Pixelmator – A real photo editor for your iPad

I suppose it's because I am finishing marching season and I have to go through all the photos I've taken this year, that I am thinking so much about photo apps. Or maybe it's just because Pixelmator is such a game changer of an app.

Pixelmator is a brand new app that we first saw in a demo the day that the iPhone6 was introduced.

If you have ever wanted to edit those pics you have taken but the edit options in Apple Photos just are not enough for you then it's time to move up! Of course maybe if you had an app like Pixelmator, you would find new and exciting ways to manipulate your photos to bring your teaching materials to life?

Filters, effects, adding text, shadows, being able to adjust color, light balance, or drastically improve less then perfect pics with a few taps…. All of this is what Pixelmator is about.

I love the heal tool…. You really have to experience this to believe it. Have an extra person in your pic that you don't want? Brush over them and wa-la, they are gone, replaced by a magic background of what would have been there if they weren't.

This is one more of those apps that has a desktop version to match. The best part is that the iPad version was developed specifically for iPad, not simply adapted to it. This means that everything is optimized for touch. It also means that through iCloud, your pics and their edits can be found both on your iPad as well as your Mac!

Of course since you are going to want to share those amazing pics you have edited with parent of your students, sharing has to be easy. Pixelmator has Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook all covered.

Pixelmator is $4.99

 

Save Time In Front Of Class With LaunchCenter Pro for iPad

Teachers all understand the importance of saving even a few keystrokes, a few seconds, in front of a class of middle students! The more that technology takes a back seat in a lesson plan the better off we all are. If the tech isn't bringing attention to itself but the students learning is front and center then the tech is in the right place.

That means that we must become very comfortable with the tech we are using, we can not be stumbling and fumbling to make things happen. It also means that any shortcut we can use to get technology working faster and smoother is a good idea.

Launch Center Pro for iPad and iPhone has a simple mission statement that fits the above criteria…. “Launch actions, not just apps!” Think about it…. Why do we launch an app in the first place? We launch apps to do things. That means that once the app launches we then start tapping more buttons to do that “thing”.

I message parents frequently but I usually wait until after class…. What if I could speed that task up and send a message faster? Would I communicate even more?

I like to tweet about exciting learning taking place in class but opening the camera, then taking a picture, then opening Twitter to send the tweet is quite a few steps. What if I could do all of that in one step? Would I spread more news about the learning going on in class?

What about taking attendance…. Open Safari, open bookmarks then finally tap the website for school attendance. How about jumping right there?

Well if those sort of thoughts entice you to rethink your use of tech then you need to take a look at Launch Center Pro… There is the iPad version and then the iPhone version.

Here is the first line from their website…., “It’s like speed dial for everyday tasks. Launch Center Pro saves you time by launching complex actions in a single tap.”

 

 

Music Apps on Sale That Musicians Should Own.

Currently there are several apps on sale that are essential apps for any musician who wants to make music with their iOS device.

AudioBus small iconFirst – This one is just a no brainer, if you do NOT have this app then get it now. AudioBus2 is THE app that has opened the doors to amazing new possibilities with music making on iPads/iPhones/iPodTouch. AudioBus2 allows one app to pass audio off to another app and even lets us throw in a 3rd app for effects in the middle! This allows you for instance to use a DAW, such as Cubasis/MultiTrack DAW/GarageBand, to record the audio from a synth app like Thor PolySonic Synthesizer.

AudioBus2 is on an 80% sale currently for 0.99 cents!

 

Cubasis small iconSpeaking of Cubasis…. IF you really want to get serious about recording audio AND MIDI on your iPad then this is the app for you! Even if all you ever do is record audio from outside sources and other apps then this is probably the app for you! It runs much better on an iPadAir than it does on an iPad2 though. If you are still on iPad2 then maybe you should look at MultiTrackDaw.

Cubasis is on a 30% sale – down from the normal price tag of $49.99 to costing you only $33.99 currently. When an app that costs that much is on ANY kind of sale like this you should grab it! Cubasis is a serious step up from GarageBand, the options this app will open up for you are pretty serious! Which explains the price tag. I would NOT suggest spending this much money if I myself did not use the app (for which I spent my own hard earned money too by the way)

 

Thor Small iconThe last app right now that I want to mention is Thor PolySonic Synthesizer. This app is only on sale until tomorrow, the 31st of August. It is one of the most amazing synth apps for iPad currently. The price is only $4.99 currently which is 66% off.

Readdle Apps Are On A HUGE Sale Right Now!

Such exciting news this morning! Readdle is celebrating it’s 7th birthday and has all of their apps on up to a 70% sale for 48 hours (well now it’s less then that)

PDF Expert5 Small IconPDF Expert (version 5) is $4.99 instead of $9.99 – This is one of those apps that I use for most every other PDF document that I use for all of my life. It’s one of those apps that makes a huge impression on people. I use it to sign forms, fill out paperwork, and rearrange pages. This app let’s me get stuff done fast! My principals appreciate that! In fact I take my iPad down to them and just have them sign entry forms for festival entry right on my iPad – they are impressed.

Calendars 5Calendars 5 is $2.99 instead of $6.99 – If you are still using Apples Calendar app – here’s your chance to upgrade!

ScannerPro iconScanner Pro is $2.99 instead of $6.99 – When I need to get a physical document that I do not have on my iPad into a digital document this is the app I have found that works the best so far. Of course an actual scanner would be better but sometimes you just can’t get to one of those!

PDF ConverterPDF Converter is $1.99 instead of $6.99 – I use the print to PDF function all the time on my Mac and used to wish I could do the same on my iPad, well this app answers my wish. Now, if only my other two wishes were to be granted……

Documents App LOGODocuments 5 is free – Between PDF Expert and this app I have all my documents that I feel I must have with me at all times right on my iPad. I was blown away when this app went to the great price of FREE. It even has a media player built in now – even though I hardly use THAT!

Someone is going to ask about their Printer app – I do not use that app because I use Printopia.

Essential iPad Apps For Marching Band Directors (during the prep for marching season)

Are you a Marching Band Director with an iPad? Well then you are probably working through much of the same preparation as I am. How does my iPad help me in all of this craziness?

DRILL PREP:
In the prep of the drill I have my iPad on the entire time even though I am writing drill in Pyware 3D. On the iPad I use UnRealBook Small IconUnRealBook or ForScore Small IconForScore or possibly even GigBook Small IconGigBook to display my music. I also use the annotation tools in those apps to write on top of my music all of the drill chart pages and instructions. I can not imagine going back to paper music and having to write al of this in, copying the scores, inserting into sheet protectors, using three ring binders and then just waiting for that rain to wreck it all!

If you have an iPad and you are NOT using one of these three apps along with PDF’s for you sheet music you need to go get on this task right now! These apps are some of the apps that have been on my iPad since I bought the first iPad on the day it was released! In fact, as a music teacher, this is THE reason I bought that iPad1! Which of the three should you start with? Pick one…. seriously…

DRILL CHARTS:
I have a new app that I think is going to be amazing this year – DrillBook Next Small IconDrillBook Next is $9.99 for the Directors version of the app that I just discovered this year. After creating the drill in P3D I then simply export performer coordinate sheets which I then import into DrillBook Next – giving me my entire drill in interactive format on my iPad!

Students can also easily use the app as well – BONUS: they can use it on DrillBook Next Small IconDrillBook Next Reader for iPad ($4.99), DrillBook Next Small IconDrillBook Next Reader for iPod ($2.99) or even Android ($2.99) as well as on a desktop computer (on the computer it’s free, yup, FREE!)

The only thing missing here is being able to watch my drill and have it synced to music. After talking to Scott – the developer – though, I fully understand the copyright issues this would cause with the way access to the drill works.

MUSIC SCORES CREATION and EDITING:
I have not convinced myself to go iPad on this front while creating and editing my musical notation files yet. I have ordered my Notion5 though for desktop and am committing to digging in and learning Notion this year. I mean, come on! There is a full fledged desktop AND iPad app available for Notion Small Icon Notion! Yes, I could work with NoteFlight but Notions excellent sound have won me over!

Currently my workflow is to create and edit in Sibelius then export to Avid Scorch Small Icon Avid Scorch. I also export PDF files to use in ForScore or UnRealBook. I will say that when I use Scorch I find one extra step is needed to make great use of the size of the iPad. If I just open the full score there is always too much info on the screen. On the desktop I simply focus on select staves and all is well. In fact if you save your Sibelius file with it focused on those select staves then when you email it to yourself and open it in Scorch it will stay focused! My problem is that I want to also have a DrumLine condensed score I can jump back and forth between. Well…. here’s your Sibelius Tip of the week – I wrote this Blog Post back in Aug 2012 and I use it all the time because of dumping scores over to the iPad. This Blog Post will show you how to set up condensed scores so that they are just a tap away, just like you can quickly jump to any other part in the score.

Of course I also have to have a metronome app while arranging music – I find that I have used Tempo Small IconTempo the most of all my metronome apps. It works on my iPad as well as my iPhone. It looks great on both. This is not a metronome designed for the iPhone that I have to use in 2x mode, it was designed for both devices screen sizes.

MUSIC RECORDINGS (of our show):
CLICK TRACK CREATION – For each of my marching show pieces I always add in a click track at least for an intro measure. That way we are not guessing when the recording is going to start as we rehearse. In order to do that GarageBand small iconGarageBand works fine.

MultiTrack DAW small iconMultiTrack DAW or Cubasis small iconCubasis would work too. The process is simple – Import the recording, create another track with drums in it and record a few measures of you tapping along to the recording. Move that audio to the beginning and export the new file.

Remember – These apps would also give you an excellent way to record your groups for evaluation later! UnRealBook and ForScore allow you to record rehearsals (or whatever) while you are viewing your PDF music even!

REHEARSAL with those recordings – One of my essential apps for marching band rehearsal is AnyTune Icon SmallAnyTune Pro+. We use this app constantly all season long so we can rehearse our marching skills to a recording of the show. AnyTune Pro+ allows us to set book marks so we can quickly jump to any place in the song we want. We can slow the music down and we can even loop a section if we want to go through it a few times. In fact, if you are only going to by one app this fall this just might be your best choice!

MUSIC RECORDINGS (of any song):
I of course use my iTunes app and library to play music for the students over AirPlay – AirServer App works wonders for not having to have wires connected!

I have also started using SpotifySpotify. On the iPad it is amazing the music you have available at your fingertips FOR FREE! There is so much educational music on there it astounds me – soloists for all instruments, classical, jazz, brass band, pop and whatever else you want.

RECORD KEEPING:
I use FileMakerGo Small IconFileMaker on my desktop and iPad all the time. I have created databases in FM that save me a ton of time every year. Want a roster of my class, tap that button. Oh, you want it sorted by instrument? No problem. What about if you want a list of your band sorted by gender but then also broken down by grade level and then sorted by last name? Every year you have to order shoes? Not a problem, here is the list…. same with shirts…. and by the way I grouped the kids names by size of course!

The drawback to FileMaker is that you have to create the database on the desktop FIRST! Then it can all be transferred and worked with on an iPad or iPhone. Of course if you have a friend that has designed a database maybe they would be nice enough to share! But seriously, go buy a database and STOP USING SPREADSHEETS! There are a few very useful sample databases that come with the download of the free iOS FM13 App. The real fun is when you can edit those to make them work in ways to benefit you and your program.

DropBox Small IconDropBox is also an essential place for me to share files with students like music arrangements as they become available or PDF’s of the drill charts (although with DrillBook Next, I think PDF drill charts are going bye-bye!)

We also use DropBox to store all of the registration and medical forms for all the kids. They send it to us, we scan it and upload it to DropBox. From there my entire staff has access to important information. DROPBOX TIP – We will also make sure to download those files to our devices so we can have access when there is no network at camp, on trips or God forbid in the hospital.

SOCIAL MEDIA:
I try really hard to keep my blog up to date on wordpress by using Blogsy Small IconBlogsy. Blogsy is heads and tales better then the WordPress App. When my students are blogging I suggest they use the WordPress app because it is free and it does actually work (most of the time).

I also have a band Twitter, FaceBook and YouTube.

CALENDAR:
The Apple Calendar app is basic as is the Reminders app. The benefit to using those two apps is that I use SIRI to interact with my schedule all the time.

When I actually need to open an app though I use Calendars 5Calendars 5 or Fantastical Small IconFantastical – a huge step up from the other apps!

I also love using GoodTask Small IconGoodTask for my reminders (you know, this might need to be your one MUST buy app for the fall… hmmm….)

 

This is just a blog post to get started with ideas of how essential tech is in a Band Directors life during Marching Season

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.

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