Methods mentioned in this article allowing music to be slowed down:

  • Transcribe! by Seventh String Software
  • Anytune app
  • YouTube’s Speed Settings

Tools to slow down music files

Music instructors often use audio and video files throughout the course of their teaching day.  Many use books have mp3 examples or play-along tracks. Other teachers will use audio files from their own collection as a method of style analysis. Of course, students will also bring in recordings, asking the teacher’s assistance to transcribe grooves or fills.

Oftentimes, the students can play the pattern that is required, but are not yet able to bring it up to tempo.  This can dampen the morale of a student, making them feel as if they are not “getting it.”  This is especially true of young students and beginners, who need a boost in self-confidence the most.

Transcribe! by Seventh String Software (for Laptop or Desktop)

There are a few computer programs available that will slow down music without changing the pitch.  The one that I will reference in this article is Transcribe! by Seventh String Software. I do not have any personal affiliation with the company, but have found the program to be beneficial in my teaching practice.

If a student is not comfortable playing an exercise up to tempo, I can open the file in Transcribe! and slow down the pattern to a comfortable tempo.  Below is a screen shot of the program (Ex.1)

Example 1. Screenshot of Transcribe!

Screenshot of Transcribe software for slowing down music.
Example 1. Screenshot of Transcribe!

The tempo can be slowed down by a preselected percentage (Ex.2), or the teacher can use a slider to slow down the file to a specific percentage (Ex. 3).  Another window can be opened, allowing the user to reduce or increase the tempo (Ex.4).  Speeding up the tempo can come in handy when practicing technique or working on up-tempo patterns.

Example 2. Tabs for quick tempo manipulation

Another screenshot of Transcribe software for slowing down music.

Example 3. Slider for tempo manipulation

Another screenshot of Transcribe software for slowing down music.

      Example 4.  Audio effects window

Another screenshot of Transcribe software's audio and effects window for slowing down music.

I will often loop a section of music (Ex 5), so the student can feel comfortable before proceeding on to the next section.  The looped section can be played at full speed, or slowed down to a comfortable tempo.  The changes can be saved and exported to an audio file for later practice.  Be sure to adhere to all applicable laws when using a piece of music that is protected by copyright.  Transcribe! can also slow down video files.

Example 5. Looped section of music

Another screenshot of Transcribe software with a looped section for slowing down music.

Anytune (for Mobile Devices)

Many students prefer to use their mobile devices when practicing. For those students, I recommend the Anytune app. Similar to Transcribe!, it allows us to slow down the music without changing the pitch. It also allows us to loop musical phrases, which is especially helpful when practicing or transcribing music.

Anytune users can slow down the musical files in a similar way as Transcribe! The original file will be at 1.00 (as seen in Ex. 6). Clicking the minus button will slow the tempo of the file (as seen in Ex. 7).

Example 6.  Anytune Tempo Setting

Example 7.  Anytune (File Slowed Down to 75%)

Screenshot of Anytune app with file slowed down.

Slowing Down YouTube Videos

YouTube is another tool that teachers often use.  I often show students clips of drummers to reinforce concepts discussed in lessons.  The notes would fly by too quickly for the students to catch. 

I found a solution to this problem. I started using the “Playback Speed” settings in YouTube. Many students know that they can slow the videos down 25% at a time. However, many are not aware of the “Custom” setting, which allows for adjustments of 5%. Just as with Transcribe!, the pitch is not affected. 

Steps for Slowing videos down in YouTube

  1. Click on the settings wheel at the bottom right side of the video player window
  2. Click on “Playback speed” (See Ex. 8 below)
  3. Click on “Custom” (See Ex. 9 below)
  4. Move the slider to the left to slow the video (As in Ex. 10, “0.7” means the video is playing at 70% of the original speed)

Example 8. Playback speed button

YouTube video window with setting wheel settings.

Example 9. Custom Speed Settings

YouTube video window with custom speed settings.

Example 10. Adjust speed setting

YouTube video window with custom speed settings set to 0.70.

I have found that both Transcribe! and YouTube’s “Playback Speed” settings allow students to play musical examples right from the start.  Once the pattern is in their muscle memory, it is much easier for them to advance through the tempos until the speed of the original recording is attained.

Hopefully this technology will allow musicians and music teachers to feel more comfortable when learning new material.

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