Friday, December 30, 2011

What Apps Should I Get for my iPad?

Many of my colleagues are writing app lists  and I had been planning on tackling a new list.  I get an email just about every day---"I just got the iPad, what should I download".  A list always leaves out stuff, and I am definitely not using the more technical music apps.

So, here it is:

  • Moments Ago.  Every teacher should download this app right now.  Got more parental feedback from this app than any other thing I've done in twenty years of teaching.
  • Twitter
  • Google.  Search, google googles, voice search, all the apps.  And it works.  I used this on Tuesday to enter live results at a track meet I was clerking.  
  • Netflix and PBS access to quality video content has changed how I operate in the classroom.  Having the ability to have a class of fifteen watch their own video is awesome.  Netflix has a TON of great music.  
  • Time Machine.  Super Awesome.
  • Flipboard Where I do most of my reading.
  • Planbook  Works pretty well (not completely sold...).  I hadn't used a planbook for years, but my stroke has forced me to write everything down.  Syncs between laptop and iPad.
  • Morris Lessmore Completely and utterly amazing.  Will change your view of eBooks.  
  • ShowMe Easy to use video/audio recorder.
  • Skitch  So fluid.  Easy to use photo editor.
  • SportsCam  great for coaches.  Also using in voice class.
  • Garageband.  Used daily.
  • MadPad.  Really cool video composition tool. 
  • Six Strings.  Great guitar/strings app.
  • Verbally.  Amazing special ed app. 
  • Book Creator  My three year old can make eBooks with this app.
  • Evernote.
I didn't add everything.  This is a basic list.  Have fun.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

iPads in Music Class

We have been using iPads in the Seymour High School music department since September 2010.  iPads are completely integrated into our curriculum.  15 iPads were purchased along with a macBook, iPad cart, sound system, and TV display.

In 2002 I piloted a 1-1 program at Derby High School that unleashed 120 Palm computers.  A review of that program found that using handheld devices increased student test scores, attendance in school, and retention in the music program.  It was a qualified success.

The concepts of mobility and accessibility are often foreign to schools.  Here we believe that students and teachers should have access to information when and where they need it.  In rehearsal, the auditorium, on the bus, wherever.  This accessibility has dramatically changed how we operate in class.  

Students create using Garageband, Google Docs, Skitch, ShowMe, and Book Creator.  Students consume using Safari, youTube, New York Times, Netflix, and PBS.  Students communicate using Evernote, Twitter, and Instagram.  None of this would be happening without the iPads.

In May of 2012 we will be premiering iAlchemy by Douglas O'Grady.  This piece is being written right now for our students at SHS.  We will be performing as full members of the Waterbury Symphony.  There will be a brass section, woodwind section, percussion section, iPad section and iPad soloist.  We are excited to stretch the boundaries of orchestral music.  This project offers mentoring opportunities for our students as they will be working closely with the musicians at the Waterbury Symphony and Western CT State University.

We feel there is no going back.  

Friday, December 16, 2011

Concert Reflections

After each concert I have all my students fill out a reflection form to show evidence of learning the musical standard "Evaluating Musical Performances".  Its a pretty basic form and I teach that writing about music is important and it has its own language.  You need to write and talk like a musician.

Some comments for "What have you learned":

I learned there's nothing to be nervous about because everyone who goes there is to support you and the students in band/music theory/choir are about music. No reason to feel weird.

Preparing for the concert taught me that effort is a large part of success. When we first began practicing these songs, many of the students did not put the effort into learning the music so we did not sound our best. However, once everyone decided to work hard as a group we successfully made music.

I learned that we all have to work together as a team in order to be successful in a choir 

I learned that there's a big difference between singing in practice, and singing in a concert.

My favorite comment from one of my favorite freshman boys.  Question: "What special qualities do YOU bring to the SHS music department"

I brought happiness and Cheer because it was a joyful concert. I'm valuable because I'm am a very open singer and connect to the audience.

Skype with My Mom

145 We had our concert last night.  It was an interesting night.  We had an ambulance call in the middle of the show.  Everyone is fine.

I always like to do "B" concerts the next day.  The music always seems to be better.  I always try to find someone to perform for.  Since my mom can't get to all the performances, I thought it would be cool to have her be the audience via Skype.  We set a call for 8:00am this morning.

We blocked it out at around 7:40 and then relaxed for a bit.  At around 7:55am we got the call.  Places!

Connection issues....  I can imagine my mom scrambling to try to fix it.  About twenty minutes of back and forth.

Finally we hear "hello"?  Places!  Everyone scrambles!

And we sang great!  Everyone was so focussed and wanted to so good for her.  We should do this every day.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Integrating Technology into a School Concert

Here is how technology will be integrated into the Seymour High School concert on December 15.

1. I put all songs we are performing on our website.  I used noteflight to put some parts in for practice.
2. We use smartmusic as a play-along in band rehearsal (I have an 8 member band) which helps A LOT.  We also use it as an assessment tool.
3. We record music using soundcloud and post it on iTunes.
4. We have been doing long-distance teaching with Dean Shareski, the educational speaker, who will record a greeting for the audience that we will play during the concert.
5. Students will perform I'm Yours using the iPad app Six Strings.
6. Students will compose and perform compositions using Garageband, MadPad, and VoiceJam.
7. We will evaluate our performance using Google Docs.

I think in each concert we hit all 9 national standards.  Every band member will sing in our finale.  We sing in three languages.  We sing the oldest thing I know.

I also think we hit most of the 21st Century Skills.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

MadPad iPad App

We have been using MadPad which is one of the apps from the people at Smule.  It comes with some saved sets, but the cool thing is that with an iPad2 you can record video into each of 12 boxes.  Then you use your fingers to play the madpad like a drum or piano.  When you press the box of the video that sound will play.  Check out this video.

This opens up lots of possibilities for composition.  I have several students working on madPad for our concert next week.  I like how many of the iPad apps have exporting functions that make it easy to use.  I would love if there was a notation function (as odd as that sounds...). This is me. First try.

Bidi Bom

Bidi Bom by Brandt Schneider A week out from concert. I'm a little worried.... Always happens. Sometimes it pulls together, sometimes it doesn't.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


I had an interesting Skype talk with the boys at Griffin today about how we are using the iPads in the classroom.  They have some interesting products.

Its always nice to talk to people about things.  Time like this allows you to reflect and review how you operate.  Skype is pretty cool too.