The iPad has certainly captured the attention of our tech-loving society, and musicians are among the most enamored. I have enjoyed my iPad for over a year now, and I am constantly amazed at how many ingenious little apps appear for the musician. To truly cover what's available for musicians would take a novel, not an article! So, this may have to be just one of many articles to come. I'll approach this as a review, where I'll take just a few musical apps that I am using and offer my personal opinion. I hope it's helpful to you!
- "iReal Book" - The Real Book (my Real Book article tells you more about The Real Book and fake books for musicians) has long been a mainstay fake book for jazz musicians. Getting it in an electronic version was cool enough visually, but the added features make this indispensable. Not only are there hundreds of songs, but now you can use it as a play along unit for practicing! It uses simple MIDI sounds, but they are absolutely listenable, especially for practice. You can set the tempo, the key and even the style of each song. You can also input songs that aren't in the library. I've pulled this app out on many gigs when someone calls a tune I'm not as familiar with. Having all the chord changes available in any key at the touch of a button is a dream come true! It doesn't display the melodies, just the chord changes, but most musicians will still agree with how vital this program is. [NOTE: I have the first generation app, so that is all I can honestly review. I have heard that, due to copyright issues, the newer versions no longer come with the songs installed, but you are able to download them from user groups.]
- For Trumpet Players - There are quite a few apps out there designed specifically for trumpeters. From simple ones that help students learn fingerings ("Trumpet In Reach," "Trumpet Fingerz," and "Trumpet+") to fun little "trumpet simulators" ("Trumpet HD") and apps designed to actually help you "practice" when you can't be on the horn ("Trumpet Pro HD"). "Trumpet Guide" is also ripe with helpful practice hints designed to help you improve your overall warm-up routine.
- "Circle Theory" - Any student of music theory should have this app handy. It is a very useful tool to help you navigate the Circle of Fourths/Fifths and familiarize yourself with keys and key signatures.
- "GarageBand" - This program has long been a Mac user's favorite, but in the iPad, it's taken on a whole new life. It is truly stunning what you get for $4.99. If you're a musician who likes to write songs but can't always be sitting in your home studio, this is a must-have. GarageBand allows you to create quick, on-the-fly recordings that work great as demos for your ideas. The interface is easy and the sounds are great. I've even used a few of the sounds on actual CD projects.
Not everyone "needs" an iPad, but the amount of useful and fun apps available to musicians of every skill level make it truly worth the investment.