We vocalists are always on the move; so here are my favorite mobile apps for preparing for your next gig – says Craig Lees
As a vocal coach for Leeds College of Music, I spend my days surrounded by talented young singers and musicians – they are always on the move, dashing between lectures, rehearsals and gigs. They are also addicted to their smart phones! Here are a few apps I suggest to help them for prepare for gigs and improve their practice as vocalists.
1. Vocal Warm-up by Musicopoulos | iTunes
One of the questions I get asked most frequently in my teaching studio is ‘what makes the perfect vocal warm-up’. My answer? One that is built around YOU and the way in which YOU use your voice.
‘Vocal Warm-up’ by Musicopoulos allows you to do just that! Equipped with a library of sixteen vocal exercises, all with piano accompaniment, this simple yet powerful application allows the user to create vocal warm-ups to suit their style and ability. The range and tempo of each task is fully customizable and each exercise comes with a set of handy hints and tips to help you get the most out of your experience. I use this app regularly when I’m backstage at gigs to get myself prepared and ‘in the zone’ for performance.
There are many Android equivalents on the market, such as ‘Voice Training Pro’ by the popular Learn to Master series.
2. Ear Training by Musicopoulos | iTunes
Aside from their voice, a singer’s ears are their most valuable assets. This comprehensive ear-training app is a fun and extremely valuable resource for singers wishing to develop their aural skills and sensibility.
Beginning with simple interval questions the app quickly progresses to challenging scales and chords, guiding and educating the reader in a way that is both stimulating and assessable.
What I love most about this app is that it takes aural development out of the practice room and into the hands of busy working musicians. I tend to open it up on long train journeys to pass the time while I hone my skills.
Android equivalents ‘Perfect Ear’ one and two offer the user similar functionality.
3. High Note by Open Planet Software | iTunes
It’s true what they say, often the simplest things are the one’s you treasure the most. Highnote is a simple yet elegant mobile app with a beautifully intuitive user interface. With a few humble clicks the app allows you to take control of the tempo and key of any song in your iTunes library, a useful tool when tackling difficult riffs or learning new repertoire.
Before using this app I used to manipulate my backing tracks using cumbersome computer software that was both time consuming and inconvenient, now I have this technology at my fingertips. What’s more, High note is now also available on the apple!
Android apps with similar functionality are available, such as ‘Music Speed Changer Lite’ by M-apps.
4. Sing Harmonies by Zanna Discs | iTunes
‘Sing Harmonies’ is a fun, colorful little application, great for passing the time with friends or perfecting your own skills with vocal harmonies.
Arriving with three sample songs (with more available for purchase in the app store) the app allows you to separate out segments of pre-recorded four-part harmony so that you can learn each part before putting it back together with the group.
Admittedly, there are other apps out there with similar functionality however it is the playful and engaging interface that really makes this app stand out for me.
5. Spotify | iTunes | Google Play
Finally, my list simply would not be complete without the king of all ‘on the go’ music apps. For a relatively small monthly subscription Spotify allows you to stream their vast library of music to your device, anytime and anywhere (Providing you have a good Wi-Fi or 3G connections, this may incur extra costs).
As a musician and vocal coach I use this app daily to gain access to songs and backing tracks for my clients.
As a music lover, I am simply enthralled by the world of music discovery this app puts at my fingertips. One moment you can be immersing yourself in a new album by your favorite artist, next you can be singing along to a top-class instrumental track in preparation for your next gig.
Are you an Android user wondering why we recommend so many iOS apps? See our article ‘Android or iOS – Which Is Better for Musician Apps?’ where we explain why this is.
Craig Antony Lees is a vocalist, arranger, educator and choral director, working in contemporary voice pedagogy. Currently lecturing in Popular Voice at Leeds College Of Music, Craig also holds the post of ‘Musician in Residence’ for the West Yorkshire Playhouse’s program for Young People. Craig will be presenting his work on contemporary vocal pedagogy at national and international conferences later this year and was recently awarded the ‘Sing For Pleasure Young Conductors Scholarship’.