Wednesday, July 27, 2011

iPad for Music Education - Part 2

Mixeroo Lite - This is a great little app that has the potential to show young school children the different elements that go into a song and a basic level of understanding and skill in mixing. With the Lite Version you get "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" performed by a piano, harp, glockenspiel and oboe while with the full version ($1.99) you get 4 songs (Wheels on the Bus, Itsy Bitsy Spider and Ode to Joy).

As I said, this app has potential but would ultimately fall short on young ears. Teaching mixing to a 2-7 year old I would imagine wouldn't go very far. Also, the sounds used (at least on Twinkle) kind of meld into each other and you have to really do some drastic changes to hear what you're doing.

I would love to see an app like this aimed at 14-16 years olds with rock/pop songs with really basic introductions to compression, noise gates, reverb and delay explained and implemented (that would be fantastic!) but I couldn't find anything like that in my iPad travels. Garageband and ShapeMix scratch the surface but not nearly enough.

I recently mused that people not knowing the behind the scenes of music is part
of the factor for people not caring about music piracy. Think about how many movie behind the scenes featurettes you've seen compared to music behind the scenes. But maybe it's just too long and boring to be made interesting to the casual music lover. ...maybe a thread for another blog...

Miso Music - Potential might be the word of the day. This app turns your iPad into a working guitar with Rock Band style tabs cascading down the frets, sounds good right? Well yes and no. Try holding your iPad like a guitar and do a G chord, not too easy is it?

The pros of this app is the great guitar sounds and the strumming/plucking would give Garageband a run for it's money. The music you can download is surprisingly extensive from The Beatles to Miley Cyrus, you can even get traditional songs like Amazing Grace for free (but not too many) and the store is reminiscent of iTunes and are usually $0.99 each. The instruments you can use are also quite extensive (ukulele, mandolin, banjo, etc).

The cons of this app is the prices of those songs could run up a really hefty bill in the matter of moments, I would've liked to see packages or something. And of course the playing on the iPad issue.

Although! And it's a big although, this app can hear notes you're playing with a real guitar via the microphone or an adapter (either Woodees or iRig or I'm sure you could get a cheapy from eBay by now) and just play like that. Now I haven't been able to do this being without the right equipment but reviews are pretty solid which puts this app in the realm of brilliant. Imagine having a class full of kids practicing to a song or lessons on their own at their own pace.

There is a lot going on in this app so here's a video for all you visual people (although the video reckons this guy learnt Freebird from this app, no professional guitarist doesn't know Freebird already!):

How2Play - Again this is a free app that gives you a taste and then to get more you have to sign up on their website and buy more. Lesson packages being $4.99 each, this gets you about 12 lessons each with backing tracks, video for specific techniques and tabs although this can get pretty steep very quickly (maybe I'm cheap...) with the full beginner package with 6 lesson packages in that making it $30!

In saying that though, they've done a really good job with this app. The free lessons you get show you it's potential and ease of use with the audio being separated into 3 tracks: just guitar, guitar and backing track and just backing track. I could see kids having a lot of fun and learning a lot from this sort of medium and how it's laid out.

Ear For Life - (also lite version) So this app is very similar to the Karajan app in Part 1 of iPad for Music Education and a little bit cheaper, although you can see why straight away. The almost Microsoft Paint style is so exceedingly dull you're amazed that the app even works, but work it does. And it works very well truth be told.

The amount of different options for what you have to choose from in either Chord, Interval and Scale recognition is top notch and it would get extremely difficult for even the most astute of ears. The piano sounds good as well as having choices for arpeggiating the chords but the guitar can sound horrendous at times.

Although it's a little bit cheaper than Karajan it's not worth it. Coming from Karajan to Ear For Life there's just no comparison.

Verdict: Buy Karajan. It's really the best music app from my iPad app whole travels.

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