About Me

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Atlanta, GA, United States
When I suffered a lip injury that ended my career as a classical trombonist, I thought my life as a musician was finished, but I fell in love with music all over again when Santa gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2003. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new performance career. As a trombonist, I performed with the Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, the Ohio Light Opera, and in pick-up bands for touring acts that included Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, and the Manhattan Transfer. Reborn as a jazz guitarist, I sing and play my own solo arrangements of jazz classics, am half of the Godfrey and Guy duo, and hold the guitar chair in the Sentimental Journey Orchestra. I have been a freelance music copyist since 1995 and have been music director at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation since 2011.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

iPhone (geek alert!)

If you think this blog entry is yet another Mac geek gushing about his new iPhone, well, okay, it's another Mac geek gushing about his new iPhone. My previous phone was about 5 years old, which is pretty ancient in tech years. It even had the older style keypad with combined numbers and letters, so that if you had to type the letter C, you had to press the number 1 three times. Texting was glacially slow.

I bought an iPhone about a month ago, and I'm amazed at how much it has changed the way I operate. You can read reviews or go to Apple's website to learn about the features. I'm just going to write about the features and apps I've found useful.

I have a special talent for getting lost. I couldn't even guess at the number of times I've gotten turned around on my way to a gig, or even coming back home from a gig. I grew up in Illinois, where everything is a flat grid with the roads all running north/south or east/west. In Atlanta, the roads curve up and around hills, and it doesn't take me long to get disoriented. I used to use MapQuest to find my way around town, which meant printing out directions for most of my gigs. With the Maps app, I don't have to print anything out anymore, and there's even a little blinking icon that shows where I am in relation to where I'm going. For someone who gets lost as easily as I do, the Maps app alone is worth the price.

iTunes has been useful at gigs. I recently played a few long Christmas gigs. I was able to connect the iPhone to my amp and keep some music playing while I was on break. It's going to be even handier once I've recorded a few backing tracks. I'm recording solo backing tracks for myself with Garage Band. I save the tracks as MP3s and load them into iTunes. I can then hook the iPhone up to my amp and have my own miniature back-up band. (Live back-up is preferable, but it's useful to have prerecorded tracks for some situations.)

I've also downloaded metronome and tuner apps, not to mention the iReal Book. The tuner app seems to be more accurate than my "real" tuner, and with the iReal Book, I can call up the chords for 500+ jazz standards and even transpose them to different keys automatically.

I use the Kindle app quite a bit, too. I like to read, and it's nice to have a digital book with me. Let's say a miracle happens and I don't get lost on the way to a gig. Suddenly I have extra time on my hands. What to do? Call up a book on Kindle at the gig site and read it while I furrow my brow to try to fool my client into thinking I'm answering time sensitive messages.

Most of my song ideas come when I'm away from the computer or even a piece of paper. With the iPhone's voice memo recorder, I can record song ideas while I'm driving. This saves me from having to sing the same idea over and over all the way home until I can rush through the door to grab a pencil and paper.

The iPhone has also been useful for losing weight. I recently wrote about MyFitness Pal, which helps me set calorie goals and track my food intake and exercise. Despite succumbing to the temptation of holiday goodies, I've managed to shave off a couple pounds, thanks in large part to keeping myself honest with MyFitnessPal.

Sometimes you buy a new gadget or piece of musical equipment, only to discover that it wasn't as great as you thought it would be. Other times, you buy something that turns out to be more useful than you thought possible. Well that's how I feel about the iPhone, and now I'm finished gushing.

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