The iReal b Music App

October 16th, 2012 by

Looking for one more reason why you and your music studio “need” an iPad.  Or perhaps, I’m just providing one more reason to justify the two I own–had

to get the iPad 3 since my first generation does not have a camera.

Whatever the reason, you may want to check out iReal B and add it to your growing music app collection for your studio. Of course, the app works with smart phones and other tablets but I prefer using this one with my iPad.

The app is basically a template for lead sheets and provides a style accompaniment to go along with it. For $7.99 you get a book and a band, all in one.

With this app you can:

1) Collect chord charts for all your favorite songs and access them from anywhere. You can find 1000s of charts and download them for free from online forums.

2) Play along with a realistic sounding band to help steady that forever-wandering beat.

3) Choose from more than 30 different accompaniment styles that use a variety of instruments (purchase may be necessary).

4) Edit any chart or create charts from scratch. The app will generate an accompaniment– with a style of your choice–for your own, unique chord chart.

5) Learn how to finger guitar chords or voice piano chords with the helpful in-app purchase options: “Guitar Chords “and”Piano Chords.”

6) Use it with a projector and speakers in the music classroom.

7) Create playlists of exercises to send to your students for home practice.

8) Select a group of measures with ease and “loop” them for practicing and mastering tricky spots.  Recently two new features have been added for loop practice: automatic tempo increase and automatic transposition at each repeat.

9) Email lead sheets that open immediately into iReal b. A great feature when reconciling lessons or sending emails to students with your MusicTeachersHelper.com account.

If you are wondering how iReal b could benefit you and your students, here’s some answers by teacher, author and jazz artist, Bradley Sowash who has used the app for quite some time.

Q:  How do you use the  iReal b app with your students?

 A: I use the app to create rhythm section backing tracks for my students’ current scale/chord drill of the week.  I also strongly urge them to practice their pop/jazz repertory with it (there are hundreds of free pre-made tracks on the users forum).

Q: What are the benefits?

A: It is so much more fun (and addictive) to practice to a drum machine or rhythm section than to a metronome.  I can tell immediately when a student has actually practiced with iReal b because their beat is steady, the groove is deeper and their confidence shows.

Q: Do you have students purchase the app too?

A: Yes. There are also in-app purchases of additional style packs for the same price but they aren’t necessary for student work.  Not all of my students use it but I wish they would. It is so easy to email any lead sheet to the student.

Q: Anything else you wish to add?

A: This app serves the same function as Band in a Box which I’ve used for years.  With BIAB, I sent home MIDI files so they could practice with their computer and I still use BIAB for students who are not app-capable.  However, I prefer that they use iReal b 

because the tempo and groove are adjustable on their end.  This app is cheaper and does not include some of the features of Band in a Box but students don’t need all the extra functionality of BIAB anyway.

So, I’m sold, here’s a brief video of me (Leila) using the app WITH the additional Piano Chord option. Personally, I appreciate this option as it shows suggestions for voicing–always helpful for those just beginning how to progress between chords.

TEACHING TIP: When working with a student who needed more time to study keyboard voicing of quick chord changes within a measure, we simply took a screen shot of the piano keyboard and lead sheet. After finding the pic in the Photos file, the chords were reviewed and mastered at leisure with no pressure of time.

FYI: I’ve categorized this app under Power Tools on my iPad along with other favorites such as Anytune which I’ve blogged about before. If you need help finding a “perfect” music app for you or your students, check out this Music App Directory which divides apps into categories for convenient reference. If you’re interested in how to organize your apps on your iDevice, click here.

iReal b transforms your smart phone or tablet into a book AND a band. Only a few of the many options are highlighted here. How do you use iReal b?

Posted in Composing & Arranging, Music & Technology, Music Theory, Practicing, Product Reviews, Teaching Tips

About the Author

Leila Viss
Hi, I'm Leila Viss and enjoy teaching piano to around 45 students ranging in age from 6 to 89. I am drawn to discovering innovative teaching methods and successful practice strategies to encourage the average player stick to the bench for life. Customizing lessons for each student is a priority and therefore I provide "blended" instruction of Classical, Jazz and Pop. The ever-changing tools of tec... [Read more]

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