This morning, was a small ensemble day at the High School. To make things even more interesting, I was missing two of my normal orchestra students to the Principal's Cabinet meeting, giving me a group of only 5 people. So, after running through a couple trouble spots, and building scale practice, it felt silly to try to work on concert repertoire without the full crew.
Interestingly, one of my violinists asked if she could listen to her iPod. Instead of saying no because of the district policy, I redirected her request by saying, "If you'd like to listen to a song and try to figure out parts of it on your violin, sure!" (Assuming that she just wanted to listen to music and not actually practice) A few of my other students' ears perked up when I made that option available to them this morning. My two 9th graders who are playing in our pit orchestra for Seussical, both have their rehearsal CDs uploaded to their iPods, so this gave them a way to practice. When my junior violinist made 11th chair for districts, I found the recordings for the pieces and instead of burning a CD, let her import them to her iPod. I even use mine for jazz improvisation, listening to interpretations of Bach Cello Suites, and even tuning! Yes, I have a tuning note track saved to my iPod Touch so I can listen, and tune my instrument that way.
Now, there are a few things I'd like to do using iPods to make practicing even better. I'd love to be able to plug my iPod into a set of good speakers so the ensemble can hear a preview of a new piece, a classical example, or for group improvisations. I'd love to be able to do some podcasting and have every student subscribe to it. Students could even record compositions or improvisations using Audacity, then do a weekly podcast showcasing some of those works!
Are you a musician? Do you use an iPod to enhance your practicing?