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How to Use the iPad Like a Pro Guitarist

How to Use the iPad Like a Pro Guitarist

Steve Ferlazzo's system that uses the iPad to control keyboard programs

Another reality of touring today is the importance of staying up-to-date with social media—it’s crucial for musicians because you need to get people to the shows. Guitarists and bands can use Twitter, Facebook, and Ustream on the iPad to promote upcoming events on the road, without needing to stop by a coffee shop or hotel to jump onto WiFi. When you get into a heated debate with bandmates in the back of the bus or van about who played the solo on Steely Dan’s “My Old School,” the iPad has the answer in seconds. It’s the little things that count on the road.

The iPad helps touring musicians in other ways too. FlightTrack Pro is perfect for managing flights for gigs with to-the-minute information on delays, gates, and flight duration. And the SeatGuru app provides valuable info for securing the primo seats on any type of aircraft.

The Producer or Studio Musician
The iPad also creates an innovative way to collaborate with other musicians who may not be living near you, and to make life in the studio easier.

As a producer, I have used Facetime for writing and pre-production sessions with clients remotely. I am based in LA, and have worked with people virtually through Facetime in Connecticut, New Jersey, Florida, and even Canada. When I am on the road, I can communicate with my engineer back at my LA studio by sending mixes, files, and notes through Dropbox or emails. Producer Matt Chirichillo says, “To me, the iPad is a form of inspiration on the go. I use it to construct loops and put grooves together. It’s like having a travel size sequencer at your fingertips.”

DJ and producer Tom Colontonio uses the iPad to “scratch pad ideas.” Colontonio uses Studio Pro for full WAV file editing, and he stresses the fact that “The iPad rules,” for DJs in the digital realm.

In addition, musicians are using the iPad to replace sheet music. The BT-105 Bluetooth wireless page turner from AirTurn allows you to control the turning of pages wirelessly from a foot switch. It’s especially useful for guitarists who need to keep both hands on their instrument while using apps for reading sheet music and guitar tabs. Classical musicians who use sheet music live can use the iPad to play entire symphonies and operas without ever having to turn a page. Instead of breaking rhythm, they can fluidly play through a piece of music simply by tapping the switch with their foot.

Live Onstage
Finally, in addition to use during preparation for shows, many musicians are using the iPad while playing live. Steve Ferlazzo, the keyboardist and programmer for Avril Lavigne, uses the iPad as a VNC controller/front-end for the computers. It eliminates the need for a separate screen, keyboard, and mouse for him. Ferlazzo uses a custom app called GriidRed by Liine, which enables the iPad to control and manipulate clips and data in Ableton Live. The units are synched via WiFi on a private network. “The iPad allows me to focus more on performance, as opposed to computer-related tasks. It's a seamless process,” says Ferlazzo. “It's all right in front of me at my fingertips. After using the iPad in a live setting where computers are a requirement, it's hard to imagine it not being a permanent piece in my workflow.”

The iPad was released in 2009 to massive success. Though it seemed to have amazing possibilities for music, no one really knew how the iPad would be used in every day musical applications. In 2011, the iPad has not only become a mainstay in studios and on stages all over the world, it is an indispensable tool that musicians can’t live without.
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