Indenspensable Apps For The Ensemble Teacher

I’ve been going to my iPad and iPhone with great frequency during classes over the last few months.

GarageBand – Free (in-app purchase available)

This is so much more than just a virtual instrument or a piece of loop-based composition software. GarageBand has been a daily workhorse for me for the past couple of months. During our daily warmup routine, the Smart Drums are the perfect metronome, without any of the boredom associated with “click…click…click…click…” The students love the variety, and a roll of the dice starts a fresh new rhythm.

In private lessons, it’s great as a quick and easy recording device. Looking at the sound waves in the timeline allows a student to visualize the quality of their articulations and air support.

Fingering for iPad – $11.99

Worth every penny. Hands down the best fingering chart I’ve ever used, including the classic “Handy Manual”. With just a couple of taps, you can see alternate fingerings, trill fingerings, and the fingerings themselves are superimposed over a picture of a real instrument (seriously, how did it take so long for people to start doing this?) The app can also play pitches, which will help your students audiate the pitch.

TonalEnergy Chromatic Tuner – $3.99

My students love the visual aid that this tuner provides. It really helps them understand what adjustments need to be made when tuning. In the warmup rooms before each concert, I pass out a couple of iPads to some trustworthy students, and everybody takes a turn with the tuner. Very easy to use, and the visual quality is why I prefer this to Cleartune or Strobetuner Pro.

ProMetronome – Free ($1.99 in-app purchase to unlock all features)

The best metronome app I’ve found, and it’s well worth the upgrade to the full version. You can tap tempos, pick any tempo between 10 and 300 BPM, subdivide, use different meters, save tempos for quick recall at a later time…it’s feature-rich and idiot proof, and you can’t really ask for more than that.

Hokusai – Free (in-app purchases available)

This is basically Audacity-lite for iPad/iPhone. Need to make a quick recording in your classroom? Hokusai can handle that. Want to send that recording to your Dropbox, or email it as an MP3? Hokusai can also handle that. I haven’t explored any of the in-app purchases and to be honest, I haven’t needed to. Hokusai offers plenty without the need to open your wallet.

Creative Commons License
The Trombonist’s Mouthpiece by Joe Guarr is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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