Life has a funny way of surprising me from time to time, and this time it chose to do it with the iPad. Until recently, I seemed to dislike most of what the latest technology had to offer. I disliked touch screens, and stayed away from smartphones – from my perspective, they tried to do too much all in one device. Naturally, when iPads and iPad minis were announced, I was a skeptic of their use and functionality. I was finally convinced to try one out and here I am now, with my very own iPad mini that I cannot do without.
I’ll be the first to admit that there are a lot of nifty things with the iPad (oh Solitaire), but for me the real value of it truly comes from the pianist’s perspective. If you’re considering buying this as a musician, this list will probably shed a bit of light for you.
Here’s a look at the iPad and the apps I use as a pianist.
As a classical pianist, I always associated Garage Band with a more well…. Rock band use rather than a solo classical instrumentalist. Boy was I wrong.
I stumbled onto Garage Band when I was looking for an easy tool to make podcasts. I wanted something that was easy to use but sounded good nonetheless – so I could spend my time on the content of the podcast rather than figuring out technical details. Garage Band checked all those boxes for me.
It’s easy to set up, it has a nifty little dial that warns you when the audio peaks out, and the mic picked up both voice and music very well. It does cap out at around 15 mins so longer podcasts would need to be stitched together, but I found it to be a relatively simple thing to do with any audio editing software. Finally, I could instantly upload my podcast files onto Dropbox and access them for virtually anywhere. Sold.
PS: Feel free check out my podcast on Bach earlier for an example of a podcast made with Garage Band.
This is an amazing app and probably the reason I began to look at an iPad in the first place. Moosic Studio is your very own studio manager and a boon for people like me who need organisation in their life. It handles student lists, contact info, financials, lesson schedules and even has a library section to keep track of music books being used. And there’s more. Yes, more.
Moosic Studio also has options to email invoices to parents/students as well as share assignments through the student roster. One of my favourite features of this app is the ability to keep track of students performance, lesson material and assignments every lesson.
Finally, one of the big selling points for this app is that it is a one time purchase. Unlike many studio managing services that are subscriptions, Moosic Studio is a one-time purchase from the App Store and that’s it. No subscription fees that add up over time. Moosic Studio, in my opinion is well worth the money.
For the last few years of serious practice, I have always preferred the traditional pendulum style metronomes to the electronic alternatives. I tried some out a few years ago and stuck to the old school version, and was quite content until recently when I began prepping Mozart for performance.
The sonata is set in 6/8, and begins with a pickup bar on the final beat. It is a complex work and while staying on beat was fine with the standard metronome, I couldn’t help but feel something was off during practice. Unable to put my finger on it with just the tic toc of the regular pendulum, I decided I needed something to actually keep the time signature for me as well and not just the tempo.
It took a few tries to find something that kept the time signature (as in showed the first beat of each measure while keeping a specified tempo), while still sounding pleasing to the ear. Metronome fit the bill so I set it to 6/8 with the music in front of me, and began to practice. Oh the horror that it unconvered! I had unintentionally held two notes in two separate spots for an entire beat longer than I should have. The result of course was that the note on the first beat on the sheet music, and what I was playing as I saw the first beat on the metronome didn’t match up at all.
I have sometimes unwittingly changed music in the process of memorisation, and in this case caused the entire piece to be off by two whole beats. Naturally the domino effect threw everything else off – and I wouldn’t have caught it if I didn’t have a metronome that knew the time signature. As much as I love my traditional metronome, there is a place for apps such as ProMetronome in my practice.
ProMetronome is a great app. It has a lovely interface to change tempo, setting where one can define the time signature, choice of various tones, and most importantly, a great visual indication of the first beat of every measure. I can finally fix my Mozart sonata!
The final app on this list is of course, the app that I’m writing this very blog post with. A few months ago, it would’ve been hard for me to imagine blogging on anything but a regular computer. This incredibly handy app has changed all that. BlogPad Pro has made blogging on wordpress a dream, and I dare say that I have no reason to use a regular computer anymore apart from the occasional web design or audio editing project.
A big selling point for this app is that images are a breeze. It seamlessly connects to Dropbox and the iPad’s camera roll for files. Typing has been surprisingly easy and fluid, I have had no trouble editing and formatting text and images, and so far I find this interface to be more intuitive than the one on the computer. In short, I find myself tying to come up with something I could do on a regular computer that this blogging app has yet to handle – and I can’t.
That wraps up my music apps for now. I’m sure that as time goes on, I will find many more fun and interesting apps to add to my musical collection! If you have any music-related favourites, feel free to let me know in the comments.