1 Year Ago

One year ago, I made a New Year resolution to blog once a week for the new year. I failed at that resolution, and I am going to plan to fail again. But, hopefully not as badly this year. I want to get better at blogging, and I am going to make it my resolution for this year, just like I did last year.

So, stay tuned for more interesting posts throughout the year.

 

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So far this year has been going a lot smoother than the last. I have had a long relaxing summer to think about new ways to make my classroom better.

To start, I have spaced out my programs to where I will have 2 in the first semester and 2 in the second. My first will be a 3/4th Grade Thanksgiving music program where words and music will be written by me, exclusively on my iPad so far using Pages, Symphony Pro, and GarageBand. It might seem like it's a little much, but I wanted to do a Thanksgiving program that actually talked about the history of the season, instead of just quirky songs. Stay tuned for that.

My second program will be a Christmas themed musical for my 1/2nd. I think I'm going to go ahead and do John Jacobsons “It's a Christmas Moosical. Since we have a sing-a-long the day or two before Christmas break, I will try to have a each class prepare a song for it, using different instruments or just voices. I'll probably throw in a teaser from the program for my 1/2nd graders, too. For my school wide Christmas program at my 2nd school I haven't been able to choose one, but will have it narrowed down within two weeks.

I'll talk about my Spring semester later.

My school district is working on a DOD grant that will give each 3rd through 5th grader a tablet. Now, the tablet type has been kept classified, and will be until we know for sure that we get the grant. This undoubtedly is also to not draw in much critism about which type of tablet they choose to buy. My guess though is that they will not be an iPad of any kind due to our district being firmly anti-Apple. Regardless, it will be a tablet that the students can use in their everyday life (during the school year).

In the event that we do get the grant, I have created an interactive iPhone, that even changes background screens. Each app is a small folder that will contain a QR code that will give different clues about composers.

I'm really excited to see how this week goes compared to last year. I have a lot of new ideas, and I hope that those transfer well to the children. If not, I'll just have to think of new and better ideas. I know it has been a while since my last post, I'll try to keep up!

Things to look forward to this year from me:

– Original Thanksgiving music

– Reviews on Revues

– Self-published recorder iBook

– Updates on how classes are doing

Please feel free to leave comments below. Any suggestions of free or cheap script/musical writing apps?

 

Plans for the New School Year

Valentine’s Program Continued

My program, was a success! To my surprise, I had many parents that work in the district tell me, it was one of the best programs they have seen in a long time. Personally, being perfectionist, I didn't think it was amazing, but that's because there is so much more I wanted to do with it without the time.

To view the program, you can click here.

I did a lot more editing with these videos than I did with my Veteran's Day Program. I added an introduction, title, and credits to the beginning and ending. When each piece in the program played I put up titles of the piece, along with words and music. I got really excited when I found this feature on iMovie because that way I could credit my first grade students with the piece that they wrote, and credit myself for the arrangements I did.

I think that I will try to continue incorporating video shorts into my programs in the future because I believe that it is a fun way to get the students more engaged with the program. It also gives the students a nice break inbetween songs. We'll see how I can continue to progress this in the future.

 

In preparation for the semester

So, I didn't post last Sunday…let's look over that small detail, shall we?

 

Last semester my website was essentially used for my 3-5 graders blogs. This semester I decided to make it a resource for my recorder and guitar units, as well as a better resource for my choir and programs. When it was just for my class blogs, I had my menu bar only have links to each specific class. Instead, this semester, I am starting to open up my website and making those parts of the website I wanted used more often have their own spot on the menu bar.

 

My choir page is a password protected page, so that I can put recordings of the songs up there and not run into copyright problems. Next, with my recorders page, I have listed a few great iOS apps. I also gave links to fun recorders websites, including Music K-8's Recorder Karate page, which is what I based my unit off of. My guitars page is similar to my recorders page, and I will be adding different songs that my students will be able to play once we get far enough along. My Valentine's Day Program page is housing the lyrics, script, and music without words so that my students can practice. It will later be placed under videos, and will be where my parents can find the video from both performances.

If there are any idea's that you liked, or things that you do that think could improve my student's online class experience, let me know!

Getting ready for Valentines Day

Well, a few days before Valentine's day, I am putting on a Valentine's day program with my 1st and 2nd grade classes. I have a few ideas that I am going to use with this program.

Like with my other programs, I will be using my iPad as a teleprompter, and controlling my computer's iTunes with my iPhone. Unlike the others though, I will be adding a digital short for my first grade classes (kind of like on SNL but appropriate for an elementary school), and some of the songs I arranged on my iPad using GarageBand. I am doing the digital short because the songs that my first grade classes are singing, are very short and I want to give those students as much time as my second grade gets in the program.

I will be posting a sneak peak video advertisement for it in the next week that I will make using the new app Vine, from Twitter.

 

ThinkMusic iPad App – The Ultimate Music Notation App

 

ThinkMusic

I cannot describe how excited I am for this app to come to the market. I backed this app with as much money as I could. This is something that I had envisioned with a friend, and we started working on an app together, but we never had the resources to completely invest ourselves into the project.

I believed this when I was in the process of designing my app, and especially now that someone else is developing this…this will be the best music notation app in the App Store. The current music notation apps out there are decent, but I have yet to find one that is super user friendly. This one will be perfect for wanting to hear those random sounds that come into your head come to fruition.

If you have never heard of Kick Starter, or are interested in this app, I encourage you to check these out! This is a great way to find out about new and upcoming technologies, and help fund those, making yourself a part of the process.

Please help back this app because if it doesn’t reach the goal, the project doesn’t get started. Time is running out, and I want this app on my iPad!

 

GarageBand


Arranging a song for my program:

I know that GarageBand has been a staple app for Apple, and there are lots of people to that use it regularly, but I am starting to use it more commonly, and I am really excited about it.

So, I have used GarageBand on my iPad to record random sounds, classroom podcasts, etc., but in preparing for my Valentine’s day program, I have started to use it more intuitively. To do this I used my GarageBand for iOS, iRig midi converter, Blue Snowball mic, usb camera converter, headphones from the dollar store, and my classroom piano.

I had purchased the iRig midi converter a while ago when I found it on sale at Target, but never really used it until this past week. I started by figuring out the chord progression of the piece and used it for the piano and guitar part. After, I got the base line down, and then followed by the drums. I waited until I got all of that laid down before I added the solo guitar, and voice tracks. I was so amazed at how easy it was for me to input the sounds using the midi converter. Not only is the song in a key suitable for my students, but they also love the fact that they have their own version of the song.

Recording podcasts:

Podcasts. Podcasts are a great tool for learning new things, catching up on the news, or finding out information about your favorite sports teams. I had thought of setting up account on for the iTunes Store and upload it from my iPad, but as it turns out…you can’t do that. After finding this out, I looked for other alternatives. After looking at the sharing options on GarageBand, I noticed that you could share the created sounds with Facebook, YouTube, and SoundCloud. I did not want to share my projects with Facebook because I don’t want to link my Facebook very closely with work related materials, and YouTube just didn’t feel right. SoundCloud, though, was something that I heard a little bit about in college, but never really thought about its potential.

Now, you can upload sounds stright from the SoundCloud app, but you can not do as much editing to the sounds, like you can with GarageBand. I also like using GarageBand over the SoundCloud app because you do not have to upload it right away.

In my class I started, what I call, “Friday Concert Series.” This is where I let my students who have prepared a piece that they have been practicing for quite a while, perform for the class. Starting a podcast has kind of been a work in progress. I have been trying to find that perfect form that I can copy evertime, and I feel that I’m getting closer.

In the future:

I would like to start using my iPad to record my choir and pieces they are singing and wanting to perform. The only reason that I haven’t done that yet, is because I haven’t been able to gain access to multi-channel technology at my school. It is my goal to get at least one 2-input digital converter box for the classroom because even if I end up leaving after a few years, the next teacher can use the technology with their computer if they do not have an iPad.

Using the iRig midi converter has made me a lot more interested in the products from iRig, and will likely be adding them to my personal collection of iPad accessaries. The only problem I forsee are that if I upgrade my devices in the next few years, I will need to update my accessaries as well. This seems to be a great product line, and a smart way to record my sounds.

In what ways have you utilized GarageBand for iOS? Are there any suggestions or advice you would give?

Going backwards

Photo, courtesy of my wife!

 
Well, I'm going to start by going backwards. For my Christmas program, I did Teresa Jenkins “An All-American Christmas.” You can view it here here

For this and my last program, I had planned on utilizing my iPad to the best of its ability. While rehearsing for my program, I had created different playlists for the program. I made a playlist for the early rehearsals where the words were still sang in the songs, as well as a playlist for the later rehearsals where the songs did not have lyrics.

While in the classroom, I would play the songs through my AppleTV using AirPlay. I did this so that I could walk around my room and not have to worry about staying next to the audio player. Not only could I play the music through my SmartBoard's speakers, I could also put the lyrics up on my projector via mirroring my iPad.

The dress rehearsals and the night of the program is where people started to think that what I was doing was pretty neat. I first downloaded an app called Elite Prompter Adobe Story Edition. It was the free version of this company's teleprompting programs. It took a little while to figure out, but after I realized that I had to use my computer to go to Adobe.com to access Adobe Story, and then set up an account, and uploaded my script, (this is when I realized why it is the free version) that I learned how powerful this app it. Because I have an Apple Bluetooth keyboard, I was able to control the speed of this teleprompter. I decided to use this app because I knew that I would not have 100% attendance for my program and some students would have to make up for the other student's line. This helped my program run as smoothly as possible as a first year teachers program could run.

The other thing that I did for my program, was I hooked up my MacBook Pro up to my portable PA system. Now, I know this isn't using my iPad, but I only have so much to work with. I did however utilize my iTunes by using the Remote app on my iPhone 4S. Using this, I was able to start and stop my music, even with there being 20ft and no wires between me and the PA hub. This works well because it uses the area network, which is consistant throughout my entire district, instead of Bluetooth which has a limited range.

 

If there are any further questions about what I did, or why I did certain things, please comment. Also, I am interested in knowing how others have incorporated technology into their school programs.

 

Getting Started

Well, as the new year is starting, I have decided that I will start a blog that will help me showcase what I have been doing over the past semester in my classroom, as well as new ideas that would be great to implement. I also have an online portfolio on Weebly, which is great website that allows for easy website creation. Here is my portfolio.

This blog will cover a variety of different topics along the line music education, as well as technology in the classroom. To start things out right, I have downloaded a blogging app called Blogsy.

The technology that I use in my classroom is closely tied to Apple products. I use an iPad 2, 15.4″ MacBook Pro, iPhone 4S, iPhone 3GS, and an AppleTV.

I decided to get my blog started on WordPress instead of Weebly because of it's community of bloggers is substantially larger than that of Weebly's.

Please stay tuned and subscribe to see some of the things that I have done in my classroom!