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Riley Music Academy Music Cast: 10 Essential Apps for working musicians

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10 Essential Apps for Working Musicians

Today I’m taking my kids to Brick (well…I’m going and I’m taking the kids too)! I’m hugely excited about playing LEGO all day and as I’m taking a day off I’ve decided to hand this weeks #RMAmusiccast over to some of my muso friends

Musicians have always used the latest technology to advance their art so here is a list of the best 10 music apps used by the pros.*

*There are no affiliate links here – it’s a completely independent report.

#1 - Scribd recommended by Jason Page, Guitar – Freelance Musician


This useful app, although intended for ebooks, allows you to access 1000′s of scores and you can easily read them from a tablet in rehearsals and lessons.  Its useful if you want a particular part to a song and haven’t got time to transcribe it.

#2 - Forscore recommended by Bryan Corbett, Trumpet – Jazz Artist and Producer


A place to store all your PDF scores.  Really useful if reading from an iPad during a gig.  All those times when I forgot my music, the wind would blow it off the stand or I didn’t have a stand light.  Man, Im so glad times have changed!  It does require some setup but once you have all your music in one place its so easy to read from at a gig.

#3 - Guitar Pro 6 recommended by James Barratt, Guitar – Freelance Musician and Rock School Examiner


A serious bit of software for any guitarist, allowing you to score out charts, print tab, listen back, transcribe your favourite solos and more.

#4 – Invoice 2 Go recommended by Andy Derrick, Trombone – Freelance Musician and Teacher of Brass at Warwick School


A hugely useful app for any freelance professional.  This allows you to send an invoice instantly at the end of a gig and will even remind you when the client hasn’t paid.  It saves all your invoices so you don’t have to keep writing new ones.  A great app!

#5 – Back trax recommended by Nathan Anderson-Barr, Drums – Freelance Musician


Working to backing tracks can be beneficial when working out the groove or demonstrating a certain technique in a lesson.  A great addition to the drummers app collection.

#6 – iReal Pro recommended by Dave Sanders, Saxophone – House Music Club Saxophonist


A monster app which has grown to be one of the best selling apps for working musicians.  Starting out as a jazzers lifeline for chord changes, it’s now grown (with help from the massive online community) into an app for all musicians.  Not just standards anymore; you can find 1000′s of chord charts at the click of a few buttons (or should I say press of a finger against glass) and even play them back whilst changing the key, tempo and editing the form.  Amazing!

#7 – MusicNotes recommended by David Baron Stevens, Saxophone – Cruiseship musician and Unison Saxophone Artist


Similar to ForScore but works well on a 1st generation iPad.  Sometimes that’s all you need when some drunken punter is only going to knock it off your stand anyway!

#8 – Spotify recommended by Terry Lewis, Guitar – Mama’s Gun and session musician for Lisa Stansfield


It doesn’t offer a great deal for artists but sometimes you just need to stream music quickly and easily.  Spotify’s interface is one of the best and setting up a playlist for an impromptu DJ set in-between performances is quick and straightforward.

#9 – MetroTimer recommended by Pete Hurst, Strings – Freelance musician and educator


One of many great metronome apps out there for no cost.  Essential for working out the BPM of tunes and to practice with solid time.  Get it on your smartphone; then there are no excuses!

#10 – Symphony Pro recommended by Jay Riley, Musician, Educator & creator of Riley Music Academy


I couldn’t resist adding one of my own favourites.  This is a great app for iPad and allows you to write out and share scores quickly and easily.  Its not quite as quick as a pen and some manuscript paper but its far easier to read than my handwriting!

Did we get them all or can you suggest any others? – post below


6 Comments Add a Comment
  1. Penny
    October 29, 2015

    Looks useful. I already use iReal pro. I plug my tablet into my mother’s ghetto blaster so I have enough volume to hear the backing whilst playing my tenor or bari saxes.

  2. John
    October 29, 2015

    Great help thanks. Does this mean the end of my paper copies of standards!

    • Jay
      October 29, 2015

      I still use my real book on some gigs but s-z has fallen out!

  3. aron
    October 29, 2015

    unrealBook was right there with Forscore and still runs on the iPad 1. It was a lot of work on keep it running on the iPad 1 I tell you!

    • Jay
      November 5, 2015

      Thanks Aron.

      A couple of the musicians I asked did mention UnrealBook. I was pressed for time and space so had to exclude it but definitely worth a look folks! I can imagine its hard to keep apps usable and stable when Apple/Android moves the goal posts all the time.

  4. power washing MA
    July 10, 2016

    I’m still learning from you, but I’m improving myself.
    I certainly enjoy reading everything that is written on your website.Keep the stories coming.

    I liked it!

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