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3 Apps to Help You Learn to Play a New Instrument This Summer!

image from wikihow.com
image from wikihow.com

So maybe you want to become an international music sensation? Or maybe you are just trying to learn a new instrument to impress your friends and family. Either way, there are countless ways to go about picking up a new musical talent.

One way to make this adventure easier is by incorporating technology into the process. Let’s face it; you probably spend countless hours a day on your smartphone, so why not use it to help you learn an instrument? These three mobile apps will not only help you along the way, but will make your experience enjoyable.

1) SoundCloud: You probably have used Soundcloud to listen to music via Facebook, but there is much more you can do with this app!

How to Record: If you don’t already have an account, sign up at SoundCloud.com – Click on the app and log in. Select the “…” tab all the way to the right on the bottom panel of the app. Select the first option “record”, and press the “REC” button when you want to start. When you are done, you can 1) hear what you played via the play button on the left, 2) continue recording via the “Resume REC” button, 3) select which parts of the recording you want to keep by pressing the image of the scissors, and then moving the two white bars to confine what you want to keep (to save the changes, press “apply”, or press “cancel” to exit the snipping tool). Once you are done with editing, you can press the orange “save” button to save your recording, or the “delete” button to re-record.

image from drippler.com
image from drippler.com

How it Helps: Using Soundcloud, you can track your daily progress through the recording feature. By being able to hear what you play, you can easily assess where your strengths are, and where you need to improve. Maybe you are hitting the right notes, but playing too slow? Now you know to work on your speed. Also, you can share your progress with your friends, who may be able to provide you with constructive feedback. It is always good to have other people hearing what you play!

Cost: Free

2. Learn to Play Piano HD: This is a relatively unheard-of app, but it can really help you pick up the piano through a series of instructional videos! All you need to start is a keyboard, which you can find for a low price at Walmart or Target.

image from itunes.apple.com
image from itunes.apple.com

How it Works: After logging into Play Piano HD, you engage in a series of video demonstrations and tutorials that address different aspects of piano playing. The most basic and fundamental concepts are addressed first, and as you move along through the program the material becomes more diverse and complex. Each of the sections is broken into chapters, and you can go back to a chapter at any time if you need help with something.

How it Helps: Learn Piano HD offers a cheap and interactive way of learning the piano – a feat that can be especially challenging to anyone not familiar with musical instruments. The videos are set up to mock the process of actual piano lessons, without the cost of the instructor. The chapters of material are strategically organized to slowly increase the complexity and variability of piano skills so the user isn’t overwhelmed with new concepts all at once. Also, it allows users to watch the instructional videos at their own pace, and also repeat chapters whenever desired. This ensures that you fully understand what you have learned so far before you move on with the lessons.

Cost: $1.99

3. Ultimate-Guitar: This app is specifically used to help guitar and bass players learn to play their favorite songs. Users can read tabs and chord progressions of the songs they love the most, to help them acquire skills on the guitar or bass.

image from wordpress.com
image from wordpress.com

How it Works: Before the app came out, Ultimate-Guitar had a website that offered users the same features that the app offers. Ultimate-Guitar allows users to submit chord listings or tabs (if you don’t know what tabs are, you can find out here) that they created, based on how they think the song is played. Once submitted, the public can see it, and rate the tabs based on how accurate they are in comparison to the actual song. They have included all these features in the app, but there are also some added bonuses that make for a more enjoyable experience. In the most updated version of the app, you can utilize an advanced search tool that allows you to search for chords or tabs by user ratings, song difficulty, and even instrument tuning.

image from app.ultimate-guitar.com
image from app.ultimate-guitar.com

How it Helps: In the process of learning to play an instrument, it is important to play along with songs you know. Not only does it make for an enjoyable practice session, it also encourages you to challenge yourself and learn how to play a song exactly as it is heard. With all the available search features, you can narrow down exactly what song or music. You can also “favorite” tabs and chords which provides quick access to them in the future. The Ultimate-Guitar app provides pocket access to hundreds of thousands of songs that you may want to learn.

Cost: $2.99

These three mobile apps will not make you an instant expert on an instrument, but they can equip you with tools to make the process of learning an instrument much easier, and very enjoyable.

Feel free to comment with any questions! Also, as an experienced piano and guitar player, reach out to me on Twitter if you’re picking up a new instrument!

Paul Rinella

Hey everyone! I'm Paul, and I'm currently a freshman in Whitman and the iSchool. I am pursuing a degree in accounting, finance, and IT. Some of my free time activities include playing baseball, playing the guitar and piano, and watching the New York Yankees. I would love to study abroad in Hong Kong, and look forward to the rest of my career at Syracuse University!

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