Startups have been changing the way people listen to and create music for years. From discovery services like Last.fm and Pandora, to the ones that caught the ire of the recording industry like Napster, digital music startups have drastically changed the way we listen to music. But despite all the advances, musicians still often carry around three-inch binders of tabs and chords to their rehearsals, and go to weekly lessons at their music teacher’s homes. But increasingly startups are looking to change the way people learn and practice music using a host of online and mobile tools.
The ability for tablets to integrate with real instruments is already starting to emerge in app stores. JoyTunes is a free iPad app that takes advantage of tablets by helping users learn the recorder or piano by listening to which notes users play, and corresponding them to the game on the app. Users earn points by playing the correct key on the piano at the right time. In case users don’t have access to a real instrument, JoyTunes also has a virtual keyboard built-in, allowing users to practice on-the-go as well. JoyTunes adds an incentive to practicing, which could encourage students to stick it out through countless scales.
In case a musician doesn’t have access to a real woodwind instrument, there is Smule’s Ocarina 2 app. It’s a new version of the company’s original Ocarina app, which lets users blow into their mobile device and tap on the screen, virtually simulating a woodwind instrument. It gamifies the process by adding mechanics like “breath points” to the app, and also uses location-tracking to add a social element to this experience. While the original version was focused on musicians playing their own music, Ocarina 2 includes tracks from musicals including The Phantom of the Opera, and takes users through the process of learning a song. Smule has a suite of social music apps, including Magic Guitar, which lets users hold their iPhone like a guitar and play music Guitar Hero-style; and MadPad, which lets users create percussive songs using items around them.
For those users more interested in learning the guitar, are a variety of online resources like Chordbook, which helps people learn chords online; Ultimate Guitar, which provides resources and tabs on the web and via an iOS and Android app; and a variety of mobile guitar tuning apps. Instead of being another service that simply collects guitar tabs, Songsterr is an interactive service that shows users a tab and plays the matching note and tempo for users they know what the song is supposed to sound like. Songsterr offers beginner, intermediate and advanced tabs, and bases tab creation on audience demand using a voting system. In each set of tabs, Songsterr has identified separate layers of guitar; users can choose between lead guitarist, bass, rhythm, or drum kit. Miso Media’s Plectrum offers something similar for mobile, and also offers tools for ukulele, banjo and mandolin players.
For aspiring musicians who really want to supercharge their education process, there is Chromatik Music, which has been dubbed the “Rosetta Stone” of musical education. Aimed at helping students and teachers learn, teach and perform music, Chromatik aggregates sheet music, metronomes, tuners, and a variety of other music tools into an iPad and web app. It changes the way that educators teach students, and equips students with reference recordings as well as the ability to record themselves and help with self-examination and self-calibration.
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