Category Archives: Android

Bandmate Chromatic Tuner

Every now and then, I get an e-mail from a developer about their app (as a note, when the e-mail comes from the developer and not a PR firm, it makes me more likely to pay attention to the app. There are four of five blogs [in total] that discuss apps for music education, and all of us link to each other. It doesn't take that long to reach out to us). Not all apps are easily applicable to music education, and I choose not to blog about some apps, particularly when I don't see the connection to classroom music (which to me also includes band, choir, and orchestra).

The app I would like to bring to your attention today IS an app that is applicable to music education, and it is free without ads. It is a tuner called Bandmate Chromatic Tuner.

From the developer:

My name is Justin Dickson. I am a middle school band director in North Carolina. I wanted to tell you about an app that I designed. It is called Bandmate Chromatic Tuner, available for iOS and Android. It is free, with no ads so it is safe for classroom use. It is a chromatic tuner that displays your note on a music staff. It is the only tuner that does this. Since launching in August, it has had over 36,000 downloads. It has been a game changer with my beginners. Being able to see what note they are playing has made it so much easier to learn how to read music and play the correct notes on their instruments. Bandmate is set up for every instrument that you find in school bands and orchestras, and handles transposition without the user even needing to know what transposition is. In other words, Bandmate is an app that you can use on your first day of beginning band / orchestra with basically no explanation or set up time from the teacher. Download it, turn it on, and go with your lesson.

The unique element of this app is that it is a tuner that visually shows the pitch that is being played on the staff (with transposition in mind), unlike other tuners that show only the frequency. The only other app that comes to my mind that shows the pitch that is played is Magic Stave MIDI Recorder (or Magic Stave Free), but that app isn't a “tuner first,” are still iPhone apps (universal iOS versions are coming), and the free version is ad supported.

I know there is a HUGE following for TonalEnergy Chromatic Tuner and I am NOT suggesting that you “bail” on that app. Sometimes it is nice to have multiple tools in the toolkit, and Bandmate is a nice addtion that is straightforward for beginning students (and beginning technology users) [As a side note, also check out Band Tools].

So…if you tune instruments…go download Bandmate Chromatic Tuner!


More on the iPad vs. Chromebook Debate

Tim Holt’s recent article on EdSurge resulted in a lot of debate, including this recent rebuttal (pro-Chromebook). You can find the rebuttal by Joshua Kim at

Here are Kim’s main points:

Reason 1: Chromebooks are for Creating, iPads are for Consuming

Kim’s main point is that the Chromebook has a keyboard attached to it, again, something that makes the device generally useless for most music programs.

And knowing the number of apps that can be used for music creation, where doing so is very limited on a Chromebook, music education lives in a reverse parallel universe from the rest of education. But then again, any subject without desks would feel the same way.

In truth, the argument that iPads are for consumption is tiring; and if I was a Chomebook apologist, I would be upset that it was implied that the Chromebook wasn’t good for consumption either (Yes, you can use Netflix on a Chromebook, too). Addtionally, the first touch screen Chromebooks are out, too, which may lead to similar ways of interacting with apps on a Chromebook as on an iPad.

Reason 2: The App Versus the Web

Kim argues that the web ecosystem is better for education. HTML 5 apps are still not mature, meaning that can make more developed apps for iOS or Android, versus what can get on a web app. Furthermore, web apps eventually need to be profitable, meaning that they need to sell annual subscriptions (most common) or be ad driven (dangerous at school…how do you control what apps are seen?). Most iPad apps…in music education…are buy once, use forever (or at least for multiple years–usually at a 50% discount). iOS developers are also very open to feedback, meaning that they are willing to add features at the request of paying users whereas web developers may not. Again, in music education, the app ecosystem is better…and web ecosystems that run on a Chromebook tend to also run on an iPad (e.g. NoteFlight).

Reason 3: The Google Ecosystem for Collaboration

Kim’s argument is that Chromebooks are better for collaboration. iPads can, for the most part, be used in every collaborative way that a Chromebook would be used. Furthermore, iPads can be mirrored via a dongle, Apple TV, or computer program…with new peer-to-peer mirroring without wi-fi this fall. I was never much of a fan of group projects in school, as I usually ended up doing the work for the entire group (to save the grade) or in self-selected groups, we would finish days before other groups. Music is collaborative in a others sense–everyone interacting with each other to create musical excellence, which at its core doesn’t even require technology.

Again, until we see a Chomebook tablet (again, unlikely as Google is still committed to Android tablets), a choice of Chromebooks in your school is a statement that the “core” matters, and that music and other “electives” don’t need technology integration in your school. I do support a hybrid model of Chromebook carts and 1:1 iPads, with the option of students checking out Chromebooks overnight. My guess is that many students would not take advantage of that opportunity with 1:1 iPads.

Sadly, Mr. Kim’s article focused on (hard to believe that. I would use this terminology, but it is accurate) old technology stereotypes, and ignored some of the existing positives of Chromebook, such as IT management, cost, and upcoming features and connections with between Chromebooks and Android L.

Music Scanning and Recognition on the iPad

In January 2013, Musitek released its latest version of its music scanning/recognition software, Smart Score Pro X2.  I own SmartScore Pro X, and downloaded the demo.  I had also purchased Neuratron’s PhotoScore Ultimate, and on the pieces I used for comparison, PhotoScore Ultimate did a better job of scanning than SmartScore Pro X2, so I chose not to buy the upgrade ($99).

I did notice, at the time, that Musitek was promising “mobile devices” in 2013 (see below):

The header from Musitek (captured 10/5/2013)

A techinmusiced reader sent me a post from Musitek that was on Facebook today:

From the Musitek Facebook page (captured 10/5/2013)

From the Musitek Facebook page (captured 10/5/2013)

The text from the Facebook post indicates that this was using Musitek’s NoteReader App on Android, and apparently you still need to pull the data captured from the app into SmartScore itself to edit the data (no indication if NoteReader can export as a MusicXML file to another program instead).  I hope the plan isn’t to force the user back to the computer–that defeats the purpose.

At the same time, Neuratron has just released a music handwriting recognition app, NotateMe (app link with referral), which also promises to add PhotoScore capability to the app in the near future.

NotateMe Coming Soon (captured 10/45/2013)

NotateMe Coming Soon (captured 10/45/2013)

It is about time for music scanning companies to take advantage of mobile devices for their software, particularly as a camera (of high quality) is attached to the device and the guessing game of scanner quality will no longer be an issue.  There is a time coming–in the VERY near future–where a desktop computer will no longer be needed to notate music.  For me, this includes the tasks of writing music by hand (right on the tablet), playing music into the app (with an attached instrument), or scanning a paper copy of music (taking pictures of each page, converting to music notation).  This is going to be even more true with coming 64-bit processors in all our mobile devices.

Now, what I find interesting is that both Musitek and Neuratron have adopted an Android-first process (although the iOS version of NotateMe came out within weeks of the Android version).  Perhaps that is because Android programming is more similar to desktop programming than iOS; or perhaps the iOS approval process is longer.  Android apps in music education, to this point, have not been very abundant, whereas the iOS app selection for music education apps is overwhelming.

I am not sure how the world will accept these “expensive” apps.  For example, Notion for the iPad (app link with referral)  is currently $16.   NotateMe (app link with referral) is $13 (which is 50% off).  Anyone who has bought a “full” version of software–notation, music recognition, etc.–will recognize the “deal” these apps represent.  But the marketplace is full of free and ad-supported apps that reach a much wider audience (e.g. how many more people would download Temple Run versus NotateMe?).

At any rate–interesting times lie ahead where your tablet really can be a computer replacement.

Now–if we can only get Apple to let us save audio to the music library!

Note: all app links on techinmusiced include a referral code that sends a percentage of the purchase price of the app to  No extra cost is added to the price of the app, so if you are going to purchase an app mentioned on, please consider doing so with the referral link that is provided.

New app: NotateMe

Paul Shimmons already posted about this, but there is a new app that converts written music to “printed” notation called NotateMe. It is by Neuratron, the makers of PhotoScore (the scanning software that comes with Sibelius).

Here is a YouTube link:

And a link to the app (also available on Android) that seems to be a universal binary on iOS (runs on iPhones and iPads)

It is 50% off right now and will have future abilities to do music scanning (PhotoScore) right on your device (for an additional fee).

I am purchasing this now and will blog more later.

Android and Music Education Apps

This post is a request for those of you who own Android devices.  I’ve been working on a new release of my book “Practical Technology for Music Education” which features “key” app lists for a number of devices, including Android.

I’m having a very hard time finding quality apps to recommend for Android.

My list, so far, includes:

  • Mobile Sheets
  • EZ PDF
  • iReal b
  • Cleartune
  • Remind 101
  • Class Dojo
  • Music Theory Lessons Pro

If I can be blunt, I’m looking for the great must-have apps, not just apps that have some component of music education in them.  The sort of apps that say, “Buy an Android tablet just because of this app.”

Yes, I’m an iPad owner and apologist; and no, I’m not asking that question in jest.  There might actually be apps on the Android platform that are unique, special, and powerful when on an Android device (note that a lot of my list includes apps that were iOS first).  I’ve been looking on the two app stores and scouring the web to find apps.  It isn’t easy.  Please, PLEASE e-mail me if you have suggestions.

I’ve been wondering why there hasn’t been an Android version of GarageBand from another developer.  The answer: latency seems to be an issue on Android devices.  Latency appears to be anywhere between 20 times (at best) and 60 times (on average) worse on Android than iOS.

Think I’m lying because I’m pro-Apple?  Don’t take my word for it:

I didn’t realize this until I was surfing the web for my book.  I just thought that the device and OS fragmentation of Android devices–not to mention where the money in app development lies (iOS)–kept developers away from Android.

I think I had read somewhere that Miselu, the creators of the upcoming C.24 keyboard, were originally trying to design products for Android.  Now I know why they chose to abandon that effort and to move to iOS.

I can’t fathom why Apple would have put a focus on low latency, and why Android would let their devices have high latency.  I don’t see Apple touting iOS as being better for musicians (they certainly could); low latency is almost an afterthought on their part…something that occurred just because they did other things right.

So…if you are an Android owner/fan, and you are a musician…it looks like you won’t be getting any “serious” music apps (note: music playback and music playing are two different things) any time soon. I’m not picking on you; I’m just rather shocked to learn about this.