Thumb Jam Tutorial

Thumb Jam is a virtual musical instrument with a large range of sounds. The sounds are played by moving fingers over the note stripes on the touch screen of the iPad. Here we will look at a basic set up to allow a participant to play along with a piece of music in the key of G, ‘I’m a believer’ by The Monkees’ for example. We will select a ‘Blues Organ’ sound which fits well with the music.

First we will select the instrument we want to play:

In the top left corner of the screen touch the ‘Sound’ icon; this will reveal a drop down menu:

Select ‘Change Instrument’ and a drop down list of available instruments will appear. Scroll through the list until you find the instrument you require. Here I have selected ‘Blues Organ’ from the ‘Select Preset’ menu by touching the name on the list:

Once you have selected the instrument you require touch ‘done’ in the top left corner of the preset menu and the menu will disappear. Make sure the volume is turned up on the iPad and you will now be able to hear the organ sound as you swipe your finger over the iPads touch screen.

Now to put the instrument in the musical key we require; in this instance G major.
First to select the scale type press the ‘Sound’ icon again in the top left corner of your screen.
This time we will choose ‘Change Scale’:

Touch the ‘Change Scale’ icon and a drop down menu of scale types will appear. Select ‘Major’; it will turn blue and a tick will appear next to it:

Again touch ‘Done’ in the top left corner of the ‘Scales’ menu and the menu will disappear.

Next we need to select the key of G. To do this we need to activate the toolbar. Touch the ‘Prefs’ icon in the bottom right corner. Then turn on ‘Show Toolbar’ in the Preferences menu. You should now see a toolbar appear along the top of your screen.

Press ‘Done’ in the top left corner of the Preferences menu and the menu will disappear.

Now touch the ‘#b’ icon on the left of the toolbar and a selection of the 12 available keys will appear. Select ‘G’ and it will turn yellow once selected. Press the ‘#b’ icon again and the list of keys will disappear.

Thumb Jam is now set to play a Blues Organ in the key of G major!

You can go back to the ‘Prefs’ menu in the bottom right corner and switch the ‘Show Toolbar’ off again but it can be useful to leave it on to make further changes quicker.

Additional features

There are a few settings that are particularly useful when disabled participants are playing Thumb Jam. One of these settings is turning ‘Polyphonic’ off.

As a default Thumb Jam has ‘Polyphonic’ on which means that many notes can sound at the same time; this can result in participants playing a group of notes close together making it sound discordant.

With ‘Polyphonic’ turned off these discordant accidents are prevented as Thumb Jam will only produce one note at a time.

To turn ‘Polyphonic’ off first press the ‘Edit’ icon in the bottom left of your screen then select ‘Sample’ to reveal controls over parameters for the ‘Blues Organ’ sound. (this menu refers to the current sound selected; in this case Blues Organ)

Slide the ‘Polyphonic’ switch to the left to turn off. It should change from blue to grey once it is off. Press ‘Done’ in the top left corner of the sample menu box and it will disappear. Thumb Jam is now set to play only one note at a time.

Note: any time you select a new instrument it will have ‘Polyphonic’ turned on as default. Repeat these steps to turn it off. Once ‘Polyphonic’ is turned off you can save your edited instrument by pressing the ‘Edit’ icon then select ‘Save Preset’ from the Edit menu then select ‘Save as New Preset’ and rename e.g. Blues Organ mono’ and press save. This edited instrument will now appear in the ‘User’ section of your instrument list for future use.

Guided access

A very useful function when working with disabled participants or children is ‘Guided Access’; this prevents the user from accidently changing parameters or exiting the application.

To enter Guided Access triple click the home button on the iPad. (the 3 clicks need to be fairly quick and close together to enter Guided Access). You should get a message in the centre of the screen ‘Guided Access Started’. To set up your Guided Access for Thumb Jam triple click the home button again and enter your iPad’s passcode.

Thumb Jam will now minimise into the centre of the screen with a message at the bottom of the screen ‘circle areas on the screen you would like to disable’. The areas you need to disable are the ‘Prefs’ icon in the bottom right of your screen, the ‘Edit’ icon in the bottom left of your screen and the whole of the ‘toolbar’ in the top of your screen.

To draw around these areas begin with your finger inside the Thumb Jam screen; take the circle outside the Thumb Jam area and return into the Thumb Jam area and join your line up. Once you have successfully drawn around the area you want to disable it will turn light grey. You can resize the area by dragging the white spots or if you want to delete it press the white dot with the x in it.

When you are happy that you have drawn round the areas you want disabled press ‘resume’ in the top right corner of the screen and you will return to Thumb Jam in full screen but with the areas you have drawn around greyed out.

Thumb Jam is now ready to play but the user can’t exit or change parameters.

To exit Guided Access triple click again and enter your iPad passcode.