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?

Using Evernote and ReadRhythm to build Student Portfolios

ReadRhythm AppIf you are a music teacher with even one iPad in your music room you need to check out the ReadRhythm App! (Web Site) (iTunes Store Link)

Their web site does not do enough justice to this little app! The concept is simple – there is a metronome on the left of the screen, a drum pad on the right and a rhythm at the top. Hit the appropriate button and then the metronome starts and then you start tapping the rhythm on the drum pad. When done you are presented with a stack of little green, red or blue dots under the rhythm that indicate if you were in time, early or late.

There are many different options for you to adjust and many different types of rhythms and different time signatures to pick from. Their web site does lay all of that out for you very well. There are plenty of options to keep any student busy for a long time!

The exciting part is the way the app scores you. I love the little blue, red and green dots! I also love the fact that the metronome is what the students have to stay with. THEN the part that hammers home the idea that students MUST get the rhythm correct is this….. when the student actually gets a 100% then a magical email icon show up! At this time the students are then able to email their score to me!

This is where I have the students send that email to EverNote…. the iPad has a “contact” set up with EverNote as the persons first name and Upload as the persons last name and the EverNote Upload email as the persons email. That way all the student has to do is start typing two letters into the “To:” field and that EverNote pops up, they tap on it and they never have to worry about the long and funky email address that the email is actually being sent to.

Step two – the students then need to make sure that in the subject field they type in the magical formula that sends this grade to their notebook that I have setup for them in EverNote. So… they simply type in something like this…. @LastnameF    Of course in EverNote I have already set up a notebook for that student that has the same name as what they just typed in. (I used their Lastname with their a capitalized first initial of their first name) By using that “@” symbol in front of the name of the notebook what ever it is that they are emailing me shows up in their notebook online!- which in this case is a screenshot of the ReadRhythm exercise with a score of 100%.

Step three – Then I have to go keep track of who has completed which exercise and enter that into our school gradebook system.

This is so easy! I can check very quickly who has what done each day because of the way EverNote is set up. There is no collecting of papers, no sorting through a bunch of emails and it puts responsibility on the students shoulders to learn how to use technology correctly. If they don’t learn it then they don’t get a grade, it’s that simple.

Here is a screen shot of what I see in EverNote. I can also track how long it is taking students to do these exercises. This allows me to pinpoint kids that may need additional help!

Here is a YouTube Video demonstrating how remarkably easy this process is – I think it is simply magical! It takes some setting up but it is worth it!

Grades in EverNote
Grades in EverNote

Share files between iOS devices and Macs Quickly and Easily!

I’ve tried many different ways of quickly and instantly sharing files between iOS devices and my Mac. I am forever emailing myself pictures or PDF’s. Of course DropBox is always in the mix as well. When I write this blog I take screen shots and email those to my self. It has always seemed like an extra step that was a hassle.

icoEnter into the picture InstaShare (You spell it R – E – L – I – E – F!) With this app you can quickly push files out between iOS devices and Macs (this app is still in beta but freely available on their website). It is probably much like using AirDrop on Macs would be (I only have one computer that is capable of doing this so I’ve never used it, but it sounds cool AND easy!) I can see this being very useful in a class where you have multiple iPads. Even if al it allowed me to do is send a file from the teacher iPad to my students one or two times I would be very satisfied with the time saved!

If you have not downloaded it yet then go watch their video on their website, install it and start sharing!

LINK to iTunes InstaShare App

Making the Homework Experience Better with Mobile Phones and Apps!

At our last concert I actually remembered to record the bands! This sounds funny coming from someone like me who uses tech so much but it is hard for me to remember to do this when I am conducting. What I do that does work is make this a students job.

After recording the concert then I uploaded the pieces to SoundCloud. If you have never used SoundCloud in your class you need to! It is awesome! Fast, easy and quick for me the teacher to upload recordings to is one reason. Another reason is that the students can then leave comments on those recordings. Those comments go inline – so if at :30 seconds into the piece we missed being prepared for an entrance a student can click on the waveform at :30 seconds and leave a comment. That comment will then popup at the appropriate time while others are listening back. Instantly the kids are writing – gasp! They are evaluating – higher order thinking. They are communicating with each other and me. It’s all good stuff! Plus the students start to realize that they have a world wide audience they are potentially performing for! Of course we could make these recordings more private. Here is a screen shot of one of our songs… you can see the little boxes under the waveform – those are their comments.

Screen Shot 2013-02-24 at 8.34.37 PM


In conjunction with this homework assignment I also had the students sign up to follow me on Celly. This is from their website…

logo“Celly believes small messages change the world
so we built a place where 140 characters – builds movements, inspires learning, levels playing fields & promotes free speech

we call this place a cell

A cell is a mobile social network that works with any mobile phone or device. Members can join instantly with one text and exchange group messages, polls, reminders, and web alerts.”
What this allows me to do is send out messages to my class all at one time. You kind of have to go read their web site to get a better picture. Here is one reason I love using this service… In schools, students and teachers can communicate freely with Celly while keeping phone numbers private. Group messages can be moderated by one or more curators to keep conversations on-topic and friendly.
So tonight I sent out a reminder to my students that they were supposed to have their comments/evaluations of our concert (on SoundCloud) done by the morning. the reason I sent this message is because I knew that only a few had actually done this homework because of my ability to check to see who had left comments on SoundCloud. The response to the Celly message was outstanding! Within 10 minutes this is what my iPad screen looked like!
I love the fact that SoundCloud pops me over a message letting me know someone is making a comment on one of my pieces! I like that the kids are evaluating themselves and I love the fact that this is so easy to keep track of who has done it and who hasn’t!

Using the ShowYou App – Sending video links to your account

Back in October I wrote a post about using the ShowYou app to keep a collection of videos from YouTube that I want to share with my classes.

Here is an update on how I send videos links to my account. It gets a bit confusing and if you don’t do it correctly you may not even notice until you have navigated away from that video and if you are like me some days I can’t find that video again for nothing!

You must have your email associated with your ShowYou account

This is where your email is in the setting section of the app
This is where your email is in the setting section of the app


Then you most know the email that you send YouTube video links to –

ShowYou Email


Then I used this email to send a link of the YouTube webpage with the video on it that I wanted to share with my class later. I actually created a fake person in my address book named Share Person with the email. That way all I have to remember is when I send an email I type in the fake name of Share and the email gets filled in automatically!

Of course I frequently find my self sending the email from the wrong email account (not email account I have on record at at that point in time ShowYou sends me a nice little email response saying this…

Oops! Wrong email!
Oops! Wrong email!

Hope this helps you in your process of using the Showyou app!

YouTube in the Classroom with ShowYou app

YouTube has always slightly scared me when I go to show a video in class. It’s always a gamble on what’s going to show up. At the same time I don’t like the alternatives like SchoolTube and other services like that. I mean, everyone is using YouTube. Now that Apple doesn’t have a YouTube app the other issue is that when I use the YouTube web site through Safari I can not get the videos to pop out full screen. Of course I could embed a link to the video I want to use in class on my band web page but that seems a few too many steps.

Enter ShowYou. If you have not seen this service you need to use it. Go read about it at their website to get the full idea of what they envision there service as being. Here’s how I use it. Whenever I find a website with a video on it that I want to share with my class, or that I just simply want to “save” so I can find it later easily, I simply email a link to that page to my ShowYou account. I’ve actually created a contact with the name Show You and the correct email. That way it is really easy and I can actually remember it! Then that video magically shows up in my ShowYou wall of videos. No ear of scantly clad women on the sidelines distracting my students. Plus from this app I can flick the video to full screen or simply tap on the expand icon.

An additional benefit is that I can find other music educators or musicians who use the service and follow them. This lets me find out what others are discovering and sharing that I might not otherwise discover.

Here is a picture of the main wall of the app…. This is not my wall of videos because I don’t like my user icon so you don’t get to make fun me…. You have to follow my ShowYou account if you want to see that!