Most Important Thing When You Get An iPad (iPod or iPhone)

blue-clouds-iconI’ve had this discussion with SO many people that it started to scare me that there are so many who don’t understand the first step when setting up your new iOS device!

STEP ONE – Set up an iCloud account and turn that sucker ON!

STEP TWO – Start playing with your new device!

Even if you are like my wife who never even realizes that she is using iCloud Step One is vital in the long run! You could use only Yahoo mail for instance, you wouldn’t even NEED to use the iCloud mail account for email. You might NEVER even look at your PhotoStream and honestly you may not ever even realize that there is such a thing! In fact, you may NEVER realize that you could go to a web browser on a normal computer to check your calendar for the day or to look up someones address and phone number. That’s OK!


Because in the situation that you actually need all the benefits that iCloud give you, there is nothing I can do for you if it’s not turned on.

You know when you used your iPhone to take all those pictures of your grandpa in the last month before he passed away? Well if your little sister gets you iPhone and changes the security code to something none can figure out and she doesn’t even know what the heck it was…. well, those pictures are gone too!

You know when you dropped that iPad onto the sidewalk outside and it hit on the corner and shattered? Well, when you go to turn your new iPad on you are going to have to find all those phone numbers and addresses from someplace!

What about all those passwords you saved in your Notes app? Hope you also wrote them down on a napkin and shoved it in your sock drawer because it’s going to be a bugger if you can’t recall all of those – think of it…. go ahead… what are you going to get locked out of? Your bank account… your mail accounts…. your wi-fi router… your Pay-Pal account…. AHHHHHHHHHH…..


So with iCloud turned on none of the horror stories above (all true stories by the way) would have occurred.

When I bought my iPhone the last time the salesperson asked if I needed help transferring all my numbers over from my old phone. I smiled, shook my head and proceeded to type in my iCloud user name and password (which I DO have memorized). Before I got to my car, al of my contact, calendars and email were already on my new phone. By the time I got back home and wasn’t driving I was enjoying the retina display to browse through my last 1000 pictures I had imported into iPhoto, man they look good on that screen too!

Safari bookmarks are synced if you would like them to be!

Currently I am trading iPads my wife’s iPad for another one with twice the amount of memory. As I go through the old device I am enjoying the fact that so many apps have used DropBox to store information on. This means that I can simply go to the new iPad, open that app, sign into DropBox and wa-la! My information is there!

These days more and more apps are allowing us to utilize other cloud services besides Apple’s iCloud and DropBox. We have many more viable options now…. Box, Google Drive, OnDrive and SugarSync to name a few. Of course we can’t forget SoundCloud.

For us musicians -

  • ForScore just put out an update that allows us now to access Box, Google Drive and OneDrive.
  • Documents by Readdle – This is the app I use as a gateway to ALL of my cloud accounts – It even allows me to access my personal Box account PLUS the Box account for the band!
  • PDF Reader – Same access as Documents
  • Cubasis – Allows access to DropBox and SoundCloud

The Cloud is awesome! Embrace it and dig in to see what app developers have taken the time to make YOUR life better by integrating the Cloud with your favorite apps!


Practice+ Tuner, Metronome and More App – iOS metronome for those who want to record their practice

Practice+ Tuner Large IconDynamic App Design has just released a new app aimed at those of us who need to use Practice while using a metronome+ tuner+ recorder. See what he did there… It’s not just a Metronome, it’s a Tuner, it’s a recorder, it’s a metronome….  it’s a Tuner, it’s a recorder, it’s a metronome… it’s a Tuner, it’s a recorder, it’s a metronome. …

The app is called Practice+ Tuner Small IconPractice+ Tuner, Metronome, Recorder and More… and costs $3.99. When you go looking for it in the app store type in more than just Practice+ because that will not find the app. Better yet… just click the affiliate link above.

Dynamic App Design already had another app out called Metronome+ that actually is a free app (with in-app-purchases) and this app is actually designed for both iPad and iPhone whereas Practice+ is only designed for iPhone currently. That means you just have to use it in 2x mode.

So why am I writing about this? Well, it’s marching season and I have been on the hunt for great metronomes and this is one of the ones I like! That’s why I write about any app here on this blog – if I am writing about it then you know it has my seal of approval – what ever THAT means.

So let’s take a look….

Practice+ RecorderThe first thing that caught my eye about this was that it has a built-in recorder inside of this metronome app! You pick the tempo you want, set the accented beats to what ever you would like, select the subdivisions and then make sure you have your favorite sound clicking away. whew… that is a LOT of options and there is a solution 

Then you tap the mic button, then tap the Rec button, start the metronome and start practicing. The app then records your practice for later review.

There is no editing the recordings as that is not the focus of this app – you record, give it a name and if you want share it through email or AirDrop. Actually, you can’t even edit the name after it’s done so get it right the first time or it will drive you nuts (see my typo?)

Practice+ SettingsPractice+ SetLsitsThe next feature that caught my eye is the fact that this app will save playlists for you. Remember ALL those settings we talked about above? Well, you don’t have to reset those every time for all the songs you are practicing! Simply store it as a favorite in your setlist.

It is possible to select different counts that are accented – so in the example to the left I have 5/4 as my time signature and the first count is accented along with the fourth count. If you have a time signature like 7/8 selected you have different options available like 3+2+2 or 2+3+2 or 2+2+3. much needed and much appreciated!

Then I also have selected 8th notes as my sub-division. With the sub-divisions there is a nifty feature called Complex Subdivisions – this adds some nice variation to the volume and tone of whatever sound you have elected as your click. 

Practice+ has a looping mode where you can set up how many times you would like to practice a section of your music while increasing the tempo after each repetition. So you can see below that I want four measures of click in 4/4 while hearing 8th note subdivisions at a tempo of 167BPM. After four measures the tempo is going to increase by 3 BPM’s. In the box to the right you can see that the app keeps track of your practice session for you – I started this session at 152BPM and did 5 reps to end up at 167BPM for a total of :34 seconds.

Practice+ Looping

There is also a tuner built into the app as well. The tuner will either listen to you play or the app will also generate a tone for you to listen to.

There are 5 different themes(colors) to pick from, you can see that I like purple!

Dynamic App Designs Metronome+ app that I mentioned has most of these same features and comes as a free app BUT you have severely limited options until you pay. Each mode is $1.99 (Options Mode, Record Mode, Pitch Mode, Practice Mode, and the Setlist Mode) or you can just pay $3.99 to unlock all modes as well as future modes. Metronome+ is designed for iPad but I am not so sure that it really looks all THAT much better than just using the Practice+ app in 2x mode.

This app goes into my folder of apps to use frequently! The fact that so man options are built in and I will not have to jump back and forth will be nice!

The Doors iPad App is Currently FREE!

The DoorsThe Doors iPad app is offering you a good taste of what the app has to offer for FREE! There is an in-app-purchase to unlock all of the content.

A comprehensive look at all things Doors, wrapped up in a beautiful app that will keep your interest WAY longer than that crappy re-en on TV tonight! Plus, who knows? You might even be able to use it as part of a music history lesson in your music class this year (actually, with as much content as there is in this app, you would be able to make more than just one lesson! Just be warned that the rating on this is 9+ for infrequent/Mild profanity and crude humor. I might not just turn kids loose with the app to go explore.

This type of app is one good reason that we teachers MUST have iPads with at least 64GB’s and I don’t even think the 128GB is an unreasonable thought. Especially since you can find the 128GB iPad Air in the refurb store every now and then which brings the price down!

Anyways…. go get the app!

Bouncing Ball Lyric Videos using Explain Everything

Katie over at Midnight Music has a wonderful tutorial to create those nifty little bouncing ball videos using the iPad App Explain Everything,.

This would be easy to use with a video like this but with sheet music I think too?

Go check it out…. If you use this technique let Katie know!

Steamworx for Alchemy Available Now – Let’s Make Music! (and meet the National/State Standards)

Alchemy ScreenShotPart of teaching any class is making sure we meet state and national standards for our content area. One of those areas for music is composition. Part of being successful at  composing is simply the act of doing it – over and over, frequently! Of course we are not ever going to want to try composing and creating if it isn’t fun. That means we have to have something inspiring us to get at it and be creative. The iPad has a ton of amazing apps to help inspire us. Here is one of those apps and it is free to start out!

Alchemy Synth small iconAlchemy Synth Mobile Studio by Camel Audio is a free iOS synth available for your iPad. The price of the app is FREE! Alchemy is one of those iOS apps that make great use of the touch interface. The app goes above and beyond what we can do with keyboards and older controllers. Once you load the app up you will see a set of 2 X/Y pads with a set of 8 morphing pad below that and then the keyboard below that. Those pads give you 8 different various alterations of the basic starting sound. It is an easy way to loose an hour or two playing around, running your finger around those pads and becoming enthralled with the morphing sounds that transpire!

There is a 4 track recorder builtin, you get AudioBus and Inter-App Audio, Drum Pads/Sounds,

The synth comes with 30 great sounds built in and you will get an additional 35 when you register the app. There are also additional sound banks, with 50 sounds each, available as in-app-purchases. Camel Audio has released its latest just recently….

For $4.99 Steamworx is available – this bank of sounds is a cinematic netherworld featuring keyboard instruments made from clocks, drum kits built with steam-powered machines, fog-shrouded soundscapes and gothic choirs.

Take a listen to the SoundCloud demos below. These could be a great deal of fun in an electronic ensemble! I am always looking for sounds that we can put to use that will be different than simply emulating acoustic instruments. If we wanted to sound like acoustic instruments then we would just play those instruments! Instead we have this amazing world of different, inspiring, weird and wonderful sounds available to us because we have electronic controllers in our hand. Of course this set of sounds would be a great deal of fun as an individual with just one iPad as well!

Take a listen – Then go download the app!



Here Is A Great List of Music Ed Blogs

Clear, a Great To-Do App On Sale.

I do not like using  a To-Do app that does not have a desktop version of the app as well as an iOS version. I also love seeing innovative designs that are clean and inspiring to look at.

Clear, from RealMac, fits both of those criteria. PLUS both apps are on sale! RealMac usually doesn’t usually offer discounted prices on their desktop software either so this is clearly a sweet deal!

Clear for Mac Small IconClear for Mac – $4.99 (50% off – down from $10.99)

Clear Small IconClear for iOS – $1.99 (down from $4.99)


Here are some highlights of what Clear does for you….

  • Simple, Gesture based design
  • Syncs your lists across devices via iCloud
  • Now you can set reminders
  • Looks mighty fine!
  • Sounds cool too – that’s a bonus for us musician types! (Unless of course you are in a teachers meeting – then you are going to want to turn your volume DOWN!)


Clear iPad SShot


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