Exciting News – Notion Music Notation App is bumped up to Version 5!

notion 5PreSonus has been busy, busy, busy! Not only did they release a new DAW for iPad called Capture Small Icon Presonus Capture, to use in conjunction with StudioOne but now Notion for the desktop has been updated to version 5!

Notion is PreSonus’s notation app that is truly cross platform – they have a version for Mac, Windows and iPad! Notion is probably your best choice for an all around music notation program because of that reason along with a few other details. Finale and Sibelius both have apps for the iPad that allow you to view notation files on the iPad but those iPad apps do not allow you to create and edit those notation files. IF you have Sibelius or Finale you should absolutely own those iPad apps though! For Sibelius users you should download Avid Scorch Small IconScorch. Finale users should download Finale SongBook Small IconFinale SongBook. They are both free and add an amazing level of access to those music notation files on your iPad!

Back to Notion V5….

HUGE BONUS THAT IS ONLY GOING TO CONTINUE TO GET BETTER:
You can go visit the Notion website to read everything but let me tell you why I believe this is a huge move for PreSonus/Notion. One of the new capabilities in Notion is that is is gaining some of the functionalities of StudioOne along with the look of StudioOne. What does that mean? That means that this nice notation app is gaining full-fledged DAW capabilities! New mixer, new plug-inslike Compressor/Limiter/EQ and by using Re-Wire you can even run a music notation file in Notion right alongside a recording project in StudioOne!

Do not underestimate the importance of this integration!

Another item that caught my eye is that Notion allows you to perform you Notion files live – adjusting tempo and volume to stay with the live performance simply by tapping along on a MIDI keyboard. PLUS Notion allows you to import audio files as a part of the project too! Of course one of the big new features is the ability to work with movies now. Sibelius of course has been able to work with video for quite a while now.

PRICE:
The price of Notion has gone up to $150, it used to be $100. If you have version’s 3 or 4 you can upgrade for $50. Now that $150 is the FULL price not an upgrade!

Compare that to the cost of Sibelius full price being $599 with upgrades costing from $50-$100 depending on which version you are running.

Compared to the cost of Finale full price being $600 with an upgrade costing you $140.

Just which version do you think students are going to be able to afford? Now, to be fair Finale does offer several slimed down versions of Final for $50-$120 and Sibelius offers a slimmed down version for $120. Both of those apps also offer educational pricing too.

Confused yet?

One more reason to like Notion – simple and straightforward and affordable!

WARNING:
These apps are going to cost you some hard drive space on your computer!

Notion – around 8GB
Sibelius – around 36GB
Finale – around 2.5GB

CHOICES: There used to be two main choices for music notation – Sibelius or Finale. Now we have a bunch of options! Some apps run on desktop as well as on iPad. Then we have some other options that are iPad only now. Here’s the run-down.
Notion – Desktop and Notion Small IconiPad version – $
Sibelius – Desktop version with Avid Scorch Small IconScorch (an iPad viewer) – $$
Finale – Desktop version with Finale SongBook Small IconFinale SongBook (an iPad viewer) – $$$
NoteFlight – works on desktop or iPad through a web browser – FREE!
MuseScore – Desktop version (FREE) with an iPad viewer $

SymphonyPro Small IconSymphonyPro – iPad app $
Tabular iOS Small IconTabular – iPad app $
NotateMe Icon SmallNotateMe – iPad app $ (Handwritten music PLUS amazing music scanning plugin – $)
SmartScore NoteReader – iPad app music scanning app (read about it here on Chris Russell’s website – http://techinmusiced.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/smartscore-notereader-is-available-how-does-it-compare/
Sonja Small IconSonja – iPad app free

FINAL VERDICT

If you only own an iPad and want a music notation app – Get Notion IF YOU HAVE SPACE – or SymphonyPro. You can NOT go wrong with either app!

If you want a great music notation app and you own an iPad plus you want to be able to work on notation files from the laptop as well as the iPad…. get Notion.

If you already own Sibelius and are as worried as I am about the future of Sibelius… (Heck, I haven’t even upgraded to version 7 yet let alone 7.5!) Notion is still going to be a great addition to having Sibelius. Especially since all three apps are Music XML compatible so you can transfer files back and forth easily!

Finale users are not worried a bit about the future of Sibelius but again Notion just might be a nice addition, especially the iPad version of Notion!

3 iOS Apps That Make it Simple for Recording Your Music

Hokusai Big Icon reSonare Big Icon Take Big Icon

Musicians always have the desire to record our music, be it our own or that music we are listening to around us. They also have longed for a way to quickly capture musical thoughts and ideas that pop into our heads. Usually these ideas pop into our heads at the most inopportune times – on the train on the way to work, at work during lunch break, or maybe waiting in line. How do we capture those ideas quickly with a minimum of fuss?

Have you ever used Apple’s Voice Memos app because it is so straightforward and drop dead simple to use? Then you also were probably left with a desire for that app to offer just a little bit more!

This is going to be a simple and straightforward post about a few apps that are great options to simply record. We are not talking about apps like GarageBand and Cubasis, nope, just apps that let you record quickly and easily. They let you record one or more tracks, do a few basic edits and maybe have a few other “extras” like adding reverb or sharing.

 

App Around The Longest -
Hokusai Small IconHokusai (Free) – (Introduced on August 1, 2011) [Has both iPad and iPhone versions]

Newest App (Geared towards vocalists [or in my opinion, ANYONE] ) -
Take Small IconTake Creative Vocal Recorder (Free) – (Released July 10, 2014) [Only has iPhone app but it will run on an iPad.]

App Directed Towards Instrumentalists -
reSonare Small IconreSonare (Introduced April 15, 2014) [Only has iPhone app but it will run on an iPad.]

 

Hokusai Screen1HOKUSAI:
I love the way Hokusai allows you to interact with the audio on a touch interface. This app allows you to do multitrack recording and also allows you to edit that audio – trim the ends, cut, copy, paste, delete and you even have some filters and special effects! You can transfer the edited audio via USB, DropBox or use the Open In option to send to other apps.

 

 

 

Hokusai Edit Screen

 

 

 

Take Record ShotTAKE CREATIVE VOCAL RECORDER:Take 3 Tracks Shot
Takes the drop-dead simplicity of your voice memos and combines to with features custom tailored to vocalists (Or any musician, in my opinion) Propellerhead has released a wonderful app today that allows you to start recording right away, with the tap of just one button!

But it gives you just a few more options as well. There are three parts per song you can record, allowing for some harmonies or an instrumental track. There is the all important metronome too! This metronome is not Beethoven’s metronome though, it has some fun loops and beats to get you inspired to musical greatness. Then there are even some basic effects controls that let you control the Reverb/Delay added to your recording. This is important because once again we are recording with our iOS mic which records in mono. Propellerhead designed this app to work specifically with that scenario though and engineered the app to maximize the quality of those recordings.

Of course what would an app be these days without ways to share our musical explorations? FaceBook, Twitter and email all are covered here as well as sending through a message.

This is a beautiful looking app and joins a fine family of Propellerhead apps on the app store that you need to check out!

The family includes:

  • Figure ($0.99) – builds some great 3 part music. The tag reads, “Got 3 minutes to make some music?” If you don’t have this yet it’s a ton of fun! The kids love it because it is so easy to get some pretty rocking music out of!
  • Thor Polysonic Synthesizer ($15) – one of the best synth apps out there.
  • ReBirth for iPad ($15) – Legendary software reborn for iOS

 

reSonare iPhone ViewreSONARE:reSonare Musicians
For the “classical” musician to record themselves performing on their instruments. Has pre-sets for different instruments. So if you are recording a flute you would then select the Flute preset for optimal sound vs having the Piano preset selected. Also helps improve the mono recording you get by using the built-in microphone on iOS devices by giving you a stereo widening effect along with EQ and reverb. Gives you a one click step to mastering your mono recording into stereo with pseudo-stereo and specialization techniques. (Read that as – Sounds better than plain old, normal recordings!)

Professional Musicians helped develop the app settings and they also created guidelines for recording each instrument that you can read in the app.

Allows you to share via email, Wi-Fi, iTunes files haring, DropBox and my favorite for students, SoundCloud.

Indispensable iPad App for Music Teachers! Anytune Pro+ (Warning about updating to latest Version!)

First of all – if you have been using AnyTune Icon SmallAnytune Pro+ as much as I have and you actively use the ability to access YouTube DO NOT UPDATE TO THE LATEST VERSION which will be 3.10.2

They are being forced to remove this ability (which is an amazing tool when trying to learn how to play a song!) Here is there warning….

Do Not Update Anytune

This is one of those prime examples of why having the AutoUpdate feature turned on for you apps is not always a great idea! If you are not sure about this then go to your Settings app and scroll all the way down to the iTunes & App Store on the left.

From their website this is a great suggestion here…

“If you happen to have purchased Anytune Pro or Anytune Pro+ rather than the free Anytune, you could always get the free one now to use for the download functionality and keep it backed up at 3.10.1. Then make use of the free version to export the original downloaded tracks to Pro+ via Open-In… just sayin’. ;)

That way you could still update Anytune Pro+ as we release updates to get the new Audiobus SDK (among other things), while still having a relatively convenient way of getting downloaded tracks into Pro+.”

NEVER USED THIS APP?
A couple of years ago I wrote about an app I use that I find indispensable as a teaching tool and as a personal tool. That blog post can be found here – Indispensable For Music Teachers

WHY IS THIS SO VALUABLE?:
The YouTube function of this app is just one of the great tools and ways we utilize it in our music lessons. We use this all the time during marching season because it is so easy to create “Marks” for all of our songs to use during marching rehearsals. That allows us to jump exactly to a specific spot in the song without fumbling around – HINT:I usually set the Mark 4 counts ahead of where it actually is at so that there is in effect a 4 count, count off. Plus it is absolutely easy to create loops so that we can march back and forth between two spots.

The app runs on iPod Touch, iPhone and of course iPad. That means my students use this app as well! In fact, there are plenty of kids with their own devices that it isn’t my own device running rehearsals it is now one of the students. Plus AnyTune gives you the ability to share Marks and Loop Points with the Cloud making it easy for me to create all those important points and the kids just simply pull those from the Cloud.

Anyways… maybe it’s time to write another post about this again? It IS marching season again.

There are really only two versions of this app for you to look at one is free with a bunch of In-App-Purchases and the other is their Pro+ version with just a couple of IAP’s. Here is a list of what the differences are….

AnyTune Icon SmallAnyTune (Free):

Features:
– Practice at your pace by adjusting the tempo without affecting pitch
– Visualize your song to find the part you want quickly and easily
– Organize songs into folders and playlists / setlists
– Mark and loop song sections for practicing
– Record and share
– Stream audio to Audiobus-compatible apps
– Transparent import from iTunes
– Import Audio from Videos
– Backup marks and settings to iCloud
– Shuffle

AnyTune Icon SmallAnyTune Pro+ ($14.99)
Basic (Included in Pro+):

- Custom Skins
– Ad Free
– Auto Loop Between Marks
– Lyrics Editing and Auto Scroll

Pro (Included in Pro+):
– Adjust Gain and Pan
– ReTune your song with scripted tempo and pitch changes
– Delayed playback start
– Tempo Interval Trainer
– Transcribe mode to facilitate replay
– Unlimited audio marks

Studio (Included in Pro+):
– Amazing HQ audio quality down to 0.05x!
– Pitch up or down by 24.0 semi
– Pinpoint your instrument in the song with FineTouch™ EQ
– Feel as though you’re playing in the band with LiveMix™
– Queue up a mark for playback with Play Next
– Fade-In or Fade-Out music when playing or pausing

Import (Included in Pro+):
– Import your music from Dropbox, WiFi and Open-In

Export (Optional In-App Purchase):
– Export a tempo/pitch adjusted track via Email or Open-In (m4a/aac format)

iPad’s in the Music Classroom – What do I do with a classroom set? (UPDATED – 6-28-14)

A reader asked an excellent question, “I am just wondering though, how do you utilize student iPads in the band rehearsal? I have a set of 30 iPads to use with my students, yet I find it difficult to find a meaningful way to use them other than as metronome, tuners or formative feedback using the Socrative app.”

I thought it might be good to post my reply here. I’m sure there are plenty of you that could chime in with some amazing ideas, so please add to the comments!

DIGITAL SHEET MUSIC:
If you have enough iPads for 1:1 usage  then using the iPads as digital music is one option that jumps out at me as being an awesome resource. That’s the first and foremost reason I purchased my iPad. I think having 1:1 iPad’s in the band rehearsal would just be a blast! There are some amazing apps to use for this.

 

SMARTMUSIC:
Another option is to use the iPads for an app like SmartMusic. Gives you an ultimate easy ways to get a chance to collect a ton of recordings and assessments on your students with a easy way to send them feedback. This is the most amazing tool I’ve found for testing and assessing students to give them feedback quickly. to allow parents to be in the loop, and to help collect data to prove progress throughout the year. SmartMusic is a subscription based app and is well worth the price IF you select some of your repertoire from their library of available titles. the fact that this is available on the iPad now is just astounding!

 

MUSIC THEORY:
What about using apps to teach and drill the students on music theory skills?

 

COMPOSITION and ARRANGING:
Use apps to have the students compose a short melody – one per week is very doable.

 

RHYTHM READING:

Have the students practice sight reading rhythms. Even if they have to do this in small groups.

 

EARTRAINING:
It is really easy to do ear training practice and have them turn in screen shots to track their progress. Again even if they are doing this in small groups with headphones and 2-3 way splitters.

  • Use EarBeater Small IconEarBeaterLITE (Free) or the Full Version EarBeater Small Icon EarBeater ($7.99) for ear training practice and have them turn in screen shots to track their progress. Again even if they are doing this in small groups with headphones and 2-3 way splitters.
  • UPDATED – Use InTune Small IconInTune to practice whether or not notes are flat or sharp – gets progressively harder as you get better. AWESOME APP! (This is only an iPhone app but it runs on iPad and is worth your time!)

 

FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT:
Using iPads to check your students on how well they have picked up on skills taught in class is a ton of fun, gives you a quick and easy way to find out who is doing well or who needs more help and what points need to be retaught.

 

GRADING WORK:
FreshGrade is a very interesting online grade book that I have been playing with this past two months. It allows me, or the students,  to upload their assignments in a variety of formats into our online grade book. They can do this themselves or I can use the teacher capture app or the website to do this myself. The parents have access as well to their students grade book. I am loving the fact that the possibilities to this are looking very nice for us music teachers who need to be able to collect examples of our students work that does not translate into a simple number very well. I have the students take a snapshot of their composition and upload it, we take a video of them performing their solo and upload it, or they could just simply record an audio file of their scales for me to grade. The fact that they can do the uploading them selves is amazing – saves me a TON of time! The fact that Mom and Dad can jump online to see the progress they are making is essential – play allows me to send instant communication to parents about their students as well!

 

PRESENTATIONS:
Have the kids build presentations on composers or music history or anything. Then you can use Airplay for the kids to present to the class.

 

EVALUATION – HIGHER ORDER THINKING:
Students could listen to rehearsal recordings you have uploaded to the class SoundCloud…. Then they can make comments on what went well or not so well.

 

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE…. leave me some comments below about other possibilities you see!

FileMaker13 in the Music Classroom – Contacts

FileMaker Large IconWhen you purchase FileMaker13 you are given starter solutions to get you going. Those solutions are very useful – you can learn many tricks and techniques by tearing them apart and looking at how they are constructed for one thing. Another reason they are useful is that you can take that starter solution and adjust it for your situation very easily! This gives you an excellent looking database with a whole lot less work! The starter solutions all come with very nice layouts for using the database on a desktop computer, then there are specific iPad layouts as well as iPhone layouts plus layouts for web based access. Each layout has been setup for a superb user experience on whichever platform you are using.

REASONS TO UPDATE:
One of the huge reasons I bought the updated version 13 of FileMaker is the fact that there are so many ways to easily create layouts for iPad and iPhone now. they have done much of the “figuring out” of the specifics for you – like how big everything should be on desktop vs iOS.

Another reason is that there are now sliding panels (saves room on your layout and work so much better than the tabbed interfaces from the past)

A third reason are the new popovers, a technique borrowed from the iOS platform that works so very well in a database!

WHAT I DID:
I took the Contacts starter solution and tore it apart and tweaked things to work for my job as a Band Director. There are some simple steps to make this happen that are not difficult at all. Then if you want to get fancier you may have to dig in a little bit more to learn some more advanced techniques (but seriously, if I can do this, anyone can!)

THE CHANGES:
Step 1 – I got rid of some of the fields that I would not be using. then I added a bunch of fields that I needed because of my situation.

Step 2 – I moved things around in layout mode to better suit me and the way I wanted to work.

Step 3 – I repeated those two steps for the iPad layouts as well as the iPhone layout.

Step 4 – I dug into the layouts and scripts and tweaked some more there -Things like….

  • when clicking on the email icon in the original would bring up only the work email and personal emails. I re-did it so that the following emails would pop up – Personal, Moms, and Dads email.
  • the information on the side panel was not as useful to me until I tweaked it to show parent information as well
  • I added a sliding panel on the right hand side for Personal Info in the desktop layout and Parent Info in the iPad layout.

Take a look at the before and after pics below….

Contacts Original

Contacts Original

 

Contacts DataBase Tweaked

Contacts DataBase Tweaked

FILEMAKER DEMO
You really should just go try these databases out for yourself. There is a free demo you can download for FileMaker13 from their website. Plus the FileMakerGo app for iOS is now free!

WRAPING IT UP – Some video for you…
Making those changes really are not difficult at all and did not take more than one evening of work – the hardest part was to get the look just right. Things like those lines around the fields and whether or not they should be curved.

I think that pictures are worth a 1000 words but video is worth even more so here are a few YouTube videos I put together to show you where I am at. there is still more to do but what I have so far is just so stinking cool – the fact that I have sweet looking layouts for desktop, iPad and iPhone has me very excited!

The Overview….

Adding Pictures and the List view….

What it looks like on the iPad….

and last but not least it what it looks like on my iPhone….

 

 

Critical App for Teachers – OneSafe (Currently 50% off too)

OneSafe Sale

I would NOT say this normally but if you are an Android or Windows user – keep reading because this app is for us all! :)

What apps are on the top of your list for MUST HAVE, USE IT ALL THE TIME?

One of the issues I have in my technology life is trying to keep all of my user names and passwords straight. My wife takes care of this issue by simply using the Notes app on her iPad. My students just simply don’t keep track of their passwords and that just causes issues.

The absolute best solution that I have found is to use the app oneSafe. They have just released a fabulous update and put the app on sale until Sunday!

Let’s take a look….

GETTING IN – oneSafe provides security for your passwords (and documents, photos and videos even!) like you wouldn’t believe – take a look at this opening screen. Now THAT’s a password…. forget the traditional set of only numbers for your passcode (unless thats enough protection for you, then you can leave it at the traditional, plain and simple set of numbers.) There are four options – PIN (4 digit code), Password (enter a password), Pattern (Draw a visual pattern – androidish) and the TRI-PIN (the most secure PIN tech ever!). There are questions you can setup in case you forget your password. There is a Decoy safe, Delf-destruction and even Break-in report capabilities!

OneSafe Password

 

STORING YOUR STUFF – Of course one of the obvious things to store in your Safe are passwords and user names. You are not limited to that though – how about Social Security numbers for you entire family, Tax numbers, Banking Numbers, Credit Card info and even documents like Word, Excel or PDF documents. Your photo’s and Videos that are private should not feel left out either.

All the cards can be spiffed up to look visually appealing. Your Credit Card is going to look like a credit card and you Social Security card is going to look like a social security card. Your iCloud user name and password is going to have a cloud on the background (or what ever you want really). There are many templates already set up and each card can be altered using builtin graphics.

oneSafe Cards

SYNC ALL YOUR INFO

This is one of the best parts of this app! We should never have to sync our information between devices ourselves these days. This app is evidence of that. OneSafe works on iOS, Mac OSX, Android, and even Windows! I’ve got the app on my iOS devices – all of them. They all sync to iCloud so that what ever device I have closest to me I can just grab and use. I enter the password on my phone and then it shows up on my iPadAir. Three days later when I forget that information I can grab my iPad2 that I have sitting on my desk at work and find the password!

You can store information on iCloud, DropBox or on the Local Device (meaning just whatever device you are currently on.

OneSafe Catergories

 

If you have been using only one or two passwords because you just know that you could never remember any more than that, you are asking for trouble! Just this past weekend my Twitter account got hi-jacked! What if I had been using the same user name and password for all my other accounts too?

You for sure don’t want to store those important numbers like credit cards and passwords in your Notes app because you KNOW that’s just not secure!

I’ve been using oneSafe for quite awhile now and it works flawlessly – a HUGE concern considering what we are dealing with here! Since the app is currently 50% off for iOS and Mac,  I would say it is time for you to grab it!

OneSafe Small IcononeSafe for iPad – $4.99 (50% off)

OneSafe Mac Small IcononeSafe for Mac – $9.99 (50% off)

 

FileMaker13 DataBase in the Music Classroom

FileMaker Large IconFileMaker13 is the latest version of FileMaker and it comes with some excellent improvements over the past! I will be adding a few more posts this next week about some of those improvements. In this blog post I want to highlight one improvement and point out a few reasons why using a database is so much better than using a spreadsheet. Then…. I’m going to bed. So every year I have to recruit and keep track of upcoming beginning band students. The first step in that process is our local music store comes in and gives a quick test to give us some indicators as to each students general musical aptitude – rhythms, pitch, chords and melody. Then they also have the kids try out instruments to see if they are a good fit for whatever they are interested in. These two “tests” give us a real basic building block for the next steps to be taken in class. I get those results in a spreadsheet form that looks much like this…. (I have already imported this into FileMaker though and have added a few more fields to the spreadsheet which is why you see some check boxes) 5th Database Spreadsheet Style   If I was to have left this info in spreadsheet form then I would not be able to foo some very useful things with that information like put is on my iPad in a different view along with a bunch of ways to mark things the first week of school… I can see at a very quick glance a lot of information about the student now. I can also make very quick changes to each students information – things like mark them present on four different days, indicate if they have changed their mind and actually need to be dropped, I can see if their parents attended the rental meeting or if they need a school instrument, if they have an instrument or a book and at the bottom I can see their test scores. (TAKE NOTE OF THE REPORTS BUTTON AT THE TOP!) 5th Database iPad Form   If I wanted to see more than just one kid at a time then I also have a list view setup which is even quicker when I am in the middle of 50 plus 5th graders anxiously ready to play those instruments! 5th Database List view As I mentioned above – did you take note of the Reports button on the Form View above? If not scroll back up and take a look… When I click on that button one of the new features of FileMaker13 kicks into action. PopOvers – something we are very used to having on iOS devices but now they are available in FileMaker Databases too! Here’s what pops up… Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 1.38.36 AM This is where the real fun happens…. I can now, at the touch of the button, print some very useful information. For instance, I can quickly get a list of all the kids signed up sorted by their last name OR sorted by the instrument they want to play. When I sort by the instrument they want to play I even have it set up to have section headers like this…. 5th Database Report Try to do THAT in a spreadsheet! It’s really easy when it comes time for me to send a list to the scheduling secretaries and principals of who is signed up because I can hit that button that pulls up all 57 kids, out of 91, that signed up for band and then it will automatically be sorted by last name and have a heading and footer and will even have a count of how man kids are on the list! NOW… I will say that I do use spreadsheets frequently. Our school grade book system will export reports as excel files of students names, phone numbers, parents info and their address/phone info. It is so easy to take those spreadsheets and import them into FileMaker though that I don’t use those spreadsheets for very long! TO WRAP UP The current iOS version of FileMakerGo 13 Small IconFileMakerGo is free and works on iPad as well as on iPhone! – it used to cost but the fact that is free is one of the new features of FileMaker13! It is a very nice addition! The desktop version of FileMaker is for Mac or Windows even though FileMaker is actually owned by Apple. It is not the cheapest program but it is also one of my most used programs year after year! The app comes in two version the Pro version which is all most people would need and then the advanced version which is more for database designers who want to develop and sell their databases. Then there is even FileMaker Server software but that’s a whole different story there!

Teachers Take Note – Free Resource for FileMaker Go

TeachersCompanion Logo

I have been using databases for years – I see so many people using spreadsheets for the wrong reasons and I feel bad for them! They really should not be tracking things like instruments, uniforms, music library and so many other projects inside of a spreadsheet! Spreadsheets are a great first step but after getting all that data into the spreadsheet there is no flexibility. It is so easy inside of a database to take a look at that data in so many different ways.

Let’s take a look at one free resource that I was introduced to the other day. This is a database called Teachers Companion and it is currently free. If you are using an iPad it is very easy to download the free FileMakerGo Small IconFileMaker Go app from the app store and then load up this database.

Here is what you get inside of the database that is currently working, the database is still being worked on so some features are not quite there yet.

  • A place to keep track of all your contacts
  • A place to keep track of your courses
  • Templates that you can develop and reuse
  • Invoices to keep track of who owes you money and along with that a spot to keep track of products you are putting into those invoice
  • A Purchases module to track what you have spent so far and who you have bought it from

There is also a Calendar and a Reports module that do not currently work.

So here are my thoughts on these…..

TeachersCompnaion ContactsAs for the contacts, you may wonder why not just simply use your Contacts app from Apple. The advantage to having your students all in a database like this is that their information can then be used in the other areas of the database – like pulling their names into your courses or automatically inserting the name/address/phone info onto an invoice. I have my own FileMaker database setup so that after creating a course with all the students in it I can run reports in all sorts of different ways – sorted by last name, sorted by what instrument they play, sorted by graduation year or maybe sorted by graduation year AND separated by boys vs girls. TeachersCompanion does not have that sort of capability set up though yet – That sort of capability would possibly end up in the Reports module.

The Courses module is pretty simple…. you can import students from your Contacts module, set days and times for the class and then you have a section for Lesson Plans. Now the Lesson Plans section is pretty straight forward – One box to input a description and then a Plan Date is connected to the plan as well. There is the capability to pull in Templates so you wouldn’t have to type the same thing over and over though.

The Invoices Module allows you to create an Invoice when someone needs to be charged for something. You create an invoice, select a person from your contacts and then start adding line items from your Products module. Then you are given the capability to print or email or save the invoice as a PDF. The beauty of this module is that it is very quick to create an invoice, print it and hand it to a kid to take home so that Mom knows he owes money for that reed and neck strap you just gave him. Later when the kid brings back the money you then simply mark that invoice as paid. The only problem here is that there is no capability to put in how the kids paid you (cash, check) or when he paid you or if for some reason if he has to make several payments.

Under the Purchases Module you create a PO, select a company from the Supplier Module and then start adding line items by selecting them from the Products Module. Using this module allows you to keep track of what you order in any given year – I am always looking at my database like this to see how many reeds I’ve used at the end of the school year so I know how many to order for the next year. The problem with TeacherCompanions implementation currently is that there is no way to print off a purchase like there is an Invoice. Of course in my case that’s not an issue because I have to enter my Purchase Orders in our schools system anyways and I wouldn’t ever really need to print from TeacherCompanion.

TO WRAP IT UP

There are some shortcomings of TeacherCompanion -

  1. First problem is already obviously being fixed – Currently the database is not really designed for iPad sized use. It works but feels very small, the controls and buttons need to be bigger. It also seems cluttered. That is a hard issue to fix because they are indeed trying to put a lot into this offering! If you visit their website it is listed on the front page that they are working on putting a better interface together.
  2. Not enough reports – I am looking forward to seeing what they put in this Module
  3. Not very useful Lessons section – I know my state is not going to be satisfied with the bare bones info from inside of TeacherCompanion. There is no way that I could replace PlanBook Small IconPlanBook or DayBook ProDayBookPro with this simple database.

Highlights -

  1. Way better than a spreadsheet
  2. The possibility of keeping track of invoices and purchases could work in TeacherCompanion
  3. Love the fact that I do not have to keep typing things in time after time (addresses, templates)

I think that many people who have never used a database like this before would benefit from using TeacherCompanion and since it is free with the promise of better things to come…. why not try it out!?

THE REAL DEAL

Now if you want to really dig in and get serious about databases… Go purchase the desktop version of FileMaker and then you have ALL the flexibility you would EVER need. In fact I will soon be writing a few posts about the databases I am using and have been using for years! OF course the downside is that FileMaker is not cheap and TeacherCompanion is free! I am surprised there are not more offerings of databases like this for teachers to use with the absolutely free FileMakerGo app for iPad and iPhone. Of course, unless you have someone to develop a database for you using the desktop version of FileMaker the Go versions are not going to be much help.

Loopy HD is on sale!

Loopy HDLoopy HD is on sale right now for $3.99 (down from $7.99)

Want to see a trombone player using a looper? Check out this video of Christopher Bill performing Happy by Pharrell Williams

iPad App for Guitar Lessons (Teacher and Student BOTH Should Have This!)

Guitar Notes IconOne of the reasons I bought an iPad was to keep myself organized as a teacher. It is easy to see the possibilities of using the iPad to keep all that stuff in one spot! Of course finding apps that harness those possibilities is a bit different. Just today I went searching for a document that my principal sent me and I then proceeded to “file” away, where I would not loose it. I never did find it – after looking on/in Google Docs, DropBox, Box, PDF Expert, my laptop, my desktop and a few other spots. You MUST have a system for WHERE to put all that stuff even when it is all inside your iPad (or the cloud).

Thanks to a Sandra, a reader of this blog, I’ve found a great app for those who teach guitar or take guitar lessons!

Ryan Lendt is a guitar teacher out in the Bay Area. Ryan’s musical upbringing is very similar to many of our students in our music classes – he got an instrument and became enthralled with it, practicing many hours! Then he discovered a new instrument, guitar, and took traditional guitar lessons. What better way to get better right? Well, he soon discovered that learning Hot Cross Buns was NOT what he REALLY wanted to learn so he formed a band and started making music with friends! They started performing and they loved it!

Now Ryan teaches guitar and rock band lessons – the way he wished he had been taught, through music the kids listen to and love. Which brings us back to the reason for this blog post……

Ryan developed an app to help keep himself organized, it is called Guitar Notes IconGuitar Notes. It is an app that contains materials he uses in every lesson – 43 lesson pages, blank tab and chord chart paper along with the capability to bring in screen shots and the best part of all – he can share the materials he works on in the lesson with his students afterwards.

The concept is brilliant – Ryan gets a new student so he opens his app and starts a new book. Then you start creating new pages in his book, you can add pages from the 43 lesson pages (things like charts telling the names of the strings, a piano keyboard or a blank chord diagram), and then you can annotate on top of those pages. Of course you can start with just a blank page and type or draw on that as well. If you search a website to find a chord chart you can take a screenshot and bring that into the book as well.

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 11.35.37 PM Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 11.35.48 PM Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 11.35.58 PM

There is no more trying to find that worksheet in the file cabinet drawer and then trying to print it off. No more do you have to try to remember what each kid was working on. No more do you have to HOPE that your student brings last weeks materials back to their next lesson because it’s all inside of their iPad inside of Guitar Notes!

Simple and brilliant! Plus it’s $0.99! What is their to think about here?

Here is a YouTube video introducing the app and Ryan’s thought behind it…

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