Recently, a friend told me about an app that has made teaching and practicing jazz significantly easier for him. This cool little app is called iRealbook. And it’s available for iPhone, iTouch, iPad, Mac, and Droid phone. It is important to note that the Droid version does not have as many features as it’s iPhone counterpart…more on that in a bit. Or if Android users don’t want to wait, skip directly to points one and two to find out what features are missing.
iRealbook is a chord chart version of the Realbook. There are hundreds of chord charts of jazz, Latin, and Brazilian tunes. You can transpose the charts into other keys easily. The “Apple friendly” versions have a practice play along for each chart, functioning much like the popular Band In A Box program.
You can work on improvisation, walking bass lines, scale and arpeggio exercises to an accompaniment, all with your iPhone. It is a great, portable way to carry many practice tools with you.
I told one of my bass students about this app. He was prepping for a college audition, and his practice time on the required tunes increased dramatically. He was able to go over the audition tunes more frequently, simply due to the ease of accessibility. He called me today on the way home from his audition, telling me it went very well. I can’t prove it, but I do think the accessibility of the iRealbook app, along with his very real desire to make practice time for this audition, significantly contributed to how well he did at his audition.
It is important to say that Android users do not get the full functionality of their Apple counterparts. There are two major differences:
1) In the Droid version, you cannot create and import your own charts for practice. You are limited to the provided songs in the Real Book. If you own an Apple product, the online editor is here.
2) Unfortunately for Droid phone users, the iRealbook does not feature any audio. There is no accompaniments to practice to, only charts and a transposition function.
Here a full list of the features the Android version comes with, so you know what to expect.
When I purchased the app, I noted that the Droid version was less expensive than the iPhone version. (I presumed because it is not as fully featured). I paid $5.99 while my iPhone toting friend paid $9.99.
As a Droid owner, I have still found the iRealbook app helpful despite the missing audio and song import functions, as I can still work on playing through changes simply because I have easy access to the charts. I have to say though, it would be much, much better with audio.
Hopefully at some point they will release a full version of iRealbook for the Android system. However, I wouldn’t get your hopes up that it will be anytime soon. Currently the iRealbook site lists that development on the Android version has been stopped. If you own a Droid phone, and you think a fully featured version of this app might appeal to you, head to the iRealbook Forum and let the software developers know your thoughts.
In the meantime, I’ll have to keep carrying my tablet PC with me and use Band in a Box for lessons. But I look forward to the day when I can use just my phone to teach and practice Real Book tunes.