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Do you like rhythmically banging on things? Perhaps you’re into its more common name: playing drums?
For drummers, both beginner and experienced, an iOS device is truly the unsung hero behind the kit. Forget about needing more cowbell, what we actually need is more apps!
Today, we’re going to look at nine iPhone and iPad apps that all drummers need to have in their kit. Show up to your next practice, jam session, or gig with these apps, and you might just find that they’re as important as an extra pair of sticks and a drum key!
As a drummer, you main job isn’t to dazzle the crowd with flashy fills and stick tricks. Your job is to keep perfect time so the rest of your band can stay in sync. Whether playing in front of a crowd of 10,000 or sitting in your practice space, a metronome is the perfect tool for the job. And you don’t need a physical metronome anymore, because there’s an app for that!
1. Pro Metronome (Free With In-App Purchases)
Ask most drummers which app they use for keeping time, and they’ll point you to this one. It has a wide range of metronome sounds, the ability to work in many subdivisions and odd times, and a lot more. If you spend $2.99 for the Pro version, you’ll get a vibration mode that’ll help you feel the pulse in even the loudest places among other useful features.
2. Drum Beats+ ($4.99)
This app is more of a beat trainer than a metronome, but it’s a great way to practice keeping time. Basically, it features tons of grooves in many genres that play at any BPM you want. This way, you can jam along to these beats instead of a boring click track. Personally, I don’t think it’ll replace a metronome, but I did find it to be an invaluable practice tool that’s well worth the $5.
3. Pulse – Haptic Metronome (Free)
Strip away all the fancy features and extras and you have this app. What makes it stand out from the crowd is the Apple Watch version that’ll make feeling the pulse easier. You just need to set the BPM for the song you’re playing and keep track of the 1-2-3-4 through vibrations. And if you don’t have an Apple Watch, it’s still a solid metronome app on the iPhone or iPad.
Education and Training
While there’s no replacement for a proper instructor (YouTube videos can help quite a bit though), these apps offer some fantastic teaching tools that’ll help you improve as a drummer. Whether you want to get better at reading music, or you want to learn your favorite song more easily, we’ve got you covered.
4. Rhythm Sight Reading Trainer ($2.99)
I use this app literally every single day of the week, and I don’t think I’d be able to read music as well as I do without it. Basically, it sees you tapping along to beats that are shown on screen in traditional music notation. Everything from basic quarter notes to complicated mixes of sixteenth notes and triplets are in the app, so no matter where you are as a drummer, you’ll be able to use it to practice.
5. ProJammer (Free With In-App Purchases)
This is a simple app that features play-along tracks and notation for you to jam along with. The free version only comes with a few loops, but you can buy more with in-app purchases if you enjoy the structure and flow of the app.
6. Amazing Slow Downer ($14.99)
This one is a little on the expensive side, but it’s worth it for anyone who strives to be a cover drummer. It allows you to take music from your iPhone or Spotify and slow it down without altering pitch.
Want to learn a complicated fill from your favorite song by ear? Slowing it down will let you hear the subtle nuances that you’d miss at full speed. You’ll notice ghost notes, hi-hat splashes, and all the details that take a cover version from “decent” to “spot on.”
Drum Tabs and Sheet Music
You want to learn some new songs? Personally, I prefer reading sheet music, but it’s a lot easier to find tabs, especially on iPhone. In fact, you’ll find a couple of solid applications that feature thousands of songs. While they’re more focused on guitar, many popular songs have tabs for drums, too.
7. Songsterr (Free With In-App Purchases)
When it comes to music tabs, Songsterr is the first name most people look to. Instead of the text-based tabs you’ll find all around the internet, Songsterr actually gives it a more visual look that feels more like reading sheet music. Add in features like playing the song and hearing it through the app, and you have a must-use song learning tool.
8. Tabs & Chords ($2.99)
You’ll get a more traditional tab feel from this app, so if that’s how you prefer to read, this app is for you. It also comes with a massive selection of songs, but it’s definitely more focused on guitar. However, for $3, you’ll get more than enough choices, and as long as the stuff you want to learn isn’t too obscure, you’ll probably find a highly-rated tab in this app.
9. piaScore (Free With In-App Purchases)
If you’re already an active drummer and you need to keep track of lots of songs, this app will change your life! You can use your phone’s camera to scan in sheet music, which is a great way to organize your setlist. Whether you play original music or covers, this app is invaluable for keeping your music nearby at all times.
That being said, many of the best features are behind the pay wall, but if you’re a professional musician, $3.99 is a small investment for what it’s capable of.
Fill Your Phone With These Grooving Apps
When technology and drums come together, it’s truly a beautiful thing (electronic drums are a great example of this). These apps are packed with the features drummers need, and most of them are free or cheap. If you fill your phone with these apps, you’ll find that you have all the tools you need to improve your drumming, learn new songs, and most importantly, keep time for the rest of your band!
Do you have any other drum apps you’d like to recommend? We’d love to hear your thoughts!