We’re all aware that we don’t need physical dictionaries or calculators any more. We arguably don’t even need to know how to spell or perform mental arithmetic. This may be a generational argument, but what is for certain, is that we need to know how to use technology to facilitate learning.
It’s amazing how many people claim that they can Google everything, yet they don’t, and they’ve never used the advanced search feature either. This is not to criticise them but to highlight that however helpful you believe technology to be, it’s likely more helpful than that.
One way technology has really transcended our abilities to learn is in music. Learning an instrument is a long endeavour, regardless of how you go about it. Using technology to facilitate learning, however, has changed the game. More people now can play the guitar than ever (in the States), and the time and cost it takes to learn it has dramatically reduced.
Instead of paying $80 for two hours of tutored learning per week, you can now be taught 12 hours a day for free if you choose.
There are still benefits to having tuition of course. In fact, they’re not mutually exclusive in the slightest. A really effective way to learn is to watch and play along to as many highly rated YouTube tutorials as possible and to also have some tuition. You will ramp up nurtured playing time, but where you’ve gone off track, the tutor can highlight the bad habits you’ve picked up as this cannot be done without a teacher.
Another key way to use technology to facilitate learning is to hire a tutor over Skype. This way, you can be sure to find someone around the world who will fit your odd schedule of finishing work at 11 pm, or if you can only afford 30-minute sessions (it may not be viable for a physical teacher to commit to short lessons). In fact, this can be a great way to have cheaper tuition for those that live in expensive countries.
Before getting too excited about downloading apps, it takes years to learn piano and guitar to a good standard. Using apps and a tutor are great ways to guide you, but it will still require a good number of hours. Consistent practice is key, small and frequent i.e. 20-30 minutes a day.
6 apps that can help you learn an instrument
Yousician provides “tailored lessons and exercises based on your performance”. There are four instrument plans: piano, guitar, bass and ukulele. Each is $9.99 per month or all 4 instruments in one plan for $179 per year.
So, how does that work? The app listens along and provides you with feedback regarding accuracy and timing. There are 1,500+ exercises too, so there’s no chance of being limited by song choice, for example.
Being spoon-fed feedback and following instructions is certainly helpful, but you don’t want to become completely reliant. Perfect Ear gives you the tools to be autonomous in your playing by ear training you.
It teaches you to identify melodies by ear and how to read music, as well as how to sign notes.
All Chords Guitar
When learning guitar, one of the first things you tend to learn is the basic, most common chords. Forgetting the exact threat and string can be frustrating, and whilst you can always Google them when you need, All Chords Guitar is one app that has over 5,000 chords.
The sheer amount makes it useful for skilled guitarists too, but their true unique selling point is that you can play the chord sound to verify you are playing the correct, intended chord.
Justin Guitar has been popular on YouTube for a long time. However, his app has collated the most valuable videos into a beginners course. There are a ton of instructional videos, a self-assessment system, coherent learning path and strum-along chord changing songs.
Justin is incredibly empathetic with his guitar teaching. He breaks down difficult concepts and skills to more manageable pieces. He also places a lot of value on understanding the music so, for example, his blues lessons will also teach the language of blues, not just follow-along videos.
Free Universal Tuner
This app will use your device’s microphone to help you tune a multitude of instruments, including guitar, ukulele, double-bass and violin.
The app is extremely lightweight and stripped back, making it centred around functionality.
The Metronome by Soundbrenner
We all need a metronome when playing an instrument. They are even more necessary when learning, to understand musical timing.
This app has great functionality including multiplayer sync and setlists. Simple yet effective!