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26Jan 2021

What apps should musicians have?

There’s a lot more to a musician’s toolkit than simply owning the right instrument. Along with lugging around their instrument, musicians usually have a metronome, a tuner, cleaning supplies, sometimes a stand, and usually music. And while today’s digital age will never truly replace the physical instrument (and why would you ever want that to happen anyway), there are a number of digital apps that are making things easier for musicians. Here are just a few of the apps every musician should have.

A Tuning App

Every instrumentalist should have a tuning app loaded onto their smartphone. Although tuning to the rest of the ensemble is important, you can get a great headstart by tuning against an app like Cleartune.

A Metronome App

A musician practicing against a metronome is about as fundamental as a basketball player practicing his dribbling skills. Yet, it’s important. Instead of hauling around a mechanical metronome or one of those digital noisemakers from the 1990s, just download an app like Tempo.

A music theory App

While this may not be as obvious as a must-have as the prior two apps in this list, a music theory app is particularly helpful if you need a reminder on certain theory topics like Latin musical vocab words that you see in your score. The app I recommend is Tenuto.

A recording App

While this isn’t necessarily a “music” app, you should know that the “voice notes” app on your phone is a very helpful tool for practice and rehearsal purposes. It’s a great way for you to record yourself and then listen to your recording. You”ll be surprised what mistakes you pick up when listening to the recording that you didn’t catch when playing your instrument.

Conclusion

While musicians continue their great work of entertaining and inspiring the world, hopefully, these digital apps will prove helpful. Of course, you do have a handful of purists that are almost like digital refugees who completely abhor the idea of using digital technology to contaminate the authentic music-making experience. And that’s okay. Whatever works for you works for you, and whatever works for them works for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

27May 2020

The Digital Refugee

I once attended a digital marketing conference in Orlando where the keynote speaker talked about “generations.” His message touched upon such things as (1) defining a generation’s starting point, (2) how to work well in a team comprised of multiple generations, and (3) how different generations view the use of digital technology.

He introduced a term that I had never heard before: Digital Native. A digital native is somebody who was born into a digital world (today’s world). Whereas, someone who was born, say, in 1974, in an analog world and saw the advent of digital consumer devices like home computers, cell phones, digital cameras, and now smart phones, would be called a Digital Migrant.

Makes sense, right?

So, what about those folks who would like to return to a world of NO DIGITAL devices? A simpler time with simpler technology. Imagine not being tethered by your smartphone 24/7! Remember the days of the rotary dial? For those people longing for a sans-digital world, what would they be called if they returned to such a lifestyle? I contend, they would be called Digital Refugees. I’m sure the term was coined by someone before me, but I like to think that it is my creation 🙂

While returning to a non-digital world seems like a romantic dream, it would, no doubt, present a host of unintended consequences. For example, in an instant, you would need to go out and purchase the following items that normally are wrapped into the smartphone: a music player, camera, video camera, navigation solution (e.g. maps), a watch, an alarm clock, a TV, and a telephone! When you start making a list of everything included in a smartphone you start to realize it’s a veritable Swiss Army knife!

I recently read a wellness blog called that inspired me to try and simplify my life. I need more balance. I need more peace. I need more happiness. Perhaps becoming a digital refugee is my answer.

1May 2020

The best weather apps

Yesterday, I was reading the news online and saw a weather alert with tornado warnings.  The alert provided a link to another website that supposedly had a radar system to track the weather, but the site wasn’t working.  I then decided to download a weather app on my smartphone so I could track the radar there.  When looking at weather apps, there were a handful to choose from.  They all basically do the same thing, which is, of course, communicating weather conditions.  And they almost always integrate radar technology into the process. 

There are a few apps that are absolutely necessary as tier 1 apps for a phone, and a good weather app is one of them. 

Here is a review of the most popular weather apps

The Weather Channel

Download coast: Free

If free is the name of your game and you’re happy with the basic, utilitarian features of a simple weather app, then The Weather Channel’s free, ad-supported app is for you.  It is supported on Apple and Android devices and does a pretty good job keep users updated through its Doppler radar data. 

Radar Scope

Download cost: $9.99

The name says it all for this one.  Radarscope is all about radar technology.  The entire user experience is focused on the incredibly-detailed radar interface made available in this app.  The radar is optimized for users in North America, so if you’re looking for radar in Europe, maybe you should steer clear of this one.  Otherwise, this tricked-out radar app is a not-to-be-missed addition to your weather toolkit.

AccuWeather

Download cost: Free

Another basic, yet robust-enough, weather app serving up daily and multi-day weather forecasts.  It also provides a “MinuteCast” feature which gives localized forecasts for the next two hours.

Dark Sky

Download cost: $3.99

Out of all the apps on this list, Dark Sky is my favorite. And it seems I’m in good company because Apple was impressed enough with Dark Sky to purchase it . . . which presents bad news for Android users because it will no longer be available on Google Play beginning this July. 

Carrot Weather

Download cost: $24.99 annually

Apparently, some people want entertainment and humor served up with their weather forecast.  If this describes you, then you should probably check out Carrot Weather.  The app pulls weather info from Dark Sky and then injects it with sarcastic humor to (according to another reviewer) “cushion even the gloomiest outlook.”

For a weather app, though, it is quite expensive with a $24.99 per year cost.

Mixing old technology with new technology

Humans have had a necessary interest in weather patterns from the dawn of time.  Today we can track weather events with phones.  In days gone by, our ancestors tracked weather by daily observations and measurements using thermometers, weather vanes, precipitation gauges, and barometers.  Like many in his day, Thomas Jefferson recorded weather readings in a weather notebook.  I still think it is a great exercise to keep track of weather readings in a notebook, using the assistance of a smartphone as the tool for taking those measurements.  I use a flexible leather journal book available from retailers like Melaleuca, Barnes and Noble, and Staples.  The Melaleuca reviews for my journal book were solid enough that I went with them.  However, a journal is a journal.  Pages are pages.  Just buy one and enjoy the process of merging old technology (a journal book) with new technology (a weather app).