iPads are NOT Musical Instruments.

I find myself (again) debating the yawnsome “iPads aren’t musical instruments” narrative with a music service.

But actually, they’re right. iPads aren’t (necessarily) musical instruments. And neither is anything else. Lots of pianos are just pieces of furniture to their owners. Vintage guitars make nice wall art for silicon valley CEOs. It’s what we do with these things that makes them musical.

What I do believe, informed by 30 years of music making, is that nothing inspires musical engagement, especially for young people and especially for people who face barriers to traditional instruments, like a well designed multi-touch software instruments. Which will need an iPad to run. Which is just another tool. Much like those wooden things with strings on. But it’s a tool that opens up a world of musical engagement for so many, and neatly pokes a hole in age old ideas about what a “proper” instruments are.

An aside: I’m reminded of a student who saw me use the gloves and said this about me: “Yeah, it’s clever, but he’s not a proper musician…” if I ever believe in a “proper” way of making music, then I hope I have the sense to throw in the towel… 😜


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