Saturday, November 30, 2013

OnSong Overview - Updated

We recently added Brandon to the OnSong Team to help musicians make the most of our App and he created a new overview tutorial to get you started with using OnSong.  Brandon is a bandleader, worship leader, and touring musician who recently started using OnSong just like you!  This gives him a fresh look at how to begin using OnSong effectively and will teach you which features will quickly get you up and running.

Onsong is an app that turns your iOS device into an interactive mobile music library that lets you take your chord charts anywhere you practice or perform.  Use it to import or edit your songs then organize them into set lists (books).  Pull chord charts from your library and share them with your band without the hassle of paper or bulky binders.  You can interact with your music by transposing keys, applying capos, or adjusting how the song is displayed, all with the swipe of your finger.  OnSong replaces the paper binder with a simple, compact, mobile solution.

The full video is 11 minutes long and if you're new to OnSong it is highly recommended that you watch the whole thing and follow along to get the most out of the OnSong App.  Watch the full video here, or scroll down to get jump links for specific topics.

How to Add Songs in OnSong

How to Make a Set List in OnSong

How to Search for Songs in your OnSong Library

How to Change the Look of your Chord Chart in OnSong

How to Make Notes in OnSong

How to AutoScroll your Music in OnSong

How to Setup Foot Pedals in OnSong

We hope this helps you learn how to use OnSong for the first time, or gets you started on some features that you haven't used yet in the OnSong App.  Enjoy!

AirTurn BT-105 Pedal Review

The AirTurn BT-105 Pedals are Wireless BlueTooth Pedalboards that allow you to control OnSong hands-free.  Jason and Brandon teamed up to review the AirTurn pedals and give you a quick tutorial on how to use them with OnSong.  Watch the video review and read the highlights below:

  • On/Off/Reset switch on the back
  • Status indicator light for connection and charging
  • (2) 1/8" audio stereo jacks 
  • Internal 430mAh lithium polymer battery
  • 1 meter USB charging cable
  • AirTurn BT-105 2-Pedal $119, lower cost, great for basic page turning and scrolling
  • AirTurn BT-105 4-Pedal $159, allows for more functions to be controlled in OnSong
  1. Sleek and Stylish: Compact design is well constructed and durable.
  2. Hidden Cords:  Electronics are molded into the plastic to protect them and keep them out of the way.
  3. Silent on Stage:  Built for being quiet, including while recording.
  4. Durable:  Made of military grade plastic polymers that you can drive a truck over!
  5. Built in 100 hour rechargeable lithium battery.
  1. Indicator Light: Blinking sequence is complicated to learn at first.
  2. Size: The 4-Pedal is big and doesn't fit into a typical laptop bag.
  3. Accessing the Keyboard:  AirTurn Pedals take the place of your onscreen keyboard when connected, which can make using the OnSong editor impossible until the red button on the back is depressed.
  4. Price:  Not as affordable as other wireless pedals available.
  5. Charging:  The battery lasts so long that charging takes time and forgetting to charge the pedals regularly is an easy mistake, leaving you flat just before a gig.
Overall Grade: A

Order the Pedals from our Store Now!

iRig BlueBoard Review - Another BlueTooth Wireless Pedal Option

iRig BlueBoard Review

The iRig BlueBoard is a Wireless Bluetooth MIDI Pedal Board that works well with OnSong to allow musicians to perform multiple hands-free operations.  OnSong team member Brandon is a band leader, worship leader, and gigging musician who regularly performs live.  Here's a video of his iRig BlueBoard Review, and you can read below for his highlights.

  • 4 backlit assignable foot switches
  • (2) 1/4" inputs for assignable expression pedals or switches
  • Bank, MIDI Program, and MIDI Control Changes
  • BlueBoard iOS App runs in the background, translating Bluetooth messages into MIDI instructions
  • Runs on AAA batteries (Standard or AAA NiMH Rechargeble batteries)
  1. Size: Small enough to fit into standard laptop bags.  Helpful for gigging musicians who travel.
  2. Store up to 32 Presets
  3. MIDI on-screen keyboard allows continued control even during disconnect
  4. Price: Under $100 (Airturn 4-Pedal is $159)
  5. Ability to add two extra foot pedals or switches
  1. Construction:  Low quality plastic, may not last as long as competitors in live gig settings.
  2. Foot Switch Sliding:  Prone to moving around on stage.
  3. Unstable Connection:  Bluetooth disconnected a few times during a long set.
  4. Confusing App:  User interface on provided app was not intuitive and took a while to figure out.
  5. Foot Switch Response:  Sometimes the buttons where hard to press or slow to respond.
Brandon found this pedal to be a useful, low cost tool for gigging musicians who want to keep their hands free while using OnSong.  The price and expansion ability make this a great choice for those on a budget.  However, with a few more bucks in your wallet, you may want to hold out for the more expensive competitors that are better built and more durable.

Overall Rating: B

AirTurn BT-105 Pedal Review - Another Wireless BlueTooth FootPedal

Friday, November 8, 2013

Learn To Play Guitar With OnSong

I'll admit, I used to hate those guys in college that would pick up a guitar and start strumming, just to steal the attention of every girl in the room.  I'd be carrying on a nice conversation with a cute brunette and suddenly "Name" by the Goo Goo Dolls would start drifting across the student union.  It was frustrating and I'd lose my chance at a phone number, but I never got mad enough to just go learn guitar for myself.  I tried learning to play the guitar growing up and in 6th grade music class I even mastered "Ode to Joy," but I was an active guy (soccer, camping, martial arts), so guitar lessons just didn't fit into my schedule.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a musical guy:  I can read music, sing, and played a number of instruments during my school years including drums, saxophone, sousaphone (a round tuba), and the equivalent of a french horn (mellophone); but the guitar just wasn't for me.  I'd pick it up, play an open chord, or just pluck a few strings while I made up lame blues songs about an unsuccessful day of hunting or not getting a job I applied for.  The truth is, I was jealous of those long haired, goateed, narcissists.  Please don't send me hate-mail about how you've never had a goatee, I realize that's just a stereotype, and that guitar players come in all shapes, sizes, hair lengths, and genders, but the desire to learn to play the guitar has never left me.

When I met Jason, the founder and genius developer behind OnSong, at a February 2013 Startup Weekend  event in Lancaster, PA we clicked immediately and he asked me to help him in growing OnSong.  At the time I didn't know anything about the app and didn't even own an iPad (I want the Android version just as badly as everyone else!), but I immediately saw how amazing and useful the app was.  One of the first, and coolest OnSong features I noticed was that tapping on a chord would reveal the fingerings for multiple instruments like ukulele, bass, piano, but especially guitar.  That was my Eureka moment..... I realized that I could learn to play guitar using OnSong!
My strategy is pretty simple:

  1. Find the easiest songs to play on a guitar with a simple internet search.
  2. Import them into OnSong.
  3. Check YouTube or Spotify if unsure of what the song is supposed to sound like.
  4. Once the song is open in OnSong, click on the chords above the lyrics to display the finger placement chart for guitar.
  5. Strum the chord over and over again until happy with how it sounds.
  6. Move on to the next chord in the song and tap it. (Many simple songs are only 2 or 3 chords!)
  7. Once a feel for the chords needed to play is attained, try to put them together switching back and forth.
  8. Now put it all together and actually try to play the song.
  9. Rinse and Repeat with different songs, exploring different chords.

Keep in mind that this method of learning to play guitar will not turn you into Yngwie Malmsteen, but it might get you playing around campfires and in coffee shops with your friends, so you no longer have to sit on the sidelines when some one busts out an impromptu jam session.  Are there better or faster ways to learn guitar?  Maybe, but if you're reading this blog, you probably already have OnSong and if you're a singer, drummer, or pianists that wants to add guitar to their musician's toolbox, this might just be the easiest way.  If you don't have OnSong and you randomly found this blog looking for information on how to play the guitar, you can download it here.  It might also be the cheapest way to learn guitar.  Check back often, since I'll be posting my "Learn to Play Guitar" journey to this blog, and on youtube.