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Speedshifter goes mobile

6 years ago


As we launch the latest version of our Speedshifter practice tool, Rhian Morgan takes a look at how teachers and students around the world have been using it and what’s on offer now.


It’s long been a musician’s complaint, especially in the run-up to an exam – ‘I didn’t get enough time with the pianist’.

Well, nothing can beat a rehearsal with an accompanist, but ABRSM’s Speedshifter comes a pretty good second. It’s an application which lets musicians get used to playing with the accompaniment while also offering the facility to speed up or slow down any recording as they develop fluency.

Speedshifter has been around for more than two years now but this summer sees the launch of the new Speedshifter mobile, for Android™ and Apple devices, and also a new version for desktop users (version 3).

SpeedshifterAs a practice tool, Speedshifter allows you to vary the speed of audio from a CD or MP3 without altering the pitch. You load a track then turn the dial on screen to slow it down or speed it up. If you load an ABRSM minus-one track Speedshifter knows the tempo of the track and positions the dial automatically at the correct point on the tempo/beats per minute ring. It’s ideal for using whenever a student might benefit from playing with the accompaniment at a reduced tempo, whether practising alone or with a teacher in a lesson.

Many hundreds of thousands of tracks have been played using Speedshifter with the busiest times in the run-up to exam periods. ABRSM researchers, looking at how Speedshifter is employed, have seen it ‘used all over the world, at all times of day and night, to play all sorts of interesting music – much of it from ABRSM syllabuses’. They have come up with some fascinating statistics. It’s the violinists who make most use of Speedshifter followed by flautists and clarinettists, and the furthest away from ABRSM’s London HQ that the app has been used is in New Zealand. It’s no surprise that works by J. S. Bach, Handel, Mozart, Vivaldi and Beethoven are the most played from ABRSM syllabuses, but little known Swedish Baroque composer Johan Helmich Roman also features highly, with a piece on the Grade 1 Flute syllabus, as does that popular syllabus contributor Christopher Norton.

Speedshifter was originally launched as a free desktop app in 2010 and has proved extremely popular ever since. ‘It’s been a tremendous success,’ comments Stuart Briner, ABRSM’s Digital Learning Manager. ‘We’ve had tens of thousands of students and teachers use it and along the way they’ve been letting us know how we can develop it further.’

One of the top demands was for a version of Speedshifter that could be used on mobile devices. This release brings all the features of Speedshifter desktop version 3, including a new and often requested loop function, to iOS and Android devices. As Stuart explains, ‘We’ve been told by a lot of teachers that they don’t always have access to a laptop in lessons, so with this new app on your phone or tablet it will be very easy to use Speedshifter wherever it’s needed.’

As with the desktop version, mobile users will be able to slow down and speed up a track by tapping the desired tempo. Additionally, registered users – registration is optional for Speedshifter mobile – will be able to save information and settings, such as tapped tempos and loop points, and access them on any device on which they have Speedshifter installed, be it an iOS or Android device, Mac or PC. For ABRSM, having registered users gives them access to valuable information which they can use to continually improve the service offered and develop exciting new features for future releases.

And finally, just a little extra which wasn’t strictly necessary but can be fun – if you need an A, simply give Speedshifter a shake!

Speedshifter desktop version 3 and the mobile app – for Android and iPhone, iPad and iPod touch – will be available in June. The desktop version 3 will be available free of charge. There will be two versions of the mobile app: Lite, which will be free and allows users to slow down a track for 15 seconds to see how it works, and a full paid for version. The mobile app will be available from Google Play™ and the App Store.

Android and Google Play are trademarks of Google Inc. Apple, the Apple logo, iPad, iPhone and iPod touch are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc.

This article was originally featured in the May 2013 edition of Libretto, ABRSM's magazine.

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