Tone Target 8/30/12

Using your built-in microphone this app tracks the pitch you play, or sing, to one of the 323 pieces of music. There are pre-loaded playlists such as: ear training, guitar packs, voice lessons, scales and songs. Tone Target does not make any sound. Tone Target simply displays what notes to play, or sing. The app offers a ‘Quick Play’ feature that randomly selects a piece from the library of music. When you choose a playlist, you have to start with the first song in the list. Luckily there is an Edit button in the top right corner so you can change the order of the play list, ultimately allowing you to play any song in the list first. Once you start a piece, you can pause it, skip it, return to the playlist or the main menu. If you choose anything other than ‘resume’ you will leave the piece and have to start it from the beginning. Your progress is not tracked or stored. You control the difficulty settings: easy, medium, hard, and you can sort the pieces so they are organized to your liking. Settings also let you set your transposition; if you are playing a transposition instrument. The app is originally designed for the smaller iPod screen, but displays nicely on the larger iPad screen.

One complaint is that the app doesn’t allow control over the screen rotation. It starts out in vertical display and turns to horizontal display when playing a piece, so you better be quick on the draw to rotate and get your instrument ready for the first note. My personal complaint is that you may be reading the pitch of a note but not the duration of the note. Every note is displayed as an orange oval. So throw away the idea that you will actually be reading music in the traditional sense. This app is only interested if you get the note right. Also, there are no rests or bars. If you’re familiar with a piece, like the Star Spangled Banner, then maybe you can overlook the inadequate notation. Oddly enough, sharps and flats are marked directly on the orange ovals like accidentals. I like this rather than looking in the key signature but that’s just me.

Fortunately it does not require wi-fi to operate and the price is only $.99. I rarely purchase an app yet I broke down and bought this app because of the great reviews and reasonable price. I found that my singing voice is way out of tune, and the harder I tried the louder I sang. Good thing I was home alone. After practicing the C Major Scale a number of times I started to control my volume and was eager to try again to improve my score. The hardest part is singing the note right when it passes the ‘checkpoint’. Sometimes I notice my voice didn’t register. It could have been because I didn’t break between notes or there wasn’t a great enough difference to register on the scale. There’s a gauge that moves up and down the scale so while waiting for a note to arrive at the ‘checkpoint’ you know whether you are sharp, flat, or completely off. When it’s a piece where there are quarter notes, you don’t have as much time so you may miss a few of those notes until you practice more.

Visit McNally Smith’s website for Tone Target to learn how to play, view the full list of levels & lessons (pieces) and how you can make your own music into a playlist with. I have not created a song from my device into a file, but know this, it does require additional software such as Finale to do so. They also offer additional levels & lessons in the ‘downloads’ section: Violin Pack, Debussy Pack and Cage Pack.

If you are looking for a vast library of practice pieces to warm up to or study reading music then get your instrument in tune and try Tone Target.


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