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App Scene: Part 5 by Micheal Barnes and Peter Soroka

Dec 1, 2017, 00:00 AM by Rhythm Scene Staff

Today, most students have access to a smartphone or tablet. However, these devices may not be fully utilized while in the practice room or during lessons. Apps for smartphones are generally inexpensive and can be extremely valuable to college-age musicians. The PAS University Committee has compiled a short list of curated apps to enhance musical growth in the practice room for the college musician. This list is not all-inclusive but focuses on some of our favorites. Most of these apps can be found on both iOS and Android platforms, and any deviations are noted. Hopefully this series of articles will allow you to get the most out of your smart device in the practice room!

Recording your practice and listening back can provide invaluable feedback, and it can also help guide future practice sessions to correct problem spots and polish pieces. Fortunately, smartphones and tablets have the ability to create audio and video recordings for just this purpose.

iOS and Android
A camera on your phone can be used to record video of yourself practicing. Watching these videos can reveal how you actually look and sound instead of imagining what you think you might look and sound like. 

Coach’s Eye 
TechSmith Corporation
iOS and Android
This unique app allows you to manipulate the playback of videos for analysis. With this app, you can pinpoint specific body movements for work on improving accuracy, fluidity, and overall musicality. Additionally, the ability to draw directly on the video to outline movement can be extremely useful to teachers who want to show their students a specific observation.

Voice Memo
iOS and Android
Using a standard voice memo app is a quick way to record improvisations and ideas, or to record various performance and practice sessions. The quality of this recording technology is improving with each new phone model, but it does not replace an investment into professional-level audio recording equipment. 

ZOOM Corporation
Paired with the attachable iQ5 microphone, this powerful app changes your Apple device into a high-quality recording device. You can produce recordings at a higher level than with your phone microphone, but without spending a fortune on recording equipment. This app has basic editing capabilities such as EQ, cutting and trimming, and sharing. 

Amazing Slow Downer
Roni Music
iOS and Android
This app makes playing along with any sound file a breeze. Simply input the file from your music library into the app, and you now have the ability to change the tempo, pitch, and start/stop areas of the track. You can use this to create practice loops, practice transposing melodies into new keys, practice with an mp3 of a piano accompaniment, or practice a concerto at a slow speed with an orchestral recording. This app is also useful when the slow track for a play-along groove is too slow and the fast tempo is too fast. You can adjust the tempo to fit your practice needs, then work up to the appropriate tempo. (Slow) practice makes perfect!

Erskine Jazz Essentials
Fuzzy Music Mobile, LLC
This app from Peter Erskine is like having a jazz combo in your pocket! With the ability to mix the levels of the bass, piano, and drums, you can create the combo you want and practice as the drumset player or play a pitched instrument like vibes or piano. The app also includes chord changes for a variety of jazz standards. It is a must-have for jazz students!

iReal Pro
Technimo LLC
iOS and Android
This app is also like having a jazz combo in your pocket! With the ability to change styles, instruments, and key signatures, you can truly customize your practicing experience. You also have access to chord changes and numerous ways to practice within the app. If you are looking for a robust practicing tool, this is the one.

Peter SorokaPeter Soroka is a diverse percussionist pursuing a Doctor of Music degree in Percussion Performance at Florida State University. He holds performance degrees from the University of North Texas and Virginia Commonwealth University, and has performed with the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra and Sinfonia Gulf Coast in Destin, Florida.

Michael BarnesMicheal Barnes
is a master’s student at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and has performed with the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, the Ft. Smith Symphony, and the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas. He was recently awarded a teaching fellowship to work with the National Youth Orchestra and Choir of Belize, as well as being awarded the Mary Grey Thompson Award for outstanding contributions to the University of Oklahoma College of Fine Arts.

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