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How to Set Up an iPad for Music Lessons

If you haven’t tried using an iPad with your music students before, you’re missing out! They’re the perfect tool for watching theory videos, playing musical apps, and completing theory worksheets. And obviously students love them!

Here are a few tips on how to set up an iPad for music lessons, with a focus on making it effective and safe for students.

Set Up an iPad for Music Lessons

Organising Apps

One of the easiest ways to organise apps is to set up different folders for different topics. Here are the folders I have on my studio iPad:

  • Note Reading
  • Rhythm
  • Ear Training
  • Scales
  • Music Theory

Alternatively, you could organise the folders by level (although this can be more difficult when you have apps which are suitable for a wide range of ages and stages).

However you decide to organise apps into folders, it makes sense to keep the most frequently used apps in the iPad Dock (which is located at the bottom of the screen) so they’re always easy to access.

Restricting Access

When students are working independently it makes sense to update a few settings to student proof your iPad. There are some things you’ll almost certainly want to restrict:

  • Purchasing new apps
  • Upgrading to paid versions of installed apps
  • Unlimited access to YouTube
  • Unlimited access to the internet
  • Access to the camera

These can all be updated through Settings > General > Restrictions. The first time you update the Restrictions you’ll need to put in a four digit passcode, but make sure it’s different to your main passcode (you won’t want any students to change the Restrictions, but they may need to know the main passcode to unlock the iPad).

How to Enable Restrictions to Set Up an iPad for Music Lessons

Once you have enabled restrictions, you can select certain apps to disable, and update restrictions on media ratings:

Changing Restrictions to Set Up an iPad for Music Lessons

Watching YouTube Videos

There are a lot of videos on YouTube that are perfect for explaining music theory concepts, demonstrating technique, and showcasing pieces. Unfortunately there are also a lot of videos on YouTube that you really don’t want your students to see!

With suggested videos displayed in the app, it’s also very easy for students to get distracted when they’re using YouTube independently. Luckily there are a couple of solutions to these issues:

Cakey App

With this free app you’re able to create customised playlists of YouTube videos. The only videos that students can access through the app are the specific ones you’ve chosen, so there’s no need to worry about them stumbling on anything they shouldn’t!

This app is super easy to set up, and making playlists is very straightforward. Being able to create multiple playlists means you can also group videos by topic and/or level, making it simple for students to access the relevant material.

Cakey is available to download from the App Store.

Safe YouTube Website

Using this website, students can access single YouTube videos in a player that doesn’t allow links to any other content. It’s more time consuming to set up, but the benefit is that students can only access one specific video at a time.

The first step is to set up access to Safe YouTube. You’ll need to enable Safari, and make sure that is added to the allowed sites:

Add Safe YouTube to Allowed Websites to Set Up an iPad for Music Lessons

Now comes the hard part… you’ll need to create a link using the Safe YouTube website for every individual video you want to use. The easiest way to share the link is by saving the QR code, then printing out a copy which can then be scanned on the iPad using the camera or an app.

Some ideas for organising the printed QR codes:

Master Lists

Set up a printable page for each topic, with the name of each video and the corresponding QR code. Students will be able to scan and then watch anything on the list.

Task Cards

Create individual cards for each video, which include the name, description and QR code. You could also include a question or activity for students to complete.

Further Reading

Now that you know how to set up an iPad for music lessons, here are some helpful links on how to use one with your students:

Best Rhythm Apps
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