Taking a trip with your Band? You need an iPad/iPhone app for that!

Use Pack The Bag App to Make Sure You Don’t Forget Anything!

PackTheBag LogoThis blog post is being written because I like to keep lists of things that need to be packed for our band trips. Every year when I go to Band Camp I know I  will need specific items, when we go on a marching band performance trip or go to band festival there is a different list for each trip. If myself and my students have a packing list to check things go much smoother! No longer do I have to call my wife from the band bus and ask her to bring me my scores that are sitting on my desk at the school!

The one app that I have used is called PackTheBag. This is not the perfect app but it is for some reason I decided I would use. I have one HUGE frustration with it – which is why I wrote this Blog Tip! I constantly forget how to edit items that are in my categories when I don’t use the list for about 6 months! Then it is crazy stupid hard to figure it out every year! So ….. let’s step through the process (it isn’t hard and it sure is quick and it has saved us several times!)

First step

First step

1)Create List
2)Name the list – set dates for the trip – set a reminder
3)Select baggage categories (TIP – Important:If you want to set up a new baggage category or get rid of the pre created ones, this is where you do it! Tap + button in bottom right corner to add a new category. Tap the Gear icon in the bottom left if you want to delete some of the existing categories.

TIP – Important: If you want to edit the items in a category you must FIRST add that category to a packing list! This is the screen where you do so! (the first screen after creating a packing list)

Tap continue

Step 2

Step 2

4)After tapping the continue button then you select items from each category to add to you list.
5)After adding items to your list you will see a button with a 123 on it – this allows you to set a predetermined number that you want to pack for an item. Tap the 123 button, type in a number of items and then DO NOT TAP THE DONE or OK BUTTONS! tap anywhere else! Stupid I know – this has to be a bug.

TIP – Important: If you want to edit the items in these categories this is the screen you do it on. Tap the gear icon in the bottom left of the screen and all items will be editable! Change the names, delete and sort them. Tap the + button in the bottom right to add an item – CAUTION: When adding items I would suggest using the add in alphabetical order option – It becomes a jumbled mess real quick when creating a brand new category!

Tap continue

Editing items

Editing items

Last step - Pack and Share

Last step – Pack and Share

Then you start packing and marking items off your list! Use the down arrows to expand and collapse a category. Tap the empty boxes on the right to mark an item as packed. If you have set a predetermined number of items that you need then each tie you tap the empty box it will add one more but no check will appear until all have been packed. So if you decided you wanted 3 of something you would have to tap that box 3 x’s. At the bottom there are options to see “All”, “Packed”, “Missing”

Also on this screen is where you see the Share button in the bottom left – this allows you to send and export your list. One option I appreciate here is being able to export to DropBox – This allows me to create lists on my iPad but use my iPhone to mark things packed. It is much easier to carry my phone around while packing then it is to carry my iPad!

THAT’S IT YOU’RE DONE – Ready to go to Band Camp or to Choir Festival or on Tour!

I have my student leaders download this app as well because I share the list that I have created and let them do the packing!

NOW – Share with me….. if you have a packing list app that you like please leave a comment below and let me know what it is!

Creating Music with iOS – Meeting National Music Standards

MusicStudio

iPads in music education can open the minds of our students to wonders that they have never imagined could be theirs! I get reminded of these moments of amazement when a students walks in while I am using technology. So many times they are wide eyed and captivated by the possibilities. Everything from playing my keyboard and having the notation instantly show up on the computer to a student asking what the name of the song is that I am playing for them to listen to and hearing their reaction when I tell them that the song was one I created on my iPad the night before. I can see the wheels spinning in their heads – “What if I could do that?”, they are asking it…. All they need are the tools! Now don’t get me wrong, I know our kids have been creating music for years with the traditional band instruments, singers, drums and electric guitars but I am not talking about the traditional here. I am talking about being able to have one iPad, a set of headphones, and a desire to create!

What if you were able to put a recording studio in the hands of your students, show them a few apps, and then give them the freedom to create? How would your students change?

iPads can open up a whole new world to our students – a world that once was cornered by only those with lots and lots of money! Now an iPad opens up the possibility of an entire recording studio filled with amazing synths, guitar amps, and recorders. Those come in the form of apps, apps that cost any where from being free to $5, $10, $15 and up to $20 and $50! Of course if you take into account the ability to record themselves with the built in mic or if they want even better quality they can hook up and external mic through the camera connection kit.

Tonight was an exploration of several apps for me…. I used MusicStudio as the multitrack recorder. For sounds I used AddictiveSynth, Sunrizer and ThumbJam. I of course used Audiobus to get them hooked together. This recording has 9 tracks.

I would be crazy excited if my students were creating music at home like this! (Not that I think this is anything spectacular – but instead just because they would be exploring and composing and enjoying themselves!)

AddictiveSynth + sunrizer-icon +  thumbjam_bannerAudioBus + MusicStudio = one evening of great fun!

 

iPad Music Theory Apps to use in the Classroom

Since Chromatik was so kind as to run a promotion to donate an iPad to our Band Room I have been looking for apps to use on this new iPad.

As I go through the huge sea of apps I will post about apps I think have promise or apps that the students benefit from.

Scales TutorScales Tutor is one app that I found promising.  This app is free today too by the way! (Feb 19, 2013). This is their website

SUMMARY
There is one feature built into this app that is a huge benefit to music teachers handing an iPad to a student and needing to look at how much that student learned later. Scales Tutor presents the user with information on key signatures and scales. There are three options – study, practice and test. The main areas available are Major Keys, Minor Keys, Flats Keys and Sharp Keys and then there are also Flash Cards.

THE BAD
I do have to say right up front that I almost took this app and deleted it from my iPad because I found two critical areas that are very annoying! Every thing on the screen is very tiny! As I present from my iPad onto a projector in my band room I can not imagine my students being able to read many pieces of information presented to them from a distance. The most critical annoyance was the user interface – when in the practice mode you are asked to place notes, flats or shapes on a staff. This process is difficult. They tried to make it easier by placing little arrows below the staff to move the note up or down but even those arrows are a bit non-responsive. I found myself constantly having to tap two or three times to get the response I wanted. Now this might be because I have large fingers – I have not tried this app with students.

THE GOOD
The good news is that I did find a feature in this app that I do not find usually – In the testing section you need to type in your name. After taking the test your name and score is then stored for later reference! The other good news is that everything covered in this app is accurate and to the point. It is presented in a fairly clear manner. In fact I found a few ways in which they present information that I might use myself!

Also good… You can pick which clef you want Treble or Bass or the Grand Staff. The app also allows you to pick exactly what you want to focus on – for example… just the first 4 sharps keys or just just the key signature or Scales with Keys.

AGE LEVEL/GRADE LEVEL
More Middle to High School

Here is a screen shot…. This app is free today too by the way! (Feb 19, 2013)

Scales Tutor Screen

Rhythm apps for teaching music

There have been several apps that help practice and learn rhythm concepts the past few months.

MyRhythmMyRhythm, from Gregory Burk, is an app that helps you practice your rhythmic skills, co-ordination, listening skills and memory. MyRhythm is full of features that anyone from a non-musically trained person to someone who is is music classes will appreciate. The app does not use traditional musical notation to show rhythms. It simply uses a grid of dots that are filled in, or not, to indicate whether you should be tapping the large pads in time with the groove that is being played.

When you start up the app there three main modes you can go into… 1)Challenge Mode 2)Study Mode and 3)Creative Mode. The screen shot you see to the right is about the same in any of the three modes. In challenge mode you listen to and watch a pattern being played then the little violet and blue dots are all taken away and you have to play back what you just heard. It’s an answer and call mode in other words. In the Study mode the idea is the same except that the violet and blue dots do not go away and you can still see them and you do not get to listen to the rhythm being played first. Then in the creative mode you are able to create your own rhythms. It is in this mode that you can do another time signature besides 4/4. In the other modes all I found were 2 measures of 4/4. Of course no where is there ever any mention of time signatures in this app. There are four levels of difficulty to play around with. No matter which level you are in the timing algorithms being used to decide whether or not you are playing the correct rhythms are very strict! It is not good enough to simply hit that pad “close” to the rhythm! You have to really get into the groove and sub-divide so you are accurate! Mentioning grooves…. there are options to play along with simply a metronome or a very long list of different grooves at different tempos. Gregory did a great job of making sure there was enough variety here to keep you interested and challenged for a long time!

option settings for MyRhythm

option settings for MyRhythm

I like the fact that there are many options in this app…. the different grooves, the call and answer, the creativity section, the ability to change several levels, the choice of what sound you hear when you tap the pads and how easy it is to quickly tap the new rhythm button to try the next rhythm. Even as a band director I like the co-ordination skills this builds even though my kids don’t always need to use two hands to play rhythms in class. I think students will find plenty in this app to keep them interested. There is an iPod/iPhone version of the app as well.

I don’t like that this app only deals with 8th notes. As a music educator I don’t like that music notation is not used and yet at them same time I think there is a place for this type of graphic notation in a music class. Another slight issue I have is that I am pretty skilled at rhythm and I have to work really hard to get all the notes green! Now, maybe this is because I’m not as good as I think I am at rhythm BUT I KNOW what I am going to hear from the kids! No, seriously though, I do believe the app has a little bit of issue “hearing” correctly played rhythms sometimes.

Wish list – I do wish there was a way for my students to keep score of their progress as they work with this app.

green and red dots on MyRhythm

green and red dots on MyRhythm

Creating music with iPads

There have been some outstanding new developments in the world of music for iOS users this past few months!

First has been the actual release of AudioBus for iOS. As they say on the iTunes Store… This is a revolutionary new inter-app audio routing system allowing you to connect your AudioBus compatible apps together with virtual cables. In other words…. I can be playing a synth on my iPad, like Magellan, and record it into my MultiTrack DAW on the same iPad! This opens up very different possibilities of being able to record from a long list of currently compatable apps into other apps on one iPad instead of having to have two devices or using audio copy/paste. Check out their website for currently compatible apps as the list is changing almost daily!

In the late 80‘s I remember spending many hours programming keyboards for the ministry team at college that I was involved in. It was great fun to get inside of a synth patch and make all sorts of tweaks to it to come up with a new patch that was my own. Little did I imagine then, that I would be able to do this on an iPad with a color, touch screen! Check out the list of apps othe AudioBus page. I think there are some outstanding apps there that will make some outstanding music! Imagine if we could get these apps into the hands of our students in a non-traditional music class!

Audulus App

Audulus

Another major development is the development of apps that allow your creativity to fly to new heights! One of those apps that blew me away today is Audiolus. Audulud is a modular synthesis app that is available for the iPad as well as the Mac. This app allows you to create synth sounds from scratch, one step at a time! I can not begin to imagine the possibilities of this app in a music class combined with science concepts being integrated all in one mega fun unit! Your science teacher and you, the music teacher, could have a hay day with this app! You have got to watch the tutorials on their tutorial page! This tutorial in particular floored me when I started to get a grasp on what this app is capable of…. I love how it starts with a demonstration of the outcome and then it takes you back step by step to build the patch starting from absolutely nothing! (Wait…. isn't that the model for a great lesson plan?)

Lastly, I would like to leave you with a couple of great examples of amazing performances from people who are truly creating amazing music using iOS and iPads/iPhones. Both of these groups have active YouTube channels that I would suggest you subscribing to

The first person is Rheyne – Rheyne uses live looping with analog keyboards, USB controllers and iOS devices. The videos on his channel are all performed live! The integration he has between all the apps and devices is stunning! His music is digital and does not attempt to re-create an acoustic instrument performance!

The second group is the DigiEnsemble Berlin – This is a group of professional musicians trying to turn mobile devices into instruments. This group has music of both the electronic nature as well as classical and everything in between. You can see them recreating a classical string ensmeble using iphones and ipads for instance or performing Starlight (from the alternative rock band Muse) and then performing a magical, musical interpretation of Silent Night.

This sort of musical creativity needs to be taught in our schools alongside the traditional Band, Choir and General Music classes. Of course that means new classes need to be created and staffed! The biggest reason we need these sort of classes is that our students would be forced to become the innovators, the ones creating and designing the final product. There are not many programs like these in place yet so the development of this type of course is going to muddy water and the learning process will be messy. Let's wade in and get dirty!

 

Apps for Journaling, Keeping track of your memories…

I’ve never liked keeping a Diary, I really hated keeping a Journal while in college and I’ve never been good about keeping track of events in school that I might need notes on later. Now that I am older though I wish I would have actually kept that journal from my college days – the one with where I’d traveled to, places I ‘d visited and my thoughts on my life then. I think it might be a good idea to keep notes on interactions with students/parents throughout the school year. How is a good way to do this though? How do I keep my professional life separate from my personal life without driving myself crazy.

I want to list a few apps that are possible solutions to this… I also want to list some differences between all of these that I have found…

EveryDay.me  is a new iPhone app/website that has decided to throw it’s hat into a very crowded sea of possibilities. This app is meant to be just for you. It’s a personal app allowing you to write about your day, let’s you keep photos, videos, and even those little face’s saying you were happy or sad or whatever. All of this is only for you. It is all a private record of your life experiences. Right now users can link Facebook/Instagram and Twitter to their timelines. Posts to those services will be automatically pulled into your EverydayMe. You can also email a post to EverydayMe – use the same email account as your EverydayMe account and send an email to post@everyday.me which can be useful if your iPhone is not useable at the moment.

The web site Everydayme.com allows you to only view your entries and change a few settings. The web site is not meant to create entries.

The next release will allow Foursquare, Tumblr, FitBit and Nike+ integration. This daily record of your daily life is available online and of an iPhone app. Android and other mobile apps are supposedly in the works, as are printed “quarterly and annual reports” with highlights and statistics.

EverydayMe is meant to be only for you to keep track of what is going on in your life.

Path is another iPhone app (also Android) that allows you to create a timeline of your daily experiences that is shareable by up to 150 people. It is meant to be very personal still in that your timeline is not searchable online, in fact you can not even view your timeline on the web! The website allows you to adjust settings for your profile but that is it! Your default profile is set to Private.

Path allows you to check in to a location, post your thoughts of the day, post pictures or videos, share who you are with and while creating a Path entry you can also post to Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare and Tumblr.

Path allows you to interact with your other friends. It also has options to indicate when you go to bed and wake up.

Path draws my attention because I do like sharing my social life with other – just not as many people as I would if I was using FaceBook. Path is much easier to control the privacy from as well. Path is a beautiful app to use, browse through your past history and it is the app I compare all others to for pure aesthetic beauty! I really am anxious for Path Developers to create an iPad version as well as allowing people to view my timeline form a web browser, IF I give the link to them of course!

Of course Path is not someplace where you should be posting about the latest problem you had at school with Johnny! These next apps are possible choices for that sort of instance though…. These apps are personal journals/diarys.

First up is another iPhone app – Momento – a quick and easy way to write about what is going on in your life. It is quick to write a post, insert a photo to go along with that post, tag it with the people involved, attach a location and even tag events or create other custom tags that are later searchable. What drew me to this app the first time was that Momento also brings in many of the social feeds you may already be generating on a daily basis. So as I post to Twitter those posts are sucked into Momento. There are a ton of these social integrations in Momento – Here is a section from their website. If you use social media and want many of those feeds integrated into your diary then this app may work well for you! The only thing to be aware of though is that this app brings IN social media feeds but it does not SEND OUT. In other words, if you want to tweet then don’t try doing it from Momento or if you want to check into FourSquare then use the FourSquare app!

This is the last app I am including in this post. I thought I would be very remiss if I did not include one app that was made for the iPad though. I tend to write my experiences from my iPhone because it allows me to include pictures that are better quality that are also GPS embedded. But if you are like me then you want apps that are made for iPhone, iPad and even having a desktop/laptop version of the software is a huge bonus!

I have not used this app but am thinking about trying it out because of the fact that mentioned above!

Day One is a journaling app that allows you to write your post, include a picture along with the weather and even lookup your location using the FourSquare API. You can share your entries via email, Twitter, Messages and Flickr as well as creating a FourSquare checkin. I wish it would also tie into Tumblr, FaceBook and Google+

This is the app that reminds me the most of an old fashioned journal with a good twist of modern included. It looks like it would be a great looking app. This would also be the best spot I think to keep track of daily interactions between students, parents and other school related activities. I don’t think though that there is a good way to keep all your school stuff separate from your personal activities.

I am sure there are even better ways to keep track of your daily life vs your school teaching life. Leave me comments below please about which apps you are using to fill this slot.

Indispensable app for Music Teachers?

I have in the last year used an app called AnyTune Pro+ when I have needed to learn a song for which there is no sheet music. I found this app because I needed an app that allowed me to slow down the music as well as create looped sections to repeat. I’m not sure how I found the app in the first place because if you do a Google search for “apps to slow down music” AnyTune does not come up. I have enjoyed using this app in its free version at first and then I paid the $1.99 to remove the ads. Then last night the developer contacted me and offered a promo code for the HQ version. I took him up on his offer. After using AnyTune HQ it becomes very apparent why we should be paying a little bit more for some of these apps. Let’s talk about what AnyTune does…

  • Slow down music, without changing pitch unless….
  • Adjust to pitch of a song without distorting the sound
  • Loops sections of the song
  • Name hit points in the song – like rehearsal numbers from a score or sections like Verse or Chorus
  • Use their Fine Touch EQ to do things like highlight a specific instrument or vocal
  • Plug your instrument into a USB audio interface and play along with the recording [from AnyTune’s website-(Use LiveMix together with Anytune’s FineTouch equalizer to pull out frequencies of a particular instrument. Then use LiveMix to insert yourself into the music while reducing the song’s original instrument! LiveMix and FineTouch EQ really help you to feel like you’re playing in the band.)]

Using just the basic version I did feel limited by the restrictions of that version. With the full version I am no longer feeling restricted. Things like being able to get music in to the app is easy. Being able to set up a bunch of hit points per song is easy. Being able to quickly jump back and forth in my loops is easy. I can quickly adjust the start and stop points of my loop point. I can even share all of the marks/hitpoints and settings for all of my songs that I import into AnyTune. The sound quality is wonderful and type of files AnyTune can handle is great.

GETTING MUISC INTO ANYTUNE:

  1. Access my iPad music library – not DRM files or iTunes Matched songs that are not downloaded to my device
  2. Use DropBox
  3. Use Wi-Fi
  4. Use the Open-In Menu (Which reminds me that I will be very glad to see iOS 6 which will allow us to see more than 10 apps in this menu)

MARKS/HITPOINTS:

  1. Each song imported into AnyTune will have it’s own list of Marks
  2. Select the Marks icon to see all of the Songs Marks
  3. Touch a Mark and the song jumps to that spot in the song. (Marching season just got a lot better! Now we can rehearse any given section of a song as many times as we want. The 16 count drill at Measure 30 need more work? No problem, open AnyTune, tap the Meas. 30 mark, set the loop points and 10 seconds later you are running that drill music for the band to practice marching to!
  4. Use Marks to quickly set loop points

VISUAL:

  1. The display of AnyTune is beautifully done. What you see is very appealing.
  2. You see a waveform of the song that allows you to visually see what the music doing.
  3. Use that waveform to easily set your Marks and Loops
  4. It is easy to figure out what is one the screen for most options. Some icons are not that easy to guess BUT…
  5. Tap the ? icon if you are not sure what an icon is and orange boxes appear and clearly tell you what everything is that you may be confused about.
  6. The help screen is nicely done and again is visually appealing!

AUDIO:

  1. I should have started with this because it is the most important but they do say “Save the best for last!”
  2. The HQ version of this app has wonderful sound quality.
  3. Even when you slow down the music all the way, .10x’s, the music sounds great! The app will go down to .05x but I’m not sure I would describe that as sounding GREAT. I would say that it still sounds good though.
  4. Even when you transpose music up or down by semi tones the sound is amazing. I had the music transposed up/down 12 semi tones and it was very much something that a person could use. Of course a Tuba part lowered by 12 semi tones is a bit strange! In my messing around though I had the music transposed more than a 1/2 octave and got distracted by other settings. I actually forgot it was transposed!
  5. You can even use the transpose and speed functions at the same time!

USES:

  1. Loop a section of a song and slow it down to learn it by ear. We should be learning music by ear all the time.
  2. Using Marks/Hitpoints on the Marching Band field to practice marching drill to a specific section of your show that needs work. Even if that section is in the middle of the song. With Marks you will be right at the exact spot you want everytime! You can even loop it so the kids can march back and forth without stopping to save time and keep focus heightened.
  3. Slow down a recording that is being struggled with and then play along with it. In fact there is a feature that allows you to loop a section 10x’s with each time being gradually faster until you arrive at the original tempo!
  4. Slow down a recording so that you can hear all the intricate details and give your ears time to pick up on it! Like those fast quad fills and mallet runs.
  5. Use the FineTouch EQ to bring out your part more, like a Bass guitar part.
  6. Use the FineTouch EQ to take your part out so you can play along with it kind of like a music minus 1 track
  7. Add lyrics into the Lyrics tool so you can sing along with it and not mess up the lyrics!
  8. Use this in Choir to rehearse with as it allows you to quickly jump to a specific part in your music. For instance if you only need to rehearse the Bridge of a song then you have no problem immediately jumping to the correct spot in the recording. In the old days you would have had to guess and we know where that gets you when your are in a room of middle school students!
  9. Use the app to adjust the key of a song for a particular singer until you find the exact key that works for that student.
  10. Set everything up for your tunes on your iPad and then email the Marks to your section leaders so that they can use them on their iPhones in AnyTune
  11. Sing Karaoke with this app as it allows you to quickly change the pitch of songs, jump between songs and use the LiveMix feature. Now if they would only add some effects to apply to your voice. This could be fun!

I will keep you updated on how I use this in class and how well it works when I actually have students in the room! In fact I will be using this tonight at DrumLine rehearsal! I already have my marching band show music loaded and all the rehearsal marks Marked out! There are some nice comparison charts on their website so you can see exactly the difference between the three versions of AnyTune. They also compare AnyTune to another app that has the same idea in mind.

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