Most musicians at one time or another have had a stressful time with the metronome.
Spending time playing to a click is imperative if you want to improve your musical skills, but fighting against the click can be a sure-fire way of kicking you even further out of time and causing a lot of frustration, especially if you’re a drummer.
Being able to play to a click is a great skill to have, but what about judging your own time keeping when you don’t have a metronome to hand? Or what if you’re in a live situation where you are the metronome for the musicians around you?
Fear not, app developer Ten Kettles aims to help drummers simply “play better drums” by helping them feel more confident in their time keeping while in those very situations.
Available on iPhone and iPad, BeatMirror focuses on listening to the musician’s current tempo and then monitoring how in-time they are. The app helps drummers build their inner metronome to help them figure out when they are speeding up or slowing down.
BeatMirror uses your device’s built-in microphone to detect tempo while you play. You can then set a target tempo with the tap-for-tempo feature and start your practice session.
Real-time statistics will appear after the very first beat, guiding the user towards the appropriate tempo. Those looking to practice a particular tempo, can select the ‘target’ button and increase or decrease it accordingly.
Current tempo, average tempo and tempo drift can all be displayed in real time, giving you a rundown of stats about the strengths and weaknesses of your playing.
In terms of the app’s usability, BeatMirror is very easy to get your head around. It has a simple layout that’s very intuitive. There’s a clear information button on each of the two screens you’ll come across while using the app, so there really isn’t any excuse for not understanding its functionality.
The only addition I would like to see to the look and use of the app is an option to invert its colours. At the moment, BeatMirror features white lettering on a dark blue background. It would be nice to be able to switch this to a white background with black or blue lettering – or perhaps some other colour options. This would make it slightly easier for some to clearly see the bar behind to temp that swivels depending on if you’re going too fast or too slow, especially if your iPhone is on the floor while you play.
The great thing about BeatMirror is its visual cues. This makes the app discrete enough that a drummer could have it on the floor next to their kit during a gig to keep one eye on how the performances are going without it interfering with any earphones and ear plugs.
Ten Kettles’ latest additions to BeatMirror mean that the app is also useful for other members of that band. Tempo can also be detected for a wide range of instruments, recorded tracks, and live band practises.
There’s also an option to customise a count in, so whether you’re practising on your own or as a whole band, the app can be used to set the tempo you need to play at.
Overall, this app is so quick and simple to use, there’s not really an excuse as to why you wouldn’t use it during practice sessions, just to see how you’re improving.
If you’re a musician wanting to improve your time keeping, having an app on your phone or tablet like BeatMirror just makes sense. For more information visit http://www.tenkettles.com/beatmirror/