abilities! There are apps for creating music, notes and documentation, virtual instruments, storing chord charts and sheet music, music streaming, and more! Not only can it be a tool to make your life and job easier, many apps can provide unique opportunities for our clients to create, explore, and grow!

 

While you could spend hours looking for an app that does “A, B, and C,” I am providing you with a list of (mostly FREE) apps that music therapists are already using and love! Better together, my friends.

 

**A note: Some of these apps are available on Apple products only. But, if you search the name in Google Play, you can often find apps with similar functions.**

Apps for Music Creation

Garageband

Price: FREE   

Available on: Apple only

GarageBand is an all-inclusive music making app that can help you and clients create beats and loops, play instruments, record melodic and harmonic lines, and so much more. A classic, FREE favorite for Apple users, unfortunately GarageBand is not available outside of Apple products. However, since this app is so popular, you can find a list of similar Android alternatives here.

Chrome Music Lab

Price: FREE

Available on: the internet!

I could play on this website for hours. This beautifully designed website explores music through various “experiments.” There is little instruction for many of the activities, which allows for freedom of exploration. The games cover rhythm, melody, harmony, instrumentation, and more! Go play around for yourself!

Rhymer’s Block

Price: FREE

Available on: Apple only

Rhymer’s Block is an excellent songwriting companion for those of us who don’t have a thesaurus in our go-bag. This app works offline and can provide instant suggestions of words that will both rhyme and be relevant to your song.

Music Memos

Price: FREE

Available on: Apple only

Music Memos is a fancy version of your usual voice memos app. When you record a melody, it can detect possible chords that fit with it, and you can hear what it would sound like with a bass and drum set! It also provides you a way to store and organize your song ideas for future use. There are some themes of lagging/freezing in the reviews, but overall this app could be really helpful for MTs who use songwriting in sessions with clients who want immediate playback!

AutoRap by Smule

Price: FREE

Available on: Apple and Google Play

AutoRap allows you to turn your freestyle into a rap on the spot! It has options for you to simply speak words into the app and have them instantly turned into a rap song or to auto tune your rap to make it fit to the beat you’ve chosen. You can choose from popular beats from current hits to follow along to as well.

Groovepad- Music & Beat Maker

Price: FREE

Available on: Apple and Google Play

Groovepad is the highest-rated music app on the App Store right now (who knew??)! 

It may not be directly comparable to all of GarageBand’s features, but it has a pretty big library of tracks and sound effects separated by genre that can be used to create live loops! Plus, it is visually inviting (a pro for clients who may be overwhelmed by the task of making music for the first time). A drawback: there are a lot of ads. I would suggest pre-downloading some track options before sessions and giving the option of YOUR library, not the entire app. You would spend more time waiting for the ads and downloads than you would making music with your client. There is a paid subscription option to eliminate that problem***

Incredibox

Price: $3.99

Available on: Apple and Google Play

Even though Incredibox is not free, this app brings a unique aspect to the table. This app is another beat creation app, but it uses avatars as beatboxers who sing your beats. You can choose your style, atmosphere, beatboxers, and sounds to create visual and audio masterpieces!

Apps for Music Notation

Noteflight.com

Price: FREE

Available on: the internet!

Noteflight.com is my personal favorite software for music notation. It is technically a website, so anyone can access Noteflight as long as you have internet access. I find it to be the most user friendly for quick staff notation. I highly recommend checking out their shortcut page to make your life easier. The best part… it is FREE unlike so many notation softwares.

Musescore

Price: FREE

Available on: the internet!

Musescore is my second favorite music notation software, but I know many people who love musescore just as much as Noteflight. Much like noteflight, I suggest becoming familiar with the musescore handbook to save yourself time and frustration. Both of these websites are GREAT options for personal compositions or client use.

Staffpad

Price: $89.99

Available on: Apple only

Staffpad probably does WAY more than you need for your daily sessions. However, if you have some pretty advanced clients or are spending a lot of time notating sheet music on your own time, Staffpad is fabulous for tablet users. This one allows you to quickly write in your notes by hand (Apple Pencil FTW here), and it automatically recognizes and properly notates the music into printed format. While this is definitely a pricey option, it could go down as a business expense for sure!

Instrument Apps

The Piano Free

Price: FREE

Available on: Apple only

This piano app is your go-to basic piano app. One perk of this app is being able to change the size of the keys to adapt to the needs of your clients! Otherwise, it is a standard piano app with quality sound.

Magic Piano by Smule

Price: FREE

Available on: Apple and Google Play

Magic Piano is a sweet app that allows clients to play along with some of their favorite songs. This app can really range in difficulty, and you might need to play some songs yourself to earn free songs to build your rep in the app. It is set up as a game that may also be motivating in sessions. Overall, it is a great way to work on motor and cognitive skills through piano if building chords on the piano is a bit advanced for your client!

Glow Piano

Price: FREE

Available on: Apple only

Glow Piano is great for clients who love color! The light-up keys are fun and exciting as you can also change the instrumentation of the keys for different sounds. It is a small keyboard though, so don’t expect a full sonata on here.

Real Guitar

Price: FREE

Available on: Apple and Google Play

This is the exact app I was hoping to find when I thought “virtual guitar.” It is simple to use. All you do is adjust which chords will be in the songs you want to play, and it creates chord buttons on the side of the guitar neck for your client to play accordingly (think autoharp style, but they press and release instead of hold down). This could be a great tool to work on following chord charts in time while you play your guitar as well!

Guitar- Play and Learn songs (by Yokee)

Price: FREE

Available on: Apple and Google Play

This game is essentially the guitar version of Magic Piano! There are three levels of difficulty, and you are able to add more songs to your rep list as you play and earn coins! It does very simple one finger accompaniments to popular songs and prompts you to either pick or strum.

GuitarTuna

Price: FREE

Available on: Apple and Google Play

I love GuitarTuna! It is accurate, easy to use, and you can switch the tuner to tons of other string instruments. I have this on all my devices so it is in my back pocket at all times.

Apps for Lyrics and Chord Charts

OnSong

Price: $29.99

Available on: Apple only

If you have an Apple product… I cannot suggest OnSong enough!!! This is the only app I would probably ever drop $30 on in the blink of an eye all over again. This chord chart storage system is user friendly and easily shares charts from guitar tabs, google drive, and other random websites, honestly. In the app you can edit, import, create new charts, and transpose every song immediately. You can create books or folders for songs (that can be duplicated in multiple locations) by genre, decade, client, or however your heart desires. Do yourself a favor and download this one.

Guitar Tabs

Price: FREE

Available on: Apple and Google Play

An oldie but a goodie. Guitar Tabs (app or website) is pretty much your standard go-to for finding guitar tabs and chord charts. The app can be helpful for the sake of time or lack of WiFi as you can save chord charts to access later. If you can afford the premium monthly subscription, it can make life much easier (on the spot transposition and simplification), but it is not necessary.

Apps for Visuals

Bitsboard Flashcards and Games

Price: FREE

Available on: Apple only

Bitsboard is actually a study tool, but it doubles as a user-friendly visual maker without the fuss of bringing in extra folders and supplies. You can add pictures and/or words to work on cognitive skills such as reading, sequencing, or object identification just to name a few. Flashcards make for simple incorporation into your interventions, but there are also game features that can make learning those skills more fun on their own!

Canva

Price: FREE

Available on: Apple and Google Play

Canva is a graphic design resource that can be used for anything from visual creation to marketing for your practice! There are tons of templates to explore, or you can create a design from scratch.

Story Creator- Easy Storybook Maker for Kids

Price: FREE

Available on: Apple only

The title says “for kids,” but I shamelessly would use this app. This particular app could be used on-the-spot for sequencing with clients, but would also make a great resource for making social stories for clients! You can add photos, videos, text, and audio to the stories.

Choiceworks

Price: $4.99

Available on: Apple only

Choiceworks is designed for routine-oriented kids and clients to build personalized schedules. Other features allow you to add words and pictures for emotion identification or sequencing goals. You can also add countdown timers for specific activities for clients to see in real-time.

Sound Touch

Price: $3.99

Available on: Apple and Google Play

This app is great for kiddos! You can choose categories (i.e. animals, instruments, transportation) and when selected, the image will play the corresponding sound. A virtual folder at the touch of a button.

Apps for Music Streaming

Spotify, Apple Music, & Soundcloud

Most everyone has heard of these, so I’m not going to link them here. All three of these apps have supporters and are available on all devices.

Soundcloud is a little more obscure, but often it has unreleased music that you can’t find on your average streaming sites. Soundcloud is free, you just need an account.

Spotify and Apple Music are both great (if you don’t have Apple, clearly your go-to is Spotify). Suggestion: If you can afford it, these premium accounts are worth it for offline use and no ads.

Additionally, if you do not want to mess up your own algorithms, purchase a separate account to use for your clients. You might get tired of “Let It Go” popping up in your Liked Songs after awhile 🙂

Musi- Simple Music Streaming

Price: FREE

Available on: Apple only

Musi was a new find for me. It is another free streaming app, similar to the ones above, BUT what makes this one unique is that it searches YouTube to find the music you’re looking for. So, in some ways there are a lot less limitations on what music is available for you to add to your playlists! You also save the specific video to your playlists which means the lyrics or music videos could be viewed at the same time from your playlist, which is pretty cool. Downside- Musi cannot be used without internet connection like the premium versions of the other apps.

Apps for Notes, Data, and Documentation

*Disclaimer:

Be sure to follow HIPAA-compliance guidelines when using technology for notes, documentation, and data-taking. Contact the app developer to see if they offer a Business Associate Agreement (BAA), remove all patient identifying information, and always secure your devices with strong passcodes.

GoodNotes 5

Price: $7.99

Available on: Apple only

I have not purchased a note-taking app for documentation, but have heard tons of positive feedback about GoodNotes. I have gathered that compared to most unpaid apps, GoodNotes is loved for its ease of use, compatibility, and storage (and its ranked #1 in productivity). You may need to compare this one to Notability to see which one is right for you if you are planning on paying for a quality note-taking app.

Notability

Price: $8.99

Available on: Apple only

Second to GoodNotes, I have also heard great things about Notability! My description is going to be the same here. I cannot personally attest to the greatness of Notability, but when I ask about note-taking apps, this one is always mentioned (and its rated #2 in productivity).

Evernote

Price: FREE

Available on: Apple and Google Play

As far as free note-taking apps go, Evernote is by far my favorite. There are some restrictions that you won’t get on GoodNotes and Notability, but for free, it does the job for me. I can organize my notes by week or client, can use my Apple Pencil to handwrite notes, or can type straight into the file.

Google… Everything

This is just a quick note to say that if you do not use Google Drive/Docs/Sheets for your personal and professional storage, I highly recommend it. Being able to access files from any of your devices in an instant is not only helpful, it is imperative. If you are worried about HIPAA compliance, I would also recommend G Suite for yourself or your business. There is a small fee charged per person, per month.

Find more info on making your G Suite HIPAA compliant here.

Apps for Music Therapist Self-Care

Headspace: Meditation & Sleep

Price: $12.99/month

Available on: Apple and Google Play

Headspace is one of the top-rated apps for meditation and relaxation, and I have tons of friends who rave about it! You do not have to pay for the monthly subscription, but I have heard that all of the great perks of this app come from the paid version. I highly encourage looking into this app.

Tide: Sleep, Focus, Meditation

Price: FREE

Available on: Apple and Google Play

Although Tide does offer a monthly subscription, the main features I use are free! I use this app for sleep sounds, music to focus, and occasionally deep breathing.

Libby by OverDrive

Price: FREE

Available on: Apple and Google Play

With a library card, you can access hundreds of ebooks and audiobooks for absolutely free! Libby is basically a virtual library in your pocket. It is great for long breaks between sessions or car rides when listening to music seems more like a chore than self-care.

Podcasts

Price: FREE

Available on: Apple and Google Play

Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts are both great resources for the traveling music therapist.  After a week of singing and playing music, sometimes listening to music just seems like too much for me. Some of my personal favorites are Hidden Brain, Unlocking Us with Brene Brown, and For the Love with Jen Hatmaker. There is a podcast for everyone!

Plant Nanny

Price: FREE

Available on: Apple and Google Play

This may sound silly, but if you are bad at drinking water, try Plant Nanny! The app gives you a plant to take care of, and when you drink water, you log it in the app to keep your baby plant happy and healthy. Desperate times call for desperate measures (if only the plants grew based on how much coffee I drink).

Daylio Journal

Price: FREE

Available on: Apple and Google Play

Daylio is a cute, quick journaling app that helps kickstart the habit of journaling. Rather than writing pages about your day, it asks you to choose symbols based on your daily activities and rate your day on a scale similar to that of a likert scale that you can customize.

Other Apps for Music Therapists

HoursTracker: Hours & Pay

Price: FREE

Available on: Apple and Google Play

If you need to keep track of your own hours, this app is a simple way to clock in and out. You can display your hours by day or pay period and split it up by different jobs or pay rates.

Tenuto

Price:$3.99

Availability: Apple only

Tenuto is the app version of music theory.net. This app could be useful to keep up your own skills as a musician or for basic music theory for clients. It offers flashcards and quizzes for tons of music theory concepts.

My Free Bingo Cards

Price: FREE

Available on: the internet!

Myfreebingocards.com does it exactly what you think it will! It is a quick and easy way to make customized bingo cards by any category or genre! Just fill in the options on the website, and it instantly generates 30 cards for you to download for free.

Recap

Technology can be overwhelming, especially if you are just starting out in the field like myself. I hope you find this list helpful and encouraging to incorporate technology into your practice if you’re not already. Maybe it even sparked a new idea to use with a client or for your own self-care in the future!

Much love and happy music making!

 

P.S. This is a big list, y’all. But I know you have even more apps you LOVE to love. What’s missing? Please share in the comments below and join in the conversation 🙂

Taylor Cockrum, MTI

Music Therapy Intern

taylor@heartandharmony.com