Apps I Use at Every Lesson

February 2nd, 2013 by

Call me a softie, a push-over, perhaps even an app junkie, but I just can’t help accumulating apps. However, I don’t just collect them. I like to organize them and upon purchasing, I am intentional about how I use them in my music studio. Recently, I’ve discovered four I can’t live, or more accurately, teach, without.  Disclaimer: I use many more apps in every lesson, the ones listed below directly assist me with taking care of business.


Evernote Compatible with  iOS Android Blackberry Windows Phone WebOS (via App Catalog), Mac OS XWindows Windows 8 Safari Chrome Firefox

From recent encounters with other tech-savvy peeps, it appears that this app is a favorite as users can sync content and access it from any device. To be honest, I’m just getting my feet wet with this one as sometimes huge applications such as this one (which really want you to upgrade and pay for it) can intimidate me. I tend to prefer apps that offer a specific function, at a set price that allow me to use them even with my limited but growing app-intuition capacity.

That being said, I am thrilled to now use Evernote for more than just my to-do lists! In an effort to streamline my lesson notes (I’m really too embarassed to describe how much time I was taking to write these notes but my recent change in my lesson-note approach has made me incredibly happy) here’s what I’ve discovered so far:

  • Make a Notebook and title it with the last name of every student family
  • Within one Notebook, add a Note and label it with the student’s first name
  • Create a Lesson Note Template (mine is similar to the sample below)
  • Copy this lesson template to all Notebooks and change the names for each student.

All lesson notes are typed on my computer (my other iDevices are too busy being used by students during lab time) DURING the lesson. Upon completion, they are copied and pasted into when reconciling the lessons. Unfortunately, when copying and pasting this template into the, the formatting disappears (lines and bold font). However, I use these as they help me keep the notes organized as I type them during the lesson.



Hello, Favorite Student.

NEWS FLASH:  Here is where I place any studio announcements or instructions on how to earn music money, etc.


LAB TIME: This is where I write a brief description of what was assigned during the lab time


APPS: Since I use apps (on the iPad) at every lesson and since many students ask about them, I always include the app names  for the sake of the parents.



  1. Be Creative:
  2. Exercises:
  3. Lesson Book:
  4. Project Piece
  5. More…



What does Learn mean? Be able to play an assigned section counting aloud and 0-2 errors.

What is HA and HTHands alone and hands together.

What does Master mean? Be able to play the assigned section with confidence with zero errors the first time.



  • 5 = WOW = exceeded MY highest expectations, all goals were met and then some
  • 4 = EXCELLENT = all goals were met and progress made by consistent practice
  • 3 = NICE = most goals were met but some were not, due to lack of time, goals stated unclearly, goals set were too difficult to meet…
  • 2 = OK = some goals were met, but practice between lessons was not sufficient for much progress
  • 1 = HO HUM = looks like last weeks goals will be repeated as little or no practice occurred and little progress made


PROGRESS SCORE: Parents love looking for this score so I place it at the end so they need to read through all the notes.


See you next week!

Ms Leila



Besides creating notebooks, and notes, I’m a fan (so far) of these features:

1) Tags: at the top of each note, I can add Tags. So, if someone needs a new book for next week or if I need to search for something on YouTube or iTunes or purchase a book for someone, I add a tag at the top of the lesson note with one of these names: 

  • Borrow
  • Charge
  • iTunes
  • Purchase
  • Youtube 

Thanks to Natalie Wickham at MusicMatters Blog for terrific tag ideas!

2) Mic: While working with an adult student who was learning and arranging  a piece by ear, he liked the way I played a portion of the piece. I had his note open on Evernote on my iPad, so I tapped on the mic icon and recorded what I played. I emailed the lesson note to him with the recording (straight from Evernote) which he opened up on his iPad. With his quick listening skills, he  had the portion learned by ear by the next lesson. 

3) Web Clipper: As I access pdf theory worksheets from various websites, I am now storing them in Evernote and group them in Notebooks according to concepts, ie: Intervals, Rhythm, Key Signatures, etc. Then if I need to find one quickly for a student who needs review in a certain area, I can copy the pdf to their notebook. From there I can either print it off or have them complete it on Notability, my favorite app for annotating pdfs. Read more about Notability in my blog at


Turbo Scan Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later and optimized for iPhone 5.

Thanks to a post written by Jennifer Foxx, I can no longer give students music to purchase or borrow until I get out my iPhone and “TurboScan” it. This app turns my iPhone into a multi-page scanner for documents, receipts, notes, whatever. . . After taking a picture of the music book title, I can crop the scan, add a student name and the price of the book. When I get time after lessons, I enter the book to be purchased or borrowed in my account and only then delete the picture.  You can also use a feature called “Email to myself” which sends documents to the appropriate email. It will also upload them to online storage sites like Evernote, with a single tap. I haven’t done this yet, but you could then transfer the scan to the appropriate notebook in Evernote.


 Square Register Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 5.0 or later, optimized for iPhone 5, Android 2.2 and up.

The next time a family is late with a payment and claims they’ll bring it next time because they forgot the checkbook, you can happily say: “I accept credit cards!” Simply download the app, and a free Card Reader will be mailed to you. Once you link your bank account, you plug in the card reader to your phone or iPad and begin swiping.  A great addition to any studio “store front”! Although it is a free app, there is a charge %2.75 per swipe. Visa, American Express, MasterCard and Discover are accepted and there are no monthly fees or merchant contracts. Within 1-2 days, payments are deposited into your bank account. Just make sure to record the payment into your account.


Music Teachers Helper (app) Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (5th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS 4.0 or later, Android, Blackberry.

The app is still limited compared to the web application, however, it provides pertinent information a finger tip away. I use this the most when parents stroll in with their credit card, ready (and willing) to pay tuition but can’t remember what they owe. Invoices are available on the app so this, combined with a Square, allows my studio store front to take credit card payments with little effort. Furthermore, when I need to check my schedule on the go, it’s easily accessible.


What apps allow you to take care of business?


Posted in Financial Business, Music & Technology, Product Reviews, Studio Management, Using Music Teacher's Helper

About the Author

Leila Viss
Hi, I'm Leila Viss, pianist, organist, teacher, author of The iPad Piano Studio and blogger at
I enjoy teaching piano to around 45 students ranging in age from 6 to 91. I am drawn to discovering innovative teaching methods and successful practice strategies to encourage the average player stick to the bench for life. Customizing lessons for each student is a priority and therefore... [Read more]

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