Want to MAKE MUSIC with your iOS device? Here are some sales for the weekend! MUSIC THEORY APP Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro – $11.99 BIG NEWS RELEASE I am about two weeks behind in writing… More
Progress and improvements in capabilities are expected in technology. In fact, I’ve told my own kids – “Buy the best tech you can afford/need at the best price you can find then don’t look back!” Soon a newer and shinier and faster and more capable thing will appear. It is the way it is.
Once you do make the decision to make a tech purchase though it really can be a huge event that changes your entire look out on what you can achieve.
Here is the most important thing I want you to take away from this blog post – read this much at least!
New technology can bring you a fresh outlook on the use of technology. Trying to continue to use the old tech can make you frustrated! When you KNOW what is possible but you don’t have access to those tools has the potential to make a person frustrated.
So…. dive in and talk to people that are using the new tech. Ask the important questions like can this really benefit me? Can this really make my life better? Can this really open up new possibilities? Is the new tech really going to actually be a game changer?
Then make the purchase.
Then…. become a user! Use the heck out of it! Ask people that know more than you for tips and trick! Read blogs, subscribe to twitter users, watch some YouTube videos. Actually become aware of just how the new technology can be used and what it can do for you!
BE A USER!
Game Changing Tech
The new MacBook Pro with the TouchBar and the 12.9 iPad Pro are some of those game changers. Let me start with sharing my impressions of the MacBook…
- This thing is fast – so freaky fast I have to believe that Jimmy Johns had something to do with the creation of this thing. (Jimmy Johns…. don’t get it? …. go google it)
- Spotlight is freak fast too!
- Having the ability to unlock the computer using the fingerprint sensor is cool.
- Having the ability to unlock the computer through an AppleWatch is Amazing!
- The TouchBar is a very handy way to work I HATE taking my hands off the keyboard while working on the laptop. The TouchBar gives me one more way to keep my hands on the keys, in addition to the the hundreds of keyboard shortcut that I use all the time. I love the fact that it SO much more useful than those Fn keys!
- The keyboard has remarkably changed since 2010! I had not realized how tactile I had become in my typing until I tried typing on the new keyboard.
- SIRI on my laptop totally rocks! Not sure exactly how many ways I can utilize it but I’m trying it every chance I get!
- AirDrop is a game changer for those that have an iPhone/iPad and frequently start a project on those devices then change over to work on their laptops. Don’t worry DropBox and Box – you will still be used, just not nearly as critical now.
- AirPlay has always been awesome from my iPad during class time. Now my laptop does the same! At home it is really sweet to be able to AirPlay over to the TV.
- The fact that I have to buy a $40 dongle just to print at school is frustrating as all get out. BUT, is this Apple’s issue or my tech department? They will not open up the wireless network to allow printing. COME ON GUYS GET WITH THE TIMES!
- Dongles are now in my bag for ethernet and USB. Soon I will need two more – an USB-c to Thunderbolt and then a Thunderbolt 2 to Firewire. This will allow me to record via my 32 channel PreSonus mixer. Annoying and expensive but props to Apple for making sure that there is still a solution that “just works”.
- It is LOUD!
- It is lighter and skinnier. Those few ounces make a difference. My backpack is noticeably lighter now!
- This trackPad with force touch is crazy! It is also HUGE.
Now, the iPadPro. I have now worked with the 12.9 inch iPad since last year. I have not written about it much here but here are some thoughts…
- Every single music teacher should be given one of these by their school district. It should be a gift to the teacher upon day one of their hire!
- The Apple Pencil is very cool. Use that pencil with music notation or use it with an app like GoodNote that recognizes your handwriting and you will be astounded.
- It is BIG
- It is LOUD – In fact I don’t always hook up speakers during class time when I want to play something quickly for the kids. Most days the sound system is hooked up and ready to go nut when it isn’t I simply turn the iPad up and hit play. Not a single kid has complained about “not hearing”.
- More complex scores like my High School band scores are totally readable on this thing.
- There is SO much more screen real estate that when using it as a musical instrument I don’t feel cramped. I do have big hands and this was an issue with the smaller iPads.
- The screen is beautiful – I love having my photos on this device! I love showing those photos to others because it is just such and amazing experience!
- I do still like using a bluetooth keyboard with it. I refuse to get Apple’s though. I don’t want the extra weight on it. It’s big but by itself I don’t mind the weight. With ANY of the available keyboards that are cases it becomes a huge nuisance though. I simply bought a Logitech keyboard and leave it sitting on my desk. When I am out and about I use the on screen keyboard and never really too much about it.
- Oh… and using this thing as a music production studio simply rocks!
I do fully understand why some people get freaked out when they are first adapting to new technology. This keyboard on the MacBook is messing with my brain. After a week with it though I am retraining myself and getting along just fine. There is a learning curve though upon getting new tech – Please don’t let that stop you from jumping in and getting new tech! Take it one thing at a time though – even I have felt overwhelmed and have to remind myself that I can only do/learn so much at a time. So pick one or two things and go for it!
Yes, tech will fail you. My electronic ensemble had a performance last night and I could not get the microphones to work! Still haven’t figured it out – it’s driving me nuts. HAVE A BACK UP PLAN (Part of that back up plan is to NOT become so frustrated you give up)
I’ve walked out of my office two or three times every day this week with a big ol grin on my face and my daughter just looks at me and shakes her head because she knows it is a result of being a user of new tech.
BUT, now My Daughter has the same look on her face and is now digging in to using my old laptop, which to her is brand new! She is doing projects that she could never have done before. Those projects will be a very visible part of the senior graduation and awards programs. When I look at her face I will see “that look” and I will knowingly smile because I will know what that look is from.
BE A USER!
As this blog is as much about me sharing my use of technology in education as it is to journal my journey with my technology, this post is to mark the end of an era….
(If you don’t want to read a story about my tech acquisitions then move on and save some time. This post is about me saving money and buying more toys!)
Spring Breaks are always a great deal of fun for my family and myself. We always try to find someplace warm and fun. Warm beach is always great. The other thing I enjoy Spring Break for is the fact that we usually have our taxes back and I get a toy along with my kids sometimes too!
This blog post will be the lat that I write on my trust 2010 MacBookPro. I’m not sure but I think this laptop pre-dates the start of this blog – I’d have to go look. It’s still a good laptop and it will be passed on down to my daughter as she heads off to college because for everything she needs it will probably carry her through the next four years!
For me though I’ve been waiting for the right moment – as software advances on my laptop shows it age. I’ve not installed Sierra, although I could have as it is supported technically. Too many things would NOT have run though. The latest Logic update will sometimes run and sometimes not. I am going to be doing another summer where I am the video guy for two weeks at a music camp and even though I did pull it off last year I know I would be only thinking about how much faster a newer laptop could do all the editing! And other things too – it is slower than my three sons who have gotten MacBooks in the past couple of years and once I saw the speed with which they were able to do things I became a bit more unsatisfied. Plus as my phone and iPad was upgraded the speed I gained there made my 2010 seem even slower.
The reason I have not upgrade yet though is that I have not been unwilling to “give” on a few details – 16GB ram with a 512GB hard drive were just the minimum I’d go for – I thought and struggled with this decision long and hard though – I’ve been looking at upgrades for like two years. The other issue was price – no way was I willing to pay out the absurd price Apple wanted me to to get a machine with those specs. Which brings me to the fun of spring break this year (an other years too)
If you have never looked into Apples refurb store you need to. I have constantly bought my hardware through them and have never had an issue. In fact this 2010 machine was a refurb.
The other way I save money is to watch the sales at multiple websites and stores. For instance – if you have been thinking about buying an Apple Watch Series One – Target currently has them for about $80 off if you have a Red Card! That’s a nice savings!
Best Buy also has many Open Box deals. That are well worth the money. As my family and I spent time traveling from Michigan to Florida and back I checked in every Best Buy to see what they had. This year I found nothing matching the deal I wanted and was a bit bummed. Then after we had driven all those miles back to Michigan my wife suggested we drive do a lot little bit of shopping after we got home today as we were earlier than we thought. So we jumped back in the car again and drove another hour to the next closest town with a Best Buy and a mall in it. I dropped the girls at the mall to shop for clothes and away I went.
Upon peaking in the open box cage when I arrived I was pretty sure I’d found the deal I wanted but could not read the full label – I quickly found a guy who then found the “Apple Pro” with the keys. Lonnie opened the cage and sure enough it was the deal I wanted! I asked why it was so much off and he stated that there was currently a $100 sale on the new MacBooks which meant the Open Box deals went down as well.
The discussion we had while I inspected the machine was a bit discouraging though – and this was the same sort of discussion as two previous sales reps in other state. In answer to my “Why is this being sold as an Open Box deal?” – their response was that they were seeing a high number of people return the new MacBook Pros with the touchBar. Several of the sales guys stated that most people were returning them for the older MacBook with all the “normal” ports and one guy said a few people were getting the Windows Surface computers instead.
My answer tonight was well that all works out well for me! 🙂
So now, I sit here waiting for files from this trust worthy and hardy friend of mine to copy over to an external hard drive so I can pass it on to my lovely daughter. She will be getting a once top of the line MacBook Pro that will serve her purposes for a few more years. This is one of the reasons I don’t mind putting out a couple grand for my laptops – longevity and the fact that there are few, if any, troubles I run into while using them – they simply work.
PS – Because I opened up a Best Buy credit card I managed to save even more money – although this is in the shape of a Best Buy gift card that I will have to use to purchase more Best Buy items – BUT that counts!
Do you teach composition and music exploration and scales and chords to your music students? Do YOU like to explore chord progressions and different types of scales? Then go download Klimper – Explore, Improvise, Compose by Tobias Suellhoefer – its free and packed with all sorts of ways to do exactly what the title says – explore musical sounds.
Currently I am on Spring Break so I am not going to write a ton here because it is WAY more fun to spend time with family, learning to code and playing on the ocean front.
If you want to get started on making music with your iPad then there has never been as good of a time as now!
Korg has released the desktop version of Korg Gadget. That means they are also having a nice sale on their iOS apps right now too!
EVEN MORE EXCITING….
Cubasis ($25) has just been updated to version 2.1 and now takes advantage of the soon to be released AudioBus3, has a newly reworked MIDI Editor and has RoomWorks SE in there too! There are more improvements but you will have to dig a little deeper to find all those goodies!
Now my computer battery is going to die and I’m tired so time to go!
In January 2017 the Music Notation iOS app world grew. MusicJot by Mona Lisa Sound was one of those apps that actually has been released that works well. In January I did discover that there is another Music notation app being developed as well but that app is still in beta. I do find it very interesting that both of these music notation apps focus on using handwritten notation as a main method of input!
John Reed (an arranger, cellist, and programmer) and Mark Dalrymple (a software developer as well as an accomplished trombonist and bassoonist) are the two main guys behind the development of MusicJot. The fact that they are both musicians themselves and the fact that John is a for real arranger for a Grammy nominated string quartet that was trained at Juliard, gives this app some much needed credibility!
MusicJot currently is on the app store at a promotional pricing of $29.99
SO WHAT IS THE MAIN IDEA BEHIND MUSICJOT?
The app store description gives the first few lines of description stating that MusicJot is a powerful music notation app that is easy to use by writing quickly and naturally on a staff.
My description… HandWriting music notation on an iPad is an amazing experience. Technology gets out of the way, there is no more trying to figure out how to do something like find the correct tool set to create that time signature or articulation or change from inputting quarter notes to eighth notes. Simply draw the music, with articulations and markings, and it is quickly digitized!
This means that as of March 2017 we now have the following for apps to HANDWRITE music notation on iOS:
- MusicJot (Released Jan 2017) – ($29.99 promotional intro price)
- Notion – (Handwriting IAP released Nov 2015) – ($14.99 + $7.99 for handwriting IAP)
- Touch Notation (Released Aug 2014) – ($8 version or also available as a limited Free Version called Touch Notation Free)
- NotateMe (Released Sep 2013) – ($39.99 or also available as a limited Free Version called NotateMe Now)
Before 2013 ThinkMusic had started a KickStarter to bring the first app to market that gave us handwritten music notation on a tablet. That campaign blew our minds with the possibility of what was to come but alas, the Kickstarter was never fully funded. But out of that came the MyScript engine that now powers Notion handwriting as well as MusicJot!
WHAT DOES MUSICJOT OFFER THEN?
- The ability to handwrite music on a staff and have it turn into digital notation.
- Alternative palette-driven system for notes and music symbols. (You don’t have to hand write all the time.
- De-clutter what you see on the screen by using layers.
- The Virual-Pointer is a neat way to select interior chordal notes or notes that are just very close together. (Especially helpful when you do not have a stylus like the Apple Pencil)
- Plus you can use the Virtual-Pointer to spot check and live audio scrub individual notes, chords or even the entire score.
- Grouping of staffs – into groups like Woodwind section or Brass section
- MusicJOT is completely customizable. From staff line weight to measure padding to beam angles to music spacing. Make your own house rules.
- Batch note manipulations, such as transpositions and copy/paste with merge, append and replace.
- Lyric support with automatic syllable flowing.
and of course many of the other standard features that you would expect from a music notation app.
There is of course the ability to export your music notation file as Music XML or MIDI. This becomes very important as many people may want to use MusicJot as a starting point, then import that file into Notion/Finale/Sibelius/Dorico on a desktop computer to finalize the project.
It is also helpful that MusicJOT has a 10 step tutorial and a context sensitive reference manual.
What can you hand notate? Well, I’m glad you’ve asked because I’ve got a screenshot to show you the many items MusicJot will recognize:
HIGHLIGHTS and SURPRISES I’VE FOUND
There are several really nice ways of working in MusicJot that I have found that I really appreciate. For instance, when I am running out of room while writing notes in a measure I can simply drag the barline over to make more room! I love being able to live audio scrub sections of my score which allows me to see if a certain chord/note/measure is correct without a complicated playback method involved. I also appreciate that I can, if I for some reason wanted to, put too many counts in a measure. This seems stupid until you think about the fact that as a music educator I do indeed want to demonstrate the “wrong” way sometimes! It is a bit tricky to figure out how make the Live-Audio-Scrubbing work but hey…. they have a built-in help feature so I figured it out! I also made you a picture 🙂
WHAT DOESN’T MUSICJOT OFFER THEN?
While I fully believe in the ability to just simply write out music as if I was using paper I do believe that sometimes there are easier and faster methods of creating a music file. I would like to see a method for MIDI input form a keyboard.
The layout currently is a bit simplistic in some ways – of course this could easily be seen as a benefit by some. To me it just seems to lack a bit of polish. It’s like when I am quickly building a database and just want to get it working, knowing that later I will come back to add that polished look to it. The app doesn’t look bad, just a bit basic.
MusicJot is NOT an end to end solution in my eyes but then again I have NOT found that golden egg yet. The first problem is that there is not a desktop version of the app. The simple solution is to use XML to transfer to a desktop app. The problem is that I can not go back and forth between mobile and desktop in my continued work without constantly converting through XML which turns into a hassle!
MusicJot is NOT the quickest way to edit existing music in my eyes – If I need a part altered for whatever reason I will still be grabbing NotateMe with the PhotoScore plugin. This allows me to snap a pic of exiting printed music, make a few edits and then have my new changes. Neuratron has been the king of music scanning for years and that has not changed with the advent of iPad.
Coming soon will be features like Part Extraction and multiple voices per staff. Also those of you who want guitar tab and chord diagrams will have to wait. Percussionists will also have to wait.
THE FINAL CONCLUSION?
Handwriting music notation on an iPad using any of these apps mentioned here is simply a wonderful and amazing thing. Handwriting music notation if you have an iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil is even more outstanding! I continue to convince music educators to spend a good deal of money in a matter of five minutes by simply demonstrating music notation apps to them.
MusicJot brings some welcome features to iPad for music creation. MusicJot has a some new twists and ideas that the other apps have not implemented yet.
UPDATE -THE $29 PRICE TAG IS GOING TO STICK AROUND AS THE PRICE INSTEAD OF BEING JUST AN INTRO PRICE!
With all this being said…. I think their idea of eventually raising the price to $50 is absurd considering the other options that are currently available at a lower cost. Leaving the price at $29 is quite possibly a decent price entrance. Compared to what is available on a windows tablet – StaffPad – $29 is an amazing price point. Compared to Notion on iPad with the handwriting IAP $29 is more.
Considering costs of desktop apps in the past $29 is a steal!
MusicJot works wonderfully and I look forward to the future development of the app! I appreciate the fact that the company gave me a promo code so that I could use and review the app here for you all to read about. Remember that links here on my website are affiliate links which when used by you to purchase apps I’ve reviewed, will give me 7% out of Apples profits while the developers continue to receive their full profits!
Check out the spot MusicJot achieved on the Apple App Store – in the featured section under Perfect With Apple Pencil!
Boy oh boy this must be the season for dollar app sales!
GoodNotes 4 – Only one dollar currently! (Normally this is like $8!)
I had a discussion with my principal a few years ago. She was asking about where I wanted my brand new whiteboard to go… I was amazed that I was even being considered for one! But then we discussed about what I would use it for since I had an iPad and a projector. As I had no experience with an iPad I asked what the other teachers were using theirs for. I held long discussions with other teachers. I searched the internet.
The end decision was that I did not find a good reason to waste the schools money. I had an iPad and apps.
It is apps like GoodNotes 4 that gives me some great versatility in my class rehearsals. GoodNotes allows me to quickly hand write anything I would normally write on a whiteboard/smartboard but with so many added advantages that I can hardly imagine NOT having the capability!
First of all the app has a wonderful feature that only shows my content and NOT the user interface!
Secondly all my notes are synced in the cloud! I can access them from my iPad or my iPhone.
Thirdly my HANDWRITTEN NOTES are searchable! yup… read that again… I’ll wait…. Check it out in the picture below. My crappy handwriting even gets recognized! Amazing! You can see that after writing my notes I did a search and GoodNotes did it! Now if that’s not cool I don’t know what is going to impress you!
Fourth – I can organize my notes how ever I wish!
Fifth – I can write, type, insert images, draw shapes (that get auto-magically recognized and cleaned up!), I can even bring in PDF’s and annotate them! Think about being able to work on a worksheet with your students while walking around the room allowing THEM to write in the answers on your iPad with your Apple Pencil and having those answers show up on the projector screen up front!
Sixth – There is even music manuscript paper built in! Along with a healthy dose of other templates and graph paper and awesome covers for your notebooks!
Seventh – as you can see in the screen above there is also a zoom feature that works wonderfully! It will allow you to write and then will auto-magically move over as you write! Such a wonderful thing!
Eighth – It’s a buck right now! With an update coming right around the corner with some great features I’m sure in that update! (OK – I’m guessing on the great new features one as I am NOT on the beta for this app and if I was I couldn’t tell you about what was coming anyways!) (But why put out an update unless you have something great to share!)
Due – Reminders, Countdown Timers – (Only a buck if you act quick!)
You Due have a To-Due app correct? If not you are Due to buy one before Due goes off sale….
All right enough non-sense talk! Seriously though, if you do NOT have an app to help you keep track of your important items that need to be done then this is your lucky day! Put something into this app and it’s going to keep reminding you until you JUST DUE IT! (ah man… sorry but I couldn’t resist!)
Hey, even better is the fact that this will even do countdown timers!
Even better is that there is an universal for iPad/iPhone/Apple Watch and then you can even purchase the Mac app as well!
This is a great app for those things you need to be reminded of that are not full fledged calendar type of events.
If you are at all into using the wonderful touch interface of an iPad to create music using alternative playing interfaces then this app is for you!
KRFT – Sound Inspired allows you to use loops, dials, and effects to create a musical playing surface totally inspired by your imagination!
If you act fact then you might catch the intro Sale ( I just ran across this so it’s gonna have to be FAST) considering the possibilities though that this app offers it is worth every penny of the full price!
This app could be an entire 6 weeks in an electronic music class! Take a look at some of their videos to see what is possible.
Ok people listen up because this is important! If you don’t have an app to take care of all you passwords and vital information like card numbers, bank numbers and everything else you can think of then you are in dire need of clicking the link below and buying OneSafe 4 NOW! It is only $0.99 for one day!
That’s all I have time for. If you REALLY need more info on why a password app is needed then you are one of the people that needs this probably!
oh… hey…. nice little tis bit for you AppleWatch people is that there is now an Apple Watch app that goes along with the normal app!
Yeah, if you are on top of all this news then this is a few days old!
If you have been busy with things like Music Conferences for a bunch of music teachers that truly want to make a deep and lasting impact on their students lives then you may have missed this! 🙂
VirSyn has some amazing apps out already and now they have taken the best of several of those other apps and put them into an audio sampling app to add a nice new twist to the possibilities of music music making!
ReSlice – Audio Slice Machine for iPad and iPhone – $9.99 (an introductory price so grab it now!)
THE IDEA – Record live or import audio from clipboard or AudioShare to break it up into its rhythmic components. Then you slice your audio samples with ReSlice and create flexible musical atoms which can be triggered by MIDI notes or the touch of your fingers.
THE BONUS – You then get to do things like use the polyrhythm Arpeggiator that redefines the art of creating new loops from the extracted slices. Apply the intelligent slice parameter and Arpeggio randomizer for instant creation of the unheard.
NOT SURE WHAT THIS MEANS? Watch this video then go get sampling and slicing!