In this post we'll talk about my favorite learning tools that can be used to make your harmonica practice time more productive. We'll review two apps, a set of headphone, a portable keyboard and a small portable recorder. I believe these tools will facilitate your day-to-day learning process while being easy to use and mostly affordable. All right, let's jump into it!
The Amazing Slow Downer (Free Version)
This app allows you to customize audio clips. You can slow down a song or speed up without changing the pitch. This is specially useful when you need to transcribe a fast or complex musical phrase by slowing it down until you can catch all the notes you hear. You can also loop a passage that you're working on, hammering it into your head over and over until you get it and playing along with it. Another feature that I like is the option to change the key of a song. Let's say you want to learn the melody of a jazz standard in a certain key, ASD will let you transpose the melody to any key that you wish. Besides that, it's fairly easy to use. You just have to create a playlist and select a song from your phone/ tablet/ computer music library. Finally you can even export files based on the changes you've made. An awesome tool to have on your phone or computer!
I like to practice while wearing the Bose Q35 most of the time when I'm jamming along records or just with a metronome. It gives me a very good isolation whether I'm at home or on the road. Street, kitchen, Tv there can be lot of distracting noise around us. These headphones enable me to focus easily on a solo, bass line or chord that I'm working on and I can hear the music in great detail. If you already have a Bose QC25 and wish to make it wireless, I would suggest just to buy an adapter such as the AirMode Wireless Bluetooth Adapter.
We often forget to record our playing and listen back to ourself even though we should do it more regularly. This is a sure way to get insight of our own weakness. What do you think can be improved? What do you enjoy in your playing? These are simple questions that you can ask when listening back to yourself. Don't be too harsh in your critics, always see the positive side enough to feel good about your progress. I always bring the Zoom H1 to my gigs and listen everything afterwards on my way back home or the next day. Sometimes it gives me new exercises to practice when I want to improve certain areas of my playing. Finally it's quite easy to use, light and delivers a great sound. That's enough for the purpose we're looking for here.
Yamaha NP12 61-Key Lightweight Portable Keyboard
When playing a melodic instrument for example the trumpet or the harmonica it's useful to learn basic piano technique to facilitate learning about harmony, ear training, working out II V progressions and composing. Most serious jazz musicians on all sorts of instruments are proficient on piano. The knowledge gained by studying basic piano voicings will help you to hear better what the pianist is playing and strengthen your improvisations on the chromatic harmonica.
I Real Pro $12.99
I use iRealPro on my phone when I'm on the go and don't have time to transcribe a song from an album that I want to learn. That's iRealPro comes handy when you need to check out quickly the harmony of a song. It's like carrying 1000 pages of Real book in your pocket which is pretty awesome. You can also use it to create your own backing tracks or import accompaniments from different forums. The sound quality of the track is inferior compared to Band in a Box but it's also easier to use and you can quickly start jamming over your favorite songs. If you're looking to have a band to practice to along with the convenience of having a Real Book on your phone, this is definitely the app you need.
If you liked this article you might want to read Best Chromatic Harmonicas of 2017