I’ve been wanting to compile a list of useful and free-to-use programs for the music teachers with “little-to-no budget” for some time now… With the start of the school year upon us -I guess there is no better (or no more!) time to accomplish this!
I’ve tried to include a number of programs that comprise most of the “sub-disciplines” of the field of music. In addition to trying to post direct links to the most current versions of the software in each category, I’ve also tried to include at least one program from each of the major operating systems (Mac, Windows, Linux). Please feel free to add to the list in the comment section below.
The following is a brief (but current) compilation of downloadable programs that can be acquired for “no cost” and are easily implemented into the classroom (or any teaching) environment:
Audacity (Mac, Windows, Linux) : Great cross-platform audio editor
Wavosaur (Windows): Very good sound editor with VST support
Aquallegro (Mac): Aural Skills Trainer
Function Ear Trainer (Windows): Great Basic Ear Trainer
Function Ear Trainer, Advanced (Windows): Advanced Ear Trainer
Function Ear Trainer will run on Linux using Wine (many other PC programs may also run on Linux with this program)
GNU-Solfege (Windows): Excellent open-source Solfeggio program
Early Music Instruction (Kids’ Stuff):
Boom (Mac and Windows): Create boom whacker compositions
Drums Around the World (Mac and Windows): Pictures and sound clips
Krank & Lucy (Mac and Windows): Practice note name recognition
Music Notes in Space (Windows): Shooter space game that teaches visual note durations
MyJamz: (Mac and Windows): Compose music…pick an instrument and click record!
Play It By Ear (Windows): A very early Ear Trainer
Rhythm Blocks (Mac and Windows): Use colorful blocks to work with Rhythm dictation
Sheet Music Treble and Bass Cleff (Windows): Learn how to read music step by step
Staff Wars (Mac & Windows): Practice your note reading skills in treble and bass clef
Jazz Related Programs:
Guitar Chords (PDF): An exhaustive list of guitar chords
Impro-Visor (Mac, Windows, Linux): FANTASTIC program for jazz musicians -helps compose and learn solos.
JAM (Windows): Input chords as text and listen to the progression
trakAxPC (Windows): Fantastic free audio loop music/video mixing software and more
Verse Perfect (Windows): Song writing/rhyming made easy!
Metronome (Mac): Basic Metronome
TempoPerfect Metronome (Windows): Advanced Metronome
MuseScore (Mac, Windows, Linux): No doubt the best, free notation program.
Anvil Studio (Windows): Multi-Track MIDI sequencing at no cost.
MusE (Linux): Audio/Midi Sequencer for Linux
Ricci Adam’s Music Theory.Net Offline Edition (Everything): The entire Music Theory.Net site packaged for offline viewing in any web browser!
AP Tuner (Windows): Chromatic Tuner
Classic Guitar Tuner (Mac): Guitar Tuner
String Tuner (Mac & Windows): Basic tuner for strings.
MidiPiano (Windows): Great Virtual Piano with many MIDI options
Virtual MIDI Piano Keyboard (Mac, Windows, Linux): GREAT GNU virtual piano with lots of functions.
I hope you find something to use and enjoy!
Joseph M. Pisano, Ph.D., is an industry innovator, educator, clinician and lecturer, trumpeter and conductor, and the creator of many music and education websites. He is currently the Vice President of Innovation and Engagement at Keystone Ridge Designs, Inc. After twenty-three years as a professor and administrator in higher education, he made the move into industry in 2018.
As one of the youngest full professors in Grove City’s history, he served in many capacities during his tenure including Professor of music, Director of Music and Fine Arts Technology, Technical Director of the Pew Fine Arts Center, Associate/Assistant Chair of Music and Fine Arts, Director of Jazz Studies.
He finished his tenure at the college as the Director of Bands, where he directed the college’s Symphonic Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, Marching Band, Pep Band, and various smaller ensembles. He continues to guest direct bands, consult with music programs, and adjudicate ensembles and programs today.
He has been named a TI:ME Teacher of the Year, received the JEN Jazz Educator Award, the PA Citation of Excellence, and named a “member for life” of the PA Intercollegiate Bandmasters Association. He is a past Vice President of the Technology Institute for Music Educators, an associate member of the American Bandmasters Association, a past President of the PA Intercollegiate Bandmasters Association, and a member of various education and music honoraries.
He has written for numerous publications including DCI Magazine, Teaching Music Magazine, SBO, and was the Educational Editor for In-Tune Monthly Magazine for eight years; he has contributed hundreds of articles to various publications.
He is an active conductor, trumpeter, clinician, and educator. Find out more at his website: jpisano.com.