Creating Music and Exploring Music Technology

Just had to play in the musical sandbox tonight for a bit

Playing and creating with ROLI’s SeaBoard Block and using Logic to record. No iPads were used in this creation so far. My Roli SeaBoard Block, Equator (the sound software Roli bundles with the Blocks), Logic ProX and my MacBook along with the iConnect Audio4+

What did I find out?

1)I found out that I play in some absurd time signatures!

2)I also figured out the it is nice to be able to record the part as MIDI, tweak the missed notes and then turn it into audio. This also gives a visual clue as to what I played and when as this is all original creation. The piano roll comes in super handy! Good thing Logic allows for time signature changes.

I don’t think there is a DAW on iOS that allows for multiple time signatures. Please leave me a note below if you know of one that does.

3)I also used Logics Drummer feature and it followed the different time signatures flawlessly. Very cool!

4)I had to turn Equator sounds DOWN so they wouldn’t distort. Equator was just simply overloading it’s own output. I’m not sure why when I’m dealing with stock sounds.

5)The level of control and nuance available when playing the SeaBoard Blocks is insane! It really is awesome!

6)I also found out that SoundCloud really has issues with it’s iOS app. You are further ahead just to use Safari and access the website.

Anyways… if you are inclined to listen… it’s a work in progress and is super short.


Fathers Day Music App Sales

It is Fathers Day Weekend here in the USA! As a father of 6 amazing kids I enjoy this weekend! We have munch to be thankful for. One of those items is the music we have in our lives! Now we can make even more great music with these app sales!

If you don’t celebrate Fathers Day you can STILL enjoy the sales!

First up – if you want an amazing sounding piano then Ravenscroft 275 from UVItouch at $17.99 is such an outstanding app! It is on sale for 50% off currently until the 8th of June so act fast.

BeatHawk, also from UVItouch, is an amazing choice for a DAW like app. Great interface, very easy to understand, very easy to get creative with and the sounds are great! Plays well with other apps too!

50% off at $4.99 for the app itself and 50% off the expansion packs as well. There is a wonderful Mallet percussion IAP that I’d suggest if you are looking for those type of sounds.

Next up is an app from Klevgränd…

Brusfri is a highly advanced audio noise reducer packaged in a simple and straight forward interface. Ok… I stole that line from their web site. But I couldn’t have written it any better… wait, I’ll try…

Pure magic is packed into an easy to use button!

If you record anything … this $8.99 is going to be the best $ you have spent in a long time!

MET Podcast #13 with Don Crafton from Sight Reading Factory

Oh my it’s been a long school year during which Chris Russell and I were kept busy doing other things besides podcasting!

But we are BACK AND we have Don Crafton from Sight Reading Factory with us!

In this lengthy episode of the Music Education and Technology Podcast, we catch up about what has been going on in their classrooms since November, including discussions about Notion’s N-Tempo, Luddites, instruction with video, and more.

The interview with Don Crafton about Sight Reading Factory begins at 58 minutes into the podcast.  Visit to learn more about Sight Reading Factory.

iTunes Podcast Link


Final Projects – Authentic Assessments In The Music Classroom

Final exams….

What if your final exams were such that the students didn’t even feel like they were “exams”? What if they could just simply “be creative” using all the tools given them throughout the school year?

Such was the exam for my high school classes – take Yankee Doodle Dandy and “make it your own”. Use your band instruments and other acoustic instruments you found around you, use a group of 8 people and create an arrangement to perform for the class.

I of course had to get in on the fun. I used my iPad, Cubasis, a couple of 5th graders, one high school student, my conducting podium and of course my euphonium.

I will let you decide what instruments the 5th graders played and what sounds were coming from my podium.

I will say that I used my Line6 SonicPort XV stereo microphone to record all the tracks into Cubasis on the iPad. I did cheat a bit as we were able to lay in some effects that my high school kids couldn’t really make use of as they were performing their arrangements live. Some of the stereo mix you hear is from panning inside of Cubasis after recording because I used the mono setting on the SonicPort but some of the tracks were recorded using the stereo setting – like the percussion.

We ended up with 12 tracks. I did not spend hours and hours on my euph playing. I just played and what happened was what you hear.

Then I exported and used the Wizibel App to create the video along with some nature photos I’ve shoot this spring.

The students ran into the issue of needing more time – we used three days of class. We could have used two weeks. Getting groups of 8 to be productive and all come to agreement on the direction of their arrangement was a huge part of the process.

Me… well my group worked pretty well together. The one 5th graders made me laugh because she enjoyed it so much. She begged me to play our final mix for the rest for the 5th graders the next day.

Anyways… here’s my exam…

iPads Setup/Project Suggestions from Music and Youth Impact Network

It’s always great to see what other programs are doing with iPads and creating music with youth.

The Music Impact Network has had great success in using iPads with youth to create and explore music!

Here are some suggestions from them for iPad setups and uses.

Making Music on iPads

Well I found a bit of time to create some music with my iPad and to explore AudioUnit/GarageBand.

It wasn’t as easy of a process as I’d hoped. I used several AudioUnit apps all inside of GarageBand.

The short story – Ended up getting error messages. In the end the only way to get my track was to use my external handheld recorder to record from the iPad headphone jack and then upload to my computer and then back to my iPad for final mastering. 😦

More on this later… but for now… here is the end product if you’d care to listen to my latest musical wanderings.

Using Notion in place of non-available Musicians!

I have been an extremely busy bee the past couple months working hard on a project here at the school. I’d like to share just a bit.

I’ve learned a ton about using Notion software, by PreSonus, to fill in for musicians that just are not available.

You see we are a small school district with limited funds and limited access to amazing musicians who are able to cover all the possible different instruments we might want to utilize in a particular production. We just are not able to produce an entire orchestra, including harpist!

So I set out to see if it was possible to make do by using the nTempo feature in Notion.

Through a long process of taking the orchestra parts, entering them into the computer, and lots of trial and error I have found that using Notion with nTempo is absolutely a wonderful solution! Not a replacement in ANY WAY shape or form but I’d rather go live WITH these parts then to NOT have the parts!

I do have a few tips to share:

notatemelogo– NotateMe – with PhotoScore – Well worth every penny of the two combined purchases – the full app itself and then the IAP of PhotoScore

Enter a caption


  • Neuratrons NotateMe used in conjunction with the PhotoScore in-app-purchase saved me a TON of time!
  • I’ve found that using my iPhone X with NotateMe’s PhotoScore was WAY faster than using my original iPad Pro 12.9″ (I really wasn’t surprised that it was faster but I WAS surprised at HOW much faster it was!) Hands down, noticeable!
  • Sometimes PhotoScore was NOT the fastest way!
  • PhotoScore does NOT get everything –
    • multi measure repeats are the first obvious item it misses.
    • Another biggie was that sometimes it missed the key signature.
    • Text ALWAYS had to be cleaned up.

Notion LargeNotion – for iOS – Well worth having this on my iOS devices as well as my laptop! Has replaced my previous notation app.


  • PhotoScore was how I started with the strings – Violin 1 & 2, Viola, Cello, String Bass
    • I always had to adjust the Show Attachments Above/Below to Auto.
    • I also had to adjust Set Note Stem Direction to Auto.
  • Step Entry Mode is Pretty stinking fast!
    • Harp parts got entered via step entry mode
    • Many little parts that my High School kids couldn’t play were also entered via step entry –
  • Real Time Recording absolutely needs a quantize feature. Because of the lack of this feature I found it useless.
  • In a huge project like this I actually for the first time in my life lived in Continuous View Mode


  • Found out that entering Lyrics has a bug – it doesn’t always work in Continuous View Mode!
    • Two Solutions
      • One – switch to Pages Across or Pages Down mode
      • Two – Enter Score Layout mode and drag the Part containing lyrics down lower in the score temporarily.


  • For the entire first act I never touched my computer. I scanned all the string parts via my iPhoneX and then edited them all in Notion on my iPad.
  • Then I switched to my computer.
  • I think the computer is possibly a bit faster.
  • I haven’t tried the full score on my iPad again, now that I am about done. I am wondering if the iPad can actually handle playing the full score.

nTempo Screen.png


  • Using nTempo is pretty straight forward.
    • First of all – Not available on iOS – only Desktop/Laptop
    • Add an nTempo Track to your score (it’s under basics)
    • Add the beat that you’d like to tap along to
    • Then hit that little conductor dude (or Shift Return – which is VERY finicky though – sometimes that shortcut works and sometimes not. I really have NOT figured out the trick fully) (See the screen shot above to spot the conductor icon)
    • THEN the MAGIC….
    • start tapping and the music start to play and follows your tapping for tempo!
    • Sometimes it is easier to tap in specific rhythms rather than the beat – for instance why Tapp four quarter notes when everyone is holding a whole note? or why tap quarter notes if everyone is playing quarter note triplets? (as you can see in the screenshot above…. the nTempo part is NOT quarter notes)


  • iCloud sync in Notion is scary good! I never once had to manually transfer files between my iPhone/iPad/Laptop when I had wi-fi available.
  • I was working on the beach during spring break a few times and had to AirDrop files back and forth then


  • I used this app to store references to all the books that I did not want to carry with me.
  • I am actually NOT using my iPad during the show because using the computer AND iPad is a bit much. I actually like the static reliability of having a two page paper score in front of me.
    • That has been a pain though for simple things like quickly finding specific songs. I mean the full score is 202 pages LONG!


As for the sounds coming from Notion – OUTSTANDING – I remember the day I’d have to create a score for the way I wanted things to look and then another for the way I wanted things to sound. With Notion, this is no longer the case! Dynamics, articulations, and the list goes on…. they ALL make the sounds you’d expect! It’s very nice!

With the exception of swing… yeah… that’s a bit iffy still. It kind of works but there are adaptations you have to make. Like when you want one 8th note and then the next two tied.

I’ve ended up putting WAY more parts into the computer than I anticipated because I decided that trying to be the nTempo tapper AND trying to read my paper score was impossible! I really needed to use simply the computer.

Here are the parts I’ve put in that I never thought of before I started this process….

  • Piano Conductor – This is a piano part that actually get turned off in the mixer. It is there because even on a 15″ MacBook Pro screen I can not see all the parts. If I’m conducting I have to know what the heck I’m conducting. It is in effect a condensed score that lives at the top of my screen.
  • The actors cue lines to know how the music lines up with the dialogue.
  • Vocal Parts WITH lyrics – this helps immensely as I do NOT remember lyrics very well. It also helps to separate the vocal line from the instrumental parts.
  • nTempo – I knew I’d have to enter beats. I didn’t really understand the intense pre-thought of how detailed this track would become.
    • It’s WAY easier to just conduct – it comes second nature 🙂 I do wish I had the resources for all live musicians.


You had better have a great sound system to make this work. First of all the sounds in Notion rock but if your speakers are bad… well….

You’ve got to have a good monitoring system so you and the live musicians can hear the track.

and finally…. just like a real live instrument… YOU’D BETTER PRACTICE A TON!

Free Beat Making App – FingerBeats

Well this looks fun… free! For today at least….


A pocket sampler, drum-machine & field recorder designed for ‘on-the-go’ creativity. FingerBeat allows you to capture sounds directly into pads or TapeRecord the entire sessions instantly. Make Loops using the reels then drag-and-drop clips into pads and keep creating!

Making Music on the Beach With Roli and my iPad

I am on Spring Break and our first order of business was to stop at SweetWater Sound to pick up a Songmaker Kit by Roli. All week I’ve been messing around with the SeaBoard Blocks in my free time between running around to the beach and sight seeing. The reason I was so very intrigued with what Roli is doing is that the blocks support MPE. Don’t know what that is? Here is Roger Linn who created the Linnstrument, along with a few other important musical achievements, explaining…

MPE stands for “Multidimensional Polyphonic Expression” and is a new MIDI standard created by us, ROLI, Apple, Moog, Haken Audio, Bitwig and others for communicating over MIDI between MPE controllers (like LinnStrument, Roli Seaboard, Continuum, SoundPlane or Eigenharp) and MPE sound generators (like these).

Plus the Songmaker Kit is portable and Roli finally packaged it with the full version of their software Equator. Actually, the software that comes with the Songmaker Kit is pretty impressive. You get the full version of Equator for your laptop/computer along with other software you see in the screen shot below. You also get almost every sound pack that is available for the iOS Noise app when you buy the Songmaker Kit too!

Their are a few iPad apps that supports MPE- Moog just released their new Model D app which supports MPE along with Animoog and Model 15 which has been out for awhile. GarageBand also supports MPE and also released an app update this week to allow for facial control of parameters using the newest cameras built into our lovely devices like the newest iPads and iPhones. GeoShred also supports MPE because their developers, one of which is Jordan Rudess is an immense supporter of new ways to control and create music. Of course ROLI’s own app, Noise, allows for MPE.

So my first week impressions are that MPE is going to take awhile to get figured out and make full use of. GarageBand and Model D for instance, although supporting MPE do not develop each sound to make the best use of the messages coming from the Songmaker Kit Blocks. On the other hand, Roli has done an awesome job realizing that in order for their product to succeed and MPE to take hold, they must develop software that is designed to take full advantage of the MPE messages coming from the Blocks.

Anyways…. what is Roli’s main thrust? Making music anyplace you are with new tools and capabilities. So what else can I do but make some music and then share it.

This song was all GarageBand using the SeaBoard Block then I ran it through the Audio Mastering App which then allowed me to upload to SoundCloud. Then I had to open Safari, not the SoundCloud app, to edit the info and the cover art. (Come on SoundCloud…. why would you take away such basic capabilities from your app!????)

Anyways… if you are so inclined for some chill musical meanderings to listen to then check it out below… Also – if you have had success with the SeaBoard Blocks and MPE let me know where your music is and what you have found that works really well in the comments. I’d love to connect.