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How do you use technology?

March 10, 2013 at 03:33 PM · The iPhone and iPad are game-changers for my daily practice routine. In addition to using the recording features on the phone to study my technique or my daughter's practice sessions, we use a tuning app, a metronome app, and even an app to slow down and loop songs and sections of songs for practice sessions. It's pretty remarkable, and it made me want to ask other violinists...

Do you use technology in your daily practice? Has the presence of new handheld devices such as the iPad or iPhone, droid, etc. changed your relationship to music and how you study and practice music? What killer apps do you use?

Replies (17)

March 10, 2013 at 03:40 PM · Although I don't use my iPad for recording I find it very convenient for downloading PDF scores from IMSLP or other sources so that I can study them whenever and wherever I want, or even use them for practice.

March 10, 2013 at 03:43 PM · Besides the usual tuning app, I also sometimes use a decible app so I can tell if my forte's are really forte and my pianos are really piano.

March 10, 2013 at 04:15 PM · I use modern strings made with a synthetic core. I believe they are made with technology. I also use a metal tuning-fork. That too is made with technology.

Oh. And electric light bulbs. I've moved on from the candle technology.

Do electronic gismos really make your life better?

Cheers Carlo

March 10, 2013 at 04:46 PM · Interesting thread...

I recently bought an expensive but very fun "toy". The Sony D50 PCM linear recording devide. (it records in WAV format and is said to record CD quality).

I am no gadget person but I love it and find it very useful to record myself for practice, improvment and nerve management learning before concerts! It's easy to talk about nerve management with any specialist you want but real life exposure is really the key to learn this (IMHO).

I also use Musescore free softwear to arrange music for chamber music (either transpose for other instruments or create parts from an orchestral or piano score) or write down a score of something instead of playing it by ear and forgetting it and the bowings the next year...

I use Audacity softwear to copy , paste, divide etc. my practice recordings or other recordings I want to modify.

I use Movie Maker to make videos for family and friends if I have something "decent" ennough for them to listen.

I listen to my idols on youtube very much!

And talk with other violinists here because I do not know any except my teacher in real life context...

In short, I must say that we live in a great era for musical enhancing "gadgets" and the possibility of sharing music with others (which once was only the previlege of the great artists good ennough to beeing recorded in studios...)


March 10, 2013 at 06:18 PM · I use a tuner app, a metronome app, and the Musician's Practice Journal app, all on my iPad Mini. (I also have the tuner and metronome on my iPhone.)

I'm actually looking for a good recording app for practice sessions, as well as an excellent microphone, if anyone has some recommendations. (I used to use a Sony microphone that cost about $200 along with a minidisc player. It was good enough to get excellent results when just left on a seat in the middle of the concert hall, whether for chamber music or for concerto-with-orchestra. Plus it was fine for the practice room, of course.)

March 11, 2013 at 10:25 PM · I find the app versions of popular tools to be much faster to use and more flexible in terms of their functionality, of course we're not ignoring the price tag of a tablet computer here. I use them during lessons and encourage students to try them out at home with whatever devices they may have. There are free versions available!

I regularly use Subdivide for all my metronome needs, replacing my Dr. Beat. The fact that they've thrown in a strobe-style tuner cleverly into the interface makes it that much more useful.

I also make use of ClearTune, which has lots of options for different kinds of intonation (I use Equal Temperament and Violin Family mostly) and a valuable "pitch pipe" function that can be used as a drone for scales.

For music theory, the Tenuto app is really great for everything as simple as naming notes to identifying complex chords.

March 12, 2013 at 04:00 AM · Trevor - IMSLP is a remarkable resource. I also use it to view pdf's rather than using actual sheets, but I have been disappointed when I have purchased books on Kindle, which prohibits printing of pages.

Mendy - I hadn't thought of doing that. Good idea!

Anne-Marie - Thanks for the Musescore tip. I had been looking for a free app to write sheet music. I am downloading it as I type this.

I agree with you about the democratization of access to great music. In a few days, my daughter and I will be watching Hilary Hahn perform in the Netherlands with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra on an iPad in our living room. Pretty amazing when you think of it.

Also, the ability of consumers to self-select what they want to listen to is pretty remarkable.

Youtube, yes, but also Pandora. Hilary Hahn, Perlman, Mutter, all have their own programming and they are all slightly different from one another.

Lydia - Thanks for the suggestion about the Musician's journal. I will try it!

Gene - I couldn't agree more. The iPhone and iPad both have places near my music stand.

I am almost embarrassed to admit this in a forum of violinists, but the method I use, I call the "Violin Hero" method. Basically, I start slow through a piece with the mute on and try to keep up with William Preucil on the Suzuki cd's. I start at 50% speed and keep playing sections until I can reproduce them accurately and then increase the speed up to 100. Then I take off the mute and turn off the player and see how I sound. After I develop proficiency, I do the same thing but with the piano accompaniment.

The app that I use to slow down and loop songs was a freebie that I eventually had to upgrade for $20 (actually, I was glad to, they deserve to get paid for coming up with something like that). 10 years ago, you simply could not have had access to a practice tool like that (aside from a live teacher accompanying with a violin or a piano) easily or without great expense.

Watching some of the kids come up on YouTube, I have to believe that these kinds of apps are contributing to the development of the next generation of violinists.

Pretty exciting times!

March 12, 2013 at 01:33 PM · Oh, I really use stuff :) I do all my scheduling, & send practice notes, reports to parents, & encouragement to kids via e-mail. I search YouTube for examples that sound & look good to me, for kids' pieces. Finale. SlowDowner. Fiddle-tune, theory & history sites. IMSLP for autographs and early editions. I own an upscale 4-track handheld recorder, which I am still learning to use efficiently. Ipad is on the list soon, especially to carry lyrics in Cajun French. Just a start.

March 12, 2013 at 03:30 PM · I'm a luddite, at age 24 I have a flip phone with no camera, have never been interested in smart phones, haven't bought a video game system since I was 16, don't care about HD video, have never watched a Blu-ray, skyped, facetimed, have never had cable television, I don't even have a camera. It bothers me to see so many live life from varying degrees of technological separation, I call these devices the rectangles. We have been trained to give our attention to rectangles: frames, screens, boxes, buildings, pages, almost all text is transmitted on or in a rectangle, and the layout of our lines and paragraphs are rectangular too. (In fact, I'm typing this into a rectangular box on a rectangular screen using rectangular buttons.) In nature there are almost never rectangles. But when it comes to music and the access to and ability to easily create music, I'm a technology junkie as bad as anyone my age. My computer exists mostly for music and music related activity. I love the fact that I can have thousands of albums on my mp3 player (not ipod, I can't stand the quality loss inherent in aac and mp3 files). I am able to access music I would never have been able to hear, much less own. I have about 70 gigs of music on my computer, I have a zoom h4, and some other gadgets (electronic metonome, tuner, etc.) However I play only acoustic instruments (violin and classical guitar) and listen mostly to Classical, Jazz, Blues, and early 20th century music. I listen to maybe 3-4 modern musicians. In general I like old things, the older it is the more likely I am to dig it. I distrust technology, and use it as little as possible. Did I mention my career is over the phone tech support?

March 12, 2013 at 10:09 PM ·

March 12, 2013 at 11:34 PM · Interesting thread, love all the ideas. At this stage I don't own an 'I' anything, so most apps for music are out of reach at the moment. But I do have a nice Nokia with an excellent camera, and I use this for taking a picture of music I can't get hold of, to practise with. For instance, in our small community orchestra, there has been a rule made that no music can be photocopied for adult (non-student) players to take home and practise with. There hasn't been a reason given but I guess it's to do with copyright. So we all just take photos and print at home. Yes, some are available on IMSLP (great new technological resource)but some aren't. We are probably still breaching copyright in some way but without being able to practise, things would sound terrible.

An I-phone is next on the birthday list for me!

March 13, 2013 at 12:55 AM · This might be a dumb question but... why aren't players allowed to take the originals home to practice?

March 13, 2013 at 11:48 AM · Hi Lydia, I'm not 100 percent sure, but I think it's because the originals belong to the Conservatory and perhaps other students use them too, from time to time. There are several ensembles, including a chamber group. Perhaps they use them. I don't know exactly why though.

March 14, 2013 at 06:05 AM · I use both the video and audio recording apps on my iPhone. Tried the tuner app just to see how well it works, but obviously it's not that accurate and responsive as it supposed to, so I'd stay with my real tuner:)

March 15, 2013 at 12:24 PM · This is an interesting thread. It got me to think and I realized that I use technology quite often in my violin playing. I use my laptop to video myself for ways to improve, and also create duets. It is nice to keep a video library of your progress too. I have used the Ipad for digital sheet music, and also to video myself. As for the iphone I just recently used it to video my playing-I just question the sound quality though. I have utilized many apps on the iphone from tuners, metronomes, and rhythym/time signature beats, to finger position charts. That little phone is quite useful.

And of course I use technology to go on violin websites and FB to keep me in the loop on anything and everything about the violin.

March 15, 2013 at 04:30 PM · Sal, thanks for initiating this thread.

Digital recording (sound and video) is great because you can and hear what your teacher is talking about! And with the new types of gear you don't need to mess with tapes and such.

Sometimes two hobbies mesh together, why not violin and apps? Seems just as legitimate as violin and photography or violin and wood-working.

This thread asked about apps, however, not just devices.

I use an app called iRealb. It is a "fake book" of jazz accompaniments. It is meant to go with other fake books that are already out there that have the melodies of the tunes. iRealb just has the chord changes and can play a "rhythm section" accompaniment. Not as well as real performers but more fun than a metronome for certain types of practice.

I would be curious to know which exact apps people use like metronome or tuner or whatever that they think are good, and please specify whether you use ipad or android, etc.

March 16, 2013 at 07:15 PM · When I'm feeling brave, I use my phone to record what I'm playing and listen back to it- always highlights a dozen or so points where I'm not doing anywhere near as well as I thought!

That's the extent of my use of technology. I have a tuning app on my phone but I prefer to stick to my ears. I have a good old-fashioned metronome which comes out from time to time, though I suppose if I was dealing with any particularly complicated modern music it might be helpful to have a metronome app.

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