There is a fairly new music app in the app store and it is a lot of fun! If you have any students that enjoy the martial arts, this will most likely be a favorite. NinGenius has 3 different purchase options to choose from. The Student edition ($2.99) is for individual students learning one instrument. Scores will only be tracked for that student. The Studio edition ($9.99) will allow the teacher to put unlimited students under one instrument. And the School edition ($17.99) will allow unlimited students under unlimited instruments. (This is great if you have a studio or classroom that teachers more than one instrument) In the school edition the instruments included so far are: Baritone, Bass, Bassoon, Clarinet, Cello, Flute, F Horn, Guitar, Mallets, Oboe, Piano, Saxophone, Trombone, Trumpet, Tuba, Viola and Violin.
NinGenius was developed by two brothers, Anthony and Curtis Winters. Anthony is the programmer and Curtis does the music and graphics. Curtis is a junior band & orchestra teacher in Orem, Utah, and has been using this app for several months with great success. Curtis said, “Band, Orchestra, Choir, and Piano teachers should know that we are committed to keeping it updated, bug-free, and expanded with each update, allowing teachers to use it year after year and keep track of thousands of student scores (with the freedom to delete individual students and all student data whenever they want).”
I love that they created these 3 app options so we can determine what is best for us. For the purpose of this review I will be focusing on the Studio edition using Piano as the instrument.
First to add students you will want to turn on the INSTRUCTOR MODE. This will unlock the ability to add, delete and change names. Instructors will also be able to view the play history to see how students did on their score, accuracy and speed. This is especially helpful if you aren’t right there with them while they are playing. The instructor mode does need a password. I actually appreciated this feature and wish it was available other apps like Piano Maestro as my students like to go in and change other students names thinking they are being silly.There are a couple playing modes in NinGenius Music. The STUDY MODE teaches the note names AND fingerings for each note in the chosen level. The fingering mode really is what sets this app apart from other note reading apps out there. In the Study Mode, students can choose to hide an answer until tapped. So they can name the answer and then tap the scroll to see if they got it right. When they feel they know their notes pretty well they can go on to TEST MODE.
TEST MODE is where the fun begins! If in the fingering option for piano, students will see a 3 multiple choice options on the actual keyboard. For the note option, they will see the note names. In test mode there is a countdown clock as they are naming their notes. As the countdown gets smaller the background music gets faster with a higher pitch. If you have students where that kind of thing causes major anxiety I would just recommend muting the music. When they get the note right enough times they break the board (the board gets weaker until breaking point). When they get the note wrong it can cause the poor ninja some pain. Get them wrong enough times, the ninja will pass out and the game will be over.
There are 4 levels of difficulty. (Easy, Medium, Advanced, and NinGenius) From what I can tell EASY concentrates on treble lines, MEDIUM adds in the bass clef, ADVANCED is treble and bass clef with more notes and NINGENIUS adds in some ledger lines.
Scores are based on accuracy and speed. Students can earn speed bonus points for answering quickly and correctly. Once they complete their round they will earn a colored belt and a score. If their score is high enough they will make it into the Top 10 High Scores list which is found on the main screen. This is a huge motivator for trying to beat their score again and again! The high score list shows the current Top-10 scores for each level.
When I shared with Curtis that I would love to see the option to customize notes, he told me that it is already on their to-do list!
Here are some ways I thought would be fun to use NinGenius:
1) The typical way (with you, during music tech time, at home, etc…)
2) Round Robin/Hot Potato style- Students lining up to the iPad and taking turns answering a note one at a time or passing the iPad around before the timer goes off. (remember to keep iPad on the floor!)
3) Projecting it on a screen and having students answer aloud while you push the answer. (or do this in round robin style, projected)
Curtis shared with me that they have a long list of ways to improve and build NinGenius. “We really want to make this the premium music education app by including rhythm games, a two-player versus mode, music theory training sessions, Game Center compatibility (so students and teachers can compare scores all across the world), bonus belts and collectible wardrobe options, etc., etc.”
He shared that he is especially eager to get several instruments (including piano) set up to where you touch the correct key or place on the fingerboard rather than choose between three multiple-choice options.
Whether your students are in a private, group or classroom setting, NinGenius Music is a very fun and engaging note and fingering game students will enjoy! I cannot wait to see what else they add to NinGenius!