Smartphones Make Smart Practicing

Smartphones Make Smart Practicing

Smartphones Make Smart Practicing

 

We all know that smartphones have completely changed the way we communicate, travel, and spend our free time while waiting at the dentist, but do you know how much a smartphone can improve your practice sessions? No, I don’t mean by adding distractions to your sessions. This isn’t about texting your friends while doing boring old scales.  This is about making your life just a little bit easier!

 

 

There are a few devices in my practice room that I just can’t survive without. –

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1. Metronome.

2. Tuner.

3. Pencil.

4. Practice notebook.

 

All of these things take up space- on your stand, on the floor, and in your case. It can weigh you down. And, if you grew up a poor kid, like your’s truly, and had to use a wire stand, this means you were probably looking at your music a little cock-eyed.

The solution? Simple if you have a smartphone. Expensive investment if you don’t.

To replace my metronome (which I really haven’t because I still love my Dr. Beat DB-90) I downloaded  an app appropriately named “Metronome”.  It’s an old school piano top type.  Works well enough, and fantastic in a pinch. Plus it has a nice visual of the arm swinging back and forth.  It won’t have all the bells and whistles of my DB-90, but it’ll get you there. And hey, the price is right. I’ve not done a lot of research into other metronome apps, and I’m sure there are better ones out there. It’s worth looking into.

My tuner, one of those Korg CA-30s has most certainly been replaced by an app called Cleartune.  This may well be the most accurate tuner app out there. Well worth the cost, 3-4 bucks if I remember correctly. What’s nice about this app is that it’ll tell you precisely where your pitch is via a visual not unlike those old oscilloscope tuners. Very cool.

I like to keep notes of what I practiced, when, what needs improvement, etc., and while I love my stationary, you can’t beat the convenience of dictating it to your phone.  There are a ton of note-taking apps out there, some free, some not. I have a thing for Moleskine notebooks (they just feel good), and have enjoyed their notebook app.  I would say, try one that also lets you draw.

A few other items that will help you practice more efficiently and effectively are your Voice Notes and your Video Apps.  These are things that should already be on your phone, and a huge tool to have. When I’m practicing my orchestra excerpts I love to open up my Voice Notes app and record a minute or two of what I’ve been working on.  It’s like having a teacher there with you.  Are you going to sound great? No. The phone doesn’t have a spectacular microphone, but you will be able to distinguish if you’re out of tune, out of time, and dull. Ever notice if your back hurts, your face gets tired, or people look at you funny when you play?  In lieu of a mirror, you might want to turn on the camera and watch back all those funny faces you’re making.  See if you’re sitting funny and correct your posture.

This is just a broad overview of what you can do in the practice room with your phone. And, no, it’s not a perfect solution. You’re not going to be able to use the tuner and the metronome AND the video function all at the same time, but it will help.

Oh, and I don’t think you’re ever going to be able to replace your pencil!

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