Technology That Helps Teachers Communicate With Students and Parents

Remind Small IconRemind – Almost every single parent these days have a cell phone that texts. Texting messages to parents is what I call an “In their face, can’t miss it” sort of communication. You send the message, their phone goes ding ding, they read the message. There’s isn’t another app to install, they don’t have to remember to go check your website, they don’t have to dig around in their email or sign into a web page.

So why wouldn’t you want that sort of communication?

Oh – it’s free. Did I mention that?

Class DojoClass Dojo – Have you ever needed to keep track of students points earned, behaviors in class, their achievements, or how about the fact that they didn’t bring an instrument or lost their music? Now, how much time do you have to mark those points down? How much time does it take you to go look up a parents email and send them a message about their childs amazing achievements during class on any given day? How many times do you send home a written note that NEVER makes it home about something going on in your students lives?

What if I told you that in a matter of seconds you could send any given parent in your class a message detailing the fact that their child just did something amazing in class? What if you could on the spot within seconds send a message to any given parent that their child had forgotten their instrument? Would you want a tool like this?

What If I told you it was free?


SeeSaw – How do you collect homework? How do you give your students feedback on that work? What if you could create a movie where you wrote things on a childs paper while talking to them and explaining ways that they could improve or things that you love about their work? Have we gone a step beyond the traditional red pen and ink?

We music teachers have a different job from other teachers. Our students should be turning in assignments in a multimedia format. The students should be charge of turning it in and keeping track of it – not you! The students should be building a collection of their work throughout the entire school year so that they can show their progress in very obvious ways. They themselves/along with their parents/along with your administration can quickly access, see, listen to and observe the progress being made if they can manage to create a collection and keep it organized!

What if I told you there is an app so easy to use that 1st graders can create these online portfolios/collections? What if I told you that you could open a discussion about students work between yourself and each and every student? How hard is it for you currently to get to every single student to discuss their class work? I’m teaching a High School Band class with 80+ kids in it! How exciting! BUT without the help of technology I don’t know how in the world I can openly converse with each individual student about things they each need to improve on or about how amazing their work is.

What if I told you that this app was free, kind of?

Oh… we can’t forget the recent improvements to Google Classroom! How exciting! What about the upcoming announcement from What do you think THAT is going to be about? ooooooo oooooh what about PreSonus – they have new announcements coming too! AND Dorico is soon to enter the beta testing stage! Wait… what about the update to NoteFlight that now allows students to actually record AUDIO into their musical compositions! (Did you know Noteflight is pretty cheap – especially compared to any individual student attempting to actually BUY Finale/Sibelius/Notion!

Over the next few days I will write about how I intend to incorporate each of these apps/service into my music classes. I still have yet to find ONE single app/Gradebook that does it all. Maybe someday…………..

iGrand and electric on Sale – SampleTank Updated

Well this is good news as we go into a new school year! But you better hurry because this is a quick sale – only until the 21st of August!

IK MultiMedia has put a couple of their very useful apps on sale – Music Educators should take advantage of this!

iGrand icon smalliGrand is 50% off and is currently $9.99 and all the IAP’s are also 50% off. the Ivory Keys IAP is very nice! Buy a cheap MIDI controller like the Novation Launchkeys, plug it into your iPhone and you have a super great sounding piano!

Electric Piano Synth SmalliLectric is 50% off and is currently $9.99

SampleTankSampleTank is $9.99 which means it is also at 50% sale price! The app has been brought up to version 2 which has given a new breath of life to the app that will come in very useful for educators. The app is now 8 part multitimbral! Now you can have even more parts going!

This does come with it’s drawbacks though as this version2 will NOT support older iPads/iPhone – you have to have an iPad Air or higher and an iPhone 5s or higher. Get ready people because the older devices are NOT going to be supported by every app for very long!

• 8-part multitimbral professional-quality sound and groove module
• Expandable sound library with 600+ instruments in 16 categories
• Completely redesigned Sound Browser
• Layers feature lets you easily create zones on your controller for multi-part performances
• Live and Song modes optimized for composition and live performance
• Streamlined interface for faster workflow
• Integrated 8-track MIDI recorder with song export
• MIDI learn feature makes programming external controllers a breeze
• Play interface with piano keyboard, scale keyboard and enhanced drum pads
• Plug-and-play compatibility with iRig interfaces and controllers like iRig Pro Duo, iRig Pro, iRig MIDI, iRig Keys and iRig Pads
• Universal app compatible with iPad and iPhone with iOS 8 and later

Last Few Hours on Korg App Sale!

if you haven’t pulled the trigger yet then click a link in my post and tap the buy button! It’s gonna be a long time before their next sale!

And don’t forget that the extra IAP sound banks are an amazing price too! These two in particular for Korg Module are outstandingly great!

Passwords and Security on iPods/iPhones/iPads – USE IT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE!

I have talked about the issue of passwords, security questions and backing up your devices here on my blog before. I want to do it again!

The worst story I have is of the student who came to me with her iPod that had pictures on it of her Grandpa who had just passed away. Some other student had gotten a hold of her iPod and changed her password on her. Because she did not have everything set up correctly – in this case she should have turned on her Photo Stream – she ended up losing those pictures that were irreplaceable!

Our devices hold some of the most valuable parts of our lives on them! We need to use the tools Apple has given us and make sure we have things taken care of and backed up! We also MOST educate our students and our very own kids about the proper way to set up accounts, pick good security question and then WRITE down the passwords and answers someplace where we can access them! Kids and our parents are pretty non-experienced about this sort of thing – DO NOT BUY INTO THAT “Digital Native” line!

First things first – when someone gets a new device they need to be shown that iCloud is their friend! Set up an iCloud account with them! Pick good security questions and pick a good password that isn’t going to confuse the heck out of them later when they have to figure the darn thing out!

Second thing – write down all the passwords and security question answers you have just set up. Write them down someplace you can find. You could use Apples notepad or better yet use a password app like OneSafe or OnePassword.

Third thing – use the tools inside of iCloud to your advantage!

  • Turn on Find Your iPhone.
  • Turn on at least the My Photo Stream – different from iCloud Photo Library. My Photo Stream saves your last 1000 pictures into the cloud and it is accessible from your phone/iPod/Mac Computer
  • Turn on most every thing actually – EXCEPT
  • Backup – you may think that this is out of place but honestly I’ve never found the backups from Apple to work anyways. Plus…. everything of mine is in the cloud most of the time anyways! THE BIG REASON THOUGH – it’s going to suck up the free 5GB of storage available for free to you. If you really feel the need then turn on backup on from a computer.

Fourth thing – for goodness sakes show them how to find contacts and calendars and how to create reminders using SIRI! That stuff is just ultra cool!

Take care of those around you! If you know someone who is setting up a new device HELP THEM!


If you don’t write down those passwords and answers to the security question I can promise you that it is a pain in the  behind to reset everything!


Money Lover App FREE Today – via appGratis

So do you ever spend money? Ever have to manage a school budget for your music department? Wait… what? You have NEVER set up a budget at ALL? Well today is the day you’ve been waiting for… (Maybe)

AppGratis (Sam) sends me emails everyday with a free app. He’s the master of making deals with developers. Today’s app is Money Lover by Quang Tran Hong. I’ve never used the app and have never seen the app before today but after taking a quick look at it I think it may be useful!

Here’s the main blurb from the web site for the app…

Money Lover Screen Info

Plus, since the app is free today via Sam – you follow the instructions I received in his email and you get the premium version of the app! There is a sync that keeps your phone, laptop and even the web version of your money all in sync! Love it!

Here’s the email and the link! The link is obviously not my affiliate link but is instead Sams… Let me know if you use this app already or if there is another app you like better in the comments below!

MoneyLover Free

ChordUp and Clawtar both are free!

Looking for some great apps that allow for an alternative playing interface? Dmitry Klochkov has a couple of great apps that are both free currently!

Chordup IconChordUp is an app for both iPhone as well as iPad

Clawtar IconClawtar is an iPad only app

The best way to let you see what these apps are, what they look like and what they do is for you to watch this YouTube video… Go download the apps and enjoy!










Transferring Files to iPad Without The Cloud or Internet or Wires!

I can not remember the last time I actually hooked a wire up from my iPad to my laptop to transfer files. It honestly is a pain in the ummm…. well you get it – I just wish APPLE and Tim Cook did! I do believe that Apple is working towards a wireless world and it IS better than the past but we are not there totally.

We do have several options to transfer files though! Now, if you read the title you see that I am talking about not relying on “the cloud”, internet, or wires! Sometimes those things are not available – especially in a public school setting or as a musician that uses his iPad to read all my sheet music from. The other issue that arrises is the fact that some of our iPads don’t have enough storage space and when we start doing really cool things like recording music on our iPad space becomes an issue! Or what about traveling with our kids who want to watch movies in the back seat? (or is that us parents that want them to watch the movies?)

I grabbed a SanDisk wireless thumb drive this weekend to try out – they are usually about $35 for a 32 gb version – Best Buy currently has the 64 gb version for about that same price too. I got lucky and got the 32 gb version for $12 because they had it labeled wrong – I should have grabbed all three of them! I’ve had a RavPower FileHub Plus for a while now that I’ve used for the same wireless ability to transfer files. The RavPower has the additional capability of being an external battery pack and a router as well. It’s bigger though.

Here’s how it works… wait, I made a movie to show you! Hope you enjoy it! More later….

Summer Music App Sales!

Beat the heat people – stay inside and make music with some amazing new apps! These apps offer such an opportunity for our performing arts groups at school! Not to mention professional (or amateur) performers that use these apps on stage all the time!

I remember the days that I would dream and dream about being able to afford a new synth! Now we have so many outstanding music apps on our iPads that are very cheap compared to a hardware version!

Like for instance the KORG apps that are all on a HUGE sale – ALONG WITH THE IAP purchases being 33% to 50% off currently! Here is the list…

Korg Gadget Small IconKORG Gadget – $19.99 (50% off!) – An all in one environment to create music!

Additional IAP’s that offer further instruments (or I guess we should call them “Gadgets”)

  • Abu Dhabi gadget – $4.99 (50% off)
  • Bilbao gadget – $4.99 (50% off)
  • Gladstone gadget – $9.99 (33% off) Brand New gadget with genuine acoustic drum sounds that sound amazing!
  • Kamata gadget – $9.99 (33% off)
  • Madrid gadget –  $9.99 (33% off) Brand new gadget offering real and dynamic Bass sounds.

Listen to the sounds in this demo of Korg Gadget and the Gladstone gadget


Korg Module SmallKORG Module – $19.99 (50% off!) – An amazing collection of outstanding piano/organ/keyboard sounds

Additional IAP’s for Module

  • 80’s Electric Piano – $9.99 (50% off)
  • Ivory Mobile Grand – $14.99 (50% off) – If only my Mom could hear THESE piano sounds!
  • Mellow Tape Keyboard – FREE
  • PREMIER Vintage Organ – $9.99 (50% off)
  • TRITON Best Selection – $9.99 (50% off)
  • Wurley Electric Piano – $4.99 (50% off)

Korg iM1 LargeKORG iM1 – $14.99 (50% off!) – An amazing collection of outstanding keyboard sounds from the well known Korg M1 keyboard of the 80’s/90’s

Additional IAP’s for Module

  • M1 cards pack – $2.99 (40% off) – oh wow! I love these sounds! I had a Korg M1 to play with for about 3 months before it got stolen while I was in the Dominican Republic. So much for leaving it in capable hands! I used this card pack as well as the sounds in the basic app in every performance my electronic group did this last school year. Lovely, just lovely!
  • T1 cards pack – $2.99 (40% off)

iDS-10KORG iDS-10 – $9.99 (50% off)

  • PLUS Mode – $4.99 (50% off)


Then you have all of these KORG apps that are also on sale…


SilQ ipad_2.pngThen there is the amazing SilQ EQSilQ Equalizer for $3.99 (usually $7.99 and will go back up on the 24th of July) from TonApp AS for iPad – gives you a sophisticated, high quality 32 band stereo EQ  that works on your live inputs as well as InterApp Audio and AudioBus.


VoxSyn Playing Screen.pngThe app I’m having the most fun with right now though is VoxSynVirSyn’s VoxSyn $6.99 (still the introductory price as this is a brand new app) – This app turns your voice into some of the most fun and outstanding timbre’s ever! I don’t sing solo but with this I can sure have a ton of fun! VoxSyn also fits into my world of alternative interfaces for playing live.

Here is a YouTube Demo of VoxSyn so you can get a little taste of the grand fun you too can have!