music apps

My Music Ed App List for iOS Devices - 2013 edition

I've had my iPod Touch for two weeks now. Check out some of the music ed apps that I've loaded onto it, as well as some recommendations of iOS Apps from my colleagues Alessandra diCenzo and David Story.

Student Post: Music iApps Review

My students occasionally do extra projects to earn more Maestro Bucks to spend at Maestro's Market. One such method is to write a review, be it a concert review or in this case, an app review. This is from one of my senior level students - Dylan: Pocket Drums I thought this was a very fun app, letting you play along to songs in your library or on your own. It is a 6-piece drum set. You can record your own drum loops, and then play along with them to make a very full sound. In conclusion: 5/5 stars Rhythm Pad When I played the pads, no sound came out. 0/5 stars Shazam This is a very fun app to play with, just hold it up to your speaker while it's playing a song (like from the iTunes store) and, if everyone's quiet, after a few seconds, it will show you what song it is. It's perfect for when you hear a song you want but don't know the name of it.  It's also linked with the iTunes store, so when it finds the song name, there is a little iTunes store button so you can buy the song. In conclusion: 4/5 stars Author's Note: For five stars, make it work for live piano performances. (-:

Metronome Android Apps

I recently moved into the 21st century as far as cellphone technology. Yes, you're right. I finally got onto the smartphone wagon.

Finally! I can talk apps with my students. My funky WATERPROOF Fujitsu F-05D. Photo by R-M Arca.

I've been experimenting with a couple of free metronome apps for Android to help when I'm practicing music away from my piano (or sometimes, when I just want to hear something different at home). The first is Mobile Metronome. It's a nice basic metronome. You can adjust the instrument used to bang out the beats. I wound up uninstalling it because I wanted to find something that could handle hybrid meter.

I'm currently playing around with Metronome Beats. I was able to set it to play 6/8 time. It works nicely. You can also customize what sounds you hear. You can also customize the following features: emphasize the first beat of the bar, adjust the normal beat, the pitch of the beat subdivisions and the length of the sound. You can even create custom sounds to use for keeping time. Both Android apps have a "Tap Tempo" feature. I'm still on the lookout for an app that can handle beat subdivision for hybrid meter well. Stay tuned!

With Music Software, Timing is Everything

I'd like to say that I know my way around a computer. At my last full-time job (for someone else), I was called one of the "super-users". However, I  have been experiencing several challenges with my Studio Lab computer. It's operating on Linux Ubuntu and it's not as easy as Mac or as familiar to me as Windows or even Unix or DOS. Linux has some fabulous apps available for education and more specifically, music education and music. For example:

  • music notation software (e.g. MuseScore)
  • audio recording and editing (e.g. Audacity)
  • drum machine (e.g. Hydrogen Drum Machine)
  • note reader trainers and more

Music and technology has never been so tempting. "Sudo apt-get install" is just so gosh-darn easy to do. Getting the sound set up and audio controls cooperating with all one another? Now there's my technical challenge. Thankfully, some super Linux users have posted some helpful tutorials. The Linux Community Forums have been good too, but having the visuals and working through the steps along with the video helped. It's just been challenging getting the time in to focus on it. The process has made me rethink my roll-out strategy for these music software programs. Rather than having them all available for my students to explore at once, I am going to just roll out a few programs at a time. I have learned that it's important to have Jack Control and those connections set up properly. 

After three weeks of on and off fiddling and re-installs, I can say with confidence that Hydrogen Drum Machine, Virtual Midi Piano Keyboard and Score Reading Trainer are playing nicely together in my computer lab.

Life was so much easier when dealing with physical midi and audio cables. Trying to set audio up in a virtual environment has really challenged my learning style.