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Some studies indicate that playing a musical instrument can have a positive effect on brain function and physical attributes like hearing. The benefits of playing a musical instrument can be applied across age groups. As with trying to pick up anything new, keeping it fun and convenient can make a big difference in sticking to it, so it’s good to know that your smartphone can help you learn this skill.

Start With the Right Device

If you want to get the best out of apps designed to help you learn to play a musical instrument, you need a smartphone that can keep up. As Muvi explains, audio and video content can eat a lot of data. If you have doubts about your current phone or you’re already having problems with your apps, then it might be time to make a change. 

You could consider getting the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, which sports 128 GB of internal storage, up to 40 hours of usage time, a large display screen, a fast internal processor and Dolby Digital audio. If you’re more of an Apple person, the new iPhone 11 comes in three different capacities, has ample battery life, speedy processing, and a generous screen. Select the device that’s right for you, and you’ll be ready to load it with learning material! 

You Can Learn From Real Tutors

Most apps will require some kind of self-pacing or regulation with automatic feedback. However, apps like Yousician offer feedback from instructors in real-time. Your lessons can be tailored specifically to your goals and level of experience, which is especially great for beginners. With step-by-step video tutorials and a vast database of thousands of songs, you can learn to play instruments like the guitar, piano, bass, and ukulele

The app allows you to set goals and track your progress over time. You can even gauge how you’ve improved based on how well you’re doing in the lessons and practice exercises. If you’re feeling competitive, then you might be interested in the weekly leaderboard that includes other users from around the world. 

Play Around With Sheet Music

As you’re learning to play an instrument, reading and playing from sheet music will become a part of your experience. An app like Musicnotes gives you access to a large collection of sheet music that you can keep at your disposal across your devices. 

The app offers a playback feature so you can hear the music and play it on your musical instrument. You can even make notations on the sheets within the app to help while you perform. And when you absolutely need paper, you can print the music sheets directly from the app. 

If you’re at the level where you’d want to compose your own music then Musescore might be exactly what you’re looking for. You can create music sheets, hear them played and print them when you want to - which could be useful for sharing your scores with other musicians. 

Practice Tools That Improve Your Skills

When you’re using an app, it might be hard to tell if you’re playing at the right rhythm or pitch. An app like Tunable is designed as a practice tool to help you know when you’re playing in the right tune. The app also provides tone and chord generators that you can use. When it comes to tempo, the app has a metronome so you have a visual representation to follow. 

If you’re picking up a guitar, apps like Uberchord are can help you learn to play. With this app, you can use an interactive strumming trainer to get your timing up to scratch. The practice will help you to get used to strumming and rhythm patterns. 

Learning to play a musical instrument can be a very rewarding experience with some impressive mental benefits as well. If you’ve been waiting for the right in-person music lesson, then you’ll be happy to know you can learn what you need by using some or all of these apps. 

Submitted by: community member Charles Carpenter, who, after having his son diagnosed with ADHD and placing him in Music Therapy, decided to pursue picking up a guitar as an adult himself. He now works to share this information with adult learners and parents. 

Frank Gambale is one of the world’s premier fusion guitarists. Born in Australia, he studied at Guitar Institute of Technology in Los Angeles on his way to becoming Chick Corea’s main guitarist, and a master innovator best known for the technique known as sweep picking. 

Frank Gambale is the subject of a “rockumentary” to air on WUNH on Monday, Oct. 14, at noon.

Gambale first picked up a guitar at the age of 6 or 7. “I don’t ever remember learning to play,” he says in the rock documentary. “As long as I can recall I’ve been able to play guitar. It’s a part of me. It’s very natural. I was just built to play the guitar.” Recruited to tour with Jean-Luc Ponty, he cemented his guitar cred when he won the audition to play with Chick Corea in 1987.

The documentary is chock full of songs from Gambale’s extensive solo catalog, as well as music from Chick Corea and Gambale’s take on Steely Dan’s “FM.” The interview was recorded before a show at Oak Hill Music in Brookline, NH, where we spoke about his technique, his love of Steely Dan, his wife and 10-year-old daughter, and what keeps music fresh for this 60-year-old guitarist.

Listen Monday, Oct. 14, at 91.3 FM and wunh.org

Submitted by: Six Strings, JIll Arabas, airing Mondays 10 am to 2 pm on WUNH. If you know of a great guitarist I should know about, hit me at sixstringsatnoon@yahoo.com.
  • Kandace Springs

    Kandace Springs

    Kandace Springs, photographed by Gary Lowe and Robert Festa

  • Terence Blanchard

    Terence Blanchard

    Terence Blanchard, photographed by Gary Lowe and Robert Festa

  • Christian McBride

    Christian McBride

    Christian McBride, photographed by Gary Lowe and Robert Festa

  • Ravi Coltrane

    Ravi Coltrane

    Ravi Coltrane, photographed by Gary Lowe and Robert Festa 

  • Herbie Hancock

    Herbie Hancock

    Herbie Hancock, photographed by Gary Lowe and Robert Festa

  • Tia Fuller

    Tia Fuller

    Tia Fuller, photographed by Gary Lowe and Robert Festa

WUNH's Jazz genre manager, Gary Lowe, covered the Newport Jazz Festival this year and found it to be, as always, wonderful. It's now under the artistic direction of world-famous Christian McBride and he's influencing it in wonderful ways, bringing in other genres blended with all of the subgenres of jazz. The weather cooperated and all 22,801 attendees had a soulful time for the three days at Fort Adams State Park. Saturday had the highest attendance with 9,145 Jazz fans taking over the Fort. The Newport Jazz Festival is sponsored by Natixis Global Managers. It's 2020 festival is set for August 7-9! Here are some photos from this year's festival taken by Gary Lowe and Robert Festa.