Choose Your Song!

Welcome back to my journey towards guitar competency! This week I decided to take a small break from Andy’s channel. As you might know, last week I attempted to play the song 500 Miles, and it absolutely crashed and burned! So this week I thought it would be good to explore a way to do independent study with your class on guitar.

This website I used is called Ultimate Guitar, also known as Ultimate Tabs, Tabs plus, Tabs pro, and so on…they changed their name a couple of times. You can access them from their website, or from an app for your Android or iOS phone. There is a paid premium version, and it could potentially be useful in a classroom setting, but I am only using the free version at this point.

Personal Screenshot of UltimateGuitar.com

So essentially, instead of before when we were using videos and instructors to learn new songs, we are now independently seeking our own learning of music. I can see the use for this in guitar courses, after the few weeks where the students learn their fundamentals and technique. You might not be perfect yet, but you can read chord symbols at this point, and know enough to translate that to a guitar neck. At this point you can have students use Ultimate Guitar as one of many recourses for helping them discover new music material.

When the student searches for their song, and finds a version they like, the chord sheet is shown. This is a sheet with the lyrics printed out, and above those words are individual letters. These letters are representing the chord to play. If you don’t know, or forgot how to play the chord, you can hover your mouse over the letter and it will give you: A chord diagram and an audible example of the chord sound. On the left hand side, you have the option to zoom and change the size of text, something great for people like me with glasses!

There is also a +/- for transpose. This means you can change the sound/frequency of the chord to be a higher or lower progression, and this applies to all notes. If you transpose +1, it will make everything sharp, going up 1 semitone/halftone. This is an incredibly powerful tool because it can allow your students to play harder music in slightly easier chord progressions (I did this with 500 miles in the video!). It also allows vocalists, or those doing both vocals and guitar, to essentially move the entire song closer to their vocal range. The autoscroll button compliments the usefulness further, giving you a 5 speed scale, and automatically scrolling for you so you don’t have to worry during the song. Also, it is not exclusive to guitar. You can use this app, and especially this feature to play songs on piano and other multi-note instruments, making it expandable to other music based classes and vocal jazz.

Lastly there are the rest of the buttons, most of which are self-explanatory. The simplify chords feature is neat for more complicated chords, because it will remove the “fluff” from the chord. Take jazz music, where you can have Em7 chords, simplify just makes this an Em chord. The display chords button will list all of the chords, in order, at the top of the page in chord charts we are familiar with. The last button is Guitar Tuner, and while I didn’t use this feature, I assume it could have some potential. The issue is that it is mostly locked to the paid TabsPro service, so you are better off using something else for notes. There are other account options I haven’t checked out yet, but students could definitely create an user and make favorite songs or artists save.

Lastly, there is a Google Chrome extension for Ultimate Guitar, which lets you pull up sheet music/chords everywhere. This is particularly useful for playing chords alongside an artist on youtube. Lastly they have a mobile app, but that is generally Tabs pro which costs some money. In terms of my personal progress, I used this week to try out some new stuff. I improved on the 500 mile song disaster from last week (See the video above). I also tested out a new app for my blog post today called ScreenCastify, which has a 10 minute free limit, hence the smaller video this week. I would recommend both apps as they both work well. For any actual music teachers, I would recommend tabsPro for mobile so you always have access to the music.

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