Top 5 iPad Apps for accessible music making

Research we carried out as part of our Think2020 programme showed that teachers working in SEN/D settings would value support with using technology to overcome disabling barriers to music-making and also that many schools have access to iPads.

Drake Music Associate Musician Ben Sellers put together the following list as a starting point for experimentation with iPad apps, sharing his wealth of experience of using this technology in schools.

We hope this will be useful to teachers as a jumping-off point for their exploration of music-making using iPads.

Please do share your experiences in the comments box below!

Accessible Music Technology is all about fitting the instrument to the musician, rather than the musician to the instrument.

These iPad apps allow us to do this both physically and cognitively, and a little experimentation can reap big rewards.

Young musician in wheelchair plays Thumbjam iPad app

Here are the five apps I use most regularly in SEN/D settings:


  1. ThumbJam

    Recreate a myriad of instruments from Hang to Tabla to Theremin to Banjo using high-quality samples.Allows the user to achieve great results with limited fine motor skills or theoretical understanding.

    Also allows us to sample vocalisations and map them across a scale – great for students who want to sing, but do not have speech.

  2. BebotBebot iPad app for music making
    A friendly robot character fronts a polyphonic synthesiser with a set of presets that are guaranteed to engage students.

    The whole iPad screen is used a playing surface, making playing easy for all.

  3. Launchpad & iKaossilator

    Re-create a variety of dance genres – dub-step, DnB, hip-hop, House – using sets of samples from these apps, both of which employ unique, colourful and accessible interfaces.

    Great for teenagers.

  4. Airvox

    Uses the iPad camera to generate pitches based on the distance between you and the iPad.

    An audio-visual theremin… try using it with your head!

  5. Loopseque

    Create drum, bass and synth patterns using a brilliant, cyclical interface.

    Great for students who learn visually and enjoy patterns.

And one more for good luck:


Create abstract sound and colour scapes with these Brian Eno inspired apps.

Great for Profound and Multiple Learning Disabled groups, when used in conjunction with a projector.

Scape iPad app

Do you have a ‘go-to’ app? Are there apps you would tell people to avoid?

Please do comment to share your experiences or ask questions about any of the apps I’ve recommended above.

Thanks for reading!

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