Apps, Apps, Apps

I’ve written about using the iPad in my music therapy sessions before (see the blog post HERE).  There are many reasons as to WHY and HOW the iPad can be used in sessions.  This post will focus on the WHAT.  What apps do I find most useful?


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Here is a quick list of 11 of my favorite apps to use in music therapy sessions:

1. Nylon Guitar (Example goal area: Pattern recognition and creation with a 3-chord song pattern)

2. Boogie Bopper (Example goal area: Fine Motor Skills // Finger Isolation)

3.  Bloom HD (Example goal area: relaxation)

4. Keyboard 2 (Example goal area: Letter recognition)

5. Laughter Therapy (Example goal area:  Breath and diaphragm exercises, as well as Impulse control — waiting to choose the laughter button in the song, “I Love to Laugh”)

6. Jelly Band (Example goal area:  Auditory Processing – having to listen to therapist list multi-step directions, such as, “Pick the monster that is green and has one eye””)

7. Story Creator (Example goal area:  Self-expression).  You can create songs, ADL steps, etc., in this FREE app.

8. VidRhythm (Example goal area: Impulse Control)

9. Barnyard Dance (Example goal area: Answering “wh” questions regarding the animals in the story: who, what, when, where)

10. Puppet Pals 2 (Example goal area: Story telling and sentence creation)

11. AutoRap (Example goal area: Self-expression)

From iPad skeptic to iPad enthusiast: How I came to realize that the iPad could enhance therapy sessions

I will admit it.  I was an iPad skeptic.


When I heard many therapists (not just music therapists, but speech and language therapists, as well) were beginning to use the device in their sessions, my immediate, knee-jerk reaction was one of hesitance, uncertainty, and, as mentioned above, skepticism.

My three biggest fears?

1. People would see therapists using the iPad and think, “if all you need is an iPad, then why go to a therapist”?

2. The iPad would replace live music.

3.  It would be detrimental to those working on social goals (eye contact, turn-taking, etc.).

As time went on, I began seeing glowing app reviews. Blog posts on the therapeutic use of the iPad. Evidence that clients were responding extremely well to the use of the device in sessions.

Upon further investigation, my fears began to subside.

In response to my first and third fears, I realized that this “doubt” could be used by outsiders in response to several interventions, instruments, and activities the therapist implements.  However, it is the goal and objective behind each activity that is of importance (using the iPad to work on fine/gross motor skills, coordination, following directions, etc.), it is about using a means of motivation to reach these goals (who wouldn’t be motivated by the iPad?), and it is about the education and expertise of the therapist who is using that iPad, instrument, or any other tool/device/song that sets it apart from a person using the iPad for just enjoyment, business, or any other type of user.

The therapist is trained in knowing the “why”, “how”, and “when” questions that are involved in the session planning process.  They know exactly why they are using a certain app, how to elicit the responses necessary for that client to work on their goals/objectives, and when (and when not) to use the device so that the client can be successful in achieving these goals.

Now, to address fear number two.

I soon realized that the iPad will not replace live music in a music therapy session.

We are trained to use our musical skills on piano, guitar, percussion instruments, and main instrument (mine is violin) in our daily practice, as research has shown that patients and clients respond best to live music.  However, the iPad can be used to enhance these live music interventions, as well.  There are many examples, but here are just a few:

1.  Use the iPad as an amp (AmpliTube)

2.  As a communication device for your non-verbal clients (ChoiceBoard-Creator)

3.  As a ukulele tuner (UkuleleTuner)

4.  To reduce the waste of paper (DataTracker) (see a music therapist’s review of this app HERE)

5.  To learn or teach guitar chords (AllGuitarChords)

6.  To store electronic versions of your music and reduce paper-waste (MusicNotes)

7.  As a means of recording music (Garageband) (see a music therapist’s review of this app HERE)

Interested in more of my iPad choices? Check out my app Pinterest page

I began to see how the iPad could, in fact, ENHANCE, not REPLACE the therapist’s sessions.  

It was time to go on the iPad-buying hunt.

Due to a very limited budget, the biggest roadblock in the entire iPad process was the cost of the device.  And here is where I say 1., Peruse Craigslist, and 2., Don’t think that you have to have the LATEST version – I have an iPad 2 and it works perfectly for my needs.