When You Should Use Technology in Music

As I wrote elsewhere today, the purpose of technology is to make life better, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Certainly there has been, and continues to be enormous opportunity to use technology to make our musical lives better, both in our enjoyment of listening to music (think iPod), and perhaps more importantly, in making and performing it.

How True.  Courtesy methebee.com

Technology is best used in music to:

  • generate and facilitate the creation of sound – for example, synthesizers, digital audio workstations, guitar pedals, sound processors
  • improve skills – iPhone apps for metronomes, music term dictionaries, tuners, etc
  • eliminate distraction and tension during performance – personal mixers, in-ear monitors, iPad apps to manage music, to name a few.

I recently saw a bumper sticker that said “Drum machines have no soul”, and that raises a very important distinction: technology is not the answer to everything in music. Nothing replaces the passion, intensity, and range of emotion that a human soul brings to music. Technology cannot bring the expression that makes music come alive in a way that touches, moves, and enriches its hearers. Why?  Because all the important qualities that make music inspiring and enthralling pour out of the life experiences of those performing it.  A beloved teacher of mine one said “if music is your life, then get a life”.  How true.  Technology can’t replace your life experiences, and your music can have no meaningful life if yours is empty.

So use technology in your music to help you perform better because that’s the ultimate goal: sharing your musical gifts with others to make their lives better by lifting their spirits and brighting their lives.  This means:

  • If you have difficulty tuning your instrument, get an electronic tuner app.
  • If you can’t remember tempos on performance day, or have trouble with difficult rhythms, get a metronome app (we’re working on one).
  • If turning pages is killing you at the keyboard, get an iPad app and a wireless foot pedal to make the hassles and tensions of paper music go away (here’s one).
  • If your conductor is constantly glaring at you because you can’t remember what terms like Adagissimo mean, by all means get yourself a musical dictionary app.
  • If you can’t remember how to finger low E flat on your bassoon, get an app with fingering charts (we’re working on that too).

Helping musicians perform better is why OnStage Technologies exists. Tell us what you need, and we’ll bend the technology into the right shape for you.

How do you use technology in your musical performance?


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