Top 3 Apps for Learning a Musical Instrument on iOS

George Tinari

You can do just about anything on an iPhone or iPad these days, huh? Why stop at adding snaps to your Snapchat story or solving puzzles in Candy Crush? You can teach yourself pretty easily how to play various different musical instruments and even play some of them right from your phone. What a world we live in.

shutterstock-guitar-ipad
iPhones and iPads can be useful tools for improving your musicianship | Shutterstock

Believe it or not, all three of these apps can teach you how to play guitar or piano and all of them are free to download. Perhaps you’re interested in picking up a new hobby or want an easy way to help grow your child’s love of music. There’s no harm in starting off with an app.

1. GarageBand

You might recognize Apple’s $4.99 GarageBand as the go-to app for music creation and edits. Many people use it to mix and match beats, record songs and covers, and add various effects and sound enhancements.

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What you probably don’t know is that it actually includes a number of powerful education tools for learning how to play instruments. The power is in the Touch (software) instruments that come built in, so you don’t have to hook up a piano or guitar, though you can. You can learn the individual keys or strings right through your touchscreen.

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The easiest way to get started playing instruments is to use one of the “smart” selections upon starting up. Choose Smart Drums, Smart Strings, Smart Bass, Smart Keyboard or Smart Guitar. They aren’t the full instruments that you can toy with on your own, but they have easier ways to tap along and get a feel for the notes and one-tap chords, too. Chords are harmonies of three or more notes.

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When you’re done, you can graduate to the big-boy Touch instruments for Piano and Drums. While GarageBand for iOS doesn’t actually have an education program, the intuitive instruments and tools on hand for customizing them are easy enough to get anyone started.

2. SimplyPiano

SimplyPiano is an awesome app for learning to play piano on a real instrument. Using your iOS device’s microphone, the app will listen to you play and offer feedback as you go. You can specify where you are with experience and your goals, whether you want to learn how to play your favorite songs or improve upon your already solid skills.

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The app is like a combination of short video tutorials and interactivity as you play. It teaches you the basics of the piano if you’re brand new and over time you can complete lessons, take on challenges and learn along the way. It’s great for kids and adults alike, plus SimplyPiano is free.

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Note: The app does require that you have a real piano to play on. It doesn’t include software instruments.

3. Yousician Guitar

Yousician Guitar works very similarly to SimplyPiano except it’s aptly suited for guitars instead. It too requires that you own a guitar to use with the app. You’ll run through helpful video tutorials and then have to try some training sessions on your own. The app will listen and report back about proper notes, chords and timing.

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It’s organized into missions, songs and challenges. Missions lays out everything you need to succeed in learning guitar from mastering strings and frets all the way to acing your test on chord riffs. If you subscribe to Yousician Premium starting at $9.99 per month, you can unlock premium songs to play with the app in the Songs section. Lastly, you can participate in challenges to play songs and compare scores with friends and other guitarists around the world.

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The app is very well designed and you won’t be disappointed the nice balance Yousician strikes between fun and educational.

String Along

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George Tinari

Written By

George Tinari

George Tinari has written about technology for over seven years: guides, how-tos, news, reviews and more. He's usually sitting in front of his laptop, eating, listening to music or singing along loudly to said music. You can also follow him on Twitter @gtinari if you need more complaints and sarcasm in your timeline.