Information and Technology

App-etizers: Music apps for music practice

Karen Jung, Music Librarian

Story posted March 27, 2012

Karen Jung, Music Librarian, discusses using the iPad for  music practice and accessing library music resources.

For the past 2.5 years I have been the Music Librarian at Bowdoin. Prior to coming to Bowdoin, I worked as a librarian, professional cellist, and instructor in cello and graduate music research at a university outside of New Orleans. I received both a Masters of Library Science and Masters of Music from Indiana University and have been fortunate to pursue and combine both of my career paths. 

Along with my instrument, case, and bows, my regular arsenal of equipment for practicing included scores or printed music, a tuner, a metronome, and recordings.  When approached to speak about music apps for a monthly Library/IT iPad User Group, I looked at the applications I was already using and discovered I may be able replace the heavy music equipment I have been carrying around with iPad apps.  

With just with the iPad, a cello, bow, and music stand, I was ready to test this out. I uploaded a pdf of the music I was practicing to Avid Scorch, used Cleartune to tune my instrument, used Metronome PRO to work out some tricky rhythmic passages, and to get an idea of tempo and interpretation possibilities, used the NML (Naxos Music Library) app to locate multiple performances of some of the pieces I was working on. It was a success. The tuner, metronome, and recordings apps were an excellent substitution with many features and options. In addition, the apps were only a $7.00 investment; I had invested over $160.00 in just the stand-alone tuner and metronome. Although Avid Scorch is a wonderful app for popular music and Sibelius-created scores containing a number of features including transposition, playback, and one-touch page-flipping, I found it limited for my everyday use. 

The Bowdoin Library currently subscribes to eight streaming music databases with tracks ranging from traditional “classical” and contemporary art music to World and American vernacular music. Streaming services provide access to over 120,000 albums and over 1.5 million tracks of music from major and independent record labels.  There is an iPhone/iPad app available for NML (Naxos Music Library), a database of traditional “classical” music, and Naxos Jazz Library (NJL). With the Naxos applications and a wireless connection, you can search and stream over 1.0 million tracks and access personal and class playlists. The Alexander Street databases, the remaining streaming databases minus DRAM, provide mobile links to individual tracks and albums that can be played on the iPad.  

Thanks to a screen and keyboard that is larger than most mobile devices and many useful apps, every day I discover new ways to use the iPad.  The iPad has saved many trees by dramatically decreasing the need to print out materials in preparation for meetings.  It has also enabled me to easily organize notes, documents, and websites for meetings and future access.  Because of the portability and immediate wireless access, I find that I am able to check and reply to email more effectively and I am able to read and have immediate access to more professional literature and news. I regularly bring the iPad with me to the library stacks to find materials and to assist our patrons.  

I am currently excited about experimenting with several camera scanners and citation management apps to collect and organize citations and bibliographies. If you are interested in learning more about how to manage citations on an iPad please feel free to contact me!

Applications Used:

Garage Band ($4.99)-Play an instrument, record and manipulate music, or have a jam session, this is the iOs version of the MAC software.

Pianist Pro ($4.99)-A multi-featured keyboard app that includes an arpeggiator, multiple instruments, USB midi controller, and drum machine.  It can also be used as wireless midi input device for the music composition programs, Finale or Sibelius.

Metronome PRO ($2.99)-There are many metronome apps available, I use this one because it produces a loud and clear sound, includes many predefined rhythms and beat pattern options, and you can create and store rhythms.

Avid Scorch (Free) –A Sibelius score reader that includes options for transposing and playback of scores created with Sibelius.  Sibelius scores are available through the Scorch store and community and an increasing number of online music vendors including SheetMusic Direct.  

Cleartune ($3.99)-One of the most accurate tuners, includes settings for various instruments, calibrations, transpositions, and tuning temperaments.

NML (Naxos Music Library)/NJL (Naxos Jazz Library) (Free)-Mobile access to two of the Library’s streaming music databases.

Pictured above:
Karen Jung, Music Librarian

"When going to rehearsals, instead of my tuner and metronome, I now slip the iPad into the back pocket of my case!"

enlarge this imageClick image to enlarge…

Sheet music in Avid-Scorch, Piano Pro, Naxos Music Library (NML) playlist, Bookshelf in Avid Scorch, Metronome,