Organizing Videos of Tunes on an iPhone

Using the Notes app, you can import videos and annotate (iOS 8 or later.) Organizing videos on a note lets you add things like song titles and key information. This is great for organizing a repertoire of music.

Learning with Call and Response

I’ve been taking banjo lessons for a little over a year now. This is taught in a traditional format with call and response, so all the new songs I learn are without written music.

Recording New Songs

At the end of class, I’ll record a video of the tune so I have something to review later. This works great, except it’s hard to remember the names (or the keys) of all the tunes I learn.

I’ve resorted to keeping a separate note to list the songs I’ve learned, but referencing between the two is difficult.

Problem with the Photos App

The built-in photos app in iOS allows you to organize videos into albums, but not with labels or tags.

My first attempt to solve this problem was researching if there was a way to add captions or other organizational data within the the photos app. There is not.

Alternative Photo Organization Apps

I tried three curated app recommendations from the app store’s photography page (Pixbrite, Forevery, and Flic.) None of them offered an easy way to organize videos with titles or tags that would help me organize my tunes.

Alternative Photo Storage Apps

I also tried Google Photos. This might actually work, but when I grouped 4 videos into an album, it immediately started uploading all the (rather large) files. I don’t really want to wait to upload videos before I can organize and tag. Ultimately, I’m really just trying to solve for this offline to my phone anyway.

Modifying EXIF Data for the Videos

Each video shot on a smartphone also includes some extra data in a format called EXIF. There are plenty of apps for modifying this information. While technically you could add your own song key or title caption information, I didn’t find any solutions that would allow me to filter or search by this information easily.

Media Based Flashcard Apps

I briefly looked into using flash card apps, since essentially I want to just take these videos, add a few notes, and organize them into stacks. After investigating Anki and Studies, I realized that while these apps may work for this the experience feels disconnected and require a bit of a learning curve.

I’m Using the Notes App

After all of this, I remembered that as of iOS 8, you can add other media to Notes. Hit the camera button on the toolbar, select the video, and it’ll run through a quick compression pass before adding it to the note. I then just add a title and a key, and I’ve got everything in one place.

It’s not a perfect solution, but it works for now. It certainly beats writing my own app, giving me more time to play the banjo.

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