How do we as music teachers (I am talking as a Band Director here) help inspire out students to study and become more proficient at naming notes, using the correct fingerings, understanding rhythms better and comprehending music theory?
How do we show the students progress in their musical learning? You know, give the principals and ourselves the data we need to actually prove a student is progressing?
How do we keep track of that data so we can quickly and easily check in on an individual student to see if they REALLY do understand what they are doing in class? Our classes are very group driven – contact time with individual students is hard to find!
Oh…. plus, how do we walk aways from school at the end of the day/week/marking period with our sanity?
Using Nin-Genius has helped me accomplish these goals! Non-Genius is one of the ONLY apps I know of that “test” students AND keeps track of multiple students data so I can pull their scores to analyze with ease.
Nin-Genius is an app that my students use to test in band class. They call it playing games but it isn’t – just don’t tell them! Their goal though is to earn Black Belt level in note names, fingerings and rhythms. There are several different levels of Black Belt too – Easy, Medium, Advanced and of course Nin-Genius level!
Here’s what the screen looks like as students play, errr….. I mean TEST on Fingerings-
Here is what it looks like as they test on rhythms,
They way my kids do it is they simply have the chance to play once or twice a week. I will start the iPad at the start of the classroom and they play once per class then pass it on to the next student. Since kids are sharing an iPad they can see the high scores for their instrument which inspires them to beat other students as well as letting them know where they rank in their class.
The fun part for me as a teacher trying to save time, be efficient, and get my grades in throughout the semester all while keeping my sanity is when I go into Instructor mode. This allows me to be able to pull up any of the students progress to see where they are. For instance you can see below that I had absolutely NO idea Keagan had moved on to Medium level! That kid is rocking it!
Plus I am able to export ALL their scores as a csv file that easily pulls into an excel spreadsheet for further analysis…. I’ve added some conditional formatting on the cells so my eye can more quickly scan through the data. You can see below that I’ve highlighted Black Belts as well as the different levels of testing. You can ALSO see that I need to tell Tristan to MOVE on to Medium level. I guess he likes getting Black Belt! 🙂
So anyways…. there are several versions of the app. I have been using the Classic Edition for Class. There is a new Ultimate version but it is currently lacking the ability for me to track my entire class and the instructor mode. Hopefully Curtis is working on making that a possibility because I REALLY like the new version!
There are also some lite versions of the app available for free. Plus for the Classic app there are several versions available…
I’d strongly encourage your students to go download the Lite apps – they are FREE!
Even cooler is the fact that the NinGenius Ultimate app is now available on Android as well as Kindle Fire!
So…. you are a music teacher and you just got a new iPad to help you run class and teach music….
What are the three apps that I think are the most important for you to purchase as a teacher to help you teach music?
Hope your school district helps support your purchase of an amazing device for music teachers! I believe every school should HAVE to buy every music teacher an iPad! But if they DON’T help you then you might feel like you have a brand new sports car in your driveway with no wheels and no money for gas! But it’s all paid for and you totally own it!
Performing live with your iPad is quite an amazing journey these days as we now have a plethora of apps and hardware to choose from.
There are no excuses accepted for NOT using your iOS device to perform with! From simply using it to display your sheet music to running AUM to control six different apps all connected to your MIDI keyboard to simply using one app and the interactive glass surface of your iPad to perform solo or along with a band…. its a whole new world. This weekend and Christmas time will be the best chances you have to grab some apps and hardware at prices you won’t see the rest of the year!
Here are some ideas of what you can use….
Start with AUM from Kymatica. This is the essential app currently for combining several apps, several controllers and being able to mix it all in real time.
AUM allows us to work with whatever apps we would like alongside whatever hardware we want to integrate. It will give us the possibility to mute, solo, and control volume of each app.
MIDI learn is easy to setup to your hardware in order to control the volume, mute and solo for each app as well.
This app is Ableton Link enabled talks to AUv3 apps, has InterApp Audio and AudioBus connections as well.
You can also use effects on each mixer channel. So If I have Korg Module on the first channel I can have a piano sound pulled up in Module and then add in an effects app to sweeten up the reverb along with putting a compressor on the channel as well. After setting up each app with it’s own mixer channel I can then route what ever hardware I have to whichever app. So my Launchkey can control Korg Module as well as being the external controller I use to adjust volume, mute and solo for each app. Then my main MIDI controller keyboard can then be connected to all the channels allowing me to use heavy layered sounds or to simply hit the solo button on any app I’d like to use by itself. I can also have my QuNexus keyboard setup to be the only hardware that is connected to the app that is running an arpeggiator for that one tune.
The possibilities are endless! and Exciting!
Here are some great apps to start plugging into those Mixer slots in AUM:
I would be very remiss is I did not start with Apples GarageBand – Free and outstanding. GarageBand stands out as a great way to record and create music but also as a an instrument to perform with. GarageBand has some wonderful sounds inside of the app as well as some very innovative ways in which to perform. There are the Smart Instruments which allow for easy and quick ways to get some sounds rolling without even knowing technical details, like music theory, of how it is happening! Smart Strings, Guitar, Bass, and Piano. The drummers inside of GarageBand are so very fun as well. GarageBand also contains one of the most loved synth apps ever created for iPad – Alchemy. Of course it is no longer available on the App Store as a stand alone app because Apple wrapped it up inside of GarageBand. Once you find the synth instrument look for Alchemy and you will find 8 variations of each sound that you can morph between. It is pretty cool, this level of interaction and control of the sounds coming from your iPad!
Korg Module ($20 currently) is an astonishing collection of sounds all wrapped up in one app. Some of the best piano sounds are available as part of your original purchase. If you want to step up your collection of piano sounds purchasing the Ivory Piano or Ivory American D will only set you back $10 currently. The Orchestral Dreams sounds pack is another $10 that contains some of the best string sounds I’ve played. Especially coming from an iPad/iPhone. The Dreamy Synths or Triton collections will give you even more synth pads and synth sounds to perform with.
Korg iM1 ($15 currently) is essentially a Korg M1 synth stuffed into your iOS device! I was so mad in the early 90’s when the Korg M1 I had access to use in college got stolen! Now I can relive those days and once again have access to the outstanding sounds from that keyboard!
Reason Compact is a free synth that currently is $5 to unlock the full potential of. All the sound sets inside are $1 and they are all worth it! This synth is simply inspiring and so much fun to play! Go ahead… download the free version but again… for $5 it is worth it to unlock the full version! I’m not even a Reason person but this synth…. it will be used often on Sunday morning worship team!
XeQuence Main Screen
XeQuence Keyboard Option
If you need a sequencer that is straight forward and powerful then Xequence | The MIDI Workstation is your app for only $4 it is a no brainer. This app produces no sound on its own but is the sequencer you use to push MIDI info out to other apps. It also offers a playing surface of it’s own allowing you to use it as a performance tool that controls other apps by simply playing. Or you can use that builtin keyboard to record your parts with freeing you to not have to carry an external keyboard!
If you want a more powerful DAW that you can use to play backing tracks alongside sequenced accompaniments then Cubasis is half price currently and $25 nets you the top choice for many iOS musicians.
Want a keyboard on your iPad screen to perform with? KB-1 by Kai Aras is a $5 new app that gives you five unique layouts to use as the performance surface. This will be a standard must have app for anyone to use if they want to use the iPad screen to perform from.
SynthMaster One – Powerful Wavetable Synth is currently $10 and is practically the same app as the company makes for the desktop computer. An app full of 500 sounds sure to fit any style and genre. This app also supports micro-tuning so exploring those sounds are easy with SynthMaster One. Just make sure to buy SynthMaster One and not SynthMaster Player.
If modular sound is your thing, and honestly… who can resist it, Moog apps are on sale now as well. AniMoog is one of the first apps to iPad that gave us fabulous modular sounds along with new and exciting interactions with those sounds. AniMoog allows for far more control of the sound then simply pressing a key on and off. Moog’s keyboard allows for you to get exciting sounds as you run your finger up and down the keys – that will alter anything from the filter to the effects. In fact, I do believe, Moog was the first to give us a keyboard that was DIFFERENT then the simple piano sort of looking thing.
Need electronic wurli’s and such then NeoSoul Keys Studio from Gospel Musician is only $10 this weekend
GuitarCapo+ is $2 currently and if you want an app for guitar sounds this one will more then for the bill!
Audio Mastering $7 currently is the app you want to use if you are working with creating mixdowns of your performances. It takes your recording to a new level – literally!
Of course if you do not have an app for your digital sheet music then OnSong $15, which is half price, is the choice if your are reading chord charts. OnSong is powerfully connected for anyone doing Praise and Worship. It’s dead simple integration with Planning Center, and other services, makes it a snap to download chord charts for the upcoming services. You can control you projector and lights with OnSong even! This app also works with your PDF sheetMusic of course.
If you want to be able to go even a step further and use music XML files along with PDF’s and even video then Newzik might be your beat choice. You can pull in an entire score as an XML file and then quickly view that notation in whatever size you want and even select which lines you want to see. So I can see my entire band score or just the flute part for instance.
Don’t forget the hardware that can help make your life easier onstage…
AirTurn is running an amazing sale currently. They have iPad holders, stands that fold and store inside your backpack and best of all… pedals to control your page turning and you can even program the foot pedal buttons to control your metronome, lights and so much more! I just ordered the 6 button version of their foot pedal and can’t wait to put it to use. The guys that run AirTurn are stand up dudes! (And I’d assume some dudettes are employed there as well)
Bluetooth MIDI hardware has changed our reliance on having to hardwire our external controllers to our iOS devices. ROLI is at the top of the game giving us new and exciting ways to perform. Their SongMaker kit has a SeaBoard Block along with a LightPad M Block and a control pad as well. Their are two versions out. I’m not really sure what he difference between the two other then I know the one has tight integration with GarageBand. They also just released better integration with Apples LogicProX. Check their YouTube. Of course ROLI is also running some great Black Friday sales currently. If you’ve never experienced their 5D Touch I would highly suggest visiting an Apple Store and trying it out! I don’t think I’d be able to use their 49 key or bigger keyboard to replace my normal MIDI keyboard to play lead keys with. But for building songs inside of Cubasis or to play backup keys the SeaBoard Blocks are a lot of fun!
As you look at this list of possibilities pick one thing and just get going on it! Start small and grow from there. IF you ever have any questions leave comments below and I’ll try to help point you in the correct direction!
The best news is that it is on sale until December 1st for only $9.99! (70% off)
Released in 2017 and heralded as one of the years best synths this is chock full of synth sounds that will make the hair on your neck stand up in excitement! 500 factory sounds to be precise. Features galore will keep you connected with other iOS apps to your hearts content… AUv3, InterApp Audio and AudioBus connectivity means it’s all there!
This is almost the same app as their desktop version in fact! On iOS you only get 16 voices vs 32 on the desktop and only 500 vs 800 sounds. Otherwise it is a full blown synth app worthy of anyone’s music making abilities! Along with a 16 step Arpeggiator/Sequencer it also has Microtuning capabilities. It will even support the MPE controllers like ROLI’s Seabord Blocks.
You will need an iPad Air or higher if you really want to take full advantage of what it offers though.
Of course what good is reading about music without actually hearing It? Listen to these demos on SoundCloud….
So while working with OnSong and ForScore this past week it hit me how different each approaches navigation in your music. Not sure which is “right”. I’d like to see both apps be able to show portions of two pages as OnSong does when scrolling up and down. I’d like for both apps to have the ability to add hotspots as ForScore does to deal with repeats.
I do know that if you are working with Chord charts I’d choose OnSong in a heartbeat as it has the ability to transpose those charts with a simple and quick change of the key.
Steinberg just released version 2.3 of Cubasis which is on sale for 50% off! This update includes IAP’s for some awesome Waves Plug-ins. These Waves Plug-ins IAP ($19.99) do require iPad 4 or higher, iPad mini 2 or higher models.
• Waves AudioTrack Channel Strip (in-app purchase) — Get a mixing console’s channel strip including compression, EQ and gating in one convenient, intuitive plug-in.
• Waves L1 Ultramaximizer (in-app purchase) — Make your tracks sound professional, with proper loudness levels that will let them stand out.
• Waves Q10 Equalizer (in-app purchase) — Use the pro’s first choice and enjoy surgically precise equalization for mixing your tracks.
There are also some other nifty features like being able to save presets inside of these plug-ins! Awesome news – thank you very much Steinberg! You can also record automation of parameters inside of audio units! This is SO SWEET! (Just not sure how many music educators will make use of that feature though – unless they are getting creative and not simply recording their ensembles performances!)
So I thought I’d put the plug-ins through their paces and edit our choir concert recordings from just the other evening.
At the concert I used our PreSonus StudioLive soundboard to easily record the 6 microphones and the piano we were using for the choir. We had 3 mics right in front of the choir and 3 hanging overhead. Now, the overhead mics were NOT used for the audience and they were a little offset from the choir but I recorded them anyways just to see what they would give me. Ended up adding a bit of a natural reverb effect or maybe a doubling effect to the recording and I kind of liked it.
By using the Waves plug-ins I was able to very quickly go through the recordings and bump up the levels using the maximizer.
Then I added EQ using both AudioTrack Channel Strip plugin as well as the Q10 EQ.
I did make good use of the presets Steinberg already created as well as creating my own to use later after tweaking theirs.
I also added some reverb using the builtin reverb from Cubasis along with the VirSyn AudioReverb audioUnit app. I LOVE LOVE LOVE audioUnits by the way! But that is for another post later.
Of course I did a couple of other quick edits like cutting out some sniffles, trimming the ending and adding fade ins and outs.
All in all it took me under 14 minutes from the point I started importing the audio into my iPad until I was done. By the way…. I LOVE iOS11’s Files app! I use the ability to sync my Desktop on my Laptop to iCloud ALL the time! I used it here to take the audio recordings from the thumb drive, I put the audio into a folder on my iCloud desktop and then simply imported those files using my iPad into Cubasis. At the end I did a mix-down of the final edited track and pushed that from my iPad out to iCloud and my laptops desktop folder again! No WIRES!
I was pretty proud of the job the choir kids did on this piece – we are a small school and as you would expect, the choir is small too. The choir kids also do not tend to do more than just one or two trimesters of choir either. Which is sad but as we have no middle school choir program to build on this situation will not change I’m sure.
Anyways – I recorded the entire process so you could see and hear how easy this is. This will allow you to hear why you should absolutely be doing this yourself – it is EASY! I did find out that Apple at some point took away the sound from the videos when you use screen recording on iOS11 – that meant I had to quick grab a cord and my handheld recorder to hook up to the headphone jack on my iPad. That cord did give me a bit of trouble so please excuse that!
I did have to give you some funky background music for the start and end of my video – I didn’t want you to get bored while watching me load the audio files into Cubasis. I used Novations GrooveBox apps for creating my background music. If you haven’t tried this app yet you really need to download it and start playing with it!
Kaspar is an outstanding new synth from Yonac that will get you inspired to start making some music and start fanning that creative spark inside of you that you’ve let die out a bit through the last six months!
This app, like many new releases is on a limited time intro price. I’m not sure for how long but I do know the app was released July 20, 2017 so…
What is really cool about this app is embodied right in the description on Yonacs website – “Multi-Engine AutoMorphing Supersynthesizer”
8 fully featured polyphonic synths with the ability to layer, modulate and morph between each! See the XY pad below – yeah… that’s the morphing, modulation goodness of the app at work just to warm your heart with delightful sounds!
Do you REALLY need to know more?
This IS one of those apps that comes fully equipped with built in presets for your extensive musical explorations. It is ALSO one of those apps that you could spend a TON of time in just messing around building and designing your own sounds!
I WILL say that if you don’t like the color yellow then don’t buy the app because they USED ALL the yellow paint the paint store had in stock when building the app!
Intua released BeatMaker 3 this past weekend and if you want the intro pricing you will have to hurry! I’ve been enjoying my summer with my family and have not had the time to write anything here since the app came out!
If you are unsure what Beat Maker 3 is join the club. In short it is the long waited for upgrade to an app that has been a standard iOS app for a long time!
Here is the official intro on the App Store –
“BeatMaker brings unmatched efficiency and depth in an intuitive audio and MIDI workstation.
Look no further, the power of traditional desktop software and real hardware is now united into one single production studio”
Here is the header from Intua’s website –
From what I’ve seen and read and watched here is my take on what Beat Maker 3 is – It is a disruptive entry into the world of what a workstation/DAW has traditionally been called. Beat Maker 3 is an app, currently only for iPad but an iPhone version is on its way, that allows you to sample sounds/instruments/music and then manipulate those samples in remarkable new ways. Beat Maker is also a center to you hardware and will control outboard gear as well.
Beat Maker 3 is for sure one of the most beautifully designed apps to come out in awhile! The design is just gorgeous! Look at this mixer view….
The traditional grid of pads like you see on a drum machine for instance is getting smashed to smithereens with this app. You know have 8 banks of up to 8 pads each. Each pad can be assigned its own individual sample. The ability within BM3 gives you the ability to “Record and chop live, assemble, mangle and resample: our state of the art sampling engine will sculpt your ideas, giving life to your instruments with a full modulation and layering system. With ZPlane’s Elastique live stretch and pitch shift, adjust your loops and instruments to match the tempo or go experimental. You can even integrate your favorite synth & effect apps with full AUv3 and IAA support.”
There is a Sequencer that has the classic timeline recording features as one would expect in a DAW but there is also a very flexible Scene Mode which is a nod to those who have used and enjoy Ableton Live sort of workflows.
The mixer gives you an insane amount of control over every detail of the mix – right down to each individual pad in each and every bank!
Beat Maker 3 has been designed to be used to record, create and produce full projects from. The app is also meant and built to be used in live performances easily giving you the ability to record, chop, mangle and alter to your hearts content even in a live setting!
I will say that Beat Maker 3 is NOT chock full of built in samples waiting for you to start messing around with. There is a basic set and it is up to you to import further material. There is a healthy selection of IAP purchases from their content store already available. There are plenty of free sources online. The fun of course is when you start sampling other apps and your self playing your own instruments. Then you get the ability to start arranging those samples into something amazing using tools not so easily available before now.
(That paragraph is the long winded version of – this app is awesome but be ready to invest some time into it!)
Here is the intro trailer to get your intrigue even further….
KRFT is one of the apps that I have just been begging to dive into for the past 6 months but with school still in progress and a ton of other projects already on the front burners I haven’t had time. Now school is out and I get to play some!
I really like to try to find alternative ways for my music students to perform. I like to perform using interfaces/instruments that do not fit into the traditional mold as well. We ARE trying to teach music in the 21st century right? In the past I’ve always had some grand ideas of being able to have this pre-recorded music that I could instantly play various sections of and still be able to tweak in various ways as I felt fit in the moment. The traditional DAW has not allowed this flexibility and neither have simple looping apps. Now with KRFT I can have a great deal of flexibility, and spontaneity all in a layout that fits my method of creating/performing.
The idea is simple you have a layout of squares, triangle, and circles combined with buttons and knobs that control the music. (The cool glasses and espresso don’t hurt either!)
The app runs on iPhone as well, giving you even great flexibility in where and when you create and play.
When editing your layout you get a blank screen and from there start to build up your musical creation. You add these things called Musical Cells to your blank canvas. Inside of each of these cells you add either you music that you records, audio loops or you use the cells to morph and transform your music.
Recording some loops into some cells are probably the best spot to start – there are bass, drums and lead synths built into the app with quite a hefty list of possible sounds to choose from! From there creating a few fills loops might be next and then moving on to adding in some audio triggers. Then you get to start messing around with the buttons that tweak the sound – allowing you to control things like Volume, Tempo, Swing and Filter on the Master side of things. On each individual channels you get to set up morph triggers that affect individual channels – these are Filter Frequency, Pitch, Attack, Gate, Distortion Level and Mix, Level, Duration of Delay, Chorus Mix, and Channel Volume/Pan/Reverb. So you can see how involved you can get with the control of and morphing of your performance!
When entering in your music you have two methods of entering – the first is a grid of pads that allow for some creative input depending on where you tap the cell. The sound can be affected in several different ways – you can set Gain, Filter, Attack, Pitch and LFO to change depending on how high or low you tap on the grid. There are three rows of these pads to play that funky music on. The Master Tuning section decides that scale that gets used out of the 8 choices – Major, Minor, Harmonic, Doria, Mixolydian, Lydian, Phrygian and Lochrian.
OF course for this of you who simply want a piano roll/step time entry there is that possibility as well.
KRFT has quite a bit of versatility built into the app and could easily be an app that you use by itself. But, where is the fun in THAT?
As I mentioned, you have three different types of synth sounds built into the app each with a large variety of sounds to choose from. You can add multiple channels of each type too – so if you want several lead sounds simply add a new channel and away you go.
For those of us with other apps we want to tie into KRFT though it is easy to do. Simply add a MIDI channel, select the other app and away you go.
For those of you who want to take connectivity a step further than go ahead… feel free to incorporate your desktop DAW like Ableton Live or Logic as well! Any other app that is MIDI enabled is good to go here! In fact, any hardware that you have connected to your iOS device, that can be controlled via MIDI can be controlled with KRFT! Take a minute and let THAT sink in!
oh…. KRFT does Ableton Link too so everything will stay tightly synced together! AudioBus, CoreMIDI, both are there as is the capability of using the app in AUM!
The developers are two brothers based out of London. I feel like they are onto something exciting here with the flexibility they are giving us in KRFT. It is more than just the flexibility though, it is also the fact that KRFT is pretty simple to figure out. IT doesn’t take long and even us adults can figure it out! Give a few students the task and time in class to figure this app out and they will catch on quickly as well. If they don’t though, there is a nice set of YouTube tutorials they have put together to help guide us through the process of getting going.
Of course what kind of guy would I be if I didn’t let you see the app in action? Here is a nice jam using the app to give you an idea of what all is possible. I do have to say that when Studio Amplify came out with their app NOIZ, I wanted so bad to be able to set up my very own creations instead of being held back by what someone else had created – Don’t get me wrong NOIZ is a blast to play but being given the ability to set things up as I wish, with my own music is like Christmas Morning!