Practicing in the Age of Technology

Jeff Conner

Being a musician in the information age presents us with many opportunities. We can look up, order, and download sheet music in minutes, listen to every kind of music through streaming services, and download apps to help in our musical practice and training.

The Boston Brass uses several music apps in our daily rehearsal to train our ear, time, intonation, style, and general musicianship. Here are the apps we use and recommend.

Tempo ($2.99)
Every musician needs a metronome app, and Tempo is what we use daily. This app is simple, allows for sub-division and setlist programming, and is very reliable.

Time Guru Metronome ($1.99)
This app creates gaps in the beat to help train your inner pulse. For example, if you have the metronome set to 4/4 time, the metronome will randomly mute one of the beats every measure. You can choose how frequently beats are muted (in percentage), and you can also set the app to mute more beats over time.

Drum School ($5.99) 
Although this app is designed to teach percussion fundamentals and drumset skills, it’s also perfect for training musicianship and learning to keep a constant groove. You can play along with various drumming styles including, salsa, hip hop, and world music.

TonalEnergy ($3.99) 
Everyone needs a tuner, and TonalEnergy is one of our favorites. This app allows you to visualize where you fall on the intonation spectrum. It can transpose to different keys, and you can choose different instruments to play drones in all registers.

Better Ears ($9.99)
This ear-training app helps improve your recognition of intervals, scales, pitches, tempos, chords, chord progressions, single notes, scale music reading, and chord music reading. This app is great for when you can’t practice but still want to train. We use it while traveling all the time.

Decibel Meter Pro ($0.99)
This app helps track your sound output.

There was a time when practicing meant lugging a bunch of equipment to and from the practice room; now you can do it all from your pocket. Happy practicing!

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