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.”



Pocket Studio by XME is Free! A 98 Track Digital Audio Workstation on your iPad…

What’s to think about it’s free! Go get it – Especially if you haven’t bought yourself an app that does the the whole digital audio workstation bit yet!

Plus their BeatPad Small IconBeatPad is on sale for $2.99 (down from $5.99). BeatPad and PocketStudio work hand in hand. Pass your beats you create in BeatPad off to PocketStudio then record your keys, vocal and guitar into PocketStudio. Don’t forget to add some live horns in there too!

Pocket Studio LargePocket Studio by XME here is a list of top features to tempt you even more….

• 96 Tracks! YES, NINETY SIX TRACKS! Create as many tracks up to 96 as your iOS device will let you. 
• BeatPad midi plugin: Tap the folder icon/new/track/midi then tap the Midi Track’s input button to select BeatPad. 
• Audiobus
• Record Digital Audio from devices plugged into dock connector 
• Record audio and midi tracks in each session 
• Available reverb and delay effect sends for each track 
• Unlimited Songs 
• Beautiful Design 
• Import Audio from Your Music Library  
• Import audio from email 
• Record audio from thousands of online radio stations 
• Quantize midi tracks to keep notes in sync 
• Tap and hold metronome button to reveal metronome UI 
• Tap and hold Input button to quickly reveal input plugin (BeatPad or Online Radio for example) 
• 118 BeatPad Kits available for download 
• Quick Punch Recording 
• Tap Docs button/NewTrack/Midi then set BeatPad as the input to create BeatPad midi tracks

BeatPad LargeFEATURES 
- Create Custom Kits by sampling microphone audio or Importing audio from email and the web! 
- Share your custom kits with friends! 
- Download Kits made by others from around the world 
- Universal App Installs on iPhone, iPad & iPod Touch! 
- Quantize: Automatic Note Sync keeps you on beat
- Email Your Beats to EVERYONE! 
- Upload Your Beats to SoundCloud, YouTube & Your FaceBook wall 
- Professional Sound Banks used by Real Producers
- 8 Channel Music Sequencing 
- Type and Save Your Lyrics to Each Song 
- Easy to use interface.. 
- Send your song files to friends for collaboration

Capture for iPad Arrives – Drop Dead Simple App to Record With!

Capture LargePresonus released a new app recently that has high potential to make things simpler for us musicians. If you are a music teacher who needs to create accompaniment tracks for your students or if you ever record your performances this app would be an awesome choice. In fact, there are only two items missing from this app that would make it stand at the top of the list of iPad DAW’s – more about those two wish list items at the end.

WHAT CAPTURE IS: The purpose of this app currently is simple – it gives you a super simple way to record with your iPad. Capture gives you a mobile recording studio that you can then take back to the computer and edit further.

WHAT CAPTURE ISN’T: It is NOT a recording app to record from other iPad apps.

The app is called PreSonus Capture and it comes in two flavors – the FREE Version (Capture Duo Small IconPreSonus Capture Duo) and the $9.99 Version (Capture Small IconPresonus Capture). The only difference between the two is how many tracks you can record – free=2 tracks, not free=32 tracks! This pricing structure is a like getting a present at Christmas! – by offering you the free version, PreSonus has just given you a way to get those simple, straightforward recordings you need. For instance, Choir Teachers always need accompaniment tracks, Band Directors always need accompaniment tracks and we would all like to be able to record ourselves playing or singing our music. Now we have a great looking, simple and mobile solution that is free.

The app is very straightforward to use. Start it up, start a new session, select whether or not you want to monitor what you are recording in the headphones, tap the record button and start the music. Take a look….

Capture1 Capture2

One technique they have used for this app is to make it very easy to select the interface you want to use. The app works with the built-in mic and it also works with audio interfaces like the newly released (but not available yet) PreSonus AudioBox iOne or the iTwo or any other MFi iPad interface. I used it with my Line6 SonicPort just fine. Trying to find this interface selection in other apps and on the desktop is always a huge search, even for me!

It is also imperative that I was able to adjust my stereo/mono settings. It really annoys me when I record my keyboard and it is not in stereo. With the Capture Duo app it was easy, tap the single dot at the bottom of the input meter which will then become two dots indicating that you are now recording in stereo!

So just to make sure you are clear on what PreSonus is giving you – this means that with the Capture Duo app you can record 2 tracks of STEREO Audio! I can record a stereo piano track and then record another track of stereo drums as well! Nice

Here’s a picture of that….

Capture - Mono to Stereo

Adjusting and editing the audio was very easy. Just do what seems to be the right multi-touch gesture and you are probably going to be in business. Tap to select, double tap to bring up a menu to Cut/Copy/Delete/Duplicate/Split at Cursor or tap then hold for a second then drag the audio to a new location.

PreSonus has been very focused with the purpose for this app currently – A mobile recording solution to use in conjunction with other software that is easy to use. If you use it with Studio One it is even easier to work with your recordings because they will transfer wirelessly right into the desktop software!

I believe they hit the mark right on. I can not wait to see where this app is a year from now!

  • This app does not have to be used with Studio One on a desktop. Studio One is free though for Mac and PC both- PAY ATTENTION ALL OF YOU WHO USE THAT OTHER FREE RECORDING APP! Go download Studio One, it’s free!

I’ve got a short video at the end of this post for you to see how easy it is to use this app. First though a couple of observations:

  1. WISH ONE – With that being said, I really wish there were other ways to share your recordings from within Capture – Using the Open In option or to upload to SoundCloud or DropBox or even
  2. WISH TWO – The app REALLY, REALLY, REALLY needs to get audioBus integration so we can use it to record other iPad apps! This would open up a HUGE open door! (I suppose InterApp Audio would help too.) There is a huge number of iPad Musicians who are using the iPad and apps as a very real way of making music! What used to have to be done in professional studios, on equipment that cost thousands of dollars, is now being done with apps and an iPad.

Side Note -

  1. If you use one of the new AudioBox Interfaces – the iOne or iTwo you will have to have the interface plugged into the iPad power adaptor.


and now a video to demonstrate…



As always – the links in this post are affiliate links. That means that if I inspire you to purchase any of the apps/music that I link to in this post I receive a small portion of that sales – something like 5% I think. This comes out of Apple’s share and the developer keeps their portion of the sales. It’s just a small way to inspire me to keep writing and sharing my ideas, thoughts and tech finding with you all.

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.

New Notation App (If you like Tabs) – Tabular Mobile

Screen Shot 2014-06-14 at 9.28.25 PM

Not sure if I missed this because I am not really a guitar and tabs person or if it just needs more publicity but the end of April a new app was released that is pretty awesome!

Chromatic Labs has developed Tabular Mobile: A modern tablature editor for Tabular OSX Small IconMac OSX and Tabular iOS Small IconiPad and I’m here to tell that it works very well, is easy to use and is a great starting point!

I have had to work with guitar players that just do not read music in the past and sometimes it is just easier to give them tabs or sometimes I have a student who is just learning how to play bass guitar that actually reads music who would actually learn faster if they read tabs. I don’t like working with tabs because there is usually no indication of rhythms and that just messes with my brain. I do see the advantage though for some people, some of the time. With THAT being said….

Some how I ran across Tabular tonight. It is a few months old now but I have not seen ANYONE talking about it! Which is disappointing because the iPad version is FREE and the app works very well. There are restrictions, with the most serious issue being that the number of measures you can add is restricted to 100 in the free version. You are also restricted on how many documents, tracks and custom tunings you can add. If those things are going to hold you back then the upgrade is $9.99 which is a fair price for what you can do with this app.

Tabular Bass PartI dug in and started creating a piece, an original composition so be warned! I found it extremely easy to find my way around the app and to start adding music. You really must have a good understanding of the notes on a stringed instrument to use the app though.  Of course if your goal os to transcribe something you can already play then it will not be an issue. The way you add notes is to simply select the length of note value you would like, whole/half/quarter etc… and then to tap on the fretboard. Then you tap the plus button to add another note and repeat the process. The biggest issue I had with the app is that you are allowed to add too many beats in a measure. To be fair though there is an colored indicator  under the measures that do not add up.

Once a measure is complete you tap the right arrow and another measure is created. Pretty simple. There are all sorts of sweet guitar and normal musical symbols/articulations/slides and other things in the menu along the bottom of the screen. I added a bunch and then printed the part out. I was given several options in the share menu…. one was to email, another was to Message and then I could Print. If sharing by email you can send a Tabular file (for working on in the desktop version), a PDF (which I choose), ASCII, or MIDI files. You can see the printed PDF looks pretty darned good! Scroll down, cause there’s more!

Tabular Bass Part Printed

After plunking out a bass part I started digging around in the menu up in the upper right of the screen (The one that says Bass and has a bass icon) – This is where I started to wonder what the future plans are for this app…. when adding more tracks you are given some icons like a flute, piano, trumpet, saxophone as choices that don’t make much sense in a tabs app. This is also where you select which sound you would like and again there were some interesting choices like pan flute. I didn’t find a piano sound though, strange given that there is a piano icon.

I also found another limitation of the free version – 3 tracks.

Tabular - Drum PartsI was very excited to find out that the app supports drum tab! Honestly, after laying out a drum part in this app I am in love with the drum notation! It is easier than Sibelius! I have never enjoyed doing drum parts in Sibelius or Finale just because it takes me WAY longer than all the other parts, like flute, clarinet or whatever. In this app it was WAY quick!!!!!!! You are given a menu to chose which instruments you are going to need notation for – I selected a BD, SD, HH, High Tom and Low Tom. Then the entering of notes is just like for guitar except that you have this nifty instrument picker for each note value…. so for instance while entering the first 8th note I simply selected that I wanted an Open HiHat and a Bass Drum to sound. Notice the pink arrows below? For the HH and SD there are several versions of those sounds as indicated in this screen shot by the o’s next to the words. If you tap on the o next to the HH it becomes an x – that would mean the HH would sound closed. If you tap the o next to the SD it becomes an @ and then it would sound muffled. You can see the changes very quickly in the tabs.

If you tap the little hamburger icon in the bottom right you are given options to Undo, Redo, Copy, Paste and many other choices as well…. they all were very easy to figure out once I found them.

Of course the Play button allowed you to play the song…. which you can listen to at the bottom of this post. I hope that eventually they add AudioBus and InterApp compatibility. As it stands, in order for me to share the audio with you I had to record it into GarageBand on my MacBook then upload it to SoundCloud. I think the audio quality is pretty good – Of course I remember back in the day when QuickTime first gave us a MIDI synth built in on our desktops! Boy, was THAT exciting too! (Didn’t sound as good then though!)

I like the way each part looks individually but I could not find a way to look at or print all three parts at once though.  I love the fact that I can see the tabs right along with the standard notation! It is possible to hide the staff and it is possible to replace it with just the rhythms! Which of course means that I could play form it without gripping too much!

For the price, you can not beat this app for being able to whip out some tabs for some reason or another. I love where they have started, a very solid and smoothly working app that gives us a chance to create tabbed notation for free on the iPad!

I am going to keep this app in my sights to watch for these improvements….

  1. Being able to see more than one part at a time
  2. The addition of AudioBus and/or InterApp Audio
  3. I really think that I should not be allowed to add too many beats in a measure. It might even be nice if the rest of the measure automatically filled up with whatever rests I needed to finish it – so if I had already entered a quarter note and two 8th notes then it would show a half rest. As soon as I entered an 8th note I would see an 8th rest and a quarter rest. (MINOR)

Here are the two PDF parts for you to see the quality of the printed parts (feel free to steal the music and perform it at your next concert, just mention my name in the program and send me a video of the performance!) -

Tabular Bass Part | Tabular Drum Part


Here is the audio of the file from my SoundCloud -

FileMaker13 DataBase in the Music Classroom

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

Music Notation on the iPad – SymphonyPro Updated!

There are only a handful of apps on the iPad that are actually useful for music notation on the iPad. Tonight that list grows by one.

SymphonyPro     SymphonyProV3SymphonyPro has been updated to a version that is actually useable! I have really wanted this app to be useable ever since it came out but every time I have tried it in the past there have been too many bugs. The developers really wanted this app to work too though and have stayed hard at work. With this update I was actually able to get the app to work. It did the job very well in fact! There are still a few issues – The interface for instance has been updated to be iOS7 comparable but it is actually way too light in several areas and this makes it difficult to see! I also had an issue when inputting a clarinet part and the transposition of the key did not work very well . I was able to find a work around though because SymphonyPro works well with MusicXML, so with a quick export of my score from SymphonyPro into Sibelius I had the issue fixed. In fact this sort of situation is exactly the scenario I see many people using the iPad for – starting musical scores and ideas on the iPad then transferring them over to Sibelius, Finale or Notion on a regular computer.

Let me make a list of some of the areas I thought was very useful in SymphonyPro -

  1. I could input and edit the music with very intuitive taps on the touch interface.
  2. I was able to use a MIDI keyboard to help input music along with using the virtual keyboard/fretboard.
  3. I was able to record that MIDI keyboard live (required some editing but could be faster)
  4. When recording live there are nice quantization options and the ability to turn tuples on or off.
  5. Nice selection of articulations, dynamics, and other musical markings like chords, text and lyrics
  6. Editing through use of normal copy/paste, insert/rearrange, along with undo/redo was possible.
  7. I could play back the score to listen to it.
  8. Exporting of the final product had several options – Music XML, PDF, Picture, AAC, and even MIDI! SoundCloud is even an option – Lovely job there guys, thank you!

There are still some areas that need improvement -

  1. Layout of the score – not nearly as nice as in Sibelius (See the two PDF’s I have below for comparison
  2. Trying to export a Picture resulted in the app freezing up (To be fair I was using my iPad1 so that may have been the issue?)
  3. Transposition of instrument parts still has something funky going on – I thought it was working correctly when I started but after finishing the entire score I noticed that at some point my clarinet part started displaying in concert pitch and I could not fix that issue. (and yes, I know about the “Concert Pitch” option in the score menu – did not work AT ALL!) Plus when I imported the XML file into Sibelius my clarinet ended acting like it was setup for an Eb AltoSax.
  4. Multi-Rest and Rehearsal markings

NOW FOR THE EVEN BETTER NEWS – All this capability comes at a very small price in storage demands! This app only requires 209MB’s! This is awesome news for those of us working with a 16GB or 32Gb iPad!


Comparison of SymPro vs Sibelius

Comparison of SymPro vs Sibelius

Meadowlands SymPro – Click to see the PDF from SymphonyPro

Meadowlands-Sibelius – Click to see the PDF from Sibelius that I imported from the MusicXML file out of SymPro. I edited the transposition issue quickly and added rehearsal markings is all I did here.

There are two other very important apps that are available on iPad for music notation you should know about as well….

Notion Small IconNotion Music, owned by PreSonus Audio Electronics, has both a desktop app and also an iPad app that is rock solid! I love that the desktop app is only $99 and that it works hand in hand with the iPad app, which is only $15 (Which is quite a bargain, if you are familiar with prices for music notation apps!) The problem with the iPad app is that it requires you to have 1.18 GB of free space on your iPad and that is only for the basic sound set! Now don’t get me wrong – these are going to sound awesome, but unless your iPad is of the 64GB or 128GB version you very well are not going to want to spare that much space!

Then there is NotateMe Icon SmallNotateMe from Neuratron- This is an amazing app that is well worth the price! You get to handwrite the music and it turns it into printed/computerized sheet music! I was more than willing to pay the $22 full price for this app because it is so amazing – handwritten music notation – any idea how much THAT costs on a regular computer? PLUS they even offer a free 1 staff version! works very well through the Safari app so this is another great option.

There are other apps that are fun to play with – ScoreCloud Small IconScoreCloud Express lets you sing/play/whistle into and it will tell you the notes you are singing and is on a spring time sale for only .99 cents! (You should only sing one note at a time in this app by the way – meant for mono-phonic music!) TomChord Small IconTomChord on the other hand will recognize chords you are playing or from a song in your music library!


All of this comes at the same time as a new blog entry from an upcoming music app from former Sibelius developers who are now working at Steinberg –



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