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.”

 

 

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

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

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 743 other followers

%d bloggers like this: