More Music-Related Apps

Picking up from an earlier post on this topic, here are some more apps I’ve had success using in my teaching and practicing. They are inexpensive, easy to use, and versatile.

Flashcardlet:  This is a set of virtual flashcards that can be customized for any number of uses, like practicing excerpts, scales, and studying music theory or history. They work just like their paper analogues, but with the benefit of being able to organize and carry around multiple decks of flashcards without rubber bands or containers (plus no more shuffling).  One way I use this program is to quiz students on the major and minor scales. First, they swipe the top of the deck to bring up a random scale (the deck can be set to appear in random order or alphabetical order), as shown below.

Then, I ask the student what the key signature is. If a reminder is needed, tapping the card flips it over, like this.

Finally, the student plays the scale. Other possibilities include using Flashcardlet to prepare for auditions. The title of an orchestral excerpt can be written on the front of the card, with a few key phrases or reminders on how to play the excerpt on the back. Ok, so this isn’t really any different than doing the same thing with pencil and paper, but somehow it just seems more appealing and fun to do it on a phone or tablet device.

Randomizer Wheel: Speaking of fun, this app incorporates a roulette-style wheel that can be used to randomize scales, excerpts, or anything else. A former colleague made great use out of this app during brass juries to pick scales for his students to play.

Again, the goal here is not to replace traditional practice techniques, but hopefully to package them in such a way that students have a bit more fun while still reaping the benefits.

GoodReader: I’ve slowly been backing up my music to pdf and storing it on a tablet. For one, it’s great when traveling to have all of my current practice materials (plus a tuner and metronome) in one place. With this app, I can now annotate my music and save those markings as a separate file. Here’s are some sample markings made using GoodReader on a file I downloaded from IMSLP. (I do own a copy of the Nocturno by Franz Strauss, but I needed something to use as an example.)

There are lots of options to choose from when making annotations in GoodReader, and I’ve only begun to explore some of them. For instance, I’m sure the pen color can be changed, and I think a stylus can be used in place of a finger to mark things more precisely. One shortcoming with this software is that there isn’t a way to import existing files directly from iBooks. You have to email the file to yourself (or upload to Dropbox) and then download it again using GoodReader. Other than this issue, I’ve been satisfied with it so far. Perhaps one day I’ll be brave enough to use a tablet in an actual performance, but for now I’m sticking to paper or memorization in concerts.

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