Life... and some things for biking and horn playing?
Hey all, thanks again for reading this strange excuse for a blog. Life recently has slowed down quite a bit, at least over the last four days or so. The biggest reason for this slow down? I was sick! These past couple of weeks--with the opera gala, other performances, and heavy practicing--seemed to do me in. I ended up getting a sinus infection. While it I felt fairly rough I was thankful that it wasn't either strep or the flu. I would have been out for quite a long time.
I'm feeling pretty good, but still coughing a little bit (I'm not contagious!!). Things playing wise have been gotten so much better with my mandated break. I said last time that I'd get into some things that might be good for both horn playing and bike riding right? Well, that is partially true because there's really only one item that really fits both bills.
It's an apple watch! Ok, but seriously; I decided I didn't want to recommend bike baskets that might be able to hold a horn case as I have a very slim case and it wouldn't be adaptable for everyone. Other products I had in mind weren't exactly great fits. So I thought, hey I'll just talk about the apple watch and the apps that I use on it. Maybe someone else can get some use from it like I do. Firstly, it's great as a biking companion with:
Strava is an app similar to map my run, Nike+, or runkeeper which tracks exercise and makes a little map of where you ran the previous day. Strava though has options for bikers, and actually can track a lot of minutiae that I haven't seen in a lot of other similar apps. The apple watch app tracks calories and a lot of other details like altitude, speed, and heart rate based on where you were. If you have a an apple watch series II you don't even need a phone paired with the watch to use the app.
Just Press Record
Just Press Record will seem like, to everyone who's a musician, like a waste of $4. Especially since there's already an ok recorder on your phone. But Just Press Record solves a lot of issues that you might not realize are even issues on your phone. One big one is a sync between your devices (so if you have an iPhone, iPad, or something similar the recordings made would all show up everywhere). Another is that it actually works on an apple watch. Seeing as this entire post is a stealthy plug for people to just get an apple watch... that's justified right? While not everyone may use this last feature, you can dictate your thoughts through the app and later have the app transcribe everything. I've found it's useful for thoughts in the car.
Most importantly, in using the thing for a year it hasn't crashed yet. Reliability is key... as I'm sure a lot of musicians know.
This is an app by the same company as Just Press Record, but it doesn't get hardly any press. What it does though has been fantastic for my practice recently: it slows down any audio you have up to 50% speed. This means that if you like to play along with recordings (which I love to do to learn music in a short period of time) this is an essential way to learn.
I have recently been learning some excerpts for the Atlanta Opera Orchestra, and two in particular are hard to learn: one excerpt from Rosenkavalier and one from Othello. Both are fast technical passages with very exacting styles. With this app you just slow the music down to an acceptable speed, and practice it until you can speed it back up to tempo. Also yes, there's an apple watch app for it.
One final caviat about this: you have to own the music, you can't use something from spotify or apple music.
Pulse Haptic Metronome
Pulse is a metronome that is two apps combined together. The first and most important is a metronome for an apple watch. It isn't like a normal metronome however, it is based on the haptic feedback engine in the watch. Essentially it makes the watch into a body metronome, which I think is quite cool. Sadly it's only limited right now to when the screen is on, so it only works for short spurts. The other app is a sort of basic metronome app for your phone.
That's mildly exciting isn't it? Apps for your watch and phone that do music things (plus Strava). I'll be writing next week about a couple of horn related topics... mostly because I'll be in Hilton Head playing Ives and Pictures at an Exhibition. Woo gigs.