27th Feb 2013
Looking at our overstressed lifestyle, there are a few hobbies that you can take up to de-stress. And what can help better than music. If you always wanted to learn to play an instrument, and already own one but can't find the time to learn how to use it, the internet can find you a few tutors. That way, you can learn at your own pace, and be motivated to play often. Plus you don't have to spend a dime either. Here are some free resources that will help you play different types of instruments (without yelling curses at you) in your free time:
The guitar is probably one of the most popular instruments that music lovers turn to. Not only can you learn online how to play the instrument, but there are several resources (such as the Tune Master) that help you tune the instrument to perfection. While that is for experienced players, beginners can turn to simpler tools for assistance. If you are somewhat comfortable with your stringed-friend, then the free Guitar and Bass software can be of great help. While the interface can be a bit intimidating for nascent users, it is an amazing resource for those who want to play electric guitar, acoustic guitar or bass. It trains you for everything guitar: It features a library of chords and a chord builder, intervals, scales, and keys, along with tools such as a metronome and a key finder. While the interface leaves a lot to be desired, the fact that it offers enough practice material as well is what makes this a very interesting and useful tool to use. With this instrument, you can also master smaller siblings such as the ukelele, and the Spanish guitar; albeit you'll find it a bit difficult to handle the four-stringed Ukelele at first.
The violin is not an easy stringed instrument to play mainly because it lacks frets (ridges on the neck). Moreover, it takes a fair bit of practice to Rosin up the bow (rub it with a solid form of resin) to produce sound from the violin. But once you get it up and playing, it is one of the sweetest sounding musical instruments that I have come across. For those who wish to warm up to the violin, The Violin Lab is an excellent website to begin with. It's got something for everyone - from beginners to pros. Those who are comfortable with the instrument can check out the website's community section for more in-depth conversations. Since the violin is a fretless instrument, the idea of learning from video tutorials will be an easier way to start off with it.
Pianos and keyboards are probably the easiest instruments to master: They barely require to be tuned regularly. Moreover, each key has a fixed sound, and hence there are several applications that replicate their sounds well. One such tool is the Virtual MIDI Piano Keyboard that can generate and receive MIDI events. What that means is that it doesn't produce sounds but uses your PC's hardware to play MIDI notes. The software offers sounds for various instruments depending on you the support your PC can offer. Keyboard players can also turn to their tablets, phablets, and large screened smartphones for assistance. There are apps across most of the popular repositories that will help you practice when on the move. For instance, there is the Perfect Piano for Android, Tiny Piano for iOS, and OrganPhone7 for the Windows Phone platform. Just make sure that you attach your earphone to the handset before you start, or you'll probably end up with a rather heavy coin purse at the end of your journey!
Drumming It Out
For those who enjoy percussion, a well-designed virtual drum set comes across as a handy tool. One such application is the D'Accord Drum Player. The software offers a clean five-piece drum set based interface, complete with five cymbals and a hi-hat. The application offers several sample MIDI drumbeats that can be heard when you hit the drums. While you can't replace an application with a real life tutor (as percussion instruments need additional physical skills such as speed and intensity with which you hit the drums), this can be a handy way to get introduced to the world of percussion.