Many of my students know that I like to utilize a few different software programs in our lessons. Here are the main three that I use on a daily basis.
Price: $4.99 mobile app $7.99 desktop
This is my favorite metronome to use because it is easy to use and there are several features for the advanced musician as well. Many kids complain about metronomes because the sound of the “click” is annoying. This app is great because you can choose from several different percussion instruments (i.e. bongos, snare drum, wood blocks, etc.). You can also build your own drum grooves to make a drum loop that sounds very realistic. Within each instrument you can control the volume, probability, and subdivision length. All of that at a very friendly price!
Price: $39 desktop only
I tell all of my students “this is what got me through college.” As a music major I had many assignments to transcribe complex pieces. The most important feature of this software is the ability to SLOW things down without altering the pitch. There are several other programs out there, but I have been using this for 10 years and they are continually updating it with improvements. In the “old days” musicians would slow down the speed of a record player to try and learn songs by ear. This is the 21st century version of that same concept, time to get on board and use your ears folks!
Price: $12.99 mobile app $19.99 desktop
This app is a game changer. A “Real Book” is a collection of charts that has been used in Jazz for decades. This software takes that concept to a whole new level. There are robust play-a-long features, the ability to create your own charts and vast forums online to download songs from. All of the charts in the forums are free and as you can see from the screenshot, my collection includes bluegrass, blues, jazz and more. If you are looking for software and jam tracks to play-a-long too, look no further.
Christmas came early for us this year at the Shed! Last week our friend, Tyler Petito (founder of Acorn Amplifiers) hand delivered a prototype of a new amp they are working on. Many of our students have Acorn Amplifiers stickers on their guitar cases, but what they might not know is that they are one of the premier amp builders in the country. They are located in nearby East Atlanta Village and also repair all of our amps here at the Shed.
As you can see, this amp is a beauty! The woodwork, grill cloth and logo make for a unique vintage vibe. With an open back design, this amp has plenty of space to fill up your room with soaring, tube amp tones. Look a little closer and you’ll see a penny embedded in the upper right corner of the amp from the year 2016 (the year the amp was made). Personal touches like this are what sets Tyler and co. apart. The vintage design is matched by classic tube amp tones that break up right where you want them to. We can’t stop playing this amp, and hope you enjoy playing it during your lessons here at the Shed as much as we do. This Acorn may be young, but it is maturing nicely.
Looking to purchase an affordable keyboard for a beginner? This is a guest post is from our piano teacher Christopher Case that will be able to point you in the right direction…
“I have done a lot of looking and I really like the Williams keyboards as far as sound and functionality goes. They are a little pricier, but solid and without a lot of the flashy bells and whistles that most beginners don’t need. Just a solid piano style keyboard”
“The Yamahas are a reliable option as well. The used ones on here are slightly cheaper. These are known to sound good and be durable, and they tack on some extra sounds and drumbeat type things.”
“This Casio might also be a good choice if you want to keep it under $150, although I do think the lack of keys would be an issue. Still plenty to get you started without breaking the bank.”