there’s an app for that

In our digital age, the smartphone is an invaluable tool. It’s almost like Mary Poppins’ bag: a small, relatively unobtrusive item that gives you unthinkable access to myriads of tools and resources. Here are a few of my favorite music-related apps on my iPhone–and here’s a disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post–these are all apps that I discovered mostly on my own and use regularly–I promise!

Play By Ear.

I had very little ear training in my pre-college days, so when I reached college I had to be much more proactive about training my poor underdeveloped ears! That’s why I wish I had discovered this app sooner: it’s a really great, intuitive ear training app that allows you to test yourself with intervals, chords, or melodies. There are lots of settings you can tweak to fit your needs–for example, with melodies, you can choose the length of the melody and the speed at which it’s played, as well as whether it’s diatonic or atonal.


By far, my favorite metronome app. It does cost a little bit of change–$2.99 as of the writing of this post–but it’s incredibly useful for visualizing beat patterns and internalizing different meters and subdivisions. I first downloaded this app when I was in college and playing piano in an orchestra for the first time and realizing that watching a conductor’s hands for the first time was a much more disorienting experience than I had been expecting! This app helped me to really familiarize myself with beat patterns, and I’ve used it ever since. There are so many options available: you can set the metronome to virtually any meter, so you hear the downbeat as the first click in a group of 2, or 4, or 5, or 7, or etc.; you can turn off the sound on your phone so you can just watch the pattern as you play; you can hear subdivisions by clicking one of the three buttons in the bottom right corner of the image above, to hear the beats divided into two or three. Love it.

Google Translate.

As classical musicians, we come across so many foreign words! It’s relatively simple to guess what con sentimento or bruscamente mean (“with sentiment” and “brusquely”), but what about Mit durchaus ernstem und feierlichem Ausdruck? (Thanks, Gustav Mahler.) Not so easy now, is it? Don’t waste your time guessing or making a mental note to look it up later when you can grab your phone and, in a few seconds, discover that, roughly translated, this simply means “with quite serious and solemn expression.” The reason I love Google Translate above other dictionaries is because it can translate from virtually any language–which is beyond helpful if you’re playing Bartók, Ginastera, Mahler, and Janáček all in the course of a day.

Well, those are my contributions, so now I’d love to hear from you on what apps I’m missing out on! What are your favorite music-related apps? (Also, I don’t own an iPad, but my friends that do seem to find forScore insanely useful.)

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