Top 3 Music Apps Of 2015

As a working musician, I am quickly realizing how important it is to use technology to stay relevant. So many songwriters are using electronic samples and sounds that are vital to the song. For a drummer, this may mean using a sample pad to replicate different sounds. For a keyboardist, it may mean building synth patches or sampling various sounds. Or, it could be running a computer with Ableton or another Digital Audio Workstation(DAW). With the advancement of technology the ability to do so many things in the palm of your hand, and the start of a new year, I have comprised a list of my top 3 music apps of 2015.

tempo-frozen-ape-logo 1. Frozen Ape – Tempo $2.99

This is hands down the app I use most frequently. I use this almost every day for teaching and gigging. This metronome app has the ability to set tempos which are easily adjustable for teaching purposes. You can set multiple subdivisions (quarters, eighths, triplets, sixteenths, swung triplets, and swung sixteenths) to fit any need. However, my favorite feature on this app is the “gig” mode. On this setting you can save all of your song titles, tempos, and subdivisions then simply press the arrow key to move through your set list. You can have multiple set lists for those playing with multiple bands. To customize this app you can change the sound of the click with the 15 included samples, change the display, and change accent. This is the app I have all of my students download after their first lesson.

GarageBand-Icon2. Garage Band – $4.99

Are you a songwriter who wants to explore getting your songs recorded? This is the app for you. It is an easy to use music recording app. I’ve used this app from recording quick song ideas in the car all the way to recording live mixes from gigs. Guitarists can use this with a mini recording pod and track what they are playing. Vocalist’s can sing right into the mic on the phone. If you play piano, you can use the built in keyboard and play with your fingers or you can get an adapter and plug in an electric keyboard. This is also an extremely useful practice tool, as you can record a practice session and listen back to what your playing. The recording will point out your flaws and other areas of improvement. It’s like having your music teacher with you all the time! Plus it’s pretty cool that you can show your friends a song that you wrote and recorded.

ASD3. Amazing Slow Downer (ASD) – $14.99

I first found this amazing program on the computer and then discovered the app. One of the first things I tell my students is start something slow and work to speed it up. I have found this helps my students learn rhythms faster and helps them to play at any tempo. With this app, you are able to import a song, slow down the tempo and loop sections without losing audio quality. If you are working through a song that is too fast or struggling to hear a specific guitar line or drum fill, then you need this app. There are cheaper, even free, versions of this app, but I have found the price is worth it.

Why Is Music So Important?

Why Is Music So Important?

4646392_origI started thinking about how important music is to our children and society. As I read articles understanding the importance, I realize how music is worked into many of the school subjects that kids are learning in school today.


The science of music and sound is something that we take for granted every day. From the strumming of an acoustic guitar, or the pounding of drums, the sound waves travel to our ears in unique ways. Changes in frequencies or volume and how we hear the sound is all science. The size of a room, what the room is made of, or even what is in the room can all change the way we hear the music.


In music, everything is mathematical. Rhythms are based on subdivisions and fractions. Knowing how many beats are in each measure, you can then do the math to find out how many notes and what subdivisions you can place in that measure. I frequently have my drum and piano students counting out and writing specific rhythms in a measure, to make sure they fully understand why the notes fit.

World Language

Music is frequently referred to as the universal language. Most of the terminology used is in music is Italian, German or French. Many of the most beautiful operatic pieces are in foreign languages, forcing vocalists to read, speak, and understand what the composer was trying to express.

Physical Education

As a working musician, I experience this everyday. From the movement of our bodies, to coordination of the fingers on a guitar, all 4 limbs on a drum set, and the lips and facial muscles of a vocalist. All require muscle movement that make you burn calories. Studies have shown that there are as many calories burned by a symphony trumpet player in one performance, as there are by a quarterback in the NFL.


As someone learns music, they are reflecting on the time and place of the creator. Whether someone is playing a classical piece by Bach on the piano, or a pop tune on the radio today. All are showing what society was like, and the emotions of people during those times. As we learn the music, we can also begin to learn history behind why its sounds the way it does. In the 1930’s, Soviet composers were expected to write optimistic, patriotic music that communicated directly to the masses. Shostakovich wrote music during this time that seemed to almost mock the Soviet government, to the point where he faced arrest or imprisonment.


Music has a very unique medium, as it can be repainted over and over again. Slight and subtle changes can be made for someone to translate it into an emotion they’re feeling. Sometimes a beautiful piece of music can be transformed into something funny, such as Weird Al’s music. Or a joyous “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” could be turned into something sad, such as Andrew Belle’s version.

I don’t expect my students to become music majors, and create a life being a musician.  My goal is for my students to have fun and translate their thoughts and emotions through their instrument. Music is a versatile subject that covers many of the topics studied in school and can be carried over into their professional career

Spark Music Studio Receives 2015 Best of Maple Grove Award

Press Release


Spark Music Studio Receives 2015 Best of Maple Grove Award

Maple Grove Award Program Honors the Achievement

MAPLE GROVE December 10, 2015 — Spark Music Studio has been selected for the 2015 Best of Maple Grove Award in the Music Schools category by the Maple Grove Award Program.

Each year, the Maple Grove Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Maple Grove area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2015 Maple Grove Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Maple Grove Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About Maple Grove Award Program

The Maple Grove Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Maple Grove area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Maple Grove Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

SOURCE: Maple Grove Award Program

Maple Grove Award Program
Email: [email protected]


HELP! I’m buying my first drum set!

“Help! I need to buy a drum kit and have no idea where to start.”
There are so many options out there, so what is the best for you? Things that will factor in what the best option for you is going to be size/age of the students, noise tolerance, budget, needs, and features.

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Technical…? Feel…? Technically Feel Both.

There are three different areas that musicians and music teachers come from. The first is the technical musician and teacher. The second is the teacher and musician who play off of feel. The third is the musician who uses both. Using both is the most valuable.

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Separate – Learn Faster

Well, here it is.  My first official blog post.  I can’t believe I am doing this, but here it goes anyways.  I am going to try to post once a week about different things I’ve learned as a teacher, performer, and student.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve been obsessed with taking things apart and putting them back together.  Legos.  K’nex. Pens.  If it could be separated and put back together then I was going to do it.  Most of the time I got it all back together pretty fast and easy.  Sometimes I struggled remembering how to place the pieces together.  And sometimes I just couldn’t figure out how I even took it apart, so I would give up and throw it away.  This has carried into my adult life as I work in the kitchen trying to take apart and fix a dishwasher, or garbage disposal.  Beyond that, it has carried over into my career as a musician.  Let me explain.

As I began to learn the way that I need to take apart things to put them back together, I tried applying that same method to learning different things on the drum set or piano.  Let me give you an example on the drum set.  We can separate something in music in many different ways.  Measure.  Each Quarter Note.  Individual Notes.  Different Limbs.  Lets take a basic example that many drum students start out learning within the first couple weeks.  The “Four On The Floor Groove”

Here it is:

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For this example lets take the idea of isolating different limbs.  Starting with just the kick drum, start playing the kick drum on 1, 2, 3, 4.

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Remember to try this with a metronome to make sure everything is even.

Now lets move on and try to add the snare drum.  This is going to happen on beats 2 and 4 and will look like this.

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Really focus on hitting the bass drum and snare drum at the same time on 2 and 4.  This is going to make it much easier when the high hat is added in.

The high hat is the hardest part to add in, so lets isolate that by itself.  This is going to play straight eighths the whole time.  This will be counted 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &.  Again practice this with a metronome and try to keep it even.

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Once that is down, try to listen how the snare drum and bass drum fit in with that.  Start with just the bass and high hat.

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Now try playing just the high hat and snare.

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Now that we have taken this groove that was maybe difficult to understand and slowly put it back together, try playing the original groove just as it is written.  Remember to start slow.  Just because we took it all apart and put it back together, doesn’t mean that we are able to play everything super fast.

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Now this may seem like an extremely basic example.  But I encourage you to try this on something that has been extremely difficult for you.  Take a measure playing only the left hand part on piano.  Then learn the right hand part.  After that, slowly incorporate them back together and see if that is easier for you.  If you are trying to learn a song on bass or solo on guitar, try isolating each note.  Then play each beat individually. Piece it all together, and you’ll find something that seemed impossible, is absolutely doable.  This method may not work for everyone, but I have worked through this idea with a lot of my students, and even in my own learning.  The speed of growth that I see through this method is substantial compared to what I see from trying to attack a hard piece of music head on without breaking it down.