The developers of NomadPlay – the app that allows you to play along with major orchestras – recently made it free for a month. Intrigued, we decided to send questions to three musicians who have been trying it out to see what they made of it: pianist Ivana Gavric, clarinettist Peter Cigleris and violinist Fenella Humphreys.
How is the app different from your expectations / what surprised you most? The design is smart I was surprised by how easy it is to use.
Can you describe the playing experience to us in a single sentence? The joy of making music with others again, combined with a little bit of second-guessing!
Favourite function? Being able to switch between which instruments you hear, being able to adjust tempi and having the score on the app – very handy.
Favourite piece you’ve played, and how did you perform it? Ravel’s Mother Goose for fun, which is performed by two friends of mine on the app, the Bizjak sisters, the Mozart Piano Concerto K488 and the slow movement of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 1 – it’s really lovely to feel surrounded by the sound of the orchestra in a concerto, even if it is only in my music room! It was nice to try out one of the Beethoven Cello Sonatas too, which I was due to perform with Matthew Barley at Cheltenham and Dartington Festivals this summer.
Has it inspired any ideas or changes that you’ll take to your performances when you can get back in a room with other musicians again? As I add new concerti to my repertoire, I would find it very useful to play through them with the app before performing them, and not just on two pianos which is what I normally do. It would be great if they could add more to their piano concerto repertoire.
How is the app different from your expectations / what surprised you most? I hadn’t expected that the score would follow along with the recording, or even that there would be a score. It’s a really clever feature. I was also surprised by how much I enjoyed playing along and fitting in with a pre-recorded performance. By this point I’ve been so starved of making music with other people that it was just a joy to be able to play music I love with company.
Can you describe the playing experience to us in a single sentence? Without access to chamber music partners in isolation, it’s great to be able to enjoy music I love, and discover repertoire I didn’t know in this different way.
Favourite function? This would also have to be the way the score follows along with the recording.
Favourite piece you’ve played, and how did you perform it? It’s surprised me that the composer I’ve most missed being able to play since lockdown has been Faure. I’ve really enjoyed being able to play through his Berceuse, music that I first learnt when I was little, and often enjoy performing now.
How is the app different from your expectations / what surprised you most? I had no real expectations when it came to the app. What surprised me however was the way the app was able to add and remove instruments without losing any quality in playback.
Can you describe the playing experience to us in a single sentence? My playing experience was positive and I can see that this would be useful in learning repertoire.
Favourite function? Being able to begin at any point within the chosen work.
Favourite piece you’ve played, and how did you perform it? Brahms’s Clarinet Sonata in Eb Op. 120 No 2. I just read through with the piano.
Has it inspired any ideas or changes that you’ll take to your performances when you can get back in a room with other musicians again? I see the app as being extremely useful for pre rehearsal preparation of a work/works and a really useful tool for students who have never performed live or studied a piece to become familiar with it.
Nomad Play is now €12.99 a month, and is available to download as an app on Android and Apple store.