Learning to play a musical instrument can be lots of fun for children, but it’s also a great way to improve auditory and academic skills, while boosting their self-confidence. We roped in Durban-based guitar and drum teacher, Paul Cassells, to take a look at one of the many apps out there that can help your kid stay on key.
Any child learning to play the guitar will sooner or later face a particular frustration: An out-of-tune guitar. What do they do if mom and dad aren’t around to help, or even worse, mom and dad don’t know how to help? Fortunately, there is a way for kids (and adults) to tune their guitars without having to shell out for a fancy guitar tuner.
Tuner – gStrings is a free Android app that takes the hassle out of tuning your child’s guitar. There’s also a paid version which take away the adverts and gives users a couple of extra functions but we took a look at the free version. Upon launching the app, the user is presented with one (and only one) screen:
The simplest way to get started straight away is to select “Tune Auto”, the tuning selection button on the bottom-right of the screen. The needle-gauge will spring to life and the app will listen and wait for you to pluck one of your guitar strings. As soon as you do, the needle will move to indicate whether the note is too low (the needle sways and stays off-centre to the left) or too high (the needle sways and stays off-centre to the right). As you wind your string’s tuning peg and continue plucking, the needle moves and glows orange once it is centred and the string is perfectly in tune. Simply do that for each of the strings and you’re done. It’s worth mentioning that this auto-tune method works for any musical notes it hears, from any source, whether it’s a note from a guitar, a piano, or even your own voice!
To save the app from guessing which string you are plucking (which can be tough at times if the string is really out of tune), you can press the middle button and tune a specific string, in this case, the ‘G’-String. You select the string you want by swiping the area at the top of the app (the names of the musical notes) left or right, highlighting the string or note that you want.
The left-most button selects the “sound” method of tuning, which makes the sound of the note your string is supposed to produce. This tuning method can be tricky, as it relies on the user’s ability to match the tone of the app and the tone of the guitar ‘by ear’. This method can be great for developing a kid’s musical ability.
All in all, Tuner – gStrings is a fantastic no-nonsense tuning app that should be on any guitar student’s (or their parents’) Android phone.