GoodNotes 4 for a Buck!

Boy oh boy this must be the season for dollar app sales!

goodnotes4-iconGoodNotes 4 – Only one dollar currently! (Normally this is like $8!)

I had a discussion with my principal a few years ago. She was asking about where I wanted my brand new whiteboard to go… I was amazed that I was even being considered for one! But then we discussed about what I would use it for since I had an iPad and a projector. As I had no experience with an iPad I asked what the other teachers were using theirs for. I held long discussions with other teachers. I searched the internet.

The end decision was that I did not find a good reason to waste the schools money. I had an iPad and apps.

It is apps like GoodNotes 4 that gives me some great versatility in my class rehearsals. GoodNotes allows me to quickly hand write anything I would normally write on a whiteboard/smartboard but with so many added advantages that I can hardly imagine NOT having the capability!

First of all the app has a wonderful feature that only shows my content and NOT the user interface!

Secondly all my notes are synced in the cloud! I can access them from my iPad or my iPhone.

Thirdly my HANDWRITTEN NOTES are searchable! yup… read that again… I’ll wait…. Check it out in the picture below. My crappy handwriting even gets recognized! Amazing! You can see that after writing my notes I did a search and GoodNotes did it! Now if that’s not cool I don’t know what is going to impress you!

GoodNotes 4 Screen Search.PNG

Fourth – I can organize my notes how ever I wish!

Fifth – I can write, type, insert images, draw shapes (that get auto-magically recognized and cleaned up!), I can even bring in PDF’s and annotate them! Think about being able to work on a worksheet with your students while walking around the room allowing THEM to write in the answers on your iPad with your Apple Pencil and having those answers show up on the projector screen up front!

Sixth – There is even music manuscript paper built in! Along with a healthy dose of other templates and graph paper and awesome covers for your notebooks!

Seventh – as you can see in the screen above there is also a zoom feature that works wonderfully! It will allow you to write and then will auto-magically move over as you write! Such a wonderful thing!

Eighth – It’s a buck right now! With an update coming right around the corner with some great features I’m sure in that update! (OK – I’m guessing on the great new features one as I am NOT on the beta for this app and if I was I couldn’t tell you about what was coming anyways!) (But why put out an update unless you have something great to share!)

 

Due – Reminders app on sale!

due-iconDue – Reminders, Countdown Timers – (Only a buck if you act quick!)

You Due have a To-Due app correct? If not you are Due to buy one before Due goes off sale….

All right enough non-sense talk! Seriously though, if you do NOT have an app to help you keep track of your important items that need to be done then this is your lucky day! Put something into this app and it’s going to keep reminding you until you JUST DUE IT! (ah man… sorry but I couldn’t resist!)

Hey, even better is the fact that this will even do countdown timers!

Even better is that there is an universal for iPad/iPhone/Apple Watch and then you can even purchase the Mac app as well!

This is a great app for those things you need to be reminded of that are not full fledged calendar type of events.

KRFT – Sound Inspired – Wonderful app to create alternative playing interfaces

If you are at all into using the wonderful touch interface of an iPad to create music using alternative playing interfaces then this app is for you!

KRFT – Sound Inspired  allows you to use loops, dials, and effects to create a musical playing surface totally inspired by your imagination!

If you act fact then you might catch the intro Sale ( I just ran across this so it’s gonna have to be FAST) considering the possibilities though that this app offers it is worth every penny of the full price!

This app could be an entire 6 weeks in an electronic music class! Take a look at some of their videos to see what is possible. 

OneSafe 4 Has Arrived – THIS IS IMPORTANT! You NEED a password app.

Ok people listen up because this is important! If you don’t have an app to take care of all you passwords and vital information like card numbers, bank numbers and everything else you can think of then you are in dire need of clicking the link below and buying OneSafe 4 NOW! It is only $0.99 for one day!

oneSafe Icon.pngoneSafe4

That’s all I have time for. If you REALLY need more info on why a password app is needed then you are one of the people that needs this probably!

oh… hey…. nice little tis bit for you AppleWatch people is that there is now an Apple Watch app that goes along with the normal app!

VirSyn Releases a Great Sampling App for iOS

Yeah, if you are on top of all this news then this is a few days old!

BUT…

If you have been busy with things like Music Conferences for a bunch of music teachers that truly want to make a deep and lasting impact on their students lives then you may have missed this! 🙂

VirSyn has some amazing apps out already and now they have taken the best of several of those other apps and put them into an audio sampling app to add a nice new twist to the possibilities of music music making!

ReSlice – Audio Slice Machine for iPad and iPhone – $9.99 (an introductory price so grab it now!)

ReSlice Screen.png

THE IDEA – Record live or import audio from clipboard or AudioShare to break it up into its rhythmic components. Then you slice your audio samples with ReSlice and create flexible musical atoms which can be triggered by MIDI notes or the touch of your fingers.

THE BONUS – You then get to do things like use the polyrhythm Arpeggiator that redefines the art of creating new loops from the extracted slices. Apply the intelligent slice parameter and Arpeggio randomizer for instant creation of the unheard.

NOT SURE WHAT THIS MEANS? Watch this video then go get sampling and slicing!

ME&T Poscast Episode #7

Chris Russell and myself are here in Grand Rapids at the Michigan Music Conference and we took time to sit down and record our latest podcast. This time we actually were sitting in the same room for this episode so that was fun. 

We have a great time discussing all sorts of topics like attending music conferences, the new MacBooks with the touch bar, and playing with the updated GarageBand to highlight some of the new features. We talk about news from NAMM like the new handwriting app for creating music notation called KOMP and new interface from IKMtimedia and PreSonus. 

You can listen here or on iTunes….

Composition Using Todays Technology

I am currently at the Michigan Music Conference where all the states music educators meet up for our annual Professional Development that is so very vital to our mental stability as music educators!

I am pleasantly surprised by the high number of sessions being presented about song writing this year!

One great session I attended was by John Churchill from Go Like The Wind School a Montessori school in Ann Arbor, MI. John has been doing composition with his students for like 11 years now. He’s finding great success and satisfaction in this process – satisfaction for himself and more importantly for his students/school/community.

I simply want to point you in the direction of his schools BandCamp site where they have an amazing collection of student created albums from the past 11 years! Here is John website as well- http://johnchurchville.com

I’d then like to mention that he is making great use of Noteflight.com (online music notation) and also Soundtrap.com (think online GarageBand sort of service)

If you are not using these tools with your students you should be!

img_1101-2The last thing I want to leave you with is a discussion that Chris Russell from techinmusiced.com and I had tonight. Chris is actually here in Michigan and finally we got a chance to meet face to face. I say finally because we have “known” each other ever since the iPad was released and we both started blogging about it but since we live about 12 hours we have never actually met! Chris came to the Michigan Music Conference to present this year though so it’s been good to sit and talk as well as get a chance to watch him present. We also took the opportunity to record out 7th ME&T podcast while we were sitting in the same room! Look for that soon!

One of our discussions was music composition using todays technology – using tech like Ableton Live and Loops and Roli Blocks and the list could go on and on. It is such a different approach than we had back in the day we were learning traditional music composition techniques on traditional instruments. It is a great discussion to have with other music teachers!

Anyways here was my main point – put this tech into the hands of kids, give them some gentle guidance along with some restrictions (that they may or may not even realize is there) and let them go! Let them play!

To show you what can happen take a listen to this composition that was posted tonight in the iPad Musician group from another one of the people that is in my online professional development group that I will probably never get a chance to meet face to face because he is from Australia! Here is his post….

 
FROM iPAD MUSICIANS FACEBOOK GROUP all the way from –  Kiama, NSW, Australia

A bit of Saturday morning gadget fun. Lexington leads played by my 5 year old son, using ac sabre. Quite amusing to watch him get into it 😃

Their composition is at the bottom of this post. The two apps he mentions are….

Korg Gadget Small IconGadget

AC Sabre Icon.pngAC Sabre from  AirCraft

AC Sabre is an iPhone only app because it uses the gyroscope in your iPhone and turns it into amazing messages that then control other apps like Gadget in this case – or go watch this YouTube video the developer made about controlling the Model 15 Icon200pxModel 15 app – outstanding!

The AC Sabre MIDI Instrument and Motion Controller app  is 60% off until January 31st by the way so it is currently only $4.99!

 

Here is that song father and son came up with –

Lights for our Music Performances -ways to easily add a new dimension to what we already do.

lifx-screenTodays post is one that may surprise some of you. It is a post about lighting for your concerts, musical performances, music room, podcasts, or for that matter your home. Wait a minute… did I really just go there to the place of mixing performance lighting with home lighting? Yup! Stick with me and read along…

I’ve been fortunate to teach in a very supportive district with wonderful administrators and community not to mention great students and amazing parents. This is what led our district to build a better facility than a gymnasium for our performing arts groups! The new facility is not a full fledged auditorium but is pretty close! One area I’ve not been happy with in the performance area is colored lighting. We have pretty decent coverage with real stage lighting and a full fledged light board in the control booth. But white gets boring after awhile. We’ve done the gel thing but it is now 2017 and I know there are better  options out there! LED lighting and the options there are just so much more amazing and affordable than what we had as choices 10 years ago. I also made the decision that I wanted lights that moved too!

So I had two options –

ONE –  go the traditional route and find the money to buy DMX lights that you would traditionally find on a stage and that would be controlled by a traditional light board. This option is obviously a great choice but also would require some serious funds. I didn’t have immediate access to funds like that.

TWO – find an alternative. So I looked around and decided that possibly these fancy new “smart lights” from companies like Philips Hue and LIFX might work for us. This option also allowed me to start smaller – from one LIFX bulb costing $45 or a Phillips Hue Starter kit costing $199 and giving me 3 bulbs.

MY CHOICE? I think you would make the same choice as I did – start raising funds while we started small!

WHAT DID I FIND? I decided that since I had no one to really give me direct answers or to go visit to see what they were doing, that I would buy several of the LIFX bulbs as well as a Philips Hue Starter kit. How else was I really going to find out for sure which was best with out testing them!?

Part of the decision was that if we could DJ several middle school dances we could raise some of the funds to get started. So off we went to DJ. We got paid and made a trip to the store.

I came away with 4 Philips Hue bulbs and a Philips lightStrip and also 4 LIFX bulbs.

Then I had to find a solution to control BOTH brands of lights. Each brand has a great app for it’s own bulbs but I sure did not want to be jumping back and forth between apps during a performance. In my searching I found several apps that I thought would be great choices for filling in two separate needs –

  1. Light DJ Pro – I needed an app to use the lights to DJay dances – Kevin at NRTHRNLIGHTS, LLC has created an amazing app called Light DJ Pro – Light Shows for Philips Hue & LIFX
  2. Lightbow -I needed an app to be able to set the mode as I so chose for any given situation and Peter, from Brooklyn has written Lightbow that fits that need

Lightbow Icon.png

Light DJ Pro Icon.png
Light DJ Pro App

THE HOOK UP – Upon getting the bulbs back to the school I started to find the reality of the differences between the two brands. Philips Hue requires their hub to connect everything to. That hub has to be connected to your wi-fi. The proved to be an issue at my school as the tech people did not want any part of my light bulbs on their network! Of course the LIFX require wi-fi access as well and we had the same issue there. Easy solution was that I set up an extra wi-fi router and created my own “lights” net work. I think the extra hassle of Philips having the hub for sure gives LIFX the first point for ease in set up. LIFX gets another point when it gets to be time to connect with another app – each time you want to connect with a new app Philips requires you to go push the connect button on the hub – LIFX is now two points up.

Once setup you will find that these bulbs are simply amazing to work with!

One beauty is that you can use whatever lamp fixture you want to put the bulbs in. I stole a couple of lamps from home, leaving the old dumb bulbs at home. Then I went to WalMart and bought like 6 el cheapo lamps for like $7 a piece for the other bulbs. This is a tie.

Philips Hue Screen.pngUsing the LIFX and Philips apps are both easy to figure out and easy to operate. Both now have iPad as well as iPhone apps that work very well. So this is a tie here too.

Bonus – both brands have an Apple Watch app as well! Tie

Philips gets HUGE bonus points though because it supports Apple Home Kit. Now this is HUGE because using SIRI I can control the Philips Hue bulbs! It’s pretty cool to use my Apple Watch and say things like “SIRI, turn my lights on!” or “SIRI make my lights red at 50%!” – Personally this is HUGE for me at HOME, at school not such a big deal. Still Philips take this round!

LIFX gets points though for their colors and brightness. There is a noticeable difference in the richness and brightness of LIFX vs Philips bulbs. Now please don’t take this the wrong way – I was every worried that any of these bulbs would be bright enough to make a difference on my huge stage let alone simply in a small room or even on my desk. Both lights are great but LIFX gets an edge here!

LIFX also gets one last extra point because of the response time when controlling the lights. When using either of the two apps I mentioned above to make changes to all lights at once the LIFX are FAST while the Philips are always lagging behind. Again, don’t take this the wrong way because Philips isn’t exactly a turtle but LIFX is for sure FAST!

 

CONCLUSION –

I have now used the lights at two middle school dances and also two Christmas concerts. They have exceeded my hopes for the dances and they also added such a nice ambience at the band concerts that everyone loved it!

If any of you have worked with DMX lights and DMX light software/hardware/light boards then you will be amazed at the ease of the smart bulbs. The benefits are that it is WAY easier to haul around 16 of the smart bulbs, plug them in, connect to the wi-fi network and use one of the four apps I’ve mentioned to control them. The other obvious benefit is cost! $45 for smart bulbs vs $99 and up per DMX light (and trust me those are the cheap lights!).

There are limitations when using smart bulbs compared to a full fledged DMX light rig. Those drawbacks are that DMX will do more animations and you can get things like movers with lasers! BUT do YOU know how to program all of that? Do you even realize the time involved in programming all of those fancy lights?

The bulbs are so very easy to control and adjust that anyone can do it! I will write my next blog post on the two apps I’ve mentioned to that I can go into greater detail about those apps.

These Philips Hue and LIFX bulbs are wonderful! I think I will continue to buy more of the LIFX products for school and I look forward to the day when they add Apple Home Kit capability to LIFX.

My Thoughts on Yearly Subscriptions for Apps/Software as an Educator.

I’ve just got to share my feedback I just sent to a software company about their model of using subscriptions for their app. As an educator of 25 years I do NOT see subscriptions as a benefit in any way shape or form.

“Dear SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS,

I have one thing I’d like to share….

I fully appreciate your need to make money as a business but your model of a yearly subscription simply does not fit into an educational setting. There are so many variables we have to deal with from year to year and it is very difficult to tell whether or not we will have the $ to renew our subscription! The worst fear I have is to make a decision to use your software and then find out the $ is not there to renew so then we are left dead in the water because our software is no longer working! I HAVE to know that the investment I make this year is good for more than just the next 365 days!

I do indeed pay frequently for yearly updates to software which in essence is the same as your yearly subscription BUT the difference is that I can choose to NOT upgrade and still be left with working software when I have to skip a year.

Just some feedback from an educator….”

and then I signed it and hit the send button. I have not much hope of making a difference but I am seeing SO many companies/developers going to the subscription based model that I had to put in my two cents.

Using Doc Scanner Apps to get stuff done. (FREE MUSIC FROM THE MARINE BAND TOO)

Scanner Pro 6 IconOur phones and iPads are such powerful devices these days, well assuming that you have a decent phone anyways! The real question is just what can they do? How can they be leveraged to help us and make our lives easier instead of simply annoying us with all those beeps, buzzes and ringtones.

One way is to use a scanner app like Readdle’s Scanner Pro to make all those documents you have to deal with easier to track.

This app makes quick work of capturing any sort of document  – simply place it on a flat surface with a contrasting background, make sure you have decent lighting and point the phone camera at the document. Within seconds the app finds the edges and automatically snaps a pic. That picture is then turned into a digital document that can be saved as a PDF or jpg and synced almost instantly with a bunch of different services!

So for instance…. I have forms that I am collecting from my band. When a kid hands me the form, I lay it on my desk, open the Scanner Pro app and snap a picture. I then upload it as a PDF to a folder in my DropBox. It’s so fast that if I’m standing right next to my computer the message that it has magically appeared on my laptop pops up almost instantly! It’s SO much faster and neater than trying to walk down the hallway to the scanner and do this. Faster than even messaging it to myself or emailing it to myself.

The scans show up just as good as if I had used normal scanner or the really expensive scanner/copy machine in the teachers workroom.

Here’s another instance where eI used Scanner Pro just this morning – I needed ArtWork for the CD that the Marine Band sent me, for free I might add, of the latest recording from “The Presidents Own Band”. I could’t find a good jpg online as I would normally do. So I opened Scanner Pro and let it do it’s magic. Within seconds that message that there was a new file in my DropBox popped up on my laptop. Faster than trying to launch the messages or mail app on my laptop, find the message and retrieve it from there.

Before I show you the different options/results from the CD ArtWork – I should mention that if you are a music teacher and want the Marine Band to send you some amazing CD’s for FREE then you need to go visit their website! I so appreciate the Marine Band doing this as it is a great resource! They also have all of the John P. Sousa marches recorded along with free downloads of the sheet music as PDF files and even teaching material to go along with the recordings!

Here are some different results from saving the CD ArtWork….

Picture Works Album Art MArine Band Photo from PhoneCam.jpeg
Straight from my iPhone Camera
Picture Works Album Art Marine Band as Photo.jpg
From Scanner Pro saved as a JPG
Picture Studies ArtWork Marine Band as Color Doc pic.jpg
From Scanner Pro – scanned as a Color Document and saved as a JPG

picture-studies-artwork-marine-band-as-color-doc-pdf