You want to make the most of your limited practice time, and there are a lot of useful apps out there which can help you make your guitar practice more fun and more efficient. The one that is maybe the most useful and overlooked is in fact free, and you already have it on your phone.
The first part of this video is on the 5 Apps I use and then I also have some really solid recommendations at the end.
Always good to have a backup tuner if you forget or lose your tuner. Also just passing it to a student in a lesson for them to tune.
The one I use is called DaTuner and it is free, there is a premium version without all the ads but since I use this more as a backup then I didn’t check out what it does and if it does that well beyond removing the ads.
My impression is that there are a lot of different tuner apps and they all do the same thing pretty well, and having a free one is always reassuring.
Later in the video, I am also going to give you the best tip for using your phone while practicing.
It is a bit strange to recommend iReal because I find that it often does as much damage as it does good. So let me say up-front that I am really not a fan of the midi backing track sound of iReal and I am pretty sure that is not good for your swing feel.
Another thing I am not happy with is that you have chords for songs, but the melody is not there and the changes are often not fantastic. Of course, this is because of copyrights that make it impossible to include the actual song, so you can’t really blame the app.
And still, this is a great app to have for a session or gig where a song is called that you don’t know, or if a student brings wants to play a song you never played, and you can make your own harmony and share playlists if you are doing a cafe gig like opening a jam session or something else with no rehearsal.
I don’t use the tuner or iReal all the time but they are on my phone. I do use my metronome app every day. There are a ton of metronome apps and a lot of them are free. For this app, I do have the Premium version but I don’t think I really use it for that. The only thing I did was make a preset so that you enter the tempo and the metronome is on 2&4, but that is hardly making use of all it can do. Always having a metronome is really practical, and this one can also go really slow which I use quite often.
What Apps Do You Recommend?
If there is an App that you really like to use that I did not talk about here, then leave a comment and help us discover it! If you know my videos you probably guessed that the next app would be high on the list.
DrumGenius is a fantastic app, it is a lot of fun to play with and the different drum loops are extremely well made. It could use a few more straight-ahead medium and medium up swing loops, but for the rest it is great, and I also used it a lot for examples in my videos.
Another “secret weapon” that I sometimes use is soloing using the clave section of that app so you can solo over a blues in 4/4, but have the metronome in 5/4 or some other pattern for reference for timekeeping. That is a really useful exercise.
#1 Teach Yourself Guitar
The app on your phone that is really a game-changer for your playing is actually just something that is already in there and that you expect to be there: The Camera.
Having a recording device that is that easy to access and that helps you practice something and then sit back and listen to what you played without having to play at the same time and is incredibly effective for improving your playing. If there is one habit you want to build then it should be to record a short solo whenever you practice, and then sit down without your instrument and listen to what you play and figure out exactly what you want to improve.
That is is a video is really a bonus because it is mostly about the audio, but the way phones work then this is so easy to use that it is a shame not to use it like this.
Incredibly Useful Advice for Using a Phone for Practice
One thing that is pretty important when you are practicing and also using your phone is that you do so in flight mode. It is impossible to concentrate if you get notifications from Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook all the time when I upload a video, and if you don’t get interrupted it is 10 times as effective
My top 5 in this video are based on the apps that I use regularly right now in my practice and that are on my phone, so it may change with time. I do feel that there are some really great apps out there that I recommend to my students and have used myself or use in periods.
Learning Fretboard Visualization with an App
A great app to get a better overview of the fretboard and practice this in a really practical way is Solo. Solo is an app made by David Beebee and Tom Quayle from the Guitar Hour podcast. This is the only app I am mentioning here that does not have a free version, but if you are looking to improve your fretboard overview then this app is worth checking out.
David and Tom included some videos showing you how to use it, and there are exercises where you can work through songs and the app listens if you play the right notes. This makes it much more fun to practice stuff like this, and certainly worth a try.
Ear-training with a Free App
Another app that is great for training your ears that isn’t just about training intervals but really hearing notes in a key, which I think is so much more useful is Functional Ear Trainer. This app has a premium part as well but you don’t need to get that to learn from it, and the approach taken here is basic and super solid, and very useful.
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