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Entries in Jeff Bridges (2)

On the Music Path: Beautiful, Intimate and Effective

How would you like an intimate 1:1 guitar lesson from some of the top musicians in the business? In your own home!

With On the Music Path app, that is pretty much what you get. You can even say, “Hang on, slow down a bit and play that again”, as many times as you like without annoying your tutor.

If you want to improve your musicianship, appreciate high quality video and classy app design, we think you will love On the Music Path, and it is not just because our favourite actor/photographer/musician Jeff Bridges told us to.

Here’s Jeff to tell you more about the app. We'll give you our hands-on review after the video:

The Approach

As you can see in the video above, On the Music Path uses high production value video tutorials to teach a skill. We liked the teaching approach used in the videos. The guitar videos, for example, show both hands of the tutor on the guitar, all the way through the lesson, so you can see exactly what they are doing.

These videos are supplemented with onscreen guitar tabs (or optionally music notation) highlighting the notes being played with a little blue arrow above or below the Tab.

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Each lesson begins with a short introduction from your tutor where they demonstrate the skill your are going to learn, what will be covered and how it can be used. These introduction videos are very personal and although it may sound a little hokey, it really feels like they are talking directly to you. Try it and see.

You're In Control

You can control the speed of the video playback and even slow it right down to quarter speed whilst retaining the exact same pitch. Very useful if you need to break a riff or song down note by note.

There can be some strange sort of echo like stutter if you play the video at the slowest speed, but you have to expect this really from the audio and the notes are still clearly audible to play along with.

Another great feature is being able to set in and out points on the video so that you can loop and repeat a section that you are trying to learn, very handy. 

Once a video lesson is finished the app pauses with a screen that lets you tap once to carry on to the next part of the lesson, or double-tap to replay the last video. This seemingly small detail has a big impact when you are learning.

Instead of breaking your concentration, going back to a menu or rewinding a video, just double-tap to practice the skill again, and again. It is a very useful feature (one we had to use quite a lot!).

Your Tutors

This app is not for wannabee super shredders or death metal fans necessarily, not at the moment anyway. The style of music being taught and the manner of your instructors is relatively sedate with Blues and Folk style guitar playing being the current topics covered.

Some well known musicians have lent their talent and knowledge to these tutorial videos though, talented and authentic musicians who love their craft.

Our teachers have won Grammy’s, been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, played at the very top of the charts and even been nominated to Parliament…But that’s not why we chose them. We chose them because they’re great teachers: They have the patience, generosity and talent to inspire you to become a better musician.

Among these is Jackson Browne (Rock and Roll Hall of Famer); Songwriter, Folk Rock guitarist and Brit legend Richard Thompson (OBE); and noted guitarist Steve Postell who delivers a stellar series on the fundementals of guitar. These are really good, solid basic lessons that any beginner guitarist will find invaluable to starting them off on the right foot (or leg actually) in their guitar playing lifetime.

Only acoustic guitar lessons are available right now, covering mostly folk, blues and classical playing, but the app shows a 'Coming Soon' label on electric guitar lessons with Eric Johnson, Sitar with Ravi Shankar Piano with Vonda Shepherd and Drums with Steve Ferrone, amongst several other instruments, so there is a lot to look forward to.

Video Size and Quality

The videos are gorgeous and look fantstic on the iPad screen if you opt for the full HD quality lessons. You are looking at around a 750MB to 1GB download that will be stored on your iPad though.

If, like us, you are struggling not to overstuff a 16GB iPad, you will find yourself deleting a lot of apps, podcasts, music, photos and other video to make room for these lesson downloads.

You do have the option of Standard quality downloads or the much smaller low-res versions.  These take about 380MB and 180MB on average respectively. We tried them all for most lessons and the low-res videos are ok to watch on the iPad screen if you don't need to see the detail but the Standard quality videos were more acceptable to watch on the iPad.

If you can make room for them though, the HD quality is worth it, especially if you plan on hooking your iPad up to a larger display whilst using On The Music Path. We used HDMI and VGA out to watch the video tutorials on our HDTV in the lounge and they looked and sounded fantastic.

The guitar tab overlay is always clear, no matter what quality video you have selected, so you won't have problems seeing the notes you need to play.

No Streaming

We think it would be better if there was an option to stream these lessons, meaning we wouldn't have to keep them on our iPad. This may mean we lose the portability of the lessons, but if your main use for the lessons was at home where you have wifi and broadband available, having to wait for the stream each time wouldn't bother us too much.

The Cost

On the Music Path is a free download for your iPad, and most lessons have a sample provided for free.

Lessons range from $1.99 - $19.99 (£1.49 - £13.99) which might seem a bit expensive but, when an hour with your local guitar tutor costs around £25, consider what you're getting for your money:

  • 45 mins to 1 hour of personal instruction from a professional musician
  • Content to keep and re-watch again and again
  • 1:1 lessons with top names in Folk/Blues/Country and soon Rock music
  • Very high quality video
  • Well produced teaching tools, such as tab display and video slow down with pitch retention
  • Lifetime access to download lesson content again if deleted

If, like us, you are running a limited budget, then you may have to ration yourself to one or two downloads per month.

Given the size of the tutorials, especially at high quality and the amount of content in each one, you probably wouldn’t want to download all of the lessons at once anyway.

Overall Impressions

If learning to play guitar or becoming a more accomplished player , is something you have always wanted to do we think you will relish On the Music Path, especially if Blues, Folk and Classical is your thing.

As more lessons are added in the future in other areas such as Rock guitar, Keyboards, Bass, Ukulele and Drums, so the app has the potential to become your portal to all manner of musical instruction, right there on your iPad.

We highly recommend you check out On the Music Path, you have nothing to lose as the app is a free download from the App Store.

You will be able to tell if it is for you from the free samples that are included. Just be sure to free up some space on your iPad, especially if you are already struggling with your 16GB iPad like we are.

Gritty Photos from Jeff Bridges in Free iPad App

It was a pleasant surprise to find this free app featuring the photography of Jeff Bridges. Apart from being a very talented actor and appearing in two of our favourite geek films (Tron and Tron: Legacy), he is also an accomplished Photographer (as well as a Guitarist/Musician).

True Grit: Through the Lens of Jeff Bridges is a promotional iPad app for his latest film, a Cohen Brothers re-envisioning of the classic John Wayne Western True Grit, which is yet to be released here in the UK. 

We are given, for free, over 60 black and white photos taken with a Widelux camera, a unique film camera with a wide angle swing lens that rotates through 140 degrees, letting the light through a small slit which exposes the film as it moves across the negative.

Bridges describes his love of photography and the Widelux in an extract from his photography portfolio book Pictures, it is a heart warming read. The results from a Widelux can be a bit hit and miss (no manual focus control and dodgy viewfinder) but the True Grit app's panoramic, monochrome images, some of them quite beautiful, are an attractive way to record the event.

Some images are accompanied by handwritten notes by Bridges himself (the handwriting matches that found on his website so we are assuming this is true). We like that there is a mixture of 'character' shots of the actors with behind-the-scenes images showing some of the crew and off-camera moments during filming.

The app also has a stark, monochrome interface, which fits nicely with the black and white images. As far as promotional apps go, we like this one a lot. It is interesting to see an app like this produced exclusively for the iPad, no doubt because of the wonderful way that the iPad presents photos and enables casual browsing of a portfolio like this, book style. 

The True Grit app is a free download from the App Store and features a couple of video trailers (streamed to the app), so it is worth checking out. It would have been nice to see more video but you do get 60+ images in the app which look gorgeous on the iPad's screen.

It may not stay on your iPad for long after you have seen all of the photos, but we found it was a good demo app to show off the device and we are keeping it around for a bit longer.

Let us know if you have seen the True Grit app, and any thoughts you have about it, in the comments below.