*Updated* My Favorite Apps (for Musicians)

Click here to read my other post regarding apps for musicians.

There are quite a few apps and programs for streaming and downloading music and people have reviewed those apps. This post will be a little different, I have a list of apps for people who are musicians. I have explored the iOS App Store quite a bit and I have come across some good apps for tracking practice time, working on theory and aural skills, and composing on the go.

($9.99) available on iOS
This app is only available on the iPad, but it is my favorite for composing and arranging music when I don’t have my laptop with me. It does cost money, but I think it is completely worth it. The app has most of the features of a full computer notation program, plus the touch screen gives it a very user friendly interface. You can create a score right in the app and you can choose from a bunch of instruments. Most contemporary orchestral instruments as well as voice, guitar, and possibly a couple others. You can write all instruments in concert pitch and then the app can transpose the parts accordingly when the piece is complete. You can change both the key and time signatures in the middle of a score, add repeat signs and first and second endings, and use various articulations. You can also change a track to a different instrument if you like, this is only for the entire piece. My favorite feature is probably the onscreen piano keyboard. It allows you to enter notes very easily and you don’t have to worry about inputting the wrong note.
NOTE: The three following apps are available on iOS in a bundle.
Music Journal
($6.99) available on iOS
This app is a good way to keep track of what and how much you practice each day. You can time yourself as you practice, or you can input an amount of time if you want to log your practice that way. You can add folders and different “songs”. I have a folder for each of my instruments and various songs for different areas of practice such as warm ups, technical exercises, and études as well as a track for each repertoire piece I have. In order to organize everything further, you can color code the different items you have. If you don’t have a metronome, there is one built into the app, and you can use that to track your progress with regards to tempo. I have never used this feature, however, because I have another app for that which you can find later in this post.
Do Re Mi Ear Training
($6.99) available on iOS
I have not used this app a ton yet, but it is great if you need to work on your aural skills. It plays a chord and then a single pitch in the key, and you have to correctly guess the note. You can have the app play between one and three (possibly more) notes in a row for you to guess. There are different levels of difficulty that you can choose from to practice and test yourself.
Do Re Mi Voice Training
($9.99) available on iOS
This voice training app helps you improve your pitch accuracy. You need to give the app permission to use the microphone so that it can detect the pitch of your voice and determine how close or far you are from a note. I have only used it once, but it is cool how the app knows what note you are attempting to sing. I plan to use this more in the future to help me with the sight singing part of my aural skills class.
NOTE: This ends the bundle.
(Free) available on iOS
This app is great to have on your phone, because it has a tuner, metronome, and voice recorder all in one. The tuner allows you to select whatever pitch you want to play, and it can sense the pitch of your instrument. With the metronome, you can set the tempo from 40-280. You can also set the number of beats from 1-16 and subdivisions from 1-8.
(Free) available on iOS & Google Play
YouTube is great for listening to recordings of pieces that you’re working on. YouTube is also a good place to promote yourself and your music.
YouTube Capture
(Free) available on iOS
If you post videos on YouTube for fun or as a way to get your voice out there, you should get this app. It allows you to post videos to YouTube very easily, but it still takes time for the video to go through the upload process.
A PDF Reader
Many are available on the different smart phones: search your app store.
The PDF reader to get depends on you and what you need. Some allow you to highlight and annotate documents, others are solely for the purpose of reading a document on your device. An app like this is good for viewing sheet music on the go or when you are at home. You can view the music for a piece you are working on and decide whether or not you want to download it. If you play flute, check out My Favorite Flute Sites where I list a few sheet music websites that I have used.

As you can see, most of these apps are for iOS. That is the platform I use for my phone and tablet, even though I do not actually use a Mac. I plan on going into more detail on what I like about iOS and how I use that software and Apple hardware in a post sometime in the future.
Thanks for reading!

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What is Thoughtworthy?

Last Thursday, I published a post where I shared my thoughts about Caitlyn Jenner and the fact that she, deservingly, won the an award for courage at the ESPYs, but I never really explained what Thoughtworthy is and the idea behind it. It is going to be a running series on this blog, and whenever I have a thought or a conversation about something that is noteworthy, I will blog about it. These will be up on Thursdays, but not necessarily every week, and I will try my best to keep the posts as short as I can while still getting my point across. I hope that this series can help spark a discussion both in everyone’s life and in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!

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The Truth About Transferring in College

Growing up, I had this idea that I was going to go to a single college or university, and I was never going to transfer. Transferring was for other people, but I would never do it. A few years into college, I have realized that it’s okay to want to change schools, and if the school you chose turns out to be not the right fit, by all means find a better school. Since I have transferred twice, I think that I should let you, the reader, know what I think about transferring universities.

Killer Harmony | The Truth About Transferring in College | Transferring can be a great thing if you realize that your first school of choice was not right for you. But, there are other things you need to think about and reasons you need to consider when you are debating transferring school. This post gives some good (and not so good) reasons for transferring and some things you should be aware of if you do switch schools.

First, my educational backstory. I went to a ~very~ small private high school; in my graduating class, there were 8 of us. This meant that I was not used to the large class sizes that come with a typical university. My high school was also an Expeditionary Learning (EL) school, so we did a lot of hands on, community based learning. It was quite far off the main path. As my senior year rolled around, I started taking a couple online classes from my community college to get a head start on my degree. I don’t think I will graduate early, or even on time, but more on that later.

Anyway, I decided to go to the community college after I graduated. My seventeen year old self wanted to put off worrying about how to send transcripts. Due to my head start, I finished my associates degree in liberal arts last December, which meant that I had to figure out where to go next. What was I going to do?

I spent this past spring semester at a public university close to where I live, and it was a good school, but I had already contemplated transferring to another school. At this smaller university, I could have the experience of living on my own and I could also do what I love: music. I could have done music at my old university, but its program is very competitive, and I was not accepted. Sure, I could reapply next year, but I didn’t really feel a connection with the flute teacher, she was a little snobby. And the big school was also not the best thing for me.
Having said all that, transferring is definitely something serious, and you should try to avoid transferring on a whim, because it can really mess with your class schedule and your graduation date. There are a few good reasons to transfer:
You are not happy in your current environment, and you know another school would be a better fit. If you are uncomfortable are stressed at your current university, you should definitely look into different schools. If this is the case, try to avoid schools that are similar to your current one. If you look at similar colleges, you will probably have a similar experience. You should look for schools that have qualities that you think you are missing or you think would be helpful for you.
You are at a community college, and you want to earn a bachelor’s degree. Most community colleges in the United States offer two-year associates degrees and some certificates, but I have yet to come across a community college with a bachelor program. Some have partnerships that allow you to complete certain degrees on the same campus, but the last two years are through a different university rather than the community college itself.
You have decided to switch majors, and your current school does not have said program. If you are at a school majoring in one thing and want to switch to a program that doesn’t exist at that school, you will probably need to transfer.
On the other hand, there are a few not-so-good reasons to transfer universities:
You want to be with a friend or two from high school. If you switch schools to be with an old friend, you will probably be disappointed. The university where your friend is may not be the one for you. It is better to be in an environment where you are happy than to be with a friend. Technology is very prominent in our society, and it is very easy to keep in contact with friends and family from home.
You had one problem class or professor in a general class. If there is one problem you have and it is an isolated issue, you can probably avoid it in the future. If you disliked one class or professor, especially if it was in a general Ed class, you probably won’t have to be in that situation again. If you do have to take another class from that department, check is you can take the other class from a different professor or in a different way (i.e. face-to-face vs online, lecture hall vs small lecture class).
You want to finish your degree as soon as possible. Even if you are transferring through an articulated agreement, you might be setting yourself back by transferring. Not all schools will accept all classes from your originating university. Be sure to check the website of your current college and the school where you want to transfer.
Overall, I think transferring can be a good thing if you believe that you need to change universities in order to have the best experience. But transferring is not for everyone. It can put off graduation, and sometimes it means retaking classes you thought you were done with. The only person who can decide if you should transfer is you. You might have to talk it over with your parents or whoever is paying for your education, but you need to do what is best for you. What works for one person might be the worst idea for another. To learn more, search “(university name) transfer student” or go to

Thanks for reading!

Thoughtworthy: Caitlyn Jenner and the ESPYs

If you have been following the news in the United States, you have probably heard about how Caitlyn Jenner was recently given an award from ESPN for her courage in coming out to the world as being a transwoman. You might have also heard of some of the nasty comments that some people have made about the choice to honor Caitlyn rather than someone who “has more courage” or “did something more brave”. I have to say that those comments are extremely ignorant. Coming out to the world after being in the spotlight for multiple decades is not easy. If you have seen the interview of Jenner by Diane Sawyer, you would know about the struggles that she (Jenner) has faced with her identity. She has now finally come to terms with it, and she is being open and sharing her story to give this often unheard community a voice. I understand that it takes a lot of courage to serve in the military or do whatever it is that people believe should have been the basis for that award. However, giving the award to Caitlyn Jenner has not only honored her, but I believe that it will have a huge impact on the lives of people, especially young people, who might be struggling with their identity in anyway.
Thanks for reading!

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How to Travel with Musical Instruments

I was recently on a family vacation for about a week. I did not want to leave my instrument for too long, and since a flute is small, I decided to bring it with me. I did not take my good flute, that would not have been a good idea unless I was set to play a nice show where I absolutely needed it. But, bringing the instrument on a flight was not as difficult or annoying as you might think. Yes it is a flute, but I had no problems with it at the airport. I do have some tips and quips if you will be flying soon and you plan on bringing your instrument.

Killer Harmony | How to Travel with Musical Instruments | Have you ever wanted to travel with a musical instrument but just didn't know how? Read my top six tips for flying and travelling with instruments to make your trip a breeze. Be sure that you know about what your airline requires, and get there early! More tips in the post.

Here are my top tips for travelling with a musical instrument.

1. Pack smaller instruments in a bigger bag.
If you play the flute, piccolo, clarinet, or oboe, leave space in your carry on for it. This makes it easier, because you don’t have to sacrifice a personal item to take your instrument on the plane. Just be sure you leave space and pack it last in case security asks you to remove it for scanning purposes.
2. Pack other items in your instrument case.
If you have an instrument that fits the carry on size limit, but you would rather not pack it in a carry on, pack other items like clothes in the case. If you roll them up, shirts and underwear could fit in the bell of an a lot saxophone or socks could fit in a trumpet bell. If you play violin, pack clothes around the instrument to help protect it while smartly using space.
3. Be prepared to check larger instruments.
If you play a brass instrument (with the exception of trumpet) or a large instrument in general, you might be required to check it, either when arriving at the airport or at the gate. While the TSA is required to allow an instrument in addition to the carry on and personal item, not all airlines will allow the extra baggage. If you are unable to consolidate your items, you might have to check one of the items.
4. Leave a note in the case of a checked instrument.
In case you need to check your instrument, it is a good idea to leave a detailed note with how to properly handle the instrument to avoid damage, both attached to the handle and in the case laying on the instrument. Be sure that the directions can be easily understood by someone who has never seen a (tuba, bassoon, bass, etc.)
5. Consider buying another seat for a large instrument.
If your instrument does not fit the carry on size limit and you are uncomfortable checking it, it might be worth the extra money to purchase a seat specifically for your instrument. That way, you can keep it with you and you won’t have to worry as much about damage. This is good for string instruments, which could be smashed if other luggage is tossed on top of it, or woodwinds, which have a ton of moving parts that could be thrown out of alignment during a security check by someone who doesn’t understand the fragility of a musical instrument.
6. Get to the airport earlier than necessary and buy up to board early.
This will give you extra time to speak with airport staff about taking your instrument on your trip and how to avoid technical issues. The earlier you can board the plane, the more space there will be in the overhead bins. If they are full before you get on, you risk having to gate check one of your items.

Other things to know.
TSA PreCheck is your friend.
This is less a tip and more of a random way you can have an easier time traveling. If you are lucky enough to get the PreCheck, which allows you to leave your shoes, belt, and jacket on and your liquids and laptop in your bag, it will make going through security a breeze. When I had PreCheck, I did not feel the need to remove my flute from my carry on suitcase.
Only check your instrument as a last resort.
Sometimes, we can’t avoid a checked bag, but use the tips given to lessen the chance of having to check your instrument. Especially if you will be changing planes, you don’t want to end up at your destination only to find that your instrument is in another time zone. Mistakes and mishandling are rare, but they do happen, and you don’t want to be the one they happen to.
I hope you find these tips helpful, and remember to be safe when traveling.
Thanks for reading!
Have you ever traveled with a musical instrument and what was your experience like? Let me know in the comments!