Recommended: Music Apps

I am part of many flute related Facebook groups, and I always see people looking for recommendations on what gear to buy, where to shop, etc. So I decided to create a little series here on the blog with my recommendations. Today’s entry is music apps.

Hannah B Flute | Recommended: Music Apps

Hopefully this series will be helpful to anyone shopping for a flute, a case, cleaning materials, music, or other accessories. I wanted to start with music apps, because a lot of them are free or cheap, and you can download them today.

This post will have two parts: apps for your phone and apps for your computer. Now, I do use an iPhone and Mac, so some of the apps may only be on those platforms, but there will probably be a Windows or Android alternative.

MusiciansKit

This is a free app for Apple, but similar apps exist for Android.

MusiciansKit is a tuner, metronome, and audio recorder all in one. If you are like me and you don’t have a ton of space on your phone, an all in one app is perfect for you.

Instead of having to maintain space for three different apps, you have all you need in a single app.

The tuner part also has a tuning fork, which you can change to the pitch you need. You can use A=440, 442, etc. or you can have the tuning fork play any other note.

The metronome also has some advanced features you won’t find on a physical metronome. You can change the beats per measure, thereby creating an emphasized downbeat. You can also add in subdivisions.

While most phones already have some sort of voice recorder app, it is nice to have one specifically for your music recordings. I don’t use the recorder function as much as I should, but it is an easy way to record yourself in a practice session or for a lesson or competition.

You will probably want better recording equipment later on, but an app is a great way to get started.

YouTube

I listen to a lot of recordings on YouTube. When I don’t have my computer, I use the YouTube app to find a video or audio clip of the piece I’m working on. You can find a lot of different recordings on YouTube.

One of the things I like about YouTube over, say, Spotify or Pandora, is that you can watch the videos that people post. As important as it is to listen to great players, listening will only help you so much.

Watching video of great players can give you more insight into how to get a better sound or build your stamina for performances.

If you find a musician you really like, you can even subscribe to their channel. That way, you can see more of their recordings and videos.

SymphonyPro

If you have ever wanted to compose or arrange music, this is the app for you. It is available for both iPhone and iPad, though they are technically different apps.

The iPad app costs $14.99, and the iPhone app costs $4.99, though you can get the iPhone app for free with proof of purchase of the iPad app.

SymphonyPro is a music notation app, and there are multiple ways you can use it. You can use the onscreen piano keyboard, onscreen guitar fretboard, or manual entry. If you have an iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil, you can write the notes like on paper.

MuseScore

If you prefer using a desktop music notation program, consider MuseScore. This program is available for both Windows and Mac. Other popular music notation programs, like Finale and Sibelius, cost hundreds of dollars, but MuseScore is free.

MuseScore is open source, which explains the price tag, but it definitely does not lack any features. You can write solos or large group works. You can add dynamics, accidentals, and articulation markings.

If you are just getting started with notation, or you’re on a budget, MuseScore is a great way to go. And because it is open source, there is a huge online community where you can go for help.

Your download even comes with a one page guide for the basics of MuseScore.

So…

Have you used any music apps? What are your favorites? Let me know in the comments!

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Technology for Musicians

In this day and age, technology is everything. From social media to cameras and audio recorders, there are many ways technology can help musicians. This post will cover technology for musicians.

Hannah B Flute | Technology for Musicians

With each passing year, social media gets bigger and bigger. We can connect with other musicians all over the world. Cameras and cell phones have also allowed for musicians to learn music and connect with others online.

I love using technology to learn more about music, to share my own recordings, and to help others with their musical journey.

Social Media

Certain social media sites have growing communities of musicians.

Facebook

There are many Facebook groups dedicated to classical musicians. Some are general music groups, and others are for players of specific instruments.

Different groups work differently, some are more conversational and others focus more on sharing links to music: recordings and sheet music.

I am in a few flute groups and a couple of general classical music groups. I can pose questions, share links to my recordings and this blog, and I can answer others’ questions.

Instagram

The music community on Instagram differs significantly than that on Facebook. There is less conversation on Instagram and more sharing.

Like sharing videos and photos related to music.

Comments on photos and videos allow connections with other musicians. Compliments and constructive criticism can help not only the one posting the video, but others who watch the video and read the comments.

Instagram stores also let users share more content and give others a look behind the scenes.

Laptop/Desktop

Computers allow us to access social media, to watch videos on YouTube, to listen to recordings of great musicians, and more. There are also different audio and video programs that allow you to record and edit clips of your playing.

Garageband and iMovie are good starter programs for Mac, and similar programs exist for Windows.

Computers are probably the most famous piece of technology, and there’s a lot of stuff we can do with them.

There are many online music courses that you can take from the comfort of your own home. You can even take private music lessons online.

We can also buy sheet music and other accessories online.

Phone

Cell phones allow us to use social media on the go. You can also download apps like YouTube and Spotify. Phones make for great, cheap, tuners and metronomes.

You can also uses the Facebook and Instagram apps to connect with others on the go.

Cell phone cameras also allow us to record videos and audio clips without the need for a fancy or expensive camera.

Phones are a great way to keep up with the online music community and listen to recordings whenever and wherever you are.

Why is Technology Important?

Technology is a huge part of our daily lives. We use it first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

Why shouldn’t we extend that part of our lives to music?

Just because I play classical music, that doesn’t mean that I have to stick to the technology they had back in that period.

So…

How do you use technology as a musician? Let me know in the comments!

Shopping on Amazon for Flutists

Amazon has become a haven for online shopping. You can purchase anything on there, from a new computer to a pair of socks. That also means that you can purchase music related items from Amazon.

Since you can find just about anything on Amazon, you have to be smart about what you do buy. There are some scams on there as well as some subpar products. In this post, we are going to talk about how to avoid those scams and stick to the good stuff.

Hannah B Flute | Shopping on Amazon for Flutists

I have personally used Amazon to purchase a lot of music stuff, everything from sheet music to instruments themselves. So I have quite a bit of experience when it comes to using Amazon to further my music goals.

So here’s how to use Amazon for flutists.

DISCLAIMER: This post includes affiliate links. To read my full disclosure policy, click here.

Fulfillment by Amazon.

The first thing you need to know about is Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). This program lets individual sellers buy products that Amazon then sells for them.

That means these products qualify for free two day shipping (with Prime), and Amazon handles all questions and complaints for these orders, too. You don’t have to deal with a shady seller who wants to con you out of your money.

When you go to a listing, you can see the different options for pricing.

For example: New (1) for $25.99.

Then you can see the different prices you can pay for the item you want. To tell if something is sold by an independent seller but managed and shipped by Amazon, look for the Fulfillment By Amazon sign.

Hannah B Flute | Fulfillment By Amazon

Another benefit of the FBA program is that you get to work with Amazon’s customer service team if there are any issues. A lot of companies lack in the area of customer service, so returns and exchanges can be a hassle. But Amazon has great customer service, and you get all the benefits of it.

Verify Any Instrument Purchases.

The only reputable flute brand that allows Amazon to sell their flutes that I know of is Pearl Flutes. Pearl has Amazon listed as an authorized dealer on the Pearl website.

That is not the case with other brands. Some, such as Gemeinhardt, specify that Amazon is NOT an authorized dealer. Others, such as Yamaha and Jupiter do not specify either way.

Before you purchase an instrument that is hundreds if not thousands of dollars, verify that it is a legit sale. Amazon is a good company, but they are not authorized to sell certain flute brands. If you find a listing for Gemeinhardt, that listing will not be up to the quality standards set by the flute company.

If you want to purchase a flute online but Amazon is not an authorized dealer, try and stick to other websites. Flute World and Flute Center of New York (FCNY) sell almost any brand of flute, completely online.

You can buy these other flutes from Amazon, but be aware that the purchase may not go as smoothly as it would with another website that is an authorized dealer of your chosen flute.

Get Sheet Music, Fast.

If you don’t have a huge music store close by, you will probably have to go to the internet to get the music you need. You can get some stuff from local music stores, but online give you more options.

Amazon has a ton of sheet music for flute, both for the Kindle and shipped to you. You can order with Prime and get sheet music in two days. It’s pretty amazing. Other online music stores usually have longer shipping times. If you’re in a pinch, Amazon is a good resource.

Now, you won’t find as much or as many editions as you would on a site like Flute World, but Amazon does have the basics. I have had to order from other websites when looking for a specific edition, but I tend to go with Amazon when I can.

You can’t really beat free shipping.

Save Those Gift Cards.

Everyone uses Amazon. And everyone gives Amazon gift cards. It’s a great go to gift. If you are looking at purchasing something more expensive on Amazon (like a verified flute), save those gift cards.

Over a few years, I managed to save a little over $200 in Amazon and Visa gift cards, which knocked down the price of my Pearl piccolo quite considerably.

I had wanted to use those gift cards earlier, but I am so glad I saved them for the special occasion. Having those gift cards took away some of the “heat” from splurging on a new instrument for myself.

Whether you want to save for a new instrument or for a nicer music stand, gift cards are an easy way to set aside money and not be tempted to spend them elsewhere.

So…

Have you made a musical purchase from Amazon before? What was your experience? Leave your thoughts in a comment below!

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Posting Rough Cut Recordings

Hello friends! It is officially December! As you may have noticed by now, I am not participating in Blogmas this year. I am just too busy with my full time job and making music my little side hustle. I couldn’t think of enough topics to cover it. But today, I did want to talk about something I have been doing: rough cut recordings!

Killer Harmony | Posting Rough Cut Recordings

Back in October, I started posting videos on YouTube! I am not much of a video person, so I decided to start my channel by posting rough cuts of me playing different pieces of the flute repertoire.

Today, I want to talk about why I am doing rough cuts at this point, and how I think they can help you all as well as myself.

No Editing Required

Rough cuts are easy, because I can film myself playing a work or excerpt and then post it. I don’t need to spend a ton of time editing the footage to make it perfect. The video can go up as soon as I am done filming it.

As a busy musician with a full time day job, being able to film and immediately upload the video is awesome. I don’t have all that much time to dedicate to editing videos much less filming them in the first place.

Filming and uploading a rough cut is a lot easier and less time consuming than if I were to edit. I can share more content with you guys more quickly.

Teaching Tool

Rough cut videos are a great tool to use for every musician. They are great for my own use, because I can learn from my mistakes. They are great for viewers, because you can see that I am not perfect. Rough cuts go behind the scenes to reveal the “secrets” of pro and semi-pro musicians.

I can learn from myself, but my real goal is for you all to learn from my rough cuts. These videos show my mistakes, and if you make those mistakes, you can then understand mistakes aren’t bad.

If you make my same mistakes, you can then learn from them, knowing that you are not the problem. Some pieces are not written to be easy.

Vulnerability

A lot of musicians have to use social media and the internet to build their careers these days. That means that skilled musicians could come off as perfect. If a musician knows how to edit their photos or videos to appear as this perfect person, they aren’t relatable.

Posting unedited footage leaves the musician vulnerable. They show the world what musicians a generation ago showed their audition committees. The openness of rough cut videos shows a side to me (or any musician) that the internet would otherwise allow to stay hidden.

I love showing off a vulnerable part of me, because it proves that I am human. I make mistakes. Being a perfect musician is not a fact of life for many of us. That’s okay.

So…

I hope you enjoyed this shorter post. I think it’s important to share the unedited version of myself once in awhile. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out my latest video. I want to start posting weekly on there and to continue to show off what a real musician looks and sounds like.

How to Buy Instruments Online

With websites like Amazon and eBay, it is easier than ever to buy instruments online. You can find so many amazing deals, and you can have your new instrument in a matter of days.

Gone are the days of having to trek to a music festival or visit an instrument vendor or store. You can order yourself a new instrument from your own bed. How nice is that?

Killer Harmony | Buying Instruments Online | Grey background with maroon text (Buying instruments online) and teal text (for musicians)

It’s nice…if you’re smart about it. There are some good deals out there, but there are also some not so good deals. So, I am going to give you my tips for buying instruments online. While in person is best, sometimes you have no other choice.

1. Stick with reputable brands.

There are dozens of brands of instruments on sites like Amazon, but a lot of them are of bad quality. They are cheaply made instruments, which is why those instruments are usually really cheap.

If you are searching for a flute or piccolo, stick to brands like Yamaha, Pearl, or Jupiter, among others. These instruments will cost more than the  “Sky” or “Band Director Approved” instruments.

Going with a reputable brand means you will get a better quality instrument. It will last longer, and the cost will be worth it over time. Please do not buy those $100 instruments; they are not worth your time or money.

2. Read the reviews.

Read the reviews of the instrument before you purchase. If you can, contact someone you know who has played the brand and model you are considering. Or ask a private teacher for recommendations.

In many cases, the reviews can tell you a lot about the instrument. If you cannot test the instrument out before buying, you want to make sure you are getting a good value.

If you are on Amazon, you can even check out the Q&A section to see if there are any questions with helpful answers. Reviews may seem silly, and of course you should ignore the more biased ones. Some reviews can be really helpful, though.

3. Look at specialty websites.

There are so many online music stores, both general and instrument specific. Even if you plan to buy from Amazon, check with these other sites to see if the instrument you want is available.

For flutists, websites like FluteWorld and the Flute Center of New York have a ton of good brands in stock. I ended up purchasing a piccolo from Amazon, but I had seen it on flute specific websites. I also had a recommendation from a flute teacher.

These specialty sites will probably have a higher shipping fee, but a lot of them do have trial periods. If you decide you don’t like what you ordered, you can send it back. That is a great perk when you are unsure of what you want.

4. Check the shipping terms. And track your package.

What I mean by this is that you should be aware of how your instrument will be shipped. I personally would go for the fastest shipping you can. Yes, it adds to the cost. But the last thing you want is to have your instrument sitting in a warehouse without temperature controls.

You should also do your best to be home the day your instrument arrives. That might contradict my last piece of advice, but it’s almost more important. So priority goes to being home on delivery day. If you are out running errands or working all day, you won’t be able to get your instrument inside and away from crooks.

Not only do you want to get your instrument out of the elements quickly, but you don’t want to have a package sitting on your doorstep that will attract thieves.

5. Know the return policy.

This goes for anything you buy online. If you buy from somewhere that does not have a trial period, you still should know whether you can return the instrument if you are unhappy.

How long do you have to make a return? Do you have to pay for shipping? How do you ship it back? While you will hopefully find something you love, you still want to be aware of the terms in case you don’t end up liking the instrument or in case something is wrong with it.

6. Buy in person when you can.

I wrote this post for the people who can’t buy an instrument in person. If you have the option to buy an instrument that you want in person, do that.

You’ll save on shipping, and you can test the instrument out before you even purchase it.

For when you can’t buy an instrument in person, I hope these tips help for buying an instrument online. Definitely read up on everything you can regarding the instrument you want to purchase and educate yourself and the shipping and return policies.

7. Enjoy your new instrument!

Buying a new instrument is exciting! So be sure to enjoy your new purchase. While some purchase methods are easier or harder, no matter how you buy, have fun.

So…

Have you bought an instrument online before? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe for more exclusive tips and musings sent straight to your inbox!

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