Luck is not chance, it’s toil. Fortune’s expensive smile is earned. ~ Emily Dickinson


Mr. Ahrens teaches band & choir at Bear River High School in Grass Valley, CA.


@MrAhrens

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Free Android Apps for Band Directors

I’ve recently entered the world of the smart phone with the purchase of my HTC EVO 4G. It is truly incredible what these devices can do and I plan to use it to the full as best I can. In looking for applications to help in music education, I’ve noticed a real lack in organized information on the subject. It is my intent to post a useful, running list of Android resources to be updated often.  If you have other apps that you like or prefer, please leave the information in the comments and I will review and include them in the next article. If you find any information in this post useful, please pass on the favor by linking it through whichever social media outlets you use.
 

Tuners

gStrings Free

by: cohortor.org

gStrings is a real nice little chromatic tuner program with a fairly slick user interface. You can set the tuner to tune a specific pitch or (more commonly) to auto tune. It also has a nice chromatic tone generator that is a fairly pleasant tone. This can be useful for ear matching or playing a drone through your sound system during the rehearsal to practice harmonic interval recognition, etc.  I have used this on my stand during a free warm-up time and the tuner remained fairly focused on my sound at the exclusion of the room “noise”. Many stand alone tuners that I have owned did poorly under similar circumstances. However because your device will likely not have an input for a pick up mic, you will likely use this primarily during individual practice time.

Features:

Get gStrings Tuner

  • Chromatic individual note tuner
  • Chromatic auto tuner
  • Chromatic tone generator
  • Microphone sensitivity slider
  • Optimization for specific frequencies (it shows string families, but lists Hz scale)
  • 3 choices for tone generator octave
  • Adjustable tuning (i.e. A=441 or similar)
  • 34 different temperament choices from “Equal Tempered Perfect Octave” to ” Great Highland Bagpipe”!
  • Optional use of Harmonic Product Spectrum algorithm & other advanced options
  • [Edit] One thing I just realized that I really love is that when you stop playing your tuning note, the needle freezes where you were at.  It displays the frequency of the correct note and of your final played pitch.  This is very useful for self-tuning.  You can close your eyes or look away, then when you stop and look at the tuner your pitch is saved on screen. Brilliant!

Screen Shots:

 


Metronomes

Mobile Metronome

by Gabriel Simões

Mobile Metronome has just about everything I need in a metronome, and it’s free!

Features:Get Mobile Metronome

  • Tempi from 10 to 230
  • In addition to numbers, Italian tempo indicators are also given (i.e. Adagio, Moderato, Presto, etc.)
  • Tap to find tempo.
  • Adjust both top and bottom of time signature.
  • Subdivisions: Quarter, Eighth, Triplets, Sixteenth, Quintuplets, Sextuplets.
  • 4 preloaded sounds: Clave, Electronic (horrible), Classic Metronome, Cowbell.
  • First beat Accent toggle.
  • Volume slider.
  • Visual: Medium sized bold number in bottom corner changes with beat. I don’t use the metronome “flash” anyway because I’m generally looking at my music.  But for those who like the big flashing light, this app may not be for you.
  • Big buttons, which makes controlling the metronome easy.

Screen Shots:


Ear Training

Interval Recognition

by marchantpeter.co.uk

I’ve looked through a number of ear training apps recently and none that I have found can hold a candle to Interval Recognition.  I’ve used this quite a bit already and it has definitely sharpened my skills.  Plus, it’s fun.  Have your students download it.  Great for any musician!

Features:

  • Plays intervals up to two octaves.
  • Ascending, descending, or harmonic.
  • User defines range or specific intervals to include.
  • Choose from 128 general MIDI instruments (some are clearly better for this than others).
  • Set playback tempo.
  • “Listening Mode” to study the interval instead of testing on it.
  • Choices may be viewed in long description (as above), short description (such as Ma2), or 1/2 steps (semitones).
  • Phrase Mode: determine multiple intervals from a randomly generated phrase. You select number of notes, interval types, etc.
  • Phrases may cover up to four octaves
  • Plays common melodies beginning with the interval following a mistake – for both ascending and descending.

Screen Shots:


Mini Keyboard

My Piano

by Borce Trajkovski

I first dug up this great little app when I was at the American Band College over the summer and wanted to practice/learn my vocal part to a couple of ‘band with chorus’ pieces we were performing for Independence Day.  Not having perfect pitch, or a keyboard in my hotel, My Piano was a great find!  I’ve used it several times since then.

Features:

  • 10 MIDI instruments
  • Multi-Touch (My EVO maxes out at 2, which is a bummer, but the app supports up to 8 simultaneous notes).
  • Note Velocity
  • Note aftertouch
  • Integrated Sampler (kind of fun)
  • Sample record and save (I saved my vocal part and sang along to playback)
  • Sample load / import
  • Integrated recorder
  • Sound Effects (reverb, echo)
  • MIDI over WIFI
  • MIDI note velocity
  • MIDI note aftertouch
  • MIDI volume control
  • Toggle between 1.5 and 2 octave keyboards.
  • 6 skins

Screenshots:



Drum Rudiments

Rude

by Skrivarna Software

Rude is a cool little app that basically shows you each drum rudiment, clicks a metronome while you play the rudiment on your drum or practice pad, and takes you to it’s website where you can watch videos of the rudiment on it’s own and incorporated into a drumset fill.  The app itself is pretty rough.  It doesn’t play the rudiment for you via MIDI, but you probably wouldn’t want to listen to that anyway. This is in beta and the developer is welcoming comments.  Note: tell your drummers not to play directly on their phone screens! (j/k)

 

Features:

  • All 40 fundamental rudiments (name and order as listed by the PAS).
  • Metronome with visual place holder in music (i.e. bouncing ball).
  • Tempi from 20 – 200 BPM.
  • Links to explanations and video examples.

Screenshots:


I’ve got a number of other apps to include.  But seeing how long this post is becoming, I am going to limit each entry to five apps.  I hope you have found this useful!


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  • Brian

    great stuff!  I look forward to the next post.

  • Elyse A. Evans Kircher

    Great post! Thank you!
    I had been using Musical Lite, which has a metronome, pitch pipe, keyboard, and drums in it. I want to try the metronome and keyboard apps you recommended, though, because they seem to have more features.

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  • Akhilesh Kumar

    nice blog having great topics and i glad to see this blog