Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Composing in Band Using Garageband

Today in band we did an assignment that all students enjoy.  I have a 14 member high school band.  Most of these kids play at Level 1-2.

We have spent the last few weeks starting our major scale cycle.  Each kid should be able to cycle do-sol in G, C, F, Bb major at this point.  We spend about 30-40 minutes of an 87 minute period on ear training and scales.  Their homework was to cycle Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star through those four keys.

After listening to the homework I model opening Garageband and recording a drum track, bass track, and keyboard track.  I use Smart instrument settings and autoplay.  I stress we will use Bb chords.  Garageband defaults to an 8 measure composition.  I spend maybe five minutes on this demonstration.

I ask them to compose a four track composition with an melody on top of them playing in Concert Bb.  I give them 30 minutes.

Most spend too much time on the drum track.  Almost all got four tracks in the correct key and something recorded.  I then played each track for the class to evaluate.

When done they realize that:

  1. It really doesn't matter what the drum track is.
  2. It really matters if you play with bad tone or rhythm.
  3. It really matters if you play a wrong note.
  4. Students who created a "melody" had a hit on their hands.
This lesson really works.

Friday, September 20, 2013


After much pushing and prodding I think we will have 13 auditions for CMEA.  I hope to get a few more forms in on Monday.

Still waiting for ACDA music.  Eight students will attend.

I have ordered Seussical Jr. to perform with the freshman choir.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


I'm enjoying Edmodo more and more.  It seems like a good way to get assignments out, and to get writing assignments back.

What I haven't quite figure out:

  • Submission of assignment like recordings, videos, papers, etc...
  • Search and archiving.  When I do the class next year how easy will it be to pull information?
  • I have to leverage SMS/email alerts for the students.
  • Convincing parents to enroll.
I had a discussion with my Smartmusic rep since I have pretty publicly stated that "Smartmusic is on the iPad" is a bunch of hooey.  He seemed a bit tired since he convinced A LOT of schools to get smartmusic for the new data push and A LOT of these school are 1-1 iPad now.  I got the impression they are "working on it" and its not nearly fast enough.

A main point I told him was that:
  • I paid for "Smartmusic on the iPad".  They have my money.  Get it shipped.  Full version.
  • If you can't then at least have the software display a warning when assignments do not appear "Student: your teacher HAS assigned this exercise, but it is not available on the iPad".  Currently it just does not show up.  The deployment of this in the classroom becomes enormously complicated.
I spent an hour today typing into a stupid pdf form that I then discovered would not save my typing.... I swore out loud, I admit.  

Friday, September 6, 2013

Smartmusic is making me angry

I'm really excited for the Smartmusic iPad app.  It allows me lots of flexibility to allow students to sign out iPads and take them home.  I have ordered three practice room subscriptions the last three years.  I have gone to many Smartmusic events over the last nine months about the iPad app and its launch this fall.

The app was released this past week.  Now I have four subscriptions (including mine) but only two laptops I can pin.


None of the choir literature and sight-reading works on the iPad.  Seriously?  I am so tired of this.  I have paid for a subscription I can't use.  Did I miss them announcing the app would be released....but not for choir?

This is by far the most expensive iPad app and we pay for it EVERY YEAR.

I know they are nice people.  I don't care.  I have assessments to do! Now!!