Apps for Music Composers

More and more people are taking their work on the go, and music composers are no exception. A growing of number of tablet and smartphone apps has made it easy for composers to create, save, and share their music without being tied to the computer and dashboard. Although they won’t replace the studio anytime soon, these apps are fast becoming a central part of composers’ lives.

SymphonyPro

Simply put, this app allows you to write music on your tablet. Experts compare it favourably to Sibelius or Finale, two well-known desktop composition programs. The 88-key virtual keyboard allows for easy entry, and the quick playback option allows you to keep tabs on your progress. The app is created by Xenon Labs and retails for $12.99 for the iPad. Symphony, a smaller, limited-feature version for the iPhone, sells for $4.99.

Sibelius Essentials

This iPhone app offers a quick but detailed introduction to Sibelius, the music program. At $1.99, it gives you access to dozens of instructional videos and lets you try out some of the most useful features. You’ll eventually want to get the full version, but if you’re still getting the hang of it, this is definitely worth the time and money.

PianistPro

Despite its name, this app isn’t just for keyboardists, although it has come to serve as a MIDI keyboard for composers working on desktop apps. It transfers surprisingly smoothly from the iPhone or iPad to a desktop computer. The quality is at par with even the priciest MIDI keyboards on the market, so at $9.99 it’s definitely a great buy.

NumPad

This is more of a companion app to a full-featured program such as Sibelius. Basically, it gives you a customized keypad so you can, for example, switch between flat, natural, and sharp signs on your phone. It’s also great for playing around with beat durations. It’s not the most glamorous of applications, but if you like multitasking or like working on multiple files at once, this can save you hours of finger work. You can get it for $3.99 on the app store.

Air Display

Another productivity tool for composers, Air Display by Avatron Software allows you to arrange all your Sibelius or Finale toolbars on your iPhone or iPad screen. This allows you to access features of the program in one tap, instead of shuffling through long menus. At $9.99, it’s a little pricey for a “help” app, but it saves a considerable amount of time especially if you’re using every feature on the table.

 

Finding Good Quality Pianos

Most good music is the product of the right skill and the right tools. Piano players recognize this fact: beginners may have to settle for cheap equipment in their first few years, but most will invest in a high-quality piece later in their careers. The challenge for most is finding a piano for sale in Los Angeles that offers good sound quality at a reasonable price.

Steinway, a piano maker established in 1853, has become synonymous with quality and practicality in music circles. Their pianos are made in New York and Hamburg, Germany and each boast a number of patented features unique to the brand. One such feature is the middle sostenuto pedal, which allows one note to stretch out as other notes are played at the same time, and an 18-layer timber body that offers unparalleled resonation and richness.

Steinway dealers can be found throughout the U.S.; these include music stores, schools, and rental companies. Prices obviously depend on the model: a basic one with limited features can go for about $6,000, while a full-size grand piano can fetch close to $200,000. Of course, these correspond to different needs: the higher end of the scale is usually limited to established musicians with bigger budgets, and the low to middle end caters to beginners and up-and-coming performers.

Renting Steinway pianos is a popular alternative, especially in Los Angeles where demand is high but not everyone has the money to spare. This can be a good idea if you or a family member is just starting out, and you’re not sure whether it’s worth the investment. If you’re more committed, a secondhand piano is also a good alternative. Steinway pianos are built to last, and it’s fairly easy to find a used one in good condition. You may want to bring in a more experienced person to check for quality, especially if you’re new to piano playing.

Whatever you choose, it’s important to choose a good dealer as much as a good brand. You want to work with an established company with a steady track record of satisfied customers. Many experts also recommend buying from an accessible dealer, one that you can easily reach in case you need repairs or replacements. After all, even for a used piece or a rental, you’re shelling out a good sum of money, and you want to make sure you get what it’s worth.

Jazz Guitars

You wouldn’t know it from listening to today’s jazz music, or for that matter, the bulk of modern guitar music. But jazz and guitars work surprisingly well together, and more than a few musicians have blended them with remarkable results. Although many would argue that it’s more about the skill than the instrument, it can’t be denied that jazz has a distinct sound that can’t be achieved with just any set of strings—at least not if you’re after an authentic sound.

Jazz guitars are a fairly new term, as there aren’t many that are specifically made for the genre. In jazz, guitars tend to have a clean, dry sound with little to no reverb, and often no other effects. The charm comes from the clear sound that allows you to pick up every detail, from the plucking to the vibration of every string.

The best instruments for jazz are hollow-body semi-acoustic guitars, although you’ll find more than a few that break away from the rule. One of the most famous jazz guitars is the Gibson ES150, probably best known to jazz enthusiasts as Charlie Christian’s signature instrument. Its famous warm, mellow tone is made possible by a single-coil pickup at the neck, and the f-holes in the acoustic-style body.

Two other Gibson guitars are considered jazz classics: the L5 and the ES175. The L5 has been around for decades and hasn’t changed much from its original design, which includes a large body offering excellent resonance. The ES175 is largely recognizable from its uncharacteristic Florentine design, but offers the same sound quality and personality as the rest of the line.

If you want a real classic, of course, the Fender Telecaster is your best choice. Arguably the most famous guitar in the market in any genre, it has a sweet, mellow tone that goes just as well in jazz as in country music, where it’s better known. What’s great about it is that you can experiment with styles, given its versatility. Indeed, you probably wouldn’t want to use it solely for jazz, as you’ll be missing out on creative opportunities.

The Gretsch Country Gentleman, although obviously more a country guitar, also lends itself very well to jazz playing. This is made possible with the various controls that allow you to change the tone, and the proprietary pickups that give it a unique sound. A similar model, the Nashville, offers the same features with a slightly different look.

Piano For All Review

Check out Piano for All at www.pianoforall.com

Many learn to play systems for piano are very much book or manual based learning and many of these resources are difficult to stay interested in as they focus too much on the technical stuff and exercises rather than moving the student to learn popular music.  To increase the appeal of learning to play the piano, Piano For All has been created as a course that combines workbook lessons with computer based visual and audio elements.  Using the different elements makes the course easier to understand and follow as the video lessons guide the student through the examples and through the lessons.  Piano For All has been designed by piano teacher and artist Robin Hall and is targeted specifically at beginner piano players of all ages.

The bulk of the information for each of the lessons is contained in the 10 eBooks that make up the Piano For All course.  Each of these books has video and audio demonstrations and exercises which are linked through the eBooks.  The lessons start with a good foundation of parts of the piano and understanding how chords work and when used in order the eBooks gradually introduce new skills which are then practised mastered.  One of the better features of the lesson exercises is that once you have passed the initial couple of lessons then popular music is introduced to make the exercises more interesting.

One of the best qualities of this program is that you don’t need a degree in IT to be able to use the eBooks, the lessons or the video and audio examples.  To make the lessons run smoothly each of the video and audio links are right there on the page and only require a click to view the relevant file.  Other positive features of this course is the amount of information that you receive when purchasing Piano For All.  The lessons are very comprehensive and the size of the course is half a gig so it is important that you have room on your computer for the whole course.  Piano For All includes a piano resource book (eBook 10) which contains loads of information, tips and exercises which supplement the lessons.

Piano For All is a great overall course for people looking for a computer based course to learn the piano.  This program has many positive features such as the interesting lessons, the easy to use format and the extras that you get when purchasing this piano course.

Check the Piano For All Website at www.pianoforall.com

Amazing Guitar Secrets Review

If you are looking for a complete learn to play guitar package that focuses on both electric and acoustic guitar then Amazing Guitar Secrets may be the course for you.  This learn to play pack includes work books, video examples and audio tracks which are all designed to move you along as you learn and develop skills.

Amazing Guitar Secrets has been designed and taught by musician and teacher Dan Denley.  Denley has a very accomplished music background that includes a music degree, classical training in piano and vocal performance as well as over seven years experience playing guitar with performing bands.  For those guitarists that find this guitar package great to learn from, Denley also has several advanced guitar courses including Lead Guitar Secrets and Acoustic Guitar Secrets.

As with many of these learn to play guitar packages this course contains 2 DVDs of lessons and techniques, a CD which contains jam tracks and a very comprehensive work book which guides you through the lessons.

The DVD part of the pack contains just over 4 hours of material with a mix of video and on screen graphics and diagrams.  The quality of the video segments is nothing special but it makes up for this with quality material and relatively good audio.  A note to beginners who are using this guitar program is that Denley in some examples uses technical language which may not be understood by people who have just started to play guitar and have no other music background.

The CD contained in Amazing Guitar Secrets includes 40 guitar tracks which you can play along with.  These tracks are a good addition to the course however they have been recorded with just the guitar playing and would have been better with the option of playing the tracks with a backing band.  The CD also has all the work books as PDF files which can be printed and also contains printable versions of the tutorials that cover topics such as reading chord charts and learning scales.

The Work book that is included in the pack is made up of 10 smaller black and white workbooks that follow the lessons and format of the included DVDs.  Other information included in the work book is a handy progress tracker which you can use to map your progress through the lessons.  There is also an included Amazing Guitar Secrets guide book and you will also receive several other smaller theory books which cover some of the technical information such as scales, patterns, reading music, guitar tab and guitar theory.

This guitar package is suitable for people who are wanting to learn music theory as well as learning to play the guitar and at the price of under $100 it is defiantly worth a look.

Beginner Guitar System Review

Check out the Beginner Guitar System at www.beginnerguitarsystem.com

For beginner guitarists looking for a system that covers all the basics as well as providing material that will keep you interested and challenged then this guitar system may suit your needs.  The Beginner Guitar System has been created by guitarist and teacher Nate Savage who has had plenty of experience with over 16+ years playing and teaching guitar.  The lessons are all featured on a collection of DVDs and exercises and lessons are also featured in the included workbook.  This beginner guitar system has been developed for use by beginners but also has excellent sections on chords, rhythm and guitar theory that are also suited to intermediate guitarists.

The Beginner Guitar System is a complete guitar playing course and includes in the pack a work book which supplements the lessons, a poster which features guitar chords, 4 DVDs of video lessons, 2 DVDs which feature 10 songs to learn, CDs which contain backing tracks for the play along songs and a CD which works as a metronome.

The work book supplied with the Beginner Guitar System is an illustrated manual that is designed as a reference for the student while using the DVD video lessons.  The great thing about this work book is that it contains extra material as well as what is covered in the video lessons.  The work book should be used while viewing the video lesson as the relevant page numbers are displayed on the screen so you can follow the lesson through the work book.

The lessons are divided up onto 4 DVDs and take you through each of the lessons and included exercises step by step.  An excellent aspect of this course is that it starts with all of the basics such as how to hold the guitar, equipment that you will need as well as important things such as how the tune the guitar and change strings.  The video presentation of each lesson is excellent especially when showing fingering close ups and the lessons feature guitar tab and music which is useful for people who are complete beginners at both the guitar and reading music.

The extra play along songs that are contained in the Beginner Guitar System are a great idea as you have something to aim for while completing the course.  The 10 tracks are featured like the course video lessons and once you have mastered them you can play with or without the guitar or metronome or just with the backing band.

This course is a refreshing change from all the poor quality guitar courses on the internet.  The Beginner Guitar System is a great package for anyone looking to the internet for lessons on how to play the guitar.

For more information visit the Beginner Guitar System Website www.beginnerguitarsystem.com

Rent A Piano

Renting a PianoWhether you’re a hobbyist or an aspiring musician on a budget, your first piano is no small investment. Even a small, beginner-level one can set you back several hundred dollars, at least if you’re after a certain level of quality. But rather than sacrifice performance and go for a cheap piano, you could rent one instead—it’s just as affordable, more low-maintenance, and offers a wider range of options.

You can usually rent a piano from music shops or rental agencies (which are usually associated with the former). One thing you’ll notice with rental shops is their large selection of pianos, often larger than the typical store’s brand-new range. You’ll find consoles, grand pianos, baby grands, and even digital pianos and keyboards. Of course, you can test them beforehand and see which one works best for you.

Another advantage to renting a piano besides the large selection is that it doesn’t require any serious commitment. If you’re a beginner and just want to see if you like it, there’s no point spending thousands of dollars on what may end up being an unwieldy piece of furniture. You can keep it as long or as little as you want, or even keep renting while you save up for your own. Or if you decide you’d rather play baseball, you can turn it back in with no strings attached.

Most piano rentals work on a monthly basis, meaning they charge a flat fee every month. These range from $30 for a beginner-level piano to $150 for a grand, usually with moving fees and periodic tuning added to the cost. If you’ve been playing for a while and expect to buy your own eventually, try looking for a rent-to-own deal—these allow you to rent the piano until you’ve paid enough to cover the cost of the instrument, at which point it becomes yours. The only risk with this arrangement is that you risk losing money if you change your mind midway, and may even have to pay penalties.

Start looking for piano rentals in your area. Even if you find better rates online, dealing with people face to face is a lot safer—at the very least you’ll know where to go for repairs or refunds if necessary. You may need to undergo a credit check and place a deposit. Once that’s done, all you have to do is choose your instrument and start making music!

Fret2Fret Review

Visit the Fret2Fret website at www.fret2fret.com

Anyone who has done some searching on the internet for online resources for learning to play the guitar has probably come across Fret2Fret through their advertising.  Much of the advertising for this program is very hyped with guarantees such as  mastering the techniques and improve your guitar playing in less than half an hour.  Some people may be put off by this type of advertising as you have to look past the hype, the many testimonials and sales pitches before getting to the content of Fret2Fret and what it has to offer the beginner guitar player.

Fret2Fret was created by guitarist Mike Slaiter and offers the beginner guitarist an alternative to the structured guitar lessons that are offered by many other learn to play guitar programs.    The Fret2Fret program is not an actual guitar course that moves you step by step through learning and playing, rather Fret2Fret is a collection of memory techniques that once learnt help you remember the location of notes and patterns on the guitar or bass Fretboard.  Learning these techniques can be useful for beginners but should not be the only technique or material used when learning to play the guitar or bass.

Apart from the collection of memory techniques for guitar and bass guitar, Fret2Fret also includes several other extras, many of which are available for free over the internet.  The first of these extras is the Fretboard Warrior which is a game for use by the guitar player to memorise notes on the fret board.  The next extra is a very basic tuning software called TuMeDrum which also includes a metronome and drum loop.  This extra is not really worth using as the metronome has only a few settings, the drum rhythms are boring and the whole interface with this software is uninspiring.

One of the more interesting extras is the Guitar Tablature that Fret2Fret gives you access to.  After a little investigation of this extra and the content it looks like some of this material may be provided in violation of copyright regulations.  The last of the extra features that Fret2Fret gives you access to is Guitar Tablature files for Guitar Pro 3.  It should be noted that this extra only works if you already own the Guitar Pro software, for those who don’t have this software this extra is a complete waste of time.

Fret2Fret offers the beginner guitarist a different learning tool as an alternative to the standard learn and play courses used by many other companies.  While these memory techniques can be useful you are better off spending your hard earned cash on other much better guitar courses.

For more information visit the Fret2Fret website www.fret2fret.com

Instrument Master (Piano) Review

Check out the Instrument Master website at www.instrumentmaster.com

Anyone who has spend time trawling through the internet and the many music related websites will probably have come across Instrument Master.  One of the negative aspects of Instrument Master is the hyped and over the top way that the course is featured on the webpage.  Many people are put off by websites with pop ups, endless reviews by random people and outrageous claims about how good the product is and ‘special prices’ for recommending your friends also buy the product.  What seems to attract people to this piano course is the promise of an all inclusive piano course, the price which is cheaper than many of the other courses available online and also the advertised bonus of access to other courses for instruments including guitar, bass and violin at no extra cost.

Unfortunately after parting with the purchase price to have access to all that Instrument Master (Piano) has to offer it was clear that many of the features that were advertised on the website were substandard or in some cases were exaggerated or nonexistent.  The advertisement for Instrument Master claims that you will have access to 1000s of lessons for all instruments via the Instrument Master library as well as access to 10 Styles and genres of instruction for each of the instruments covered by this site.  What you really get is somewhat different to the promises made before you part with your money.

After gaining access to the teaching materials for Instrument Master it was clear that what was promised and what was delivered were two totally different things.  The advertisement for Instrument Master promised thousands of lessons but the site only features 13 QuickTime movie files which were poor quality, didn’t really teach anything of importance and were only short with the longest clip only 3 minutes.  The clips that did show something where blurry,  had muffled audio and there was no structure to any of the lessons.

Instrument Master also provides the user with 13 MP3 files that contain just the audio of the above mentioned QuickTime movie files.  These audio files are completely useless as you already have the audio with the video clips and they aren’t that good anyhow.  The package also features scale illustrations, some PDF files that have some basic music theory and notation and some Jam Tracks which as with most of this package are rubbish and a waste of time downloading.

For people looking for a great online course for learning to play piano – keep looking.  Instrument Master is a poor quality waste of money – do not buy this course.

For more information check the website www.instrumentmaster.com

Lindo Guitars

Lindo is a UK company that specializes in musical instruments and accessories, with acoustic and electric guitars among its primary products. Although not as popular as Fender and not as well-known for quality as Gibson, it is gaining ground as a cheaper alternative to big-ticket brands with a minimal difference in performance. Young guitarists and amateurs looking for a first instrument often choose Lindo guitars for their excellent price-quality trade-off.

Although small, Lindo’s guitar lineup is fairly varied, with selections for acoustic, electric, electric-acoustic, and bass guitars. They also have a line of travel guitars, which are smaller, more compact, and designed for easy transport. Prices range from £50 (US$82) for a basic travel guitar to £150 (US$245) for their higher-end electric guitars. The company regularly adds to its collection and holds regular specials, so you may even be able to get one for less.

Lindo guitars come with various colors and finishes, so there’s one to catch every user’s fancy. For instance, the Lindo (i) Series, its bass guitar line, features a natural wood finish, an eye-catching red, and a polished black. All come with a basswood body and a maple neck, as well as chrome hardware and die-cast machine heads.

Two of its more popular electro-acoustic guitars are the Black Fire and Dreadnought, which are made with roomy, ergonomic bodies to ensure playing comfort. The fingerboards are rosewood and the body is natural spruce. The necks are made with maple, a popular “tonewood,” which means it carries sound well and makes for excellent acoustic play. As the name implies, it also plugs into an amp and can be used as an electric guitar.

One of its newer products is the Tribal electro-acoustic guitar, set apart mainly by its glossy tiger-stripe design. Featuring the same solid construction as the rest of the lineup, it boasts some of Lindo’s new features such as a scratch-plate design, matte tuning pegs for added style and finger comfort, and a smart headstock design.

Lindo also offers a wide range of guitar accessories, including picks, strings, and straps. Beginners may also be interested in the Complete Rock Guitarist six-lesson DVD for electric guitars or the Complete Fingerstyle Guitarist for acoustic guitars. Tuners, amplifiers, amp cables, and guitar stands are also available for those in the professional league. There’s even an accessory pack for electric-acoustic guitar owners that includes a gig bag, spare steel strings, shoulder straps, plectrums, and a pitch pipe.