As seen in The Harmonizer, March/April 2019 "Harmony University" issue, pg. 31
Essential Apps for the Organized Quartet
Melissa Bomben outlines five different apps and the ways in which technology can help your quartet get and stay organized.
It’s hard enough to coordinate four schedules, so having an easy-to-access, current record is critical! Rehearsals, coaching, district events and gigs are obvious things to include. The real power of a common calendar is in the details. Update the title of a recurring rehearsal to “trio rehearsal—Bari away” on that date when your baritone is traveling on business. Pad the time on the calendar to ensure arrival, prep and call times are included for upcoming gigs, and include those details in the notes field. When the status of an event is expected to change, add “potential” to save the date, and update to “confirmed” when it’s locked in. This is a big deal when booking coaches and performances.
Every quartet member can add outside commitments that will render them unavailable (“tenor on vacation,” “exam week for lead”), which really helps when you’re looking to find one of those precious dates that everyone has in common with your favorite coach.
A cloud-based filing system seems an obvious tool for quartet efficiency. If you’re not convinced you need to make the small investment of time to set it up, then consider this: quartets build repertoire, acquire sheet music, use learning tracks, get coached, perform on shows, spend money on things, get photographed and videoed, etc. All of these “things” can be stored and shared privately across the quartet in Google Drive.
Instead of everyone creating their own repository (that’s four times the work!), centralize it and make it available anytime, anywhere. Besides, once you have this in place, the next two apps on this list become exponentially more powerful.
I was at chorus rehearsal a few years ago, and on the risers in front of me was a very smart elementary school teacher reading her sheet music on her iPad. No big deal, right? But then she used her finger like a pencil to start marking her music. She circled a difficult measure, added dynamics, and many of the other crazy doodles we singers like to make when we’re learning a new song. I was blown away!
The ability to quickly mark up music has been a hold back for me switching from paper sheet music to digital. Now, I won’t go back! A fingertip works just fine, but add a stylus or Apple Pencil, and you’re invincible.
This app is so versatile. You can draw and add text, cut and paste (new intro? no problem!), drop and add pages…just like paper. Create folders and dividers to organize everything. Quickly upload or download to your shared cloud storage (...didn’t I mention above the Google Drive would come in handy?). Buh-bye music binder!
Voice Record Pro
Very user-friendly app that has all of the basic tools you need to record, edit, and share audio recordings. Worth the small fee to upgrade to the Pro version to drop the ads and unlock additional capabilities and features, including sound level meter. Quick interface to upload directly to all cloud storage (Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, etc), text, email or instantly share recordings to another device via Bluetooth. A baritone lifesaver when it’s time to share recordings with the rest of the quartet.
Who paid for dinner last week? What do I owe you for the learning tracks you purchased? How much did we get for that gig? Divide by 4, and it’s suddenly a mess. Splitwise to the rescue! One app to record and keep track of all quartet spending and who owes what to whom.
Splitting bills has never been easier with the ability to adjust allocations by $ or %. Splitwise calculates multi-way credits and payments due for everyone in the group. When it comes time to settle up, you can record cash payments in the app, or link directly to Venmo. Done!
About the Author
Melissa Bomben has been active in barbershop since the late 1990's as a performer in numerous quartet and chorus ensembles, chorus founder, and front line director.