I’m often asked which apps I use and recommend to students and other guitar instructors. Here are a few that I really dig. I’ll keep updating this list as I discover more useful apps.
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.)
The iReal Pro is an app I recommend to intermediate level students who are working through The Guitar Lesson Companion, Volume Two. I have uploaded all the jam tracks that go along with the book into the iReal Pro, which greatly enhances the effectiveness of the method. After you get the app, you can download the tracks for free here. Then, go practice! 🙂 The tracks for the SECOND EDITION of The Guitar Lesson Companion, Volume One are here.
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. But, one of the coolest things about this app is that you can hook your electric guitar up to the app using the iRig, and play directly into the app for evaluation. How cool is that?! I know! Go practice! 🙂
I sure wish I had 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 iRig. Garage band is also my favorite tuner and metronome/drum machine for practicing. Go practice!
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 this app makes it fun. Go practice!
Notation 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.
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! Go practice!
Speaking of Korg (one of my favorite companies), here’s 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. Go practice!
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.