Chromatik in the Band Room

Chromatik logoNo, no, I am not talking about the chromatic scale! I m talking about the online music website for “learning music together”. Well, that’s what THEY say on their web site! Practice, Share, Record and Collect your music online – those are the highlights of what this site is about.

What Chromatik allows us musicians to do is to put our PDF sheet music online and access it from a web browser. Once that PDF Sheet Music is online then you are able to view and practice with that acting as your sheet music instead of actual paper music. But it does get better than this! As you practice you are also able to record yourself! After recording your self you can share your recordings with other people. Another possibility is that you can create playlists of your PDF Sheet Music and share those playlists with others. So that way we can all work on that music in an online environment and give each other feedback on how we are doing. Here is the link to their information page that just so happens to have a video on it – we all like a little TV right?

Of course, since I am tech minded and always searching for new and different ways to teach and learn music, I am starting to use this web site with my band students. So here starts my journey of sharing about this process online! Look forward to more posts about this resource over the rest of this school year!

First thing I would like to share is the best method I have discovered for uploading my files to the Chromatik web site.

BACKGROUND: All of my Band Music I am digitizing slowly. Each piece we play gets scanned and stored in our digital music library. I end up with two PDF files, one for the score and another for the parts. Each file actually contains the words – “Score” or “Parts” in the filename. This makes it very simple to do a spotlight search, find the appropriate file and make use of that file.

WHAT NOT TO DO: The first things I have discovered that is a horrible, horrible situation is for me to take that PDF file with ALL the band parts and upload that file to Chromatik. when I try to access that PDF (even though it is usually only a 3-4 megabyte file) it is painfully slow to deal with online. I am not sure if it is an issue with the file size or because there are so many pages involved. Either way… don’t do it! I’m sure this situation will only improve over time.

WHAT DOES WORK: I upload each part individually as a separate PDF file. This means that I open the Parts PDF in preview, I am working on a mac here but the process and ideas are the same for windows. Then I select the flute pages and drag them out into the finder to create a new PDF with only the flute part in it. I then do the same for the Clarinet part and so on until I have a new PDF for each instrument. This is a bit of a hassle but in reality it only takes about 5-10 minutes max to drag each part out and re-name it so I know which PDF contains which instrument. Then each PDF gets added to my library in Chromatik.

TRICK: This is the part where you need to pay attention folks! Chromatik does not make it obvious as to the best practice in this process. I did discover though, by accident, that I can have ALL the different instruments show up in my Chromatik library under ONE Piece Name vs every PDF showing up and creating a VERY long list! See the screenshot below… you see that I had uploaded Five Good Natured Variations BEFORE I discovered this process. I had a whole bunch of PDF’s showing up (with the instrument as a part of the title) creating a very long list in my library (I was already DREADING having very many pieces in my library because of this issue – Management was going to be a nightmare!)

Example of each individual PDF vs All PDF's listed under one song title
Example of each individual PDF vs All PDF’s listed under one song title

Then I discovered that all I had to do was give each part the exact same Piece Name as I uploaded them to my library and then Chromatik created a folder for me and listed all the different parts under one Piece Name! This process was a bit hit and miss though – sometimes I had to type in the Piece Name twice to get Chromatik to pick up on the fact that this was a piece that was already in my library. Once Chromatik did pick up on that fact the name of the Author automatically popped into that field. Then I had to pick which part I was uploading. Then all the parts show up in my Library as a drop down menu list under the Piece Title as you see in the above screenshot for Variation Overture.

Here is a screenshot of the uploading process – you can see that I typed in the Piece Title and then Chromatik input the Author Name (that’s why it is a darker grey)

Naming uploads
Naming uploads

There will be more to come as I work through figuring out this web site.

I am fully behind the ideas they are working to implement here. I also realize that this is in the early stages of it’s life. That is why I am willing to overlook some of the annoying issues I have run into. Things like it NOT being obvious of how to upload music and there not being a guide that describes the process. Or the fact that I cannot re-order the playlists, the fact that I have NO idea how they figure out the order in which pieces show up in your music library after you download them and the fact that it is a bit slow at times.

The service is free! Plus is you are a school they will donate a FREE iPad2 if you implement this at your school and get 100 students to sign up! Of course one of the reasons I am using this service is because they also have an iPad app, which is also free.


18 thoughts on “Chromatik in the Band Room

  1. This looks truly exciting! Our band library is nearly 5,000 titles and would take months to scan in. My question is regarding scanning published/copyrighted material. Does this cause any problems? Ex. Duplication/distribution of copyright material.

    Thanks so much!


  2. I am not a lawyer BUT the rule I follow is the same as others who are doing this sort of thing as well….

    I don’t scan (create) or use any more digital copies of a piece of music than what I own in print form. I also don’t “share” my digital copies with others.

    Publishers need to figure this out …. Some have and are selling PDF’s of their music – like BandWorks.

  3. I am testing out the recording and sharing feature, but it is greyed out on my ipad. Is emailing the recording only an option if you choose to connect to facebook?

    Since I plan to use this with my high school band, I am trying to avoid facebook at all costs. πŸ™‚

    1. Well isn’t that strange? I tested this tonight as well…. If I create a recording and then try to share it my little share arrow icon is also greyed out!I’m sure I was able to share a recording before.

      I agree – avoid FaceBook!

      I will dig into this and see what I find out…. If you figure it out let me know will you?

      1. Tech support at Chromatik is AWESOME — they got back to be right away.
        You can only share a recording with someone who has share a playlist WITH you, so my students, whom I share playlists with, will be able to send to me.

        I set up a second account to test the theory, and it worked like a charm. THOUGH – I had it set to email me when a recording was shared with me, and it didn’t email me.

        To find recordings that students have shared with you, on the bottom of the list of recordings, there is a tab for recordings that have been “shared” with you, and any recordings that student send will show up there.

        Yay! I am really excited to start using this.

      2. I thought it was something like that.

        So then, If I make a recording can I then share it with the students who are in my playlist?

        I can hear your excitement and I understand!

      3. See… After testing this out more tonight I realized this was one of my frustrations earlier while trying to learn how to use Chromatik! If I am the teacher and I create a playlist of songs…. I can NOT share a recording with my students. They can share their recording with ME but I can not for instance leave a simple recording of me telling them some instructions. It’s weird!

        Let us know how it goes with your use at your school will you? Are you going to use this on iPads, desktops, home computers or school computers?

  4. I will be using it primarily with iPads– the kids all have them, 1 to 1.
    I have been using other apps to create playing assessments, and having them email them to me, so this app makes the process MUCH smoother.

    I wish there was a way to send a recording to them, but for my purposes, I don’t see a real need for it. Though, as I think about using this program/app for music theory it would be nice to include playing examples.
    But, there are other apps that could work for that – notability, noterize . . . apps like that aren’t music specific.

    I had already been scanning the warm-up books, and was running into a file-size issue when I was trying to email them to the kids. I was planning on having them open them in iBooks, or Notability — something like that. But this is perfect! Chromatik eliminates the need for emailing, and the uploading process is so smooth!

    1. If you are uploading files for your kids to use…. I found that if I tried using a PDF with very many pages in it that it did not work so well…. It loaded VERY slow! So I make sure now that any files I upload are only one part and only a page or two.

      1 to 1 …. You lucky person! How cool!

      By the way… You do realize that SmartMusic has announced the iPad version of the app? With the huge repertoire they already have built up SmartMusic is another way to go for assessing your kids! Not free though.

      1. Yes– very lucky. The iPads have changed the playing field. It is awesome.

        And I did hear about the SmartMusic – I will definitely be checking it out, but our district is not wealthy, and the price tag can be quite a deterrent.

        Anyway- thanks so much for such a great review of the app/site. πŸ™‚
        I will be seeing what else you have written about! And– I teach 5th- through 12th band also! I LOVE IT!! There is absolutely nothing like the bond you have with your graduating seniors, is there??

  5. Thank you so much for the info you posted here! I was nearing a dead-end and you definitely made some things clear! I have a question, though. When I uploaded my individual parts for band, most of them are 2 pages long. I couldn’t see page 2 of any of them, so I had to go back and upload each page separately. Did I miss a step?

  6. Pauline, What device are you using Chromatik on? I’ve got multiple page PDF’s and I see both pages just fine – I am using a MacBook running Safari and also on my iPad2 using the Chromatik app

  7. I’m using a MacBook with Firefox, and also an iPad, both with Chromatik installed.
    I have another question too. I’ve uploaded my first band song, I see all the parts, I’ve experimented with annotating the clarinet part, and now I’m ready for my student to try it. What’s my next step? I’m not seeing a “send to students” or “share” button. Am I missing a step?

    1. Sorry about taking so long to answer – but I had to experiment with this at home then here at school too.

      So IF you are on your MacBook and Chromatik is loaded up in your browser – you will see on the left side of the screen that there is a playlist section. This holds the secret…. create a playlist (I created one for each class) and then invite students to the join playlist. Then you put the desired piece into that playlist, they join and wah-la… you are good to go!

      You have to create and edit the playlists on the computer though – an iPad will not do the trick (from the iPad app that is! It WILL work from Safari on an iPad though.)

      1. This will be my afternoon project while I’m waiting for parents to come for conferences. Thank you so much! I really want this to work. Thanks!

  8. I have just started using Chromatik and was wondering if you have come across students join a playlist from a mobile device? (in our case it is the iPad- 1:1 technology). I know how they can join on the desktop version (email invite or join codes) but it is unclear if that is possible on the mobile app.
    Thanks for the post.

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