When it comes to interactive online practice solutions you don’t have a whole lot of choices for your students, especially when something like SmartMusic plays the part of the 300 pound gorilla in the room. But a few online sites are trying their best to make online practice sessions an attractive option for young beginning musicians, and some of them might just fit your particular educational situation. Here’s a rundown of some of the most recent and promising online music practice applications available.
This new entry into the online practice arena seems to have a lot of potential and is due to open to the public in the next few weeks. Wind Soloist is an online tool with a number of stock arrangements of well known pieces for players of various ability levels. Each piece can be played on any of the common concert band instruments (flute, clarinet, sax, trumpet, horn, trombone, baritone, or tuba) and as an added benefit the system shows the appropriate fingerings for each note in a window to the left of the music.
Taking a look at the demo of Mary Had A Little Lamb, you can see that Wind Soloist has switches in the settings to turn on or off the display of note names on all of the notes as well as the ability to show brass fingerings above the notes as well. The music can be printed off for easier reading if you don’t want to deal with reading off of the laptop screen. You can also transpose the piece into any key you wish, allowing you to use the piece with other instruments or simply to give yourself a key challenge.
The only problem, at least with the parts of the app that I was able to preview, is that there appears to be a fairly limited selection of pieces. No idea if there are plans to allow teachers to upload their own arrangements for use with the system but the overall idea of the site seems to be very promising. I’ll try to report more on it when it comes out as a live site.
Although not really billed as a practice app this one is a great time saver in a rehearsal setting. Used by popular TV shows such as Dancing With The Stars Chromatik is an iPad app that allows you to upload your own PDF’s of music, share them with your band members, and allow them to annotate the music as needed.
The practice portion of things comes when the student practices the piece and then records it using the built in recording portion of the app. They can then send that recording back to the teacher for evaluation, grading, or comments. Best of all, Chromatik is free to use.
Odogy.com’s Video Music Notes
Seemingly made by the same guy as the (apparently now defunct) Community-Band.com interactive practice app Video Music Notes pairs interactive on screen sheet music together with YouTube videos of many popular songs both from movies and many current recording artists. The music on the screen scrolls in time with the music video which is displayed at the same time in a window at the bottom of the screen. The music can be transposed for any instrument, although some of the keys and ranges get a little extreme on certain titles. Still, if your student wants to learn to play Let It Go from Frozen or Call Me Maybe both and many more are available.