Places NOT to put your iPad – if you want FindMy iPad tech to work!

Filed iPadSo yesterday I did a really stupid thing… I filed my iPad! Yep, you heard me correctly – I FILED it, right there in with all my file folders and handbooks! Then I closed the drawer and walked away…. bad part was that I did not meant to do this!

So I got home and realized I did not have my iPad. No big deal, I figured I had just left it at the school, which in fact I actually had done. I went an evening with my iPad1 (which was a nice reunion – I miss 64GB’s of space!).

This morning I went to school expecting to find my iPad sitting on my desk or podium – nope, not there! Hmmmm…. well maybe I had left it in the back room while sorting and filing music – nope, not there. Well then maybe I had laid it on the piano while working on uniforms – nope, not there either. Well now I was starting to freak out! I scoured the room looking all over the place – lockers, cabinets, sink, where we rehearse our electronic music ensemble and found nothing. So I fired up iCloud and dove into Find My iPhone – my iPad2 could not be located – now I was REALLY worried. All morning I put it off thinking I must have taken it out of my bag as soon as I got home and laid it someplace weird at the house. So I drove home at lunch, one benefit of living close to school! Only problem was I couldn’t find it there either. Now I started to wonder if it had been stolen – couldn’t imagine that though!

Got back to school and started digging in really weird places – within the next half an hour I found it…. tucked in the file drawer next to my desk. I hardly used the drawer or the stuff in it but I had to write a student up yesterday. I guess I was a bit distracted!


The only thing I can figure is that the metal cabinet kept Find My iPhone from working! I had thought maybe my battery had died but I still had 89% left! As soon as I hit the power button though and pulled it out of the drawer, I heard the alert I had sent to it and also heard it locking itself up because I had also put it into Locked and Stolen mode.


Automatic Updating in iOS7

As we all are excitedly awaiting the official arrival of iOS7, there are some cautions to throw out there!

Tonight I checked my updates for my iPad apps. As always I read through what was new in each app. One app stated – DO NOT UPDATE to this version wait until the next version is released! That is one very good reason to make sure that when you do update to iOS7 you are aware of the new “features”! One of those features is for your apps to automatically update by themselves in the background! A much requested feature, one that even was brought up in court during some of the hearings against Apple. One of the Senators (I think it was a senator anyways) asked, “Why do we have to update our apps ourselves?” Tim Cook himself answered the senators question. His simple response was, “We are working on that!”

It is possible in iOS7 to turn this feature off! It might be a good idea. If this app would have updated by itself, I would have been in trouble as it is an app I rely on daily in class!

Just a short though of the day!


Lesson Planning using an iPad

DayBook Pro Logo
The app that will help teachers love creating Unit Plans and creating reports for their Administration!

It is that time of the year that teachers everywhere (In the US at least) are heavy into the planning of this school years curriculum that will excite, motivate and push students to achieve new heights! Of course one goal of using technology as a teacher should be to make our life simpler and more effective. So I of course use my iPad and Laptop to try to make Lesson Planning as effective as possible. The State of Michigan, as well as the US Government, is demanding more and more reporting from us teachers every year. That means I really need to be able to create reports for my principals in an effortless manner – IF I WANT TO CONTINUE TO LOVE TEACHING!

PlanBook LogoEnter two apps…. I have been using Planbook (iPad appMac App)for two or three years and love it! This is not a post about that app though. I have come across a new app that I think I will be using to plan out each of my units and keeping those organized. DayBook Pro (iPad app) is an app that I think will work hand in hand with PlanBook. DayBook will allow me to more effectively plan each unit in better detail and re-use those units from year to year and class to class while PlanBook will be my general outline of what needs to happen on a day to day basis.

DayBook Pro is an app that is not the easiest to figure out the full potential of though, in fact I have complemented the developers several times on having an app that had great potential but was seriously lacking! After a few emails back and forth though, I dug in a bit deeper and discovered that what needed to happen was simply a bit more preparation on my part in order to make DayBook Pro useful to me (and I think every teacher). I would like to show you what I figured out with this app in the hopes that you don’t have to take as long to find the usefulness as I did!

THE SHORT VERSION IS THIS – We are going to create one template with all the necessary information inside of it to make units and activity planning a cinch for the rest of the year! Then we are going to Export that template to our DayBook Pro Library in order to make further use of it! THEN we are going to Love The PaperWork!

CLASSES AND UNIT SET UP: If you take a look at the first couple of screenshots you can see that the app allows you to set up your classes and units all while giving you a very good looking app to work with – the app is well designed and is appealing to the eye.

Classes Screen
Classes Screen
The Units Timeline screen
The Units Timeline screen

I really like the way you can arrange the units in the timeline view. In fact this is one of the reasons I got excited about this app in the first place. But all of the items on these two screens are pretty easy to understand.

Units Screen
Units Screen

It is when you go into a Unit that I got frustrated at first! Later I realized I just needed to make use of the library feature and create one “fully loaded” Unit that I could re-use time after time that would hold all the vital information like my state’s Fine Arts Standards! Take a look at the screen shot – you will see it is easy to figure out where to input the Nation and State level of the curriculum you are following as well as the subject matter. What I was missing is the standards area! As this is state law for when I get evaluated by my principals I found it vital to have a way to list each specific standard that I would be addressing for any given Unit/Lesson. You MUST DIG FURTHER DOWN! One the right side of the Unit’s page is where you create activities for that Unit and there-in lies the key!

The Activities and Curricular Screen
The Activities and Curricular Screen

It is in the Activities screen that you are given all the options for your specific curricular needs! Things like Standards, Assessments, Objectives and whatever else you state/principals are asking you for! You can see in my screenshot that I also created an area fro Read, Writing and Number Sense as well as Materials. Also notice that under each heading is listed a few items. THIS IS WHERE I’M STARTING TO LOVE THIS APP! This is the section where I will actually be able to enjoy creating Unit Plans on my iPad!

You can of course add each item under these headings individually but the real power comes from being able to create a template that will contain lists for you to be able to simply tap a little button next to an item to have it get added to each heading! This is where I went in and listed all of my State Standards that I have to prove were being taught. This is were I went in and listed all of the strategies for reading strategies, writing across the curriculum and numbers sense that we use in the music classrooms here at our school. It is so easy now to create a Unit, Add Activities, and then select items from these heading to complete the details that our principals need to see so they can report to the state level!

Selecting Standards for the Activity
Selecting Standards for the Activity

Here is a screenshot where I am selecting a standard or two from my list.

I do think that Peter, the developer, has a ways to go to really polish this app up. He assures me that there are great plans ahead too!

The process of making this all comes together does require the use of a real computer I think. You could do it all on your iPad but it will be much faster with a real computer where it is easy to copy and paste.

Here’s what I had to do – I set up the class and a unit on the iPad. Then I put in one activity and set up the basic headers inside of the activity. After doing that basic set up I then used the iPad app to sync my DayBook Pro file to their servers so I that I could open the file in the Web App on my laptop. Once there I started copying and pasting the Michigan Fine Arts Standards. Thankfully I had them already in a spreadsheet (YOU SHOULD HAVE THAT ALREADY PEOPLE – If you don’t shame on you! Get busy!). It will take a little bit of set up to get all the standards in the DayBook Pro file but once it is done then you use the Library feature of the app and you will Export this first Unit to your Library to then re-use over and over!

After all the setup is done for that first Unit you will then simply go into each of your blank units and use the Import feature to pull in that fully loaded template! Then you get to create the actual specific Unit itself. This is now going to be a cinch and this will not take very long at all! Of course you will probably want to export all of these units to you library as well to re-use year after year!

The last feature of this app that I want to mention is the ability to create a document of the finished unit. The document looks very nice and is exactly what your principal will want. There are many other features for you to discover that I have not brought up yet – like being able to add files to each unit/activity and the ability to link learning resources to the activity as well – like web sites, sound files or Pages documents. You can also insert Class Documents into each class – like maybe your Syllabus or class outline.

The Web App that I mentioned will cost an additional fee beyond the first 60 days. The iPad app itself is free but the ability to sync it to their servers and be able to access you DayBook on the web is a cost of $1 per month,  $5 for 6 months or $10 annually. A small price I feel for the capability this app gives you. I have yet to find an easier way to create units and re-use them year after year as well as being able to generate the paperwork my principal is going to require this next school year! I also love it when developers are quick to respond to questions, comments and suggestions for improvements! I look forward to where this app is going and I look forward to creating my units this year inside of this app!

Taking a trip with your Band? You need an iPad/iPhone app for that!

Use Pack The Bag App to Make Sure You Don’t Forget Anything!

PackTheBag LogoThis blog post is being written because I like to keep lists of things that need to be packed for our band trips. Every year when I go to Band Camp I know I  will need specific items, when we go on a marching band performance trip or go to band festival there is a different list for each trip. If myself and my students have a packing list to check things go much smoother! No longer do I have to call my wife from the band bus and ask her to bring me my scores that are sitting on my desk at the school!

The one app that I have used is called PackTheBag. This is not the perfect app but it is for some reason I decided I would use. I have one HUGE frustration with it – which is why I wrote this Blog Tip! I constantly forget how to edit items that are in my categories when I don’t use the list for about 6 months! Then it is crazy stupid hard to figure it out every year! So ….. let’s step through the process (it isn’t hard and it sure is quick and it has saved us several times!)

First step
First step

1)Create List
2)Name the list – set dates for the trip – set a reminder
3)Select baggage categories (TIP – Important:If you want to set up a new baggage category or get rid of the pre created ones, this is where you do it! Tap + button in bottom right corner to add a new category. Tap the Gear icon in the bottom left if you want to delete some of the existing categories.

TIP – Important: If you want to edit the items in a category you must FIRST add that category to a packing list! This is the screen where you do so! (the first screen after creating a packing list)

Tap continue

Step 2
Step 2

4)After tapping the continue button then you select items from each category to add to you list.
5)After adding items to your list you will see a button with a 123 on it – this allows you to set a predetermined number that you want to pack for an item. Tap the 123 button, type in a number of items and then DO NOT TAP THE DONE or OK BUTTONS! tap anywhere else! Stupid I know – this has to be a bug.

TIP – Important: If you want to edit the items in these categories this is the screen you do it on. Tap the gear icon in the bottom left of the screen and all items will be editable! Change the names, delete and sort them. Tap the + button in the bottom right to add an item – CAUTION: When adding items I would suggest using the add in alphabetical order option – It becomes a jumbled mess real quick when creating a brand new category!

Tap continue

Editing items
Editing items
Last step - Pack and Share
Last step – Pack and Share

Then you start packing and marking items off your list! Use the down arrows to expand and collapse a category. Tap the empty boxes on the right to mark an item as packed. If you have set a predetermined number of items that you need then each tie you tap the empty box it will add one more but no check will appear until all have been packed. So if you decided you wanted 3 of something you would have to tap that box 3 x’s. At the bottom there are options to see “All”, “Packed”, “Missing”

Also on this screen is where you see the Share button in the bottom left – this allows you to send and export your list. One option I appreciate here is being able to export to DropBox – This allows me to create lists on my iPad but use my iPhone to mark things packed. It is much easier to carry my phone around while packing then it is to carry my iPad!

THAT’S IT YOU’RE DONE – Ready to go to Band Camp or to Choir Festival or on Tour!

I have my student leaders download this app as well because I share the list that I have created and let them do the packing!

NOW – Share with me….. if you have a packing list app that you like please leave a comment below and let me know what it is!

Accessing Documents on your iPad – Keeping Organized (iPad DropBox app Tip)

As a teacher, Band Director, or just a normal person, using your iPad to keep, store and access all your documents only makes sense!

The problem comes with how to keep all those documents organized! Picture this scenario, which I am sure is very familiar to any of us….

I have documents that I have created on my laptop that I want on my iPad to access while at camp (or in meetings or at home or wherever), I have Microsoft Office documents that arrive in my email from my principals that I need access to, I have registration forms for performances that I need later, I have medical forms for my High School students that I have scanned into PDF’s that I will need all marching season long and I have PDF’s of all of our music.

PDF Expert LogoI could use PDF Expert to store everything in – that app handles all sorts of documents! It also allows me to organize everything into nice little folders. I am also able to digitally sign and fill out documents, like registration forms to email back to someone.

PDF Cabinet LogoI could use PDF Cabinet to store everything – that app allows me to collaborate on PDF’s with other people! This app also allows me to annotate PDF’s, much like PDF Expert. The problem though is that PDF Cabinet only handles PDF’s!

Documents App LOGOI could use the Documents app by Readdle. That app allows me to view, edit and organize my files. It even works as a media player! It is very evident in this app of how to access my laptop and pull files from there. In fact this app will even allow me to sync a folder from or – that means that Documents will download whatever is in that folder onto my iPad automatically!

The biggest issue is that if I put documents in one app, the other apps do not have access to it! So “storing” my documents inside of one app is not ideal! Plus if I start putting the same document in multiple apps then I have a multiple copies of that document floating around and things get messy real fast!


I’m not so sure there is a great answer here EXCEPT in one situation! If all you want to do is be able to VIEW your documents then I think DropBox is a great answer to make things work smoothly!


DropBox is a perfect spot to store all of your currently active documents (or inactive). That’s where I put anything that is current to this school year. From there it gets synced across several computers without me having to think about it, I can share documents with Band Boosters, Students and Parents and I can access anything in there from my iPad, iPhone or another computer. I love DropBox! If you are not familiar with DropBox you should get an account – it is a 2 GB of free storage in the cloud that works flawlessly! (Click this link to sign up under me and I get some extra free storage as well!)


All my files are stored where I can easily access them when I have Wi-Fi access! What about when I am at Band Camp this next week? Well here is the tip of the day –

iPAD TIP:Mark your DropBox files as Favorites on your iPad. Then they will be downloaded to your iPad and they will stay there for you to view when you need them. They will also be available for you to use the “Open In” option so that if you need to open those documents in another app it won’t be a problem. Now, as many years as I have used the DropBox app on my iPad I have never known this was an option. It is not apparent and it is a bit hard to explain in text so I made a video (it is easy though so don’t fret!)

Teacher Organization tools on the iPad/Web

Volunteer SpotOne of my jobs as a Band Director is to get parents, students, friends and alumni to volunteer for a multitude of jobs every year. This year I am going to try out Volunteer Spot. This site has already shown me a few things I really like about about it and one con.

Volunteer Spot allows you to create a free account to help you organize your events easier and faster. After creating your account then you have to setup activities. In order to keep my list simple I created an Activity called “Band Booster Concessions” and one called “Marching Band Performances”. Inside of each Activity then I plan events on specific days. Each day allows me to add Tasks for volunteers to do or Things for volunteers to bring. It really is fast and easy.

After all the setup then it is time to spread the word and get people signed up! Volunteer Spot gives you links to embed into your classroom website, links to post to social media (Facebook and Twitter) and even a pre-created blurb, with links, to insert into a newsletter. You are also given the option to email people with a little message – which I immediately sent out to my Band Boosters.

As people click the link they are then taken to Volunteer Spot. Once there they give their email address (very important because they will automatically be sent a reminder a few days before their events!) [The emails will not visible by you if you only signup for the free account – that is the pro plan]

VolunteerSpot Clipboard appAlso – there is a free iPad app called clipboard you can use to sign people up with! The app is very helpful – it gives people very clear directions when they are using the app to sign up. 

There is also an app called Sign UP for your iPhone which gives you more access – This is the app you, the organizer, would be using. 


The web interface and the iPhone app also gives us some nice tools for keeping track of who has signed up and who has worked. The reports are laid out very nicely. A complaint I do have is that I can only print one month at a time for reports! Not too big an issue but an extra step which could be a huge issue if you are woking on more than just a couple of months at a time. 

Volunteer Spot will even help you send out Thank You notes later as well!

I am not a fan of the “feature” they have that helps you collect money as a fundraiser. Volunteer Spot gets quite the cut for providing you this service.

I also am not a fan of the advertising on the web site and in the emails they send out. BUT this is a free service so they do have to make money some how!

Also – there are still some bugs in the ClipBoard app. Beware of changing the orientation of the screen. You may end up having to force quite the app, I did.


So how are you guys signing up, tracking and keeping your volunteers? I would love to hear from you!

A Milestone!

Thank you to everyone that actually follows my blog!

Tonight there are now 50 of you using WordPress Reader to follow my Blog! A small milestone in comparison I’m sure to your blog but hey….. Now of course that number is only the number of people who have hit the follow button in WordPress. I know I myself follow a large number of blogs but I don’t usually use the WordPress function. I use Google Reader… Oops sorry, Feedly/Mr. Reader. I see there are 365 who follow this blog through the use of email updates as well!

I am humbled by the fact that the 50th person to follow my blog is a person whose work I have admired for a long time! It is because of his work with the eBand that our school here just a bit north of CMU, has an electronic group now as well! Thanks for setting an example!

I should mention too that if you do NOT use RSS feeds to follow your favorite blogs and web sites I think you are crazy! It is through RSS that I keep up with a HUGE amount of information on a daily basis! It allows me to know who has updated their web sites/blogs without having to actually go visit each and every site! Of course now I think that welcome to feedly is the best option these days…. I will say that I have had some issues with them as I have reset my iPad these past two days! in fact, I still cannot get the Feedly app to load! I have Mr. Reader working through the Feedly website which I find strange.

Follow your favorite Blogs! Build a list of great people that can help you with their experiences! Surround yourself with people that are excellent teachers! Surround yourself with people that are better than you! Check the blog roll that I have on the side of my Blog…. These are people I find that are excellent, both as genuine people as well as professionals!

What iPad apps are important to me as a Music Teacher?

Every now and then I like to just reset my iPad. That gives me a chance to clear the entire iPad back to factory settings. Then I have to go through and manually reinstall all my apps. This means that I don’t load an app unless I actually use it! I download a ton of apps that “sound cool” but never actually end up using them. I also download quite a few apps that go on sale for free that I know I want but again I never use them that much. I would rather have them in my iTunes account though for free then to have to pay for them later if I ever do want to use them.

I also try to do this process from memory. I figure that if I can not remember an app then I probably don’t use it that often! The apps that I have not even begun to load are the musical instruments, music notation, and music recording apps…. that will be a different blog post!

So here they all are… As a Band Director what did I load my iPad with? I will post each page of apps below. I try to organize my iPad by pages. I try to stay away from too many folders but sometimes there are just too many pages and folders start to be WAY more useful at that point in time but for now I wait on the folders. I would love to hear what I missed as an app that you use consistently.

Most of the screen shots do not have the Music Folder that I keep in my dock – The most important folder and I forgot it – I guess because I am not teaching right now and am in the middle of summer! This folder is THE reason I bought an iPad in the first place and continues to be one of the biggest reasons I use my iPad for teaching. I would be devastated if I ever had to teach again WITHOUT this folder! In this all important folder I always keep ForScore, UnRealBook and GigBook. These are the apps I use to interact with my PDF music files. Apps that are superbly written by musicians, for musicians, to perform from.

Page ONE – the apps I use every single day the most!

Apps I have on my main screen of my iPad
Apps I have on my main screen of my iPad

Page TWO –

Apps on the second page of my iPad
Apps on the second page of my iPad

Page THREE – My page with “Office” type of apps (I think OneSafe should not be on this page as I think more about it. It is being moved to Page ONE!)

Page 3

(The Education Folder – )

Folders that have to deal with teaching
Folders that have to deal with teaching

Music apps – Basic music apps that I will use almost daily while teaching band and rehearsing the students – The only other three music apps that I do not have on this page are actually in my dock. Even though they are not pictured here…. go look at the screenshot for page two. I have ForScore, UnRealBook and GigBook all installed in my dock)

Apps to teach music with
Apps to teach music with




Amazing Audio Tech

Have you seen Shazam? If you haven’t here’s the short version…. Have you been listening to a song and so wondered what it was? Load up Shazam, tap the tag button, let the app listen and within about 15 seconds Shazam tells you what the song is along with who the artist is. The part that amazes me is the Lyric Play tech built in. On many songs there is a Luric Play button when pressed will find lyrics for you. Then those lyrics start scrolling along in sync with the song while it is playing. All this happens I’m the palm of my hand! I can not believe the mic in my phone handles this. Even in a noisy car driving down the noisy road it works!

Obviously this works better with popular songs but the fact that the audio can be tagged liked this is astounding! Reminds me of the day I realized that my computer would actually remember the names of all the tracks on a cd! Of course I had to type all that info in back in those days!

Back to the original thought though, is anyone using this tech in your lesson plans?