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!

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…

Getting Students Excited About Playing Music – How?

Breaktrhough LargeFirst and foremost is the need for students to have access to professional musicians that are amazing teachers that are excited about passing down their musical skills to others.

Second – One of the critical parts of our students getting better is the obvious fact that they need to PLAY and NOT just during class time. If they are going to be convinced play then they probably will want to play music that they like! My daughter is a prime example of this…. she looks up music on the internet all the time and then loads up a YouTube karaoke track to play along with it. Now, let’s be straight here…. the “music” she usually finds is just a bunch of A, B, C,’s where someone has written down the note names and threw them up on a website. WHO CARES!? She’s practicing her flute and making a ton of progress in the meantime!

Third – Another critical part of convincing kids to play their instruments outside of class should be obvious…. Its way more fun to play music with others. Or at least with this rocking karaoke track or to create a backing track yourself and then play along with that.

I found a trombonist tonight that is using technology to his advantage, now granted he has had a TON of instruction from some amazing professionals. Christopher Bill has taken pop tunes, learned them – the melody and accompaniment, then arranged them into ensembles and lastly recorded himself performing these songs. Of course technology plays a huge part in this process. Tech to record himself, then tech to promote those recordings. Now he has 39,436 followers on his YouTube channel and his version of Happy by Pharrell Williams has over 1 million views!

For instance – take a look at this YouTube video of Happy

What if we could get tech into our students hands that would allow them to create loops like this? Would it make for a more engaged student? Loopy HDLoopyHD ($3.99) is an amazingly simple to use iPad app that also works for iPodTouch and iPhone.

What if our students started writing out transcriptions of songs they knew using apps like NotateMe Icon SmallNotateMe ($34). This way they would actually be writing music out by drawing the musical symbols themselves. Using an app like SymphonyProV3SymphonyPro ($9.99) or Notion Small IconNotion ($14.99) would be an awesome way to get their ideas into a nicely formatted and printed pieces of sheet music too. Then they could come back to school and pass the parts out to their friends, in the correct key for their instrument, and perform with a group of live musicians. Hmmmmm…… These are apps costing a fraction of what music professionals have been paying for Finale and Sibelius for years – those apps cost $250-$500 for a normal computer! How much more “in reach” does an app have to get to grab a kids attention and get them started being creative!

Breakthrough Small IconHere is a link to the Breakthrough album by Christopher Bill on iTunes.

iPad and Cloud Issues with photo uploading…. Got any ideas? (UPDATE)

So I’ve run into a weird issue that I did not expect to have and I can not find the answer. Let me tell you what is going on and maybe someone out there can help me figure out what I am doing wrong!

I have taken photos of student compositions using my iPad. I then went into iPhoto and edited them – just basic stuff like cropping and rotating a few where I did not catch the fact that the camera had not automatically rotated. Then I wanted to upload those photos to the cloud – I started with Box because I have a ton more space there. First of all, I was amazed at how quick the photo’s uploaded AND they uploaded in the background which allowed me to do other things on my iPad while that was processing. So I was pretty happy UNTIL I went to my laptop to rename the photos with the student names. Upon looking at the photos I realized that the unedited versions had uploaded! EVEN THOUGH I COULD CLEARLY SEE THAT I WAS SELECTING EDITED VERSIONS TO UPLOAD!

I thought maybe that it was an issue with the Box app so I repeated the process with DropBox and THE SAME THING HAPPENED!

After thinking about things for a while I thought that maybe the edited versions were only in iPhoto and that I had uploaded from the camera roll  (even though I could clearly see that the pictures I was selecting were the edited versions) So I checked in iPhoto and found that I could select the edited photos then tap on the “Open In” button and there was a “Save To Camera Roll” option – Of course I still can not figure out WHY I had to do this from iPhoto because upon viewing my Camera Roll (from the camera app) I could see that all the edited versions were sitting there!

UPDATE….. Finally at 1:30 in the morning I gave in and hooked up a cable (gasp… I know, I know!) Seriously though, I hardly ever hook my iPad up to my laptop with a cable! BUT it did solve this issue – In iPhoto on the iPad, I selected all 90 something pictures and used the “Share To iTunes” option. Then I went into iTunes on my laptop, found the apps tab for my iPad, scrolled down to the iPhoto app and downloaded the folder of shared pictures from iTunes. Wa, La… there were all the edited versions of my photos!

Here is a video to show you the problem I’m talking about!

Using My iPad as a Teacher for Scheduling – Vital Tool!

Calendars 5 Promo Screen

 

One of the reasons we buy an iPad is to make our life easier and more efficient…. Ok, you got me…. that’s what we tell our pocket book!

 

No seriously though, the iPad should be used to make our life better! One of the areas we music teachers have to deal with is scheduling, our personal calendar, our work calendar and our performing group’s calendar. There are several apps to take care of those details. I’m sure we all started with Apple’s Calendar app, it’s right there when we buy the iPad and it’s free! I’m here to tell you though that if you are still using that app alone you need to make a change!

Calendars 5Readdle’s Calendar 5 is an awesome replacement. Here’s one of the reasons why…

As I was talking with my student teacher and trying to come up with words of wisdom, one topic that popped to mind was that we should discuss how I have started scheduling events for work. The biggest one part of that is the trick of using repeating events to my advantage. Many of the events we music teachers do are things that happen year after year or month after month. I started putting these events into my laptop years ago to automatically pop up next year. This way I don’t forget and I don’t even have to take MORE time out of my personal life to think about this stuff. The reminder pops up next year and I take care of it. Simple.

THE PROBLEM

Repeating events are not as easy to handle on the iPad though and I hate having to grab my laptop to create them. Thankfully Readdle’s Calendar 5 came along and made my life easier! I’ve been using that app since it came out as the replacement for Apple’s Calendar – better looking interface, integrated task manager, it has natural language input, plus it easily syncs with Apple’s Reminders/Calendar apps or to my iPhone/Laptop.

The problem I came across this weekend though was that I wanted to schedule an event the last monday of every April. I could not find a way to make it happen! In frustration I used Twitter and tweeted to Tim Cook, Readdle and Flxibits (makers of another fantastic calendar app – Fantastical 2). Out of the three companies I actually received a response back from Readdle! This is another reason I love using the iPad – many of the developers of these apps will contact you personally and help you figure things out. Plus, if the capability is not currently there, many will find a way to integrate in future updates of the app!

So after sending four tweets back and forth – The nice lady helped me realize that there is indeed a way to schedule such an event that occurs on the last monday of April every year! I am so very excited! In fact, so excited that I even made a YouTube video of how to do this….. (See below!)

TO WRAP UP

Use your calendar to your advantage! Don’t continue to “try” to remember what has to be done – use repeating events!

YOUTUBE VIDEO

Top Tech for my Band Room – Open Peoples Eyes!

Eyes OpenI have a very short list of the most important pieces of technology that I could not do without in my band room rehearsals. (This is above and beyond the technology associated with quality instruments!)

  1. My iPad (This benefits me but also my students. By keeping me more organized it helps me run a much more efficient rehearsal and therefore helps me teach to a higher degree of efficiency. The ways that my iPad helps are too numerous to list!)
  2. Recording capability – We record and evaluate those recordings on a constant basis. They are our check with reality – Many times we think we are doing better than we actually are!
  3. Of course #2 leads to #3 – an awesome sound system – This is a music classroom and should have playback capabilities superior to most other classrooms! (This one time, a principal gave me one of those one speaker, panasonic tape recorders and expected me to be happy!)
  4. Lastly – an overhead projector with a computer that is capable of handling multi-media projects easily, movies, sounds, and pictures! Internet connection is almost becoming essential! I could not believe it when walking into another band room last year that did not have a computer and projector! I had not even thought about that scenario for a long time!

 

During vacation I thought I would spend more time creating music than I did – I only created one piece of music this past week…. If you are interested take a listen and let me know what you think! The only app I used was NanoStudio – It was very interesting sitting next to my nephew, who now owns 3 iPads, while recording this piece! It was kind of like when I walked into that Band Room without the items listed above last year – He was very surprised at what I was doing and had a ton of questions – Things like – Why are you tapping on your iPad like that? What, that’s a drum kit? Can I listen? You did all that in one app?

It is our job to open people’s eyes to the possibilities available to us and our students – those eyes that need to be opened are our own eyes, our students, our parents and our administration. Even the tech people at our schools need to see what is possible in the music room using iPads and other tech!

 

 

Top iPad Apps (for the teacher) In The Band Room

This post will be updating through the next week as I keep track of the apps I use from day to day and through my rehearsals and prep work.

I will clear out all running apps before I go to school and then I will check at lunch to see what is running and create my list. Then I will clear all apps again to see what I use through the afternoon. I will simply repeat this for one week.

I would love to see other Band Directors lists as well – MATT BISHOP – ED FALLS. If you send me your lists I will post them here with your permission for others to share.

MY TOP LIST:

  1. ForScore Small IconForScore/ UnRealBook Small IconUnRealBook
  2. iTunes
  3. PlanBook Small IconPlanBook
  4. SkyWard Small IconSkyWard
  5. MobileMouse Small IconMobileMouse
  6. Fingering Small IconFingering for iPad (Thanks Joe Guarr @jguarr)
  7. ClassDojo small iconClassDojo
  8. DropBox Small IconDropBox/ BoxBox
  9. Mail
  10. Calendars 5Calendars5 by Readdle/ GoodTask Small IconGoodTask/ Wunderlist Small IconWunderList/ Remindrs
  11. Feedly Small IconFeedly Reeder / MrReader Small IconMr. Reader
  12. Pocket Small IconPocket
  13. EverNote Small IconEvernote
  14. OneSafe Small IconOneSafe

 

My list of very important apps I don’t use every single day:

  1. DayBook ProDayBook Pro
  2. FileMakerGo 13 Small IconFileMaker
  3. SmartSeat Small IconSmartSeat

Places NOT to put your iPad – if you want FindMy iPad tech to work!

Filed iPadSo yesterday I did a really stupid thing… I filed my iPad! Yep, you heard me correctly – I FILED it, right there in with all my file folders and handbooks! Then I closed the drawer and walked away…. bad part was that I did not meant to do this!

So I got home and realized I did not have my iPad. No big deal, I figured I had just left it at the school, which in fact I actually had done. I went an evening with my iPad1 (which was a nice reunion – I miss 64GB’s of space!).

This morning I went to school expecting to find my iPad sitting on my desk or podium – nope, not there! Hmmmm…. well maybe I had left it in the back room while sorting and filing music – nope, not there. Well then maybe I had laid it on the piano while working on uniforms – nope, not there either. Well now I was starting to freak out! I scoured the room looking all over the place – lockers, cabinets, sink, where we rehearse our electronic music ensemble and found nothing. So I fired up iCloud and dove into Find My iPhone – my iPad2 could not be located – now I was REALLY worried. All morning I put it off thinking I must have taken it out of my bag as soon as I got home and laid it someplace weird at the house. So I drove home at lunch, one benefit of living close to school! Only problem was I couldn’t find it there either. Now I started to wonder if it had been stolen – couldn’t imagine that though!

Got back to school and started digging in really weird places – within the next half an hour I found it…. tucked in the file drawer next to my desk. I hardly used the drawer or the stuff in it but I had to write a student up yesterday. I guess I was a bit distracted!

THE POINT OF THE STORY -

The only thing I can figure is that the metal cabinet kept Find My iPhone from working! I had thought maybe my battery had died but I still had 89% left! As soon as I hit the power button though and pulled it out of the drawer, I heard the alert I had sent to it and also heard it locking itself up because I had also put it into Locked and Stolen mode.

 

Using the iPad to Help Simplify Teaching Tasks With ClassDojo

When I bought the iPad I wanted this device to help simplify my life and make it easier to keep track of details involved with teaching. Of course I figured I might end up playing a few games in the mean time as well but that is beside the point for now… So I was very happy to find an app that would allow me to quickly keep track of details of classroom management right in the midst of class – things like students who have forgotten their instrument, people who are prepared, students who are on task, musicians who have played their parts wonderfully and who is listening or working hard. I do not have time to type in numbers or type out words, I just wanted to be able to tap a kid and tap an activity.

ClassDojoClassDojo fits that bill pretty well and over the past couple of years it has only improved! The concept is simple… Create your class, enter your students names, input activities and you are all set up. Then you wait for class to start. When class starts you select the class, tap the Start Class button, select the student you want to enter points for and then select the action/activity. Wa-la a green icon pops up, adds a point to the students score and plays a nifty little sound (of course if you are in a noisy environment like band rehearsal the sound is probably going to go unnoticed!). Now, if the action/activity was a negative one then a point is deducted from their score and if that puts them in the negative then the little bubbly turns red.

Simple and to the point. UNLESS…. you want to get into the app a bit more and explore things like reports, use the app to track attendance and communicate with parents. Maybe I will blog about those options later. Right now though I want to take a closer look at setting things up when using the iPad because it is now possible to set all this up using just your iPad – before we had to take a visit to the website.

TIP FOR SETTING UP CLASS DOJO ——-

To start, click on the plus icon in the top right corner to add a class. Enter a class name, Grade and Subject and select an icon then tap the Create Class button.  Now you are on the Edit Class screen. This is the screen I keep forgetting how to get to and it is an important one! This Edit Class screen is where you can enter/edit the activities/actions you will be keeping track of! If you want to access it later then simply tap on the class then look in the top right hand corner for the Edit link. Now that you are in this Edit Class page you have three important options available – enter students, enter Behaviors (positive) and enter Behaviors (negative) – simply tap on the area where it tells you how many items are in the section you would like to change. Currently your class says 0 Students for instance – tap that and start entering students names. Then tap where it says “Student Name” and then tap the + icon. Same goes for the Behaviors.

I find myself setting up my class at the start of a trimester but part way through wanting to change Behaviors and I have to stumble around to find this Edit Class Screen.

I should mention that there is a Class Dojo app for teachers that will run on an iPad1. Then there is a Class Dojo app for Students that will NOT run on an iPad1 because it require iOS6 or higher and the iPad1 doesn’t run anything higher that iOS 5. Something to keep in mind if you are in that situation.

The best part about this app and service? It’s free!

ClassDojo small iconClass Dojo app for Teachers – iPad

ClassDojo small iconClass Dojo app for Teachers – iPhone

Flipping the Band Room – iPad Apps to Make it Rock!

Explain Everything AppI’ve always been trying to find ways to get students more involved outside of the classroom in creating music. In reading all of the information about “Flipping the Classroom” I’ve been intrigued about how to make this happen within a Band setting. Of course, since we we are working on composing a piece a week for the remainder of the school year there are many details to discuss with the students. Seeings as how I am pushing the kids to compose outside of the class it stands to reason that maybe I could give feedback outside of the class as well! So I figured I may as well try it!

I’ve seen and played with many different to make videos explaining everything (pun intended) I was observing in the students compositions but I finally decided to work with the Explain Everything small iconExplain Everything” app. There were several very important reasons I chose this app..

First of all I fully appreciate the fact that this app does not tie me into some companies attempt to become “The Next Big Thing”. Explain Everything allows me to create my content and upload to where ever I wish – I stay in control of my content!

Secondly I knew that I was going to be importing PDF scans of the students work into the app so this capability was a must. The next part of making use of the PDF’s was that I would be drawing/highlighting/annotating/pointing out details on the PDF’s. I knew that at times I would of course want to simply draw my own material from scratch as well. The app I picked had to be able to handle all of those situations easily.

Thirdly I really like the flexibility Explain Everything gives me to record my own voice, draw, animate and layout materials on an endless canvas.

Fourth I knew that I would have files, pictures, PDF’s and movies scattered all over the place that I would be pulling into these movies. Explain Everything allows me to easily pull in file from my camera roll, iTunes, DropBox, Box, Google Drive, Evernote, SkyDrive and evenWebDave servers!

Lastly was the need to be able to share these movies with my students. The app makes it simple to export my creations to YouTube and a few other places as well (look at the list from where you can pull media in from).

THE PROCESS -

So I set to work to try this out – Here’s what I did. I took a handful of student compositions to the scanner and created PDFs. Those PDF’s then got uploaded to DropBox (This was I can use them other ways as well). Then I opened the Explain Everything app, imported the PDF’s and watched as slides were created for each page of the PDF. Once loaded I set to work erasing students names. Then I started the recording of my voice and writing/annotating over top of their PDF’s. The timeline allowed me to backup and re-do any section I was not happy with. After that process was done I took the project and exported it to my camera roll as a movie. This took a little while – during which I checked my twitter feed and chatted with a new friend in WI who is recording a Turkish Fusion band! How fun right?….. back to the post though…. Once the exported movie was in my camera roll I used iMovie to spruce things up a bit more. I added some background music and a few titles (I could probably have done the titles in Explain Everything but I used iMove. I had to find where each section started to split the movie up in order to add the titles but that did not take very long. Then I uploaded the movie to YouTube from iMovie (Which I could have just simply uploaded the movie from within the Explain Everything app but like I said… I wanted things to be a bit fancier.)

Last step was to link to the movie from my classroom blog. From there the students can watch the video right from the blog post or open it in YouTube – (By the way… If you have an iPad and do not use the YouTube app currently I would really like to know why! The YouTube app is a very slick app! I love the way they allow you to load one video then pull it down to the corner and search other videos while that first one is still playing! I fully appreciate that YouTube now has playlists as well – MANDATORY for classroom viewing of Youtube!)

THE OUTCOME -

A quick, fun way for me to give feedback to the students that they can incorporate into their work WITHOUT taking class time to do so. The feedback I give is nothing confusing so I doubt any student will have questions but if they do then they could ask those question via email, twitter or during class.

Quibbles with EXPLAIN EVERYTHING APP -

I would like to be able to add background music and the titles from within the app – I probably can but just haven’t figured it out yet. Since I knew how to do it easily from within iMovie I chose that route for now.

THE VERDICT -

I will be doing more of these movies and I think you should too! My only wish is that I could put an iPad in every students hands so THEY were the ones creating the videos! Go but the app and get busy having fun creating videos for your students – thats my suggestion -

The apps are of course available on the iTunes Store -
Explain Everything small icon Explain Everything -
iMovie iPad small iconiMovie
YouTube small iconYouTube

THE FINAL PRODUCT -

Almost forgot – Here are the two videos I created….

First one -

Second one -

and now… Bed, because that early morning gym time is not going to be fun as it is!

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