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Is Your Smartphone Smarter Than You?

If you’re not currently using your smartphone or tablet for helping improve your musical skills, then you need to take another look at the technology that is available to us today. 

     I used to use a recordable Walkman to record my own guitar lessons or voice lessons. I wrote down questions I had for my teachers on a pad of paper and kept a notebook. I carried a box full of cassette tapes with me, blank tapes to record lessons, and tapes of my favorite artists that I wanted to study. 

     Now, your smartphone can handle all of these tasks plus more! There are so many ways to make the most of your smartphone or tablet. First of all of course you can store thousands of songs in it. You can also create specific playlists for different subjects. I have playlists that include song examples of modes, alternate turnings, odd meter and more. You can use the simple voice memo recorder for recording your lessons, making a verbal note to yourself, or having your teacher play or explain an example. The cameras these devices have are fantastic. I let students video record me playing an example for them, take pictures of amp and effect settings. I even tell students that are taking music classes at school to take pictures of the blackboard when the teacher writes out examples. If possible record the class with either the voice memo or the video camera. 

     There are countless apps that could help you in your practicing. My favorite is the Amazing Slow Downer. It allows you to import a song from your iTunes library, slow it down, speed it up, change the pitch, create loops and more. I love it for learning solos with fast sequences. I have my students slow down songs that are difficult for them to play at full tempo. It’s perhaps one of the best practice tools I’ve discovered in the last decade. My typical practice routine has me using Guitar Toolkit for the tuner and metronome, Chronolite for the timer (gotta make sure I’m logging in solid practice time), and maybe the Amazing Slow Downer and my iTunes library. Other useful apps have tuners, metronomes, chord dictionaries, tablature, ear training and theory tests and the list goes on and on. By the way for the record, I’m writing this article on my iPad notes! Are you reading this article on your smartphone or tablet? 

     So go grab your smart device, load it up with great, useful apps and music and get practicing! Remember not to let your smartphone out smart you! 

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