10 Apps to make you a better player

Posted by Craig Borlase on 27 April 2018

 Musicianship10 Apps to make you a better player 

As musicians, we can all get a little stuck sometimes. When muscle memory gets in the way of  creativity, those familiar riffs and rhythms which flow easily can start to feel a little stale.

It’s perfectly normal. In fact, a little frustration is healthy (remember how it drove you to get over those first hurdles in the early days?). Musicians, like all creatives, need challenge and change. But unlike visual artists or writers who are constantly starting with a blank canvas/page/memory card, we musos often find ourselves stuck playing old parts and arrangements that have long since ceased to challenge us.

Thankfully, help is at hand in the form of these great apps.

  1. GarageBand - ios (free)

Let’s start with the basics, shall we? Sometimes we need to remember what it’s like to play. Not play as in roll out our perfectly timed chops. Play as in play. Have fun. Create. Make mistakes. Experiment. And what better place to do that than in a private, free recording studio?

For the Apple heads among us, GarageBand is a must.. Whether you’re using a real instrument or a virtual one, jamming with friends or going solo, this is the sandbox you need to play in.


  1. BandLab - Android (free)

For the Androiders, BandLab is equally important as GarageBand. It might not have the range of virtual instruments that its Apple opponent has, but it gives you a 12-track mix editor, plenty of effects, unlimited project sizes and the chance to remix your tracks. If you want to try something new with a physical musical instrument, this is another great starting point.


  1. Hokusai Audio Editor - ios (free with in-app purchases)

While we’re on the home studio tip, an honourable mention goes to Hokusai Audio Editor. Stripped of all the virtual instruments, this app lets you do what you need without the fuss. It’s simplicity itself – and to prove it, have a read of this review: “…I’m 100% blind, and I’m still able to make use of this…Suggesting this to all my musician friends, whether sighted or blind.”


  1. Yousician - ios and Android (free with in-app purchases/subscription)

‘The easiest way to learn guitar, piano, bass and ukulele.’ That’s what it says on the tin, and by all accounts, it’s not a lie. Yousician acts as your personal music teacher, using your phone or tablet’s microphone to listen to you play and then offer instant feedback. With over 1,500 missions and exercises for everyone from complete beginners to advanced musicians, Yousician might be just the tool you need to help you learn something new or push on to the next level.  help wanting to brush up on their skills.


  1. Animoog - ios (£4.99)

Who doesn’t love a Moog? Well, Animoog is the ultimate digital synth in your hand (at a fraction of the price). Using the Moog Synthesizer's massive library of synth sounds you can tweak and turn to your heart’s content, coooking up new sounds just like you would on a real synth. Animoog lets you record, do some live noodling over your recordings as well as edit and overdub. It’ll take some brain power to get the most out of it, but it’s a great way to dive into something new.


  1. Perfect Ear - Android (free with in-app purchases)

So you want to up your muso skills, do you? Perfect Ear might be just the thing as it improves your ability to learn sounds and rhythms by ear. Exercises are customisable, as are the scales, and it also offers music theory articles, and more.


  1. Vivace - Android (free with in-app purchases)

Want to learn how to read sheet music? Vivace will teach you. That’s right – even if you’ve never got beyond guitar tabs - here’s an app that can help you learn to read music like a proper musician. Through a series of step-by-step tutorials it’ll get you through all 15 key signatures, the five more popular clefs and school you in both the English and Italian note names. You can view tutorials, use the trainer, and then practice what you've learned.


  1.  7 Minute Guitar - ios US only

If you’re connected to the US iTunes store, have a look at this one. It includes a series of exercises and instruction videos and apparently it’s a good route to take if you want to get from 7 minutes practice a day all the way up to an hour.


  1. Anytune - ios (free, Anytune Pro £14.99)

Back in the day, you had few options for learning new songs: you could turn up the stereo and your amp and play along or you could sit inches away from the TV screen and hope that the miming on Top Of The Pops was good enough to copy. It’s all different today. Anytune lets you slow down songs and pick apart the trickiest solos without losing the quality of the music. It also allows you to increase the speed as your confidence grows.


  1. JamPlay - online at jamplay.com, not an app

Last of all, we’re telling you about an app that isn’t an app. JamPlay is an online video guitar lesson site with thousands of lessons from almost 100 different instructors. You have to pay for a subscription, but so far almost half a million people have signed up to it. Click Here for some sample lessons.

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