Music Teacher's Helper Blog

Review: My new friend, Mikey

Meet the newest member of my studio: Mikey, by Blue Microphones. Mikey is quickly working his way into my heart as a where-have-you-been-all-of-my-life kind of tool.

Mikey is not my only recording friend. I have loved my Zoom H4 for the last few years. The Zoom is a handy companion. I loved being able to record accompaniments for my students, record them performing to burn CDs for presents for their parents, and record myself playing their repertoire pieces at different tempos to practice. But the interface leaves much to be desired, and the process from the first step of making the recording to handing a CD to a student or emailing them an MP3 file just took a few more steps than I would have liked.

Then Mikey entered my life as a thoughtful Christmas present from my husband. What do I like about him (Mikey, not my husband…)?

He’s plug and play. You plug him into an iPod (check this site for compatible iPods), and use Voice Memo or another recording application such as Evernote or Blue FiRe, check the gain (there are three to choose from. I’ve been happy with the lowest for recording at the piano), and push the record button on the iPod. Whammo. Done. If your students bring their iPods, they have a recording ready to use at home. If your student doesn’t have a compatible iPod, you can easily download the track to iTunes to burn to a CD or put in Dropbox or email.

How am I using Mikey? So far, my main use of Mikey so far has been to record festival pieces at different practice tempos. I don’t always encourage students to play with recordings rather than metronome, but some of them respond better to a performance than to the tick tick tick of the metronome. I have also recorded an accompaniment for an informal audition and recorded a student composition to burn a CD for a festival entry. I envision using him to record concerto accompaniments at different tempos and playing backgrounds for students to improvise with at home. My soprano friend records warmups onto her students’ iPods. I also may consider asking parents to think about buying a Mikey for their own homes, allowing students to record their own compositions or even portions of their practice sessions for me to check or for their own benefit.

Does Mikey take the place of the Zoom? No. The Zoom’s recording quality is higher end and will definitely be my recorder of choice for recitals and most CDs. But my husband bought Mikey for just under $40, and I see that the Zoom’s newer cousin (the H4n) is running around $300. For a low-ish price, great ease of use, and a decent sound quality, I highly recommend having Mikey come to play at your studio.

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