Mt. Vernon Register-News

May 6, 2013

How to learn an instrument in 2013

By Daryl Nelson
ConsumerAffairs.com

Somewhere during the last couple of decades the process of creating music has gone extremely digital.

Now, if you don't want to take music lessons the traditional way, you don't have to. 

Numerous apps have been created to make it easy for you to learn the piano, guitar, drums or just about any other instrument you can think of.

Jump right in

The app Playground Sessions allows you to learn the piano while playing some of today's most popular songs. The app was made for those people who don't have either the patience or desire to learn things like music theory or scales. And it allows folks to essentially jump into playing right away.

In addition, the app keeps score of your progress and provides feedback in real time, so you know how much you're progressing. The idea behind keeping score and providing feedback is to make learning an instrument sort of like a game, so learning is easier and more fun, its creators say.

Playground Sessions gives tutorials by famed pianist David Strides, so beginners won't feel totally alone while they're learning how to play. In addition, the app was co-created by legendary producer Quincy Jones.

Then there's the app Percussive that allows you to learn five instruments if you want. Users can learn how to play xylophone, kalimba, glockenspiel, marimba and vibraphone, which all fall in the group of instruments called idiophones.

Each instrument comes up virtually on the app and looks like the real thing, so it feels like you went to the music store and actually purchased an idiophone.

And according to the reviews on Percussive, the virtual instruments sound like the real thing and are great for learning hand-eye coordination, which is always needed when learning an instrument.

Golden arms

The next app is DigiDrummer for percussion enthusiasts.

DigiDrummer allows you to create your own drum patterns if you're interested in making beats for yourself or other artists. It comes with eight drum kits, a built in sampler and a recording feature so you can hear back what you've created.

The app allows you to save your creations in its "Beat Library" as well.

DigiDrummer follows the current trend of producers taking bits and pieces of drum sounds to create entirely new drum patterns, which gives users an infinite number of sound possibilities to play with.

And the best part about the app is it's free, so it won't cost you anything to bang around on the virtual drum pads and try to create the next musical masterpiece.

The next app, called PianoBall, is great for kids.

Rather than being a serious app that gives serious lessons, it's more like a toy that teaches kids music and colors at the same time.

Users can select the instrument they want to learn. Choose the song they want to play and follow along. But they can choose "auto" mode too if they want the app to do most of the playing.

The app uses "magic balls" to teach instruments and each ball allows users to paint the keyboard different colors, so kids can learn notes and colors at the same time, which is pretty cool.

Learn to read music

The app Learn Music Notes is a game that allows users to, well, learn music notes. Here's how it works:

Music notes will appear on the screen and users will have to select the correct button to indicate the note. 

If you select the right note, the same note plays again so you can memorize it and ultimately lock it into your brain. If you choose the wrong note, your smartphone will vibrate and tell you what the correct note is. 

Users can take a one-minute test to see how much they've learned on the app or take a test with no time limit at all.

Furthermore, Learn Music Notes will save all of your tests so you can gauge how much you're learning and how much you've improved.

So today if you want to learn an instrument, do a quick download of an app.

Story provided by ConsumerAffairs.