As we all know, becoming the best singer you can be takes years of study and dedication. While nothing can take the place of voice lessons and good, old-fashioned practice, there are a lot of apps and websites that can assist singers with many facets of this demanding and rewarding art form. I wish these tools had been around when I was a student!
The pricing listed below comes from the Apple Store at the time of publication. Many of these apps are also available on Android, or there are similar apps available on that platform.
The Basics: Apps Every Singer Need
- A piano app, for when you need the keyboard on the go: There are many times when you are nowhere near a piano, but it would be useful to have one at your fingertips. It can also function as a pitch pipe if you need to sing a cappella for any reason. There are many versions of just such an app, so I would recommend freeware like The Piano Free.
- A metronome: It is very useful to be able to set and check your tempo when practicing, marking sheet music for an audition, etc. For a full selection of time signatures, most of these apps cost a few dollars. I recommend Pro Metronome ($3.99).
- Voice Memos: If you have an Apple device, you already have this app installed. It is great for recording voice lessons, accompaniments, rehearsals, coaching sessions, etc.
- Garage Band: This app is also available on most Mac devices. This app gives you much more sophisticated recording options such as multi-track recording, live loops, drum machines, and a wide variety of instrumental sounds. This is a great app for songwriters!
Music Theory & Musicianship
- Tenuto ($3.99): This app provides customizable testing tools for a wide variety of written and aural music theory skills, such as: note identification, key signatures, chord construction, keyboard skills, fretboard skills, and interval training. Quiz yourself and improve your ear training skills on the go!
- Theory Helper ($2.99): This app provides 39 music theory lessons from the basics of reading the staff, rhythmic values, meter, scales, key signatures, writing intervals, chord construction, and the basics of form and analysis. This is also a great tool for students who want to do self-study in music theory.
- www.musictheory.net: This website developed both of the apps listed above, and you can use this very comprehensive website for free!
- Sight Reading Factory (subscription): This app provides interactive sight reading exercises for a wide variety of instruments, and you can customize level and difficulty. This app does require a subscription, but once you have subscribed, you can generate an unlimited number of new sight-reading exercises. A one-year subscription costs $34.99, but there are different pricing structures available for teachers and their students.
- Rhythmic Dictation Trainer ($2.99): This app provides customizable rhythmic dictation exercises. You can choose time signature, specific rhythmic figures, and tempo. So helpful for music theory class!
- Harmony Helper (subscription): This is a great part-singing tool for choral music or musical theatre ensemble numbers. You can upload your sheet music, customize your vocal part, isolate your part, adjust the volume of the other parts, and get real-time feedback on pitch accuracy. There are various subscription packages available.
- www.singersavvyapp.com (free): This is a really unique, voice-friendly, free app for singers! It allows you to check and log various aspects of your vocal usage and health throughout the day. You can assess your daily vocal function, how your voice is feeling, water intake, vocal naps, and set a vocal activity budget. While this app is not available in the App Store, once you set up a free account, you can follow the directions on the website to install an icon on your phone. There is also a lot of excellent vocal health advice on this app!
- Vocal Folds ID ($2.99): Full color image and animation show the vocal folds, vocal fold muscles, flex and rigid scope views. This is a great way to see the vocal folds in action!
Sheet Music Reader
- Playscore 2 (subscription): This app has been a game changer in my voice studio. First, you download sheet music PDFs or take pictures of your sheet music. Then the app “reads” the score and plays it for you! You can adjust the tempo, and you can also isolate the melody or the piano lines, so you can use it to learn your melody or to hear just the accompaniment. You can also “mask” certain bars and have the app play a cut for you. In addition, you can even transpose the audio! For full functionality, you need to buy the yearly subscription at $22.99, but I think that it is well worth the price, and many of my students have found it to be invaluable. The quality of the PDF scan is definitely a factor in how well the app reads the music, so try to avoid blurry copies.
- For Score ($14.99): This app allows you to download PDFs of sheet music and then create your own markings, setlists, etc.—perfect for pianists! For Score will allow you to mark repeats, dal segno, da capo, etc., and it will turn forward and backward in the score as needed. This is also a great organizational tool, as you can categorize and customize your scores.
- Accuradio (free): Accuradio is a free streaming radio app with 58 musical genres; each genre then has multiple subchannels. I can think of no better way to learn new repertoire! I teach musical theatre students, so I always tell them about the Broadway Channel, which has 40 subchannels! There are subchannels based on decade, composer, musical style, Tony Award winners, and many more categories. There are also channels dedicated to specific decades, like Decade: 60s, which features 1960s Country, Jazz, Comedy, Broadway, Rock, Soul, etc. This is also a great way to acquaint yourself with various pop/rock styles like Country, Hip-Hop, Motown, etcYou can also check out the website at: www.accuradio.com.
- Appcompanist (subscription): This app provides access to a wide variety of piano accompaniments for Musical Theatre and Classical repertoire. You can adjust tempo, transpose, add fermatas, and create cuts. Endlessly useful in the voice studio and in the practice room! There are a wide variety of monthly and annual subscription packages available, and the quality of the piano accompaniment recordings is excellent. www.appcompanist.com
- Slatable (free/$14.99 pro): This app helps you to streamline the self-tape video audition process by providing easy title cards, editing tools, headshot uploads, even reader recordings for scenes. Video auditions are more and more common, and pre-screens are becoming the norm for college auditions, so it is nice to be able to create very professional-looking videos more easily.
- LineLearner (free/$3.99 pro): This app allows you to record scenes from plays, leave gaps for your lines, provide prompts, and even share your scenes with castmates so they can record their parts. Great when you can’t rehearse in person.
- Notion ($14.99): This music notation app works best on an iPad; it allows you to create scores, transpose, hear playback, use multiple instrumental sounds, and interface with a wide variety of apps. Compared to the much more expensive music notation software out there, like Finale and Sibelius, this is an economical way to try your hand at music notation. It is very easy to learn, and many of my students use it.
While there is no app substitute for the beauty of the human voice (whew!), technology is helping singers to become better musicians, more efficient in the practice room, more aware of their vocal health, and better prepared for performances. Start downloading, my friends, and happy singing!