MusicJot – a Handwritten Music Notation on iPad

MusicJotIcon.pngIn 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?

MusicJotHandWritingThe 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:

MusicJotRecognized.png

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 🙂

MusicJotLiveAudio.jpeg

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!

UPDATE

Check out the spot MusicJot achieved on the Apple App Store – in the featured section under Perfect With Apple Pencil!

VIDEO

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Handwritten Music Notation on iPad Using Notion

Notion LargeIt always is fun to see the look on somebodies face when I show them the magical things you can do with an iPad and music. For instance, handwriting music notation! It also amazes me how many do not even know that this is possible so I made a little video for you. 

Handwriting music notation seemed like a pipe dream a few years ago. One company promised the possibility and that app never came out. Then we had NotateMe and NotateMe Now arrive from Neuratron. Wow…. We could music the old fashioned way but it would magically turn into digital music notation! Of course Neuratron one upped themselves and soon released PhotoScore which allowed us to take a picture of sheet music then turn THAT into digital music notation! I’ve written about this already and that post still continues to be one of the most visited posts on my blog – read it here.

But….

Notion and its handwriting IAP is the reason I’m writing this blog post as well as sharing my little YouTube video with you. Notion realized this IAP a while back but now that I have an iPadPro 12.9″ and an Apple Pencil I wanted to share with you one more reason to invest in technology!

I’ll make this short and sweet…. The experience of the larger screen combined with the absolute joy of using the Pencil makes handwriting music notation something  that is fun, easy, effective and amazing. Watch the video if you have not seen this in action. The recognition is outstandingly accurate. I think this is about as fast as trying to use a MIDI keyboard now to enter notes. It just simply works.

The Notion app itself is $14.99 and the hand writing plugin is $7.99 for a grand total of about $23. A price every music teacher should not even hesitate at. 

One word about my little video…. I used Explain Everything to create the video, annotate it and narrate it. Then I dumped it into iMovie where I dumped in my own audio soundtrack that I created using Cubasis and a few iPad synths. So one question I am trying to resolve for myself as my laptop quickly approaches its end of life is whether or not I really need a laptop any more…..but that is another blog post for another night! 

Here’s the video…..

Notion on iPad Tips

Notion Large

Notion for iOS – $14.99

Well this weekend I decided to create four keyboard parts for my electronic group. I also decided that I was going to use Notion on my iPad to do that. I’ve come up with a few tips for you….

I worked WAY better in “Continuous View” which is strange because I kind of hate that view in Sibelius on a laptop.

Part of learning if an app will work for you is to force yourself to just sit down and USE it exclusively! Don’t allow your self to go back to whatever you HAVE been using. Just bite the bullet and use the new app. It’s going to be frustrating but the more you have to dig for answers, the faster you will become better at it!

When Entering Notes…

  1. Use the record feature if you can play the part from an external keyboard. It’s pretty darn accurate!
    1. turn off tuplets if you don’t need them though!
    2. Set your split point if working with a grand staff.
    3. Really think about the Multi-Voice – try it both ways. Sometimes I thought having this on would work better and as it turned out it was actually worse!)
  2. Learn what each mode does fro entering notes –
    1. The two quarter notes besides each other allows for entry of one note at a time
    2. The chords allow for entering of more than one note
    3. The Pencil one allows you to step entry
    4. the speaker icon allows you to hear the selected note
    5. Learn where the Voice One and Voice Two options are in the fifth menu over from the left
      1. Voice One has a solid note on top of an outlined note
      2. Voice Two has an outlined note on top of a solid note
      3. Of course if you are entering drum parts there are four voice choices right there to the left of the drum pads.

From Skitch

When selecting many measures at a time to copy and paste into another part…

  1. To grab the little blue handle you have to tap and wait a moment THEN drag!
  2. You HAVE to let go of the blue handle to move the screen over – you CANNOT drag the handles and expect the screen to scroll at the same time.
  3. After moving the screen over wait for it to stop moving BEFORE grabbing the blue handle again. Then tap, wait a moment and drag your selection out further.
  4. When the entire passage is selected make sure to select the option you need (Cut, Copy, Paste, Delete, Clear etc…) BEFORE moving the screen back! Otherwise you are going to end up repeating this entire process AGAIN!

From Skitch-1

Rehearsal Marks….

  1. Add all rehearsal marks at the same time – just makes it easier then jumping back and forth between tools.
  2. Make sure the spot where you want to insert the rehearsal mark is actually green. If you just selected a note and turned it orange then the rehearsal is NOT going to go there! (See note below about dynamics and this tip)
    1. In fact you can NOT even have the entire measure selected to insert a rehearsal mark (IF you want it to show up in the spot you THINK it should! Which is usually at the start of a measure by the way PreSonus!)
  3. Good grief I wish there was a way to have those rehearsal marks be the measure number by default!

Dynamics….

  1. Add all your dynamics at the same time – just makes it easier then jumping back and forth between tools.
  2. When inserting dynamics the spot you want the dynamic to be inserted can be Green OR Orange either one unlike when dealing with Rehearsals marks as noted above!

Hairpins (Crescendo/Decrescendo)….

  1. Yeah…. can’t find them? Select a measure and you will! Pretty slick eh?
  2. Oh…. Notion determines if you should ACTUALLY be putting a hairpin in the spot you want to…
    1. For instance you will NOT be able to add a decrescendo in a piano part underneath a whole note.

From Skitch-2

Page Layout and Printing….

  1. Adding different types of titles, credits, page numbers DOES NOT WORK SMOOTHLY so be warned that you are going to have to dink around with this a BUNCH before you get all the text on your page the way it should be. It’s almost as if overtime you add a new one and the iPad AUTOMATICALLY picks a meta type, that if you already had one of those in there (and you usually do) that things get switched all around. BE PATIENT and for goodness sakes I hope PreSonus reads this blog post and gets to work fixing this issue! (I’m sure they already a fix in action!)
  2. Please oh please add a title for pages 2, 3, 4 on to the end of the piece!
    1. There are quite a few pre-set Text types you can choose from
      1. Title, Subtitle, Credit, Dedication, Copyright, Date, Page Number, Part Name, or on iPad the type of None
  3. Please add the Part Name to each part you print.
  4. When changing Page Layout margins make sure you change the size of the margins and then hit the BACK button or else the changes will NOT take place! (Drives me NUTS! I want to change the margins and then just tap out of there back into the score.)
  5. Play around with the notation size and margins until you get just the right look for you parts BEFORE you print them! SAVE A TREE!

Score and Part Printing….

  1. There isn’t a piano reduction tool in Notion yet so don’t bother looking for it!
  2. There isn’t a way to print just two or three of the parts into a condensed score so if you want to do that you will have to have multiple files. One would be the full score and another would contain just the parts you want. (Again, hopefully PreSonus already is fixing this issue and expanding the capabilities of Notion!)

Saving and Sharing….

  1. The new options under the sharing menu just simply rock now! (THANKS PRESONUS!)
  2. You can now Send As a …. Notion File, PDF, PDF Parts, MusicXML, WAV, AAC, MIDI
  3. You can now Save to your Device or to iCloud (Choose this – it’s magic!)
  4. You can upload to SoundCloud
  5. You can Email (and all those different types mentioned in #2 above are choices when you email it!)
  6. or you can Print it

From SkitchFrom Skitch-1

 

If you have some tips for using Notion on iPad I’d love to add them to my list here!

 

 

Importing Instrumental Parts Scanned In NotateMe Into Notion Using Just an iPad – Tutorial

notatemelogoNotion Large IconSmartMusic LargeSmartMusic InBox Large

Most teachers use their summer time as a chance to rejuvenate and relax while at the same time planning and preparing for the upcoming school year. As a music teacher who likes to take advantage of the technology available to us today, I am deep into the prep work for my fall Marching Band Show. Currently I am working on the music. I wanted to share some of that process because the tools we have available to us are exciting. These tools open doors to new ways to teach, assess and improve our students/ourselves.

CURRENT PROJECT: My end outcome is that I want my marching band students to use SmartMusic to record playing assessments. This allows me a chance to hear each and every individual student, give them feedback to improve as an individual and then I also use those assessments to hone in on issues to work on with the full group.

THE PROBLEM: SmartMusic has an extensive repertoire for band students but my marching band music is not included in that list.

THE SOLUTION: Thankfully MakeMusic allows us to use Finale to create our own SmartMusic assessments.

THE PROCESS: Of course that means that we have to take each instrumental part and get it into Finale in the first place. Because Finale and I do not get along – I have other programs that allow me to work much faster – I utilize the XML file format. XML allows me to work with other music notation programs to create the digital sheet music that will then smoothly import into Finale which will translate that into SmartMusic.

As complicated as this process sounds it really is so much easier these days! In fact, much of the work can now be done using simply an iPad allowing me to work wherever I want to. I do not have to be sitting at my desk at my house or God forbid, the school! So here it all is….

STEP ONE: Using my iPad I scan each part into NotateMe working with the PhotoScore plugin. Neuratron has just updated the desktop version of PhotoScore to version 8 so this process can also be done using a regular computer. I’ve not yet figured out which is fastest, the computer or the iPad. Each works so darned well now that I think you are going to win no matter which way you go!

STEP TWO: Using NotateMe on my iPad I go through and carefully check for the following items – Time Signatures, Key signatures, Multi-measure Rests and then notation issues. If any of these, which I call the Big Four, are messed up then trying to import the NotateMe XML into another music notation app is going to be more work. Honestly, I don’t even worry that much about articulations, dynamics and for sure NEVER worry about markings such as rehearsal letters, tempo or style. Those items are faster most times to fix later in another app once all parts are imported.

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 5.07.48 PMSTEP THREE: I then take advantage of NotateMe’s XML export feature to dump the now digital sheet music into Notion on my iPad.

STEP FOUR: I double check that all is good once I open the music in Notion. Again I check the big four – I often find I missed something in NotateMe like a key signature change. Sometimes I find that measures of rests did not all import correctly.

STEP FIVE: If it is a transposing instrument I then transpose the part to concert key and then select the entire part and copy it.

STEP SIX: Then it is time to open the full score and paste in the individual part. You really must pay attention because if you missed one of those big four items in the above steps then when you paste in the new music EVERY SINGLE STAVE is changed and is now WRONG! Time signatures will be in the wrong spot, key signatures will be messed up etc… In fact – if you messed up the measures it is absurdly hard to fix it after pasting into the full score. I will just undo the paste, exit out of the score and go back to the individual part to fix any of the big four issues.

STEP SEVEN: Importing from NotateMe into Notion using the XML format messes with positioning of dynamics so you have to select the entire Notion score, tap the more option, tap the attachments option and select the auto position.

STEP EIGHT: I now go through the entire score to figure out where I have missing dynamic issues, to input rehearsal letters/numbers, set correct tempos and any other final details.

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 5.07.37 PMSTEP NINE: Then I export the score out of Notion as an XML file, Import that into Finale and save it as a SmartMusic file.

STEP TEN: Assign playing tests to the students

STEP ELEVEN: Listen to the playing tests and give immediate feedback!

CONCLUSION:
This all sounds like it might take forever but in reality I can have a song completed in one day and STILL not get my wife too upset at me. 🙂

VIDEO TUTORIAL:
I’ve recorded this process in a nifty YouTube video for you to see the process of taking the scanned NotateMe music and importing it into your score. That is the part that takes a little bit of thinking so I figured a video may help some of you. If you have questions please contact me and I will see where I can help.

APPS USED:

Notion Large IconNotion -Download on App Store (Just make sure you know that the Saxophones are an IAP for .99 each – STUPID)

notatemelogoNotateMe – Download on App Store (Make Sure to get the PhotoScore IAP too though)

SmartMusic LargeSmartMusic – Download on App Store

SmartMusic InBox LargeSmartMusic Inbox – Download on App Store

Finale – Web Site (as they do not have an app for the iPad yet for Creating Finale files)

Music XML – Can’t download this as it is built into various apps like Notion and Finale. It is owned by Make Music though.

Creating Music Notation on an iPad

Notion Large Icon+ notatemelogo = AMAZING

Ever run into the scenario where you pull out a piece of music that you really want to perform for your next concert only to find out that the keyboard part has been lost?

Ever have a budding young bass guitarist who is learning how to read notes and play that bass but you know that if you handed her tabs to go along with the notation things would go a whole lot faster in rehearsal?

My answers: Yup and Yup!

My response: Use a couple of apps, my iPad and an external MIDI Keyboard along with my Camera Connection Kit and an hour or so later I have the problem solved!

THE PROCESS:

I took the actual paper copy of the bass part to the piece of music, used the outstanding app NotateMe Icon SmallNotateMe along with the PhotoScore plugin and took a picture on my iPhone of the bass part. NotateMe and the PhotoScore plugin turned that picture of the sheet music into digital notation. Using my iPhone and my finger I cleaned up and fixed a few small errors. Then I exported that as an XML file into Notion Small IconNotion for iPad. Notion is a full featured music notation app for iPad as well as desktop computers.

I did the same for the guitar part just for the fun of it because it is so stinking fast and easy to do!

Here is what the Bass guitar part looked like after I imported it into Notion and set the instrument as a Bass Guitar (Notion automatically had the TAB turned on for me already but it is a quick tap of a button to turn off as you will that I did for the Guitar part) Now I’ve got my bassist taken care of.

Bass_With_Tab

On to the lost Keyboard part – for this I hooked up my Camera Connection Kit to my Novation LaunchKey. The LaunchKey is bus powered by the iPad so I didn’t have to worry about additional power cords or batteries.

Then in Notion I added a piano part, tapped on the first measure, and then the record button. Then I played the right hand in real time while Notion (on an iPad mind you!) recorded it. During recording you get these little blue lines but as soon as you hit the stop button those blue lines get turned into music notation! I have come to discover that doing this on an iPad is giving me just results that are just as excellent as on a laptop! Then I repeated and recorded the left hand. While recording the left hand I set the split point so that it wouldn’t mess up the RH part. I had a couple of weird errors afterwards so I fixed those quickly by tapping and selecting and erasing and changing – easy and quick!

After all that this is my score I ended up with on the iPad… You can see that it looks fantabulous!

Notion ScorePRSunset

The last and final step was to hit the share/export button, elect Export PDF, select Individual Parts and then Email. I sent myself a copy to print in the morning and I also sent my bassist a copy of her new sheet music that now included the TABs.

If you have NOT used NotateMe you really must! There is even a totally free version of the app called NotateMe Icon SmallNotateMe Now that allows you to experience the PhotoScore plugin as well FOR FREE – the limitation is that it only works with one stave parts. So a trumpet part could be scanned in but a piano part could not.

If you have not decided whether or not Music Notation on an iPad is ready yet get your gift card out and buy either SymphonyPro Small IconSymphonyPro ($9.99) or Notion Small IconNotion for iPad ($14.99) (warning – Notion does take about 2GB’s of space on your iPad because of the amazing sounds used in the app!)

Xenon Labs does also have a version of Symphony for iPhoneSymphony for iPhone that works very well and is only $4.99

The Full version of NotateMe is $39.99 (NotateMe is actually an app that allows you to handwrite music notation)
The PhotoScore Plugin for NotateMe is $29.99 (Yes, I fully understand that some of you may have choked on your pancakes upon seeing the price of these two apps – let me put it into perspective for you though – I used to do this same thing with a REAL computer, a REAL scanner and the $250 version of PhotoScore for computers. The scary cool thing is that it seems like this almost works better on my iPad!)

Notion on iPad – Music Notation Rocks on iPad!

I’ve got to say that entering music notation scores and editing them on an iPad is a very enjoyable feat these days!

Notion Small IconNotion ($15) makes things so extremely easy with the touch interface! If you have NOT purchased Notion for your iPad you are crazy! I have no idea what in the world you are waiting for!

In fact, using the on screen keyboard to enter notes using the record function actually ends up working better many times than doing it on the laptop!

Notion Record

Drum notation is so much easier too using their drum pads to enter the notes in. I used to dread clicking on the correct space or line with a mouse – now I just select voice on or two and then tap the pad for which ever instrument I want! Easy as pie!

Notion Drum Editor

Th sound is amazing as well when we play the score back!

Notion is not without issues – it drives me crazy having to transpose in my head to get all the instrumental parts entered correctly! Also, there are still issues with page layouts. I just can not believe this is even possible though on an iPad all for $15!

Editing Music Notation with Notion (On Laptop vs iPad)

NotionLogoThere are more and more reasons to love using an iPad as a musician! One of those is the fact that we now have full featured music notation apps available! One such app is Notion from PreSonus Music. It is for several reasons that I have purchased Notion on both my iPad as well as my laptop. Now the journey has been to learn the in’s and out’s of both apps!

Using Notion feels very familiar in so many ways, in fact Notion is even easier sometimes then wha tI have used in the past! I really like inputting articulations for instance – it’s a breeze! Sometimes I run into problems figuring the new methods out though. Thank goodness for Twitter and Notions quick and helpful response! To Whom ever is on the other end of that Twitter account – THANK YOU FOR BEING HELPFUL AND RESPONSIVE!

PROBLEM ONE:
Here is the issue I had today – My score had rhythmic issues in it. I had 16th notes for instance that I needed to be changed into 8th notes. I was on my laptop at the time. What I tried was to select the 16th note then click on the 8th note tool in the tool bar – I figured it would a quick fix. Well, it did not work!

SOLUTION ONE:
Eventually I decided the best way to change the 16th notes was to click on the 8th note tool (or simply type the short cut – e) then I went and clicked on each of the 16th notes in the score that I wanted to have changed. As long as I clicked right on top of the old note this worked, each 16th was changed to an 8th. This process created problem #2 though –  I kept missing that darn note head and so I would end up with an extra note that I then had to delete!

SOLUTION TWO:
Then I found that if I selected the notes I wanted to have changed, then typed the = key followed by e then all the notes I had selected would then be changed to 8th notes. This of course then left me with problem #3 though – Now I had measures with the wrong number of counts in them!

So I grabbed my iPad, fired up Notion and tried changing note values on the iPad….

Strange thing was that on iPad, if I tapped on the 16th note that I wanted changed to an 8th and then tapped the 8th note in the tool bar the value changed as I expected it to! I guess this is just the difference between working with a touch screen. What I could not ever figure out on the iPad was how to change more than one note at a time (problem #4) This really wasn’t an issue though as on iPad it is so fast to select a note and then change the value – it just seems faster to tap, change then on the desktop.

So…. in hopes that I help someone else figure out how to do this this the correct way I post this blog post. I also made a video so you can see what I mean – it’s a bit difficult to explain.

Symphony for iPhone – Free! Music Notation App for the palm of your hand!

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 7.56.50 AMOK People! This is a no brainer!

There are a couple of music notation apps available for iPad currently. One of the main choices for anyone seriously looking for a great app has been SymphonyPro Small IconSymphony Pro by Xenon Labs, LLC. This app has been out for a while now and has matured into a wonderful way to work. Now Xenon has released Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 7.56.50 AMSymphony for iPhone  (normally $4.99 and worth every penny of that!) BUT currently it is on a very short sale – it’s a good sale too – FREE!

Unfortunately, Xenon is breaking one of my cardinal rules of selling an app. They really have no web site showing off what the iPhone version is capable of currently. I am sure they are working on one but for now you have to read what is offered to you on the iTunes Store.

Let me highlight a few significant items for music educators:

  1. This app works with Music XML – that means you can start a score here and transfer it to another app like Symphony Pro on iPad, Notion on iPad or even Sibelius/Finale/Notion on desktop!
  2. This app will allow students to pull MIDI files off the internet and put them into notation files! This is a wonderful way to find transcriptions that others have done but are not available in sheet music yet.
  3. You can hook up an external device like a MIDI keyboard and speed up entry of notes!
  4. You can even record in real time!
  5. You have up to 15 instruments, 45 staves and 4 voices per stave at a time to work with!
  6. You can make staves invisible to view only what you want to view at any given time – as you can imagine, this would be very helpful on a smaller screen.
  7. There are chord, lyric and even annotation tools available
  8. After your students are done creating they can use AirPlay to play their masterpiece through AirPlay compatible speakers or an Apple TV (or the AirServer/Reflection apps) – Think about it – NO WIRES!

Can you tell I’m a bit excited about this? 🙂

Symphony Screen Shot

MakeMusic Joins Peaksware

Peaksware MakeMusic

Well that’s interesting….

August 6, 2014 – MakeMusic, Inc. announced today that they will join the umbrella company Peaksware, Inc. owned by LaunchEquity Partners, the same investment company who took MakeMusic private in 2013. MakeMusic joins TrainingPeaks, another brand already under the leadership of the Peaksware team. Each brand will remain focused solely on their respective markets of music technology and endurance training, continuing their long histories as industry leading brands.

Back in March of 2013 , MakeMusic was sold to LaunchEquity Partners for 23.8 million. Now, in August 2014, LaunchEquity puts MakeMusic under the same umbrella of operation with two sports training programs.

Here are a few quotes from the press release:
“Our vision is to provide the platforms by which performers and instructors can work to perfect their crafts. Both TrainingPeaks and MakeMusic have already helped countless people achieve mastery. Working together under the Peaksware umbrella, they will be able to reach even more,” said Andy Stephens, Chairman of both MakeMusic and Peaksware.

“Whether it’s coaches and athletes, teachers and students, or composers and musicians, we’re pioneering software platforms that help people reach their potential across sport, music and beyond,” said Mr. Fisher, CEO of Peaksware. “Our vision is broad, but it’s based on a core strategy that we’ve honed over the years at TrainingPeaks, and it will be the cornerstone on which we build a great organization.”

What I know about Peaksware…. From their website here is their “What We Do” Statement…
“We bring together industry leading brands to help guide people along their journey of improvement through a unique approach to deliberate practice.”

They have three brands listed under their direction – MakeMusic, TrainingPeaks, and TrainHeroic. So now they have one music company and two athletic companies under them.

The Peaksware website will take you about 60 seconds to see EVERYTHING they have on it. Short, precise and to the point. – http://www.peaksware.com

The Peaksware four step approach does make perfect sense from a teachers perspective – take a look at it here.

 

My Thoughts…
I will say that MakeMusic this past year has not seemed to loose traction from the first acquisition. They have just made a few nice updates to both SmartMusic and Finale 2014. We can only hope that this new partnership creates a stronger MakeMusic!

Chris Russell had a chance to talk for a few minutes with Peaksware’s CEO, Fisher. It is interesting that he has a daughter who is using SmartMusic in her efforts to learn an instrument. This helps me think that maybe the news of today is good news.

Read more about Chris’s thoughts here.

The press release from MakeMusic can be found here

Essential iPad Apps For Marching Band Directors (during the prep for marching season)

Are you a Marching Band Director with an iPad? Well then you are probably working through much of the same preparation as I am. How does my iPad help me in all of this craziness?

DRILL PREP:
In the prep of the drill I have my iPad on the entire time even though I am writing drill in Pyware 3D. On the iPad I use UnRealBook Small IconUnRealBook or ForScore Small IconForScore or possibly even GigBook Small IconGigBook to display my music. I also use the annotation tools in those apps to write on top of my music all of the drill chart pages and instructions. I can not imagine going back to paper music and having to write al of this in, copying the scores, inserting into sheet protectors, using three ring binders and then just waiting for that rain to wreck it all!

If you have an iPad and you are NOT using one of these three apps along with PDF’s for you sheet music you need to go get on this task right now! These apps are some of the apps that have been on my iPad since I bought the first iPad on the day it was released! In fact, as a music teacher, this is THE reason I bought that iPad1! Which of the three should you start with? Pick one…. seriously…

DRILL CHARTS:
I have a new app that I think is going to be amazing this year – DrillBook Next Small IconDrillBook Next is $9.99 for the Directors version of the app that I just discovered this year. After creating the drill in P3D I then simply export performer coordinate sheets which I then import into DrillBook Next – giving me my entire drill in interactive format on my iPad!

Students can also easily use the app as well – BONUS: they can use it on DrillBook Next Small IconDrillBook Next Reader for iPad ($4.99), DrillBook Next Small IconDrillBook Next Reader for iPod ($2.99) or even Android ($2.99) as well as on a desktop computer (on the computer it’s free, yup, FREE!)

The only thing missing here is being able to watch my drill and have it synced to music. After talking to Scott – the developer – though, I fully understand the copyright issues this would cause with the way access to the drill works.

MUSIC SCORES CREATION and EDITING:
I have not convinced myself to go iPad on this front while creating and editing my musical notation files yet. I have ordered my Notion5 though for desktop and am committing to digging in and learning Notion this year. I mean, come on! There is a full fledged desktop AND iPad app available for Notion Small Icon Notion! Yes, I could work with NoteFlight but Notions excellent sound have won me over!

Currently my workflow is to create and edit in Sibelius then export to Avid Scorch Small Icon Avid Scorch. I also export PDF files to use in ForScore or UnRealBook. I will say that when I use Scorch I find one extra step is needed to make great use of the size of the iPad. If I just open the full score there is always too much info on the screen. On the desktop I simply focus on select staves and all is well. In fact if you save your Sibelius file with it focused on those select staves then when you email it to yourself and open it in Scorch it will stay focused! My problem is that I want to also have a DrumLine condensed score I can jump back and forth between. Well…. here’s your Sibelius Tip of the week – I wrote this Blog Post back in Aug 2012 and I use it all the time because of dumping scores over to the iPad. This Blog Post will show you how to set up condensed scores so that they are just a tap away, just like you can quickly jump to any other part in the score.

Of course I also have to have a metronome app while arranging music – I find that I have used Tempo Small IconTempo the most of all my metronome apps. It works on my iPad as well as my iPhone. It looks great on both. This is not a metronome designed for the iPhone that I have to use in 2x mode, it was designed for both devices screen sizes.

MUSIC RECORDINGS (of our show):
CLICK TRACK CREATION – For each of my marching show pieces I always add in a click track at least for an intro measure. That way we are not guessing when the recording is going to start as we rehearse. In order to do that GarageBand small iconGarageBand works fine.

MultiTrack DAW small iconMultiTrack DAW or Cubasis small iconCubasis would work too. The process is simple – Import the recording, create another track with drums in it and record a few measures of you tapping along to the recording. Move that audio to the beginning and export the new file.

Remember – These apps would also give you an excellent way to record your groups for evaluation later! UnRealBook and ForScore allow you to record rehearsals (or whatever) while you are viewing your PDF music even!

REHEARSAL with those recordings – One of my essential apps for marching band rehearsal is AnyTune Icon SmallAnyTune Pro+. We use this app constantly all season long so we can rehearse our marching skills to a recording of the show. AnyTune Pro+ allows us to set book marks so we can quickly jump to any place in the song we want. We can slow the music down and we can even loop a section if we want to go through it a few times. In fact, if you are only going to by one app this fall this just might be your best choice!

MUSIC RECORDINGS (of any song):
I of course use my iTunes app and library to play music for the students over AirPlay – AirServer App works wonders for not having to have wires connected!

I have also started using SpotifySpotify. On the iPad it is amazing the music you have available at your fingertips FOR FREE! There is so much educational music on there it astounds me – soloists for all instruments, classical, jazz, brass band, pop and whatever else you want.

RECORD KEEPING:
I use FileMakerGo Small IconFileMaker on my desktop and iPad all the time. I have created databases in FM that save me a ton of time every year. Want a roster of my class, tap that button. Oh, you want it sorted by instrument? No problem. What about if you want a list of your band sorted by gender but then also broken down by grade level and then sorted by last name? Every year you have to order shoes? Not a problem, here is the list…. same with shirts…. and by the way I grouped the kids names by size of course!

The drawback to FileMaker is that you have to create the database on the desktop FIRST! Then it can all be transferred and worked with on an iPad or iPhone. Of course if you have a friend that has designed a database maybe they would be nice enough to share! But seriously, go buy a database and STOP USING SPREADSHEETS! There are a few very useful sample databases that come with the download of the free iOS FM13 App. The real fun is when you can edit those to make them work in ways to benefit you and your program.

DropBox Small IconDropBox is also an essential place for me to share files with students like music arrangements as they become available or PDF’s of the drill charts (although with DrillBook Next, I think PDF drill charts are going bye-bye!)

We also use DropBox to store all of the registration and medical forms for all the kids. They send it to us, we scan it and upload it to DropBox. From there my entire staff has access to important information. DROPBOX TIP – We will also make sure to download those files to our devices so we can have access when there is no network at camp, on trips or God forbid in the hospital.

SOCIAL MEDIA:
I try really hard to keep my blog up to date on wordpress by using Blogsy Small IconBlogsy. Blogsy is heads and tales better then the WordPress App. When my students are blogging I suggest they use the WordPress app because it is free and it does actually work (most of the time).

I also have a band Twitter, FaceBook and YouTube.

CALENDAR:
The Apple Calendar app is basic as is the Reminders app. The benefit to using those two apps is that I use SIRI to interact with my schedule all the time.

When I actually need to open an app though I use Calendars 5Calendars 5 or Fantastical Small IconFantastical – a huge step up from the other apps!

I also love using GoodTask Small IconGoodTask for my reminders (you know, this might need to be your one MUST buy app for the fall… hmmm….)

 

This is just a blog post to get started with ideas of how essential tech is in a Band Directors life during Marching Season