iRealpro – a band in an app!

iRealPro App
Technimo LLC
US$7.99

This issue’s  review is  for an  app I  have been  meaning to  try out for ages, iRealPro! I am having such a blast exploring all the new ways we singers can  go about learning with technology, and this app definitely has me in a tizz!

iRealPro is $7.99 on the iTunes  store (also available for Android), which,  for me, is  kind of  expensive. But,  I think  the more  I learn about the wonderful world of apps, the more  I realize that you really  get what you pay for.  In my experience, the features of paid apps far outweigh the free ones. Perhaps all of you out there already know this! If not, and you are like me and somewhat apprehensive  about having  $7.99 zapped  from your  account, don’t be.
This app is awesome!

The iRealPro website states the following:

iReal Pro  offers an  easy-to-use tool  to help  musicians of  all levels master their art. Our app simulates a real-sounding band that can accompany you as   you practice, and also lets  you collect chord charts  from your favorite songs  for reference.

Every time  I’ve sat  down with  iRealPro to  work on  my review,  I’ve ended up practicing. And  I mean,  practicing in  a way  I haven’t  done in  a long time! Essentially, iRealPro is an app of backing tracks, enabling you to change  keys, tempos and  styles of  a really  large catalog  of songs,  and practice along. I can’t imagine what it would be like if I was just starting out with this app  as my  guide: it  makes practice  really fun,  and really  easy. Its  functionality enables users to print charts, share backing tracks, write songs, and even flash you guitar or piano chord fingerings (additional purchase necessary for this) as the song progresses. I cannot wait to share it with my students!

In addition to its amazing functionality,  iRealPro is really easy to use.  Upon downloading,  you  get  an app  that  is  fairly “bare  bones”  but  is full  of ‘exercise’ backing tracks.  These are mainly  jazz styles that  you can practice along to on any instrument. Of course, as a singer, I wanted to find some  full- blown songs right away, which aren’t pre-loaded into the app, but are very  easy to find in the ‘forums’ tab. I quickly downloaded 1,300 jazz songs, and 400  pop songs to my  playlist. Yes, enough  to keep me  going for a  while! If you think 1,700 songs are too many to have to sort through at once (overwhelmed  anyone?), you can make separate  playlists at any time  to break it up.  Super easy. Super user-friendly.

Songs
Once you have opened up a song, you come to a screen that’s full  of chord  changes. This  in itself  is great!  If you’ve ever found yourself scouring for chords to a particular song, you will understand why  this is great. Having  access to the  chords to a  song is such  a good resource  for singers, if  only to  be able  to share  them with  the rest  of your band. With iRealPro you can either send chord  charts directly to your band, or  print them out for your next rehearsal or gig.

 

 

 

 

Embraceable

 

As a playback tool, iRealPro really shines. Simply press the play button and you are away. Is the song  too fast? You can easily  change the tempo. In the  wrong key? You can easily change that, too. What about if you want to try a song in  a different style? Yep, can do! There is  even a practice tool that allows you  to continuously play a song and have it go  up a half step every time you get  back to the beginning, while also changing  tempo if you want. While perhaps  that is something that is more  helpful to an instrumentalist  who is learning to  ‘play through the changes’, it  is also a  helpful tool for  singers to work  on ear training, understand their voice, find a comfortable  key, work on phrasing or –  like our instrumental  friends –  work through  guide tones,  scales, and  chord changes whilst learning  to scat.  If you  are a  songwriter, you  can even make backing tracks of your own songs.

 

Practice

The styles that come with iRealPro  are fairly basic. You can choose  from Jazz, Bossa  Nova or  Rock. Not  many, but  within these  styles you  can change  the instrumentation and tempo, so there end up  being quite a lot of sounds to  play with. You can also purchase additional style packs separately,  if you need more. The playback tracks  on iRealPro are  pretty good. For  me, the drum  sounds are always too loud,  but that is  no problem because  I can turn  them down or  off completely using the mixer tool.

Sometimes I like just practicing with bass so I can really tap into the root movement  of a song,  so I love  that this is  possible with the  mixer tool,  too.  The  instruments   available  for  playback  are   piano  (Rhodes), vibraphone,  piano  &  strings,  electric  guitar,  acoustic  guitar   (although sometimes not all of these are available for a particular song, depending on the style), acoustic and electric  bass, drums, a 2+4-click  and a 4-click. On  each song you  can adjust  each instrument’s  volume and  sound, and  there is also a reverb mixer, so you can really personalize the way you hear a song                                                                  played back.
MixerThe other thing that  is great about the  iRealPro is the ability  to share your songs. You  can download,  or send  directly, your  song’s chord  chart or audio (WAV, AAC or  MIDI) – making  it super easy  to share a  song with your musician friends, your students,  your non-musician friends,  whomever. Easy. No  fuss. I liked the MIDI export function, as once a song is in an editing program, you can also change the arrangement if you  want to, altering instruments, adding  sounds and making the backing track a little more to your own taste. It enables my students to change the key of a track I have sent them at their own discretion.

The forums tab  is great for  searching for any  song that you  might be looking for: I simply typed a song into the  search bar, and up it came! I imagine  that not every song  on the planet  will be available,  so you may  have to get  your transcribing skills into action at some point, and if you do that, you can  then share  the  song  with  the  iReal- Pro  community,  which  seems  to  be really enthusiastic and eager to  add new charts                                                          and  chords, and answer any  questions you may have while  using the app. It  definitely                                                      doesn’t feel like  you are all alone out there with iRealPro, which is nice.

 

Forums

I bet there is a lot more you can do with iRealPro that  I haven’t explored yet,  but just scratching the  surface has been so much fun  for me, and I really  recommend it to anyone who  wants to have  a  backing band  in  their pocket  (everyone,  right?)! It  is  an amazing practice tool, especially for singers; being  able to find the key that  is just right for backing tracks is challenging if you don’t play an instrument, or have an accompanist  for a  best friend.  What’s more,  working on  different tempos, styles and keys is something that, as both a teacher and eternal student, is always important. Oh, and being able to bring up a chord chart when you  want to jam with your friends? Priceless! iReal- Pro really delivers.

Wishing you lots of fun in your practice and singing!

 

 

iREALPRO DEMO FOR iPAD AND iPHONE


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http://www.nerissacampbell.com

Nerisssa is a vocalist, songwriter and music teacher based in Brooklyn, NY Her background is in jazz and improvisation, but she loves exploring and learning about many aspects and genres of music, as well as inspiring others to express themselves through singing & songwriting.