Full disclaimer: I originally wrote this review in 2015, when I still had a handful of beginning piano students in my studio. Now that I've had three additional years of using this app with my students, I can say it has become a tried and true resource for me with students for review and theory work. What teacher can't use more of that? Read below to find out more!
Recently I found myself looking for an application to review basic rhythmic notation and syllables with students studying either piano, violin and viola in my studio. It was with this goal in mind that I found Rhythm Cat and immediately found it to be very complementary for my students to use in their lesson times and in their homes.
I found the bright colors and whimsical images to be very fun and light-hearted - perfect for children! Beginning with level one, I felt confident in proceeding after reading the simple instructions provided. As I quickly found out, it is important to make sure each tap is sustained long enough for your device to register your rhythm. After adjusting my tapping, this was no problem in further levels. Following the first level, students are steadily guided through half notes, quarter rests and more with increasingly difficult exercises.
As a Suzuki violin/viola instructor and piano instructor who has traditionally used the Alfred method series, this fits right in with the progression of students' first pieces in both methods. I am happy to report my students have taken quickly to this app, with many requesting to play this game in the last few minutes of their lessons; some have even downloaded it at home on their own devices! Several parents have even reported use at home without prompting - Something I love to hear! And I think parents appreciate not having to hound their children to do something musical or education related. Personally, I have found myself using this app in lessons when students have had an exceptionally good lesson or to introduce a change of pace when a student needs a bit of a brain break.
Pros: Logical progression for rhythm, fitting with Suzuki and the Alfred Piano series, particularly "Music for Little Mozarts". This has proved to be a fun way for my students to review rhythm values and syllables. Best of all, there is both a free and paid option! For my purposes, I have been using the Lite version to just give students a little taste of the game and keep them from expecting to do it every single week.
Cons: There is a slight learning curve when adjusting to how the game will give four counts before students should begin tapping the written rhythm. I found it helps students to demonstrate how to play the app first before giving them a turn on their own.
Overall, I have been very happy I added this application to my arsenal and I am looking forward to trying out the two partner applications, Treble Cat and Bass Cat as my students have need for these skills. I hope my students, their families and other music educators consider adding Rhythm Cat to their devices at home and in their studios!
For more information on this app and it's developers, please visit their website here.
This app is available on both iOS and Google Play. Check it out!
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This blog is dedicated to sharing my teaching experiences and resources as a private violin/viola music instructor. I think most agree you can always be improving, learning and developing new techniques as a teacher - I'm glad we're doing it together!