Readdle’s Printer Pro for iPhone is free for a very limited time!

Ever wish you had better printing capabilities from your iOS device?

Well, for a very limited time (like probably the next 12 hours?) Readlle has related its iPhone Printer Pro for free! Grab it now. I have not really tested this on my iPad and they do have an actual iPad version but I think the iPhone version would work. )


Great Music Apps Keep Coming!

Earhoof is one more amazing musical instrument that is innovative and opens up new possibilities!

Not only does this app support AudioBus and InterApp Audio, allows you to work with their presets you get when purchasing the app but it also allows you to get creative and create your own new instruments!

Here is a YouTube video of the instrument at work….


iPads in the Refurb Store

The iPad Airs have hit the refurb store! Since this is my blog of using iPads and incorporating them into my teaching AND because the first post to this web site was about the first iPad I purchased….. I must tell you this tale as well.

I have been using the iPad 2 since the day it was released. In the mean time it have bought a few for my children but I have skipped the iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Air, iPad Mini, and the iPad Mini with retina. Why…. Well I knew I would get the Air but I haut wanted to wait until I had money AND till they hit the refurb store.

When the news came through a week or so ago that Airs were on the refurb store I got excited. That excitement died when I discovered that those were the 16GB and 32 GB. No way was I going to get one of those again! Not enough space! If you are a teacher you should not get one either! So I hoped for the best…. That my tax refund would come in and then the 64 AT LEAST would hit the store. Well, Thursday night, after checking every day for a week and a half, the iPad Air 128 GB hit the store! That represented a savings of $130! That’s like buying the 64GB but getting twice the space! I went to bed chomping at the bit because I did not have my refund yet! The next morning, without knowing the 128′s had hit the store, the first thing my wife said to me was, “They deposited our refund!” I ordered it before I left for school! Fastest shower I ever took!

I paid the $10 extra for 2-3 day shipping. When I received the first notice that my iPad was coming from China I did NOT expect 2-3 to actually happen. Well, FedEx did it!

Here I sit…. Such fun!

Music Notation Apps for iPad

So music notation apps have really had some major changes in the past year or two and even the past weeks!

Here is a file I scanned in using PhotoScore on my laptop, edited for musical markings and then I did a few experiments with it so you can see some of your choices… or rather see AND hear.


Composition in the Classroom – how does technology help?

Sometimes it is just easier to work with pencil and paper! That is a tough question we all face – we want to use those shiny things that are all fancy and new but we have to ask ourselves what the purpose is first! If tech is going to get in the way then we need to back off. If tech is not going to help the students learn what they need to learn then iPad’s are not going to help! Let me explain….

We are pushing creativity in our band students here hard! Every week, every student is turning in an original piece of music. The criteria currently is easy – a short melody written with accurate notation for your instrument. At first I had some kids trying out NotateMe and NoteFlight but how would I ever be able to get them to learn how to WRITE musical notation and give feedback on their mistakes if that all used that tech? You see the problem is that you would NEVER see this in one of those apps….

Problems to fix!

Problems to fix!

Plus the student would never be able to show their full understanding of HOW to write music accurately! This is a good example of how they are progressing -

Nicely Done!

Nicely Done!

I have relented a bit and have given them time in class a few days to work on their assignments. I want most of this to be done at home though! It is really fun for the kids to play their pieces for me though – they take great pride in it – Here is one of my “special needs” kids that has really enjoyed these assignments and “just had” to play it for me! It has been quite a journey for her to write out what she naturally can play easily!

Playing and writing!

Playing and writing!

Explain Everything AppTech has taken a huge role in my giving feedback to the class though! I have used the Explain Everything small iconExplain Everything app to make several videos of their work and point out issues as well as some quality work for the class to watch. Having them watch a video like this is SO much faster and engaging, than me using an overhead and a highlighter live in class.

Here are those videos – Video 1, Video 2, Video 3

Of course I also used iMovie (for iPad) to help edit these videos – Explain Everything doesn’t give me such easy access to add the sound behind my explaining plus I am able to add some transitions and titles in iMovie. I also used one of the kid’s composition for the guitar track in the third video (even though it was not the student playing the guitar it was her work!)

The other role tech is going to end up helping us with in the long run is when these kids want to input their music into the computer and hear it played back along with several other parts at the same time. THAT can not be done from home when a student is sitting in their room by themselves. Sure they could have a few friends over and play together but NoteFlight will help make that experience a success because they can make sure the parts work BEFORE HAND!!!!

The other role tech is going to take in the final production of some of these compositions – I will have some of them record themselves performing their composition and then we will run those recordings through an audio mastering app to tweak the sound. The iPad app Audio Mastering Small IconAudio Mastering makes such a huge difference that it is stunning! If you make any recordings of your musical performances you need this app – it’s that simple! Listen to the before and after examples of my musical compositions below. (Yes, I am composing and creating too! Must set a good example you know! So I use my iPad and create and record and publish for all to enjoy.) This song is all from one iPad Synth called Alchemy Synth small iconAlchemy but I also bought the WaterWorld sound bank. This synth is so much fun, when you load up a sound you have 8 boxes that contain different versions of that sound. You can then morph between versions while playing! I usually hate in-app-purchases but it totally makes sense in cases like this – the app is free but then you can buy additional sound banks. So I’m not sure why you wouldn’t download this synth and have some fun! Just be careful, you may find yourself buying some of the sound banks!

You really, really, really, HAVE TO listen to both versions of this track – The difference is astonishing! (Sorry I can not figure out how to get the non-mastered version to play right here in this post so you will have to click the link and make the jump to SoundCloud)

2 Minutes 4 Hours – Mastered

2 Minutes 4 Hours - Original – Non Mastered

You need this app to simplify your teaching! (It’s free for a few short hours!)

As teachers we have stuff to do, lots of it. We need an easy way to keep track of that to do list, a list that is with us and easy to access. An app that is quick to use – who has time to tap, tap, tap, click, drag, swipe and select when you have a classroom full of middle schoolers ready to be distracted by the next drop of a pin?

Clear is an app that I purchased when it was only available for iPhone (of course it worked on my iPad in 2x mode but I really hate that so I never used it on my iPad because it was too ugly and I don’t like portrait mode! I would have bought the iPad version too but now I don’t have to!

RealMac Software is updating their app that will help you keep things clear and simple – because of the update, and the fact that they are trying to simplify what they offer on the app store, this app is free for a few short hours (like 24 total but I’m slow to post so more like – GO GET IT NOW)

This is a great to list – a to do list that is clean, good looking and easy to use – an app you will WANT to use! Plus it works for iPad AND iPhone (if you use this link to get the correct version of the app it will – Clear 

Clear Icon

NoteFlight becomes part of Hal Leonard!

As of two days ago NoteFlight has announced they are now part of Hal Leonard!

If you are not aware, NoteFlight is an excellent web app that does music notation in ways I never imagined possible 10 years ago! Through a web browser, on a computer, iPad and Anrdroid device you can create a piece of sheet music that is more than sufficient for many peoples needs. Plus it is free! Well, you can pay for it and you will get more capabilities but my students have made great use of the free version for several years now. 10 years ago my students would have had to pay $200-$500 for such capabilities!

Joe Berkovitz, President of NoteFlight, will remain president. He also states that NoteFlight is going to remain focused on the same goal as always, “Your music, everywhere.” Now they will simply have access to more resources and the backing of Hal Leonard. 

I hope this change is and stay a positive move for NoteFlight and musicians everywhere! This now makes the third music notation app to be purchased by a much larger company – Sibelius by Avid, Notion by PreSonus and now NoteFlight by Hal Leonard. Interesting moves….

Here is the link to the press release -

Composition in Band Class

What is all this about the flipped classroom – it’s all the rage! Well, in my meandering mind and wonderings about how to flip the band room I came up with this idea…..

I gave my students the assignment that they need to compose a melody each an every week from now until the end of the school year. Every monday they will turning in their creative genius masterpieces!

So far, this is week 3, I have been very impressed with the 5th grade especially! I had one specific kid volunteer to play her piece for the class – turns out she had written a piece not just for her but actually written out the parts for 4-5 of her friends as well!

The kids are using pencil and paper (you know tech that we have all become very familiar with!) – some are using NotateMe (this is pretty cool to see them in the first parts of class before rehearsal starts to be sitting there drawing out notes on their iPhone!) and some are using NoteFlight. Some are using SoundCloud to record their pieces first before they write it out.

Most are writing pieces for the instrument they play in band – my daughter is one though who is writing for guitar and voice because she is taking private lessons on guitar. (I will also make sure she does flute later though!) She came down stairs the other night, guitar in hand,  and asked if I wanted to hear what she had written… of course my response was “of course!” I was pretty impressed when she sang for me! She then took it to her guitar teacher who was even more impressed. He decided to scratch the song they WERE going to perform for our upcoming show and work this piece up! He came in and we whipped up a quick demo in Logic…. Take a listen and see what you think….

Free iPad Music apps for today you should download NOW!

Tunable Screen ShotEvery day in rehearsals and as a musician who needs to tune instruments I use a tuner. I have tried a ton of different apps, both for myself and in class with my students. One of those apps I like and my students respond well to is Tunable Small IconTunable… and it’s free today!

◆◆◆ Free today with ‘App of the Day ◆◆◆ Download ‘App of the Day’, and every day discover one paid app absolutely free!” ◆◆◆

Tunable shows a history of your pitch steadiness (that’s the squiggly line in the pic below). This really shows clearly to the students minds of how well their embouchures are working alongside their breath control.


The second app that I see is free today is one for those of us who want to play guitar sounds using our iOS devices… Guitarism Small IconGuitarism has great guitar tones builtin with a design that makes it easy and fun to play guitar. Other apps have guitar sounds but trying to play those sounds from a keyboard interface is a bit difficult. Currently the IAP purchase which unlocks the other three guitars and 8 more effects is only $4.99 (on sale for a short time)

this will be fun to play while my daughter is playing her real guitar.

Technology and the Connections it Brings Us

Claudio AbbadoToday Claudio Abbado passed away. We should take a moment of silence….

With the technology of the internet and YouTube we do have such great opportunities at our finger tips to introduce our selves and our students to great people like this, while they are still alive. It was amusement at first then later sadness that I listened to one of my 5th grade students come up to me one day and ask a question…. looking up at me in total seriousness and total excitement he said, “Mr. Shimmons, have you ever of Mozart?” I responded “Of course!” His response was the perfect awakening to how little our students get to experience great people sometimes – “He has the most beautiful music ever!”

Use technology – tools like YouTube and Google Hangouts or Skype to bring people into your classroom that before this past 20 years was never before possible! Open their eyes to the never before experienced world of greatness!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 577 other followers

%d bloggers like this: