High-tech tutors that build confidence in reading music


This app is designed well, with an easy-to-use interface and a minimalist look. It has some useful built-in explanations about musical notation, and it has an Apple Watch app extension. The app is free but includes ads — turning those off costs $2 via an in-app purchase.

On Android, a free app called Music Tutor Sight Read Lite is roughly equivalent to Music Tutor Free. It includes a gamelike sight-reading experience to help you learn musical notation and assumes you have covered the basics of reading music with a music teacher, so it is more for consolidating learning than for teaching absolute beginners.

Piano Dust Buster

Free on iOS

For a more basic piano learning experience, check out Piano Dust Buster by JoyTunes. This app can work via an on-screen digital piano keyboard or by listening to your real piano as you play.

For beginners, there’s a section that teaches note names, rhythm, and so on. The app can even help with the basics of reading music.

For those who can already read music, the app has games based on playing well-known music, like a classical track from Beethoven or a pop song from Taylor Swift.

It’s also gamelike, offering points as you play the right notes in time to a recording, and you can level up and earn medals. There is also a social angle in which you can play against other users around the world.

Piano Dust Buster’s design is highly graphical, though the colorful interface can take a bit of getting used to.

The app also includes some good free content, and extra song packs can be purchased for a few dollars. There is also a subscription option with play-along lesson tracks, costing $10 a month.