Software Practice Aids

If the automobile had followed the same development cycle as the computer, a Rolls-Royce would today cost $100, get a million miles per gallon, and explode once a year, killing everyone inside. Robert X. Cringely

The question of whether computers can think is like the question of whether submarines can swim.Edsgar W. Dijkstra

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Want to learn more about the best ways to practice? Get an e-mail with a discount code when The Practice of Practice is published (June, 2014). To learn more about the book, check out a sample from The Practice of Practice.

There is a lot of software out there that can be of great help when you practice. In fact, there are so many great programs that this will have to be an ongoing post because there are too many to get to in just one post. Today’s post I’ll cover a few that are free or cheap, and one that is a bit more expensive, but very useful. Here we go:

Music Theory:

You can read my first book Basic Music Theory: How to Read, Write, and Understand Written Music for free in its entirety here.

MusicTheory.net is a great and easy-to-use flash-based site for beginning music theory.

Intonation and Recording:

GarageBand: If you own a Mac you already have an excellent piece of software you can use to record. Many tutorials will show you how (it’s pretty darn easy).

Audacity: I’ve talked about this one before and have posted tutorial vids of my own about it. If you want to go get your own free copy to play with, watch this vid below:

Intonia: I just discovered this great piece of software called Intonia. It was developed for strings but works for any instrument. You play and it shows you whether you’re in tune or not. It records what you’ve played so you can go back to look at it, or you can use it in real time to adjust your pitch. It’s free for 30 days and if you want to keep using it, it’s only $25.

Playalong:

Band-in-a-Box has been around for a while (it was invented by a dentist, but don’t let that scare you away) and is a pretty handy tool, especially if you’re trying to learn how to improvise or to play with others. It’s one of the more expensive programs, however, ($99-$349) but I find it quite useful. You enter chord names, choose from hundreds of musical styles, and the machine creates a backup band for you to jam with. Recent additions to the BBX tools use recordings of actual musicians for a more  realistic sound. There are add-ons that can be easily found (often for free) that have a suite of pre-entered chord progressions. I have the entire Real Book series, for example (Real Books are a large collection of jazz standards). I just open up a tune like ‘Round Midnight and away I go. Lots of tutorials out there for this program, too.

Okay, that should keep you busy for a while. Have fun and good luck!

Want to learn more about the best ways to practice? Get an e-mail with a discount code when The Practice of Practice is published (June, 2014). To learn more about the book, check out a sample from The Practice of Practice.

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