An Unusual Ear Training Tool

I’m always looking for ways to better my ears for music. Bebot synth app is an unusual and fun way to accomplish that.

Bebot is called a robot synth for the cute little guy on the screen. It is a synth that works a lot like a theremin. The more towards the left of the screen you go, the lower your pitch will go. Move more towards the right and the pitch gets higher. At the same time, the more towards the bottom of the screen you go, the softer your pitch will get. Moving towards the top of the screen makes the sound louder. Using multiple fingers will produce chords.

Bebot on iPad

It’s a neat little app to play around with. You can use it with Audiobus to record to another program or inter-app audio to record to GarageBand and make it part of a mix as well. If you aren’t sure what inter-app audio is Tuts+ has a good tutorial. I hope to cover Audiobus in a later post.

Here’s an older video of Jordan Rudess from prog rock group Dream Theater demoing the app.

 

If you use the default settings, I also think this is a great app for ear training. The default being no lines marked for notes and no pitch correction. If you pick a simple melody that you know, can you play it without straying out of the original key that you started in? Can you play scales? Can you play arpeggios?

By not having any lines or keys to help you know where the pitch is, it forces you to mainly use your ears. I find this to be a great exercise. Trying to play a simple melody by ear on your own instrument is something that I do as well. But I also like being able to concentrate just on the pitches. This is a little like singing something before you play it. A separate way to get at the same idea.

A handy spot to help you randomly pick a melody is on the I Was Doing All Right blog. (This is the same guy that made the Play By Ear App that I have covered before.) If you are using this with students, you can generate a tone in the song key using a tuner and have them play against that. Once they can do that, you can play the tonic for them, let them play through the song on their own and then play the tonic again to let them hear if they stayed in the right key. A really simple app and exercise but one that can be a great tool in your ear training arsenal.

Bebot is a plus app for $1.99 on the app store.

Bebot comes from Normalware.

Tunable: A different way to see the pitch

Tunable is a very good tuner. I believe that Affinity Blue is approaching tuning in a unique way and I really like the possibilities.

One of the first cool things that you notice is that there are settings for different levels. If you are a beginner, you have to be within 10 cents of the pitch to register in tune. Intermediate, 6 cents and Advanced, you have to be within 2 cents to register as being in tune. Very helpful for your beginning students especially.

Darker green is the in-tune range for beginners.

Darker green is the in-tune range for beginners.

Intermediate setting for Tunable

Intermediate setting for Tunable

Not much room for error in the advanced setting.

Not much room for error in the advanced setting.

With most tuners, pitch registration goes from one note to another. With tunable, the line is a history of whether you were playing in tune, this is both good and bad. Good because it’s nice to see the overall trend laid out in front of you, bad because in ensemble tuning, certain notes in the scale will sound out of tune to our ears while being perfectly synced with the tuner. Thinking about the major third for example. Our ears really want to hear this as lower to sound in tune. However, Tunable has just intonation as one of it’s available temperaments. I’m so used to having to put pitches lower or higher while playing a scale that it’s difficult to just play to in-tune with the tuner over the whole scale. This is something that I will definitely be experimenting with more. Bearing in mind that when you play with an instrument of fixed pitch, like a piano that you have to go with that tuning. (It will most likely be in equal temperament.) It is great that this tuner will sound a pitch as well as chords. And you can choose what that tone will sound like.

Sustained note with a sine wave tone.

Sustained note with a sine wave tone.

I will admit to switching between different temperaments just to hear what they would sound like. For more technical information on just versus equal temperaments, see this webpage.

The number of temperaments that are available to you is pretty broad. Compare this to the iPegs tuner. That I reviewed here.

Just a few temperaments shown on the iPhone

Just a few temperaments shown on the iPhone.

You can also see the tuner portion in a landscape position. Though the app only shows in a portrait position.

The tuner portion in landscape.

Please forgive my out-of-tune whistling!

In addition to the tuner, there is a functional metronome

Subdivision option on Metronome Tunable on iPad

Subdivision option on Metronome
Tunable on iPad

and you can record yourself and share the recording.

Share your recordings Tunable on iPad

Share your recordings
Tunable on iPad

I was really excited when I first saw the record button. I was really hoping that it could record the tuning information. Alas, it was just for a regular audio recording. How cool would it be to listen to a recording without having to jam another tuner into the speaker to see as well as hear where you might be having trouble. If they also recorded the line so that you could check yourself by site and sound, that would be more helpful to me than another regular recorder. For instance, it would be really interesting to see if you are going sharp on a note because you are prepping your embouchure for the next note. Perhaps this will be a possibility for a future update.

The Tunable app does have a variety of nice touches including a mic sensitivity slider and adjustment for using vibrato while checking your tuning. Plus, the number of temperament choices is pretty amazing. In terms of general use, I still prefer the iStrobosoft tuner because of the ease of looking over to see it while playing and because I practice long tone scales in “tune” and can see how close I am to the number that I’m looking for. But the Tunable Tuner has earned a regular place in my long tone practice and for checking certain phrases. I’m looking forward to seeing where they go with this app and I can definitely recommend that you give it a try.

Tunable is a Plus app for $2.99 in the iTunes store and requires iOS 5.0 or later. It is also available for other devices. For that and more info, go to the Affinity Blue website. Or check them out on Twitter.

Dr. Betotte Metronome Is Still My Go-To App

Dr. Betotte is still the metronome that I use the most. The newest additions to this app are a native iPad version and syncing of all settings using iCloud.

The features that are most helpful to me in practicing are:
• Adjustable volume sliders on: quarter, 8th, 16th, triplet and downbeat sounds.
• Tap tempo
• Savable tempo settings.
• Coaching functions to gradually move the tempo up and down.
• Syncing

Features included that I don’t use that often are:
• Halftime feel
• Adjustable swing feel functions
• Multi beat mode (Change where the strong beat occurs.)
• Playlist modes (Practice with multiple time signatures.)
• Quiet count (Drop metronome beats.)
• Creating your own metronome sounds
• Visual metronome choices (Count, Pendulum, or flash the screen.)
• Pitch generator
• Timer

The adjustable volume sliders act just like those on the well known, Dr. Beat metronomes.

Dr. Betotte iPad in Landscape

Dr. Betotte iPad in Landscape

There is no way that this can get as loud as that big old warhorse device, Dr. Beat, no matter what sound you choose to use. However, you can easily use a dock or a wireless speaker setup to get as loud as you’d like.

The savable tempo settings were there from the first edition but now you can use iCloud to sync the settings. (Might want to back up before you turn this on, just in case.) The other thing to note here is that all of the settings are synced. Change the iPhone to a lurid orange which looks fun and you’ll get blinded by it when you turn on the metronome on your iPad.

Volume controls on iPhone

Volume controls on iPhone

An eyeful of orange on the iPad!

An eyeful of orange on the iPad!

I love to be able to quickly get the metronome going and jump right in to some of my standard practice routines. There are a few oddities to the playlists however. First, it acts a bit weird because it feels like you are going out of that setting when you hit the playlist button. You aren’t. You are going back to the choices for that playlist.

Awkward but you get used to it.

Awkward but you get used to it.

Playlist detail on iPhone

Playlist detail on iPhone.
Tapping back brings you back to the Playlist screen.

Second, even though it always seems to change the rhythms correctly, it doesn’t always switch to the tempo. Often, whatever tempo you had going is going to stay the tempo. Even with that, it still allows you to stay in the zone because the tempo will then be the only thing that you need to change.

By far, one of my favorite things to use is the coach functions. There are three. Gradual up/down and the Step up/down (essentially the same thing) and Quiet Count. I don’t tend to use the quiet count that often but it’s a great way to test yourself if you are having any trouble keeping a steady tempo. I love having the Gradual and Step settings. Even though the concept is the same, it’s nice to have two of them so that you don’t have to reset them as often when practicing passages that have different lengths and tempi. Using this, you can set an upper and lower tempo limit. Great to use this when trying to raise the speed of a difficult passage. Or conversely, to work towards a slow tempo. Start at the tempo where you can breathe the phrase that you want to hear and work your way down to the tempo that you want the piece to be at. (Tchaikovsky VI opening for example.) I’ll forever be grateful to the low horn player that shared that practice tip with me.

Coach section on iPad

Coach section on iPad

Halftime is another fun way to practice a difficult passage. I’ll often do something that I call doubles. I will play a passage very slowly, say at 40 bpm and then directly after that play it at 80 bpm and then down to 42, up to 84 etc. Halftime helps me do this with a little less metronome fiddling. (Admittedly, I most often practice doubles using the Cycles metronome app.) Sadly no longer available in the app store.

One of the things that I really like about the iPhone version of this metronome is that when you turn it landscape, you get a nice big face and still have access to various settings. This is great when you only have one hand free. Easy to reach over and use the slider to change the tempo. In this screen, you have access to everything that you need including the various note sliders.

Landscape on iPhone

The metronome view on the iPad always shows playlists. Not a big deal in landscape. A bit awkward in portrait. There are preferences to hide certain looks depending on the orientation but not for the playlist section. I tend to always use landscape if I’m using the iPad version so that doesn’t really bother me.

The playlist doesn't go away.

The playlist doesn’t go away.

Dr. Betotte is now a plus app on version is 3.5.
It’s compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad and requires iOS 5.1 or later.
It costs $9.99 from the iTunes store.
Keep in mind that developers need to eat and you can’t buy a Dr. Beat for $10. It’s worth the money for me. I highly recommend this metronome.

If you want to try before buying, there is a free version to try that is an iPhone native. It does not have all the bells and whistles.
Get it here.
There is also a version for your Mac that you can get directly from the developer, Seishu Murakami’s website: S’s Works Software. This version includes a sequencer but you have to practice with your computer.

I first wrote about this app in July of 2012: Dr. Betotte version 3.2.

Three David Mead apps for Guitarists

Though bassoon is my main instrument, like most musicians, I love playing and learning others. One instrument that I’d really like to get better on is guitar. To that end, I bought David Mead’s book 10 Minute Acoustic Guitar Workout. If you are familiar with playing guitar already, this book might be helpful. If you are a beginner like me, having the book in conjunction with his apps will give you the best platform to start getting better at guitar.
There are currently three apps based on Mead’s approach to guitar. The first is Guitar Gym. This app is a new combination from all of his 10 minute book exercises in one spot. The book does come with a CD but I love being able to slow down the exercises easily with the metronome included while at the same time, hearing the exercises that I’m working on in the app. He advocates playing each exercise for two minutes a day and the app will keep the time for you.
There is one thing that I hope they eventually make more like the book. Right now, the app only shows guitar tabs. Since I read music, this is actually harder for me to deal with since instead of symbols that I know, the exercises are presented with fret numbers on a guitar fretboard layout with the fingerings being listed below with whether it should be an upstroke or a downstroke. This is a lot of info to keep track of at first. In the book, the information is presented in both tabs and music staff. I’d love to have that option here as well. There are five exercise sections in Guitar Gym, Warm up, Coordination, Ear Training, Stamina, and Rhythm. The included metronome has a range from 20 BPM to 220. There are a couple of exercises that are incredibly difficult for a beginner. (At least this one. Small hands don’t help here.) The first rhythm exercise has you playing the same note while using different fingerings.

IMG_0545

Ouch! And the first Stamina exercise is suddenly in sixteenth notes where everything else is in eighth notes. The Ear Training exercises are not appreciably different than the Coordination exercises but there are lesson hints included with each exercises.

Next is the Chord Coach app. Chord Coach has lessons on building chords from scales. It includes a Chord Reference section. Nice because you can hear each chord as well as see it’s notes, intervals from the scale and its fingering.

Fingering View in Chord Reference available in both the CAGED and the Chord Coach.

Fingering View in Chord Reference available in both the CAGED and the Chord Coach.

Chord Reference in the Chord Coach app. Also in the CAGED app.

Chord Reference in the Chord Coach app. Also in the CAGED app.

The Chord Constructor helps you build your own version of a chord. This would be more helpful if you could save these somewhere but once you leave this section, the chord you built is gone. Then there is another section with five exercise types and a quiz that randomly picks questions from each of the sections. If you are at all familiar with theory, most of these exercises are not going to be very helpful to you unless you need a review.

Some of the lessons in the Chord Coach app.

Some of the lessons in the Chord Coach app.

You have to create or convert various chords…pick out the notes of a G7 chord or change that G7 into a G Major 7 chord. Some of the exercises use the fretboard and some are just written out.

Chord Spotter from Chord Coach.

Chord Spotter from Chord Coach.

However, even if you are familiar with theory, the Chord Families exercises will probably be helpful. You have to recognize a chord from just the fingering on the fretboard. I’m really slooowwww on this exercise. This same exercise is included in the CAGED app so if you are getting that app, you won’t need this one unless you don’t know chord theory.

The Caged guitar system basically breaks up the chords so that you can recognize them and use them in any key by using them in barre chords. Cool idea but the execution is not really there for me with my wimpy-can’t-hold-down-all-the-notes-with-one-finger hands. However, learning these chord shapes and making the notes on the fretboard come to me instantly is definitely going to be helpful to me.

CAGED Lesson

CAGED Lesson

This app has the same basic approach that the Chord Coach does. Written lessons followed by exercises. There is also a CAGED reference section and you can see the keyboard laid out for you based on various notes. A chord reference just like the one in the Chord Coach app and an additional scale reference section is also included here. The exercises in this app include finding notes on the fretboard,

Finding notes in the CAGED app.

Finding notes in the CAGED app.

recognizing chord shapes, building CAGED chord versions on a fretboard, identifying chords from their shape,

Finding the right chord in the CAGED app.

Finding the right chord in the CAGED app.

identifying chord families (this is the same exercise from the Chord Coach.), and interval finder within chords. There is also a section where you can see your progress on the exercises.

I already feel more comfortable after working through the exercises from the Guitar Gym app on a regular basis. So far, that has been the most helpful for me as the beginner that I am. Once I get good enough, there are other guitar-centric apps from Leaf Cutter Studios that look interesting. Among them, Gypsy Jazz Guitar with Tim Robinson, and David Mead Twelve Bar Blues.

There is no difference between the iPhone and the iPad versions on any of these apps. They are plus apps and so will work on both devices but I’d like to see an option to have the exercises in a landscape view as well as the portrait. All of the apps require at least iOS 4.3 and are $2.99 each on the iTunes store.
Guitar Gym
CAGED
Chord Coach
From Leaf Cutter Studios and David Mead

The iPad as Music Folder

Using the iPad as a sheet music reader is something that I have been flirting with for a while. There are so many cool things about having all of your music in one place and yet I’m not ready to commit to this completely. I actually practiced for an audition with all of my music on the device once but chickened out at the last minute. I know better than that. The audition was not one of my best since I changed things up last minute.

So, my thoughts on using the iPad as your music folder and then my choice of app going forward as I make a transition…or at least a bit of an effort towards using it more often.

First, the iPad on a stand by itself, just looks very elegant and minimal. The audience can see you better. One of the issues with Classical music at times is that audience engagement. We have so many “rules” that people don’t want to break lest the other experts in the audience (or on stage) give dirty looks to the rule breaker. So anything that engages the audience and removes barriers is great.

Look how clearly you can see the Divisi Strings in this article on their going to all iPad music.

The strange thing is that many of these iPad stands are meant to be cobbled onto mic stands. Where are the music stand manufacturers like Manhasset? And what if I’m playing something that just needs more real estate than the iPad can provide? I would love to see some kind of a hybrid or attachment to that standard music stand. Of course, that might ruin the elegance but would help with the transition to digital music.

Convenience versus eyesight? The same piece in paper & iPad.

Convenience versus eyesight?
The same piece in paper & iPad.

Accidentally kicking over a stand just got potentially a lot more expensive than just having to pick sheet music off the floor. Having played multiple concerts where an ill-timed chair shift resulted in a capsized musician as well as stand, there would need to be some extras for those types of situations. A librarian copy that had all of the parts on it? There is also the issue of potentially running out of battery. But to the good, you may never have to burn your hand on a stand light in the third hour of an opera again and you’d have more elbow room onstage or in the pit.

There are foot pedals like the AirTurn that use blue tooth to turn pages so that might be the solution to sheet music that is very large. I wouldn’t miss having to see another new music concert with someone traveling down a row of stands while they played. I can also see the iPad being very handy for getting music. Having the PDF e-mailed to you or available in a drop box from the group that you are playing with would definitely be handy. Or a private app that you would just open and the music would be there along with any notes from the group or conductor…on second thought…?? I could also see using extra iPads/apps for some cool visual effects if it was right for the piece that you were playing. Interesting possibilities and problems when talking about going to all iPad for your music.

In terms of the sheet music apps, I have been playing around with four apps. MusicPodium, forScore, Perform Pro, and PDF Cabinet, which is actually marketed as a PDF annotation app.

The sheet music apps I've been trying.

The sheet music apps I’ve been trying.

After working with all of these, the one that I will be using going forward is forScore. One of the things that I wanted to do in this blog was only talk about those apps that I really liked and was using so, I’m only going to say a few things about the apps that don’t work for me.

MusicPodium $3.99 by Jon Lee: Has a lovely first page. It allows you to take a little screen shot for the title so that you don’t lose that wonderful typography that you often find on music scores.

MusicPodium Music List

MusicPodium Music List

You can annotate scores and there is a handy little bookmark feature so that you can get back to an area that you are working on very quickly. But this won’t be my go-to app because: There are no set-list features and though getting music from the Petrucci library is quite easy through an in-app browser, getting your own music into the app is not. There is no DropBox support and even if you sign into your account, there is not a way to get the music into the app. Neither can you get there going from the DropBox App itself, it looks like it’s working but it doesn’t. Neither does trying to get there from the file transfer in iTunes. You CAN drop it in but you won’t be seeing it again. Going to their website, the support info is scant.

Perform Pro $1.99 from Paragoni Apps: It is very easy to get music into this app. There are set-lists so you can bring up the music that you want to concentrate on and there are two ways to perform your music. You can use Page Turn Mode or Auto Scroll Mode. The Auto Scroll Mode rolls your music by like a teleprompter. I never really used that one. I know that would make me nervous to see it moving during a performance.

Choose how you want to turn pages in Perform Pro

Choose how you want to turn pages in Perform Pro

I like that this app is clean and easy to use but there is no annotation feature at all. I can guarantee you that I will always need to be able to put markings in my music so this app won’t work for me either.

PDF Cabinet is free from Com Tec Co was just something I wanted to try to see how something not geared towards musicians would solve the issues of dealing with an electronic document. It is a good program and has some interesting options. It isn’t geared towards music so there is no support for a page turner like there is in all of the other apps but depending on how you use it, this might be an option for some. I’ll definitely be keeping this one on the device. One of the most intriguing possibilities if you teach lessons, is that you can collaborate on a pdf with someone else running this app on their device.

PDF Cabinet Collaboration view

PDF Cabinet Collaboration view

No need to ask for the student’s device. You could annotate their music from your device. If they don’t have that PDF, it will share it with them first. I could also see this feature being used in a talk for a small class as well. You can also sync with a Dropbox or iCloud folder or import directly from Dropbox. This might be handy in a small ensemble situation. If a member of the group was syncing with this folder as well, I could put a new piece in the Dropbox folder and be assured that everyone would get it automatically. Just like MusicPodium, you can put bookmarks in to easily find your way back to the page that you wanted to work on and you could make versions if you were working on the same piece with multiple people. You can also crop pages in this app if say you needed more screen real estate due to a bad scan. You can also open your document in another app so it would be possible to use this in conjunction with another music reader to get some of these features. It has some very good documentation in the app and videos on the website. This app would definitely be all that some people would need.

But due to superior editing capabilities for music, my standard app for music on my iPad will be forScore.

Just some of the possibilities in forScore's toolbox

Just some of the possibilities in forScore’s toolbox

forScore $6.99 from MGS Development is easy to get music into and easy to make lists for various concerts or auditions.

Preview before you load the music from your list.

Preview before you load the music from your list.

It also has snapshots of annotations which is very cool if you are playing the same piece for more than one person, versions, cropping, keywords, connections to your iTunes music, built-in metronome, built-in keyboard, built-in pitch pipe. You can even make your own annotation sets or install sets from other people.

Using a sharp stamp in forScore.  You can fine tune the placement easily.

Using a sharp stamp in forScore.
You can fine tune the placement easily.

In other words, this is a feature-rich app. ForScore has everything that I need to start to make that switch to the iPad for my sheet music.

Recording Your Practice Sessions with GarageBand

There is nothing to improve your playing like recording and listening to yourself. (Sometimes, you may need chocolate after the fact but you have to do it if you want to get better! Or instead of the chocolate, see this post from The Bulletproof Musician: How to Listen to a Recording of Yourself Without Getting Depressed

There are plenty of apps available to help you record yourself. Including the Voice Memos app that comes on your phone. However, I believe that GarageBand is one of the better tools for the job.

First, you can easily record multiple lines in the same recording. It’s nice to see visually that one recording is a bit faster or louder or softer or whatever it is that you are fundamentally working towards on a particular piece.

I'm faster on the latest recording. (The one above is muted currently)

I’m faster on the latest recording.

Second, it’s great fun and really helpful to record an accompaniment to play against. You could absolutely ask your accompanist if you could record them and use that for practicing but I like to pull the piece apart and record the piano part myself (I usually do this on bassoon, not piano. My piano playing is really great for Hot Cross Buns. Not so much for the Saint-Saëns Sonata. Though, if you are a piano player, you can attach a MIDI keyboard through the camera connection kit or use the on-screen keyboard.)
Recording the accompaniment helps me learn the piece more thoroughly in terms of both chords and what is happening while I’m playing. I definitely listen to others playing the music if it’s available but that extra learning by doing is something that I really like.

Liven up your scales with some Bebop drums.

Liven up your scales with some Bebop drums.

Other reasons to use GarageBand in your practice sessions are:

  • The ability to use drum loops to play scales or improvisations against.
  • iCloud syncing, record your piece on one iOS device but listen to it on another. (I tend to use the iPad to record but I like being able to review the recording anywhere.)
  • Recording composition ideas using live or software instruments.
  • Sharing your song to a variety of places including SoundCloud. (Your students could easily send a recording to you through the mail though it’s not possible to share to someone else’s device through iCloud or to DropBox.
  • Importing and playing against a song from iTunes as long as it is not protected.
iCloud syncing on the iPad

iCloud syncing on the iPad

Limitations of GarageBand especially in the context of Classical Music include:

  • Only major or minor keys in loops.
  • Only 4/4, 3/4, or 6/8 time signatures.
  • Song Sections are only 8 bars by default.
  • These are not deal breakers for me because I turn the metronome off when recording since I’m usually trying to check how I’m doing on a piece and I wouldn’t have that metronome in a performance. When recording, GarageBand does give a lead-in of a measure which you can’t turn completely off but is easily ignored by waiting a silent measure. And for the song sections, you can manually change this but if you forget, it will most definitely stop recording. You could use the automatic setting for the song section as well but it will stop recording if you stop playing. I usually just set the section to a much larger measure number than I need so that I don’t have to worry about it.

    Increasing the bars in a Song Section

    Increasing the bars in a Song Section

    GarageBand is from Apple.
    It is $4.99 for the iOS version.
    This is a plus version so it will work on all of your iOS devices.
    Minimum requirements are iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (3rd-current generation), and iPad. You’ll also need iOS 5.1 or later.

    GarageBand is also available for your Mac for $4.99.
    You can transfer a project from the Mac version to the iOS version through iTunes. However, most things don’t come through well and this is usually an exercise in frustration because the project from the computer is very likely not to open in the iOS version. There are however, some great things for guitar practice in the desktop version.

Keeping Track of your Practice Sessions with Numbers

When I first started the bassoon, there wasn’t much of a need for practice sheets. It was all I could do to remember the fingerings.

Once I got to the point that I had a lot of different pieces, etudes, and excerpts to practice on, I started printing off an Excel Document so that I could keep track of what I was working on and how I was improving. Now that I have an iPad, I don’t print this sheet anymore. I also don’t use Excel anymore since I have access to Numbers. The digital version of my practice sheet is a little more festive even if I don’t get to use bright colored paper anymore. (Bright colors make me happy so…) Also, I don’t have to try and hunt a piece of paper down if I want to see the last way that I practiced something.

Numbers on the iPad in portrait.

Numbers on the iPad in portrait.

One of the nice things is that you can look back on what you’ve been working on for the last month…or year and see how much you’ve accomplished.

Data Entry in the iPad version of Numbers

Data Entry in the iPad version of Numbers

I like to break my practice up into different sections.

  • There are the basics. Double-Tonguing, tuning, note starts, etc. I work on pushing the envelope for these every time that I practice.
  • The jazz section is for fun but also something to take me out of my comfort zone.
  • Sections for études and solos.
  • If I have an audition or a recital, that will get pushed to the top since they’ll be must practice items
  • Lastly, a section at the bottom of each day for notes.

I know that there are apps specifically for tracking the time that you practiced but I think that what you concentrate on is much more important than trying to hit a specific number of minutes practiced. Some great sites for more information on music and mastery include: Musician’s Way , Bulletproof Musician , and The Talent Code. And here’s a very good article on practicing.

I don’t want to get too comfortable so I switch the way that I’m working on scales every week. This week is currently Oubradous but I also use scales studies from Kim Walker and Herzberg. I put a text box of what I want to concentrate on (You can see it off to the right side in the portrait picture above. I am currently reviewing centering.) I may add more text boxes if I’ve listened to a recording of myself and an issue really stood out to me. The reminder tab is a place to put notes on different ways to practice and general things to think about. Some I make up myself, some I get from others. (The notes on the Klickstein are there because I haven’t completely assimilated these exercises in practice yet so I know that I can refer to his book if I need it.)

iPad version of Numbers in Landscape

iPad version of Numbers in Landscape

One of the very nice things about Numbers is that you can sync through iCloud and have your information on your other devices. But be aware, actually editing on an iPhone or iPod Touch is sincerely uncomfortable. (This picture is zoomed in. I know it looks great but trust me…uncomfortable.)

Numbers on the iPhone

Numbers on the iPhone

I usually make or adjust the form on the iPad.
One last issue, I had to come up with a short hand to notate any rhythms that I used for practicing. There are no music note fonts available on iOS devices outside of notation apps. You could take a picture and insert it if you wanted to but that is a extra work and I’d rather use that time to practice.

Numbers is from Apple’s productivity suite, iWork.
It is $9.99 for the iOS version.
This is a plus version so it will work on all of your iOS devices.
Minimum requirements are iPhone 3GS, iPod touch 3rd generation. Any of the current iPads will work but you must have at least iOS 5.1.

Numbers is also available for your Mac for $19.99.
You don’t have to have the Mac version though it can make the initial spreadsheet creating easier. Please be aware that not everything from the desktop version will transfer over to the iOS version.