Are you an adult piano beginner looking for a note reading app? Then read this article to find out which are the best 4 note reading apps in 2021 for adults like yourself.
Learning how to read music is similar to learning a foreign language – to make the notes stick, you have to do a lot of drills. This is where note reading apps come in. They make note reading drills fun and engaging, and best of all, you can use them on the go.
There are tons of note reading apps to choose from but many of these are designed for children. So to spare you the trouble of sifting through hundreds of apps on the App Store or on Google Play, I’ve gone through a whole stack of note reading apps and have nominated the following four apps as the best note reading apps on the market today.
The questions which have most guided my choice are the following:
- Is this app easy to use?
- Are the exercises customisable?
- Is the app designed for piano players?
- Is this app geared towards adults?
If you’re familiar with the website musictheory.net, then you may have come across their app Tenuto. Tenuto is more than just a note reading app. It enables you to learn the following musical elements:
– the notes
– the key signatures
– the intervals
– the scales
– the chords
Within the app, you’ll find exercises to help you learn:
- to identify these musical elements on the staff, on the keyboard and on the fretboard (if you’re a guitarist);
- to construct these elements; and
- to train your ear to recognise these elements.
The app also has a “calculator” which can tell you which notes, intervals, scales or chords you input. And it even has a “matrix calculator” on the off chance that you might want to create a matrix and compose twelve-tone music!
Pros of Tenuto
The app is easy to use and has many features. It includes a timer, a progress report and the exercises are customisable. The unique feature of this app is its calculator.
Cons of Tenuto
The navigation between questions is not as intuitive as that of other apps. For example, to skip to the next question or to show the answer, you have to click on the three dots and then select the option you want. Most apps display these options on the same screen which is more convenient.
Piano Notes Fun
From all the apps I’ve tried, Piano Notes Fun has by far the best layout. The keyboard display looks like a genuine piano and all the buttons are displayed on the one screen making this app really easy to use.
This app enables you to learn the notes:
- in ascending order
- in descending order
- in random order
- that are line notes
- that are space notes
- that have accidentals
Pros of Piano Notes Fun
The app is really intuitive and the exercises (and its look) are customisable. There are different types of help modes including “Tutor mode” which teaches you the notes. A great feature that is lacking in other apps is the ability to select a note range to drill and have the corresponding keys automatically display on the keyboard (which saves you the trouble of scrolling through the keyboard to find the right octave!).
Cons of Piano Notes Fun
I can’t think of any! I just wished this app had other features besides note reading drills such as interval and chord drills! But it is a note reading app after all…
Note Trainer Pro
Note Trainer Pro is specifically designed for note learning. It includes drills on:
– space notes
– line notes
– notes on ledger lines
– notes with accidentals
– notes in different keys
The app also contains chord exercises (beginner and advanced) but only on the iPad version.
N.B. There is a separate app that you can use for ear training called Ear Trainer.
Pros of Note Trainer Pro
The exercises are customisable. The drills include both the buttons to select the note names and the keyboard. You can zoom in or out the staff and the keyboard (but only on the iPad). The app can be used with a MIDI device or an acoustic piano by enabling your microphone. The app contains an article on how to read music. You can see your progress at a glance as a percentage will be displayed beside each type of exercise.
Cons of Note Trainer Pro
Unfortunately, the chord exercises are only available on the iPad. The keyboard does not automatically adjust to the right register when selecting a different note range. The only way is to swipe the keyboard horizontally with your finger which the app interprets you tapping on a key…
For iOS & Android
Perfect Ear is similar to Tenuto in that it includes exercises on:
– key signatures
However, it also contains rhythm training with tapping exercises, dictation and imitation exercises as well as a whole section dedicated to music theory explaining all the important concepts such as intervals, scales, the Circle of Fifths, triads, seventh chords, inversions, modes and rhythm.
Whilst the exercises are not customisable with the free version, it only costs $1.49 to unlock the custom exercise editor.
Pros of Perfect Ear
Perfect Ear is easy to use and has many features. The free version contains many exercises and it costs less than $5 to have access to all the exercises. The exercises are fun to do.
Cons of Perfect Ear
One downside is that the note reading exercises do not include a keyboard which means you can’t practise matching the notes to the piano keys.
So what’s the verdict? Out of these four note reading apps, which one should you choose in 2021?
The winner for me would have to be Piano Notes Fun because of its layout, its ease of use and its customisation features. Moreover, you can take it with you – you don’t need a midi device or an iPad.
Having said that, if you’re after more than just a note reading app, I would recommend Tenuto or Perfect Ear.
Which one are you leaning towards? Are there other great note reading apps I’ve missed? Comment below!