The Best Apps for Guitar Students and Guitar Teachers

unnamed-23I’m often asked which apps I use and recommend to students and other musicians.

Here’s the list with links; scroll for more information about each one!

FREE Metronome FREE Music Memos
iReal Pro FREE Garage Band
ReadRhythm iKaossilator
FREE Ear Trainer  Ear Trainer FREE Gadget  Gadget
FREE Eye & Ear Exam FREE Groovebox
FREE Amazing Slow Downer  Amazing Slow Downer  Notion
FREE TrueFire FREE Artiphon


Here’s my favorite and Metronome app. If you’re like me and you find your phone distracts you when you are trying to practice, you might want to check out my favorite metronome, the Korg KDM-2. Korg just released the KDM-3, which I do not yet own, but I am sure it is fantastic.

The iReal Pro is an app I recommend to students who are using The Guitar Lesson Companion method book series and/or jazz musicians. I have uploaded all Audio Tracks for both books into this app, and you can email me if you would like the free playlists

I recommend Read Rhythm for students who are working out of The Guitar Lesson Companion, Volume One. It is a wonderful supplement to the rhythm exercises in the book because students can use it when they are away from their guitars.

If you are a musician, you need to develop your ears so you can learn, discuss, and play with other musicians. You also need good ears so you can learn to play the music you hear in your head and heart. Being able to identify intervals (relationships between notes) and chords is a necessary area of study for all musicians, and Ear Trainer makes it fun.

Ear & Eye Exam is a new app from TrueFire, and I think it has a lot of potential. Right now, there are still some bugs in it, but I do recommend it because I think the company will quickly address them.

The Amazing Slow Downer is  great for when you are learning songs by ear. It allows you to loop phrases as well as slow down the tempo (while the pitch stays the same). It is a great tool, and if you get distracted when practicing, you may find the Tascam unit to be a better fit.

TrueFire is a great educational site, and here is the TrueFire app. I’ll be recommending specific courses in another post soon, but you may want to start here: 50 Blues Rhythms


Music Memos is the latest music app from Apple, and it’s free and super easy to use. It offers a tuning feature, and it allows you to *simply* record and archive your song/groove ideas. But it also helps you develop your groove by adding bass/drum loops to your jams. You can alter those loops and even upload them into Garage Band (see below) for more of a good time. (When I was young and I had a song idea, I had to use my phone’s answering machine.)

I sure wish I had Garage Band when I was first learning guitar. Besides being able to record and share your own songs using multiple tracks with different instruments, it helps you learn how to write songs and play in a band. Students work on big concepts like time, instrumentation, music production, and song forms. To get the most out of the app,  hook your electric guitar up to your device using the Apogee Jam. Garage band is also my favorite tuner and metronome/drum machine for practicing.

When you need a break from thinking about music and you just want to play, give Korg’s iKaossilator a spin. Create beats and textures by swiping your fingers across the screen. (Oh, and some cats really like chasing the lights across the screen, so watch out for that.) Once you get a beat and groove you dig, pick up your guitar and jam away!

Speaking of Korg (one of my favorite companies), Gadget is another gem they have produced. Create songs or grooves that can stand on their own, or input them into Garage Band and develop them further with your awesome guitar skills.

Groovebox is another fantastic and fun way to create music. I use this with my midi guitar, or just on its own.

Notion is a great tool, especially for teachers and composers. I have used it to create worksheets for classes, and I have used it to write music while on airplanes.

I recently started playing an Artiphon.  A favorite app I like to use with it is Groovebox, which I mentioned above. Here’s a short example of me playing the instrument using a keyboard sound from the Ariphon app:

Susan Palmer teaches jazz, blues, and rock guitar styles in Seattle and via webcam. Since 2006, she has been the guitar instructor at Seattle University. Palmer created and taught, “The Rock Project” at Cornish College of the Arts from 2010-15, and she was music instructor at Seattle Girls School for the 2016-17 school year. Palmer is the author of, The Guitar Lesson Companion Method Book Series which is used by teachers and students in over 10 countries, including faculty at Berklee College of Music. Her extensive collection of lesson videos and jam tracks are available for free on YouTube. Palmer’s current and former students perform regularly throughout the country, including these Seattle venues: The Comet, The High Dive, Skylark, Neumos, The Hard Rock Cafe, Chop Suey, The Tractor Tavern, The Rendezvous, The Sorrento Hotel, The Crocodile, The Mix, Cafe Racer, The Edgewater Hotel, The Sunset, and other private events.


I wrote “The Guitar Lesson Companion” Method Books to help students get more out of their guitar lessons and to help teachers save time and be more effective in their studios. These books offer a clear, flexible, and progressive structure with plenty of good sounding exercises, which help students reach their goals faster than ever before. Fellow Guitar Teachers: Are you ready for a guitar method book that takes you and your students seriously? Let’s meet in the The Teachers’ Lounge.


 √ COMPREHENSIVE studies for guitarists of all ages, especially serious college level jazz, blues, and rock guitarists
 √ PROGRESSIVE format takes absolute beginning guitarists step by step into the advanced level
 √ EXTENSIVE reading, chord, and improvisation studies, enhanced with the exclusive online Audio Tracks
 √ WORKSHEETS help students gain a thorough understanding of notes, theory, chords, and improvisation
 √ SPIRAL BINDING keeps this book open on your music stand
 √ FREE ONLINE LESSON LIBRARY covers the topics in the books Volume One and Volume Two
 √ FLEXIBLE FORMAT for students taking group or private guitar lessons 


The Guitar Lesson Companion, Volume One is a music reading primer, a chord and scale jam guide, and a basic theory workbook. It’s jam-packed with comprehensive exercises that were designed to take an absolute beginner step by step into the intermediate stages of playing. This book will challenge the average student for 2-3 years with weekly lessons.

The Guitar Lesson Companion, Volume Two is an advanced theory workbook, a chord tone and mode improvisation guide, and a stylistic chord resource. It is a continuation of the first volume, designed with the serious intermediate and advanced level music student in mind. This book will challenge the average student for 2-3 years with weekly lessons.

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