For no particular reason now that I think about it, I have always been rather averse to linking technology and the violin in any way. It may have been that I subconsciously absorbed the prejudice against computers evinced by my youthful idol, Jascha Heifetz, who believed they were one of the worst things on the planet. Who knows? Indeed, when I heard about orchestral players putting up iPads on their music stands, it did seem to me that the world was taking a horrible turn for the worse. Now we are even seeing them proudly displayed on music stands in masterclasses, too!
Thus, I am rather surprised to find that I am now enjoying using my iPad as a resource that has a wide range of benefits. There was no initial impetus other than sheer boredom that compelled me to download the Edition Henle app to see what it was about.
Having stuck that on the screen, I thought it might be nice to download a single movement of unaccompanied Bach, since it was dirt-cheap and I could perhaps review it in coffee breaks. To my surprise, I realized I had found something that would be of considerable value to me for the following reasons:
These days I teach online, using a combination of iPad and computer. This unfortunately compels me to work in our spare room, which is already packed from floor to ceiling with language teaching textbooks. As necessary etude books and other sheet music began making their way over from the music room proper, I was finding myself sinking deeper and deeper into a chaotic morass.
Part of the problem was that these days I do what is called "online standby teaching," so anyone can call me and get a lesson on anything with only five minutes notice. I simply don’t have time to shuffle through piles of music or go and fetch the work from elsewhere. With the iPad resources to hand, the problem has, for the most part, been solved. One touch of the screen and I have what I need (usually).
There is another tangible benefit: A slight but significant improvement in practice logistics. I can start warming up on one etude and then flick to a new one in a different etude book without having to put my violin down and carefully rearrange the books on my stand. Want to finish with some unaccompanied Bach? It’s just another touch away!
The app allows one to switch between editions of the same page so one can instantly compare fingerings and bowings of the urtext and versions by one or more editors (admittedly of variable quality). They don’t have my beloved Szeryng edition of Bach (why would they?) but one can write any and all fingerings and bowings in that you personally like using as many different colors as you want. It’s an iPad. Duh!
Finally, it comes with an unobtrusive metronome as well so you can speed up your tricky passages without having to fuss around elsewhere.
All in all, I would say this one particular bit of technology has a lot to offer in terms of making practice more efficient and more fun. It’s up to us to play better though. They haven’t solved that one yet…
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