Celebrate the Arts in you!

Year 5 Celebration

Year 5 Music Presentation

Students of Year 5 at GSIS in Hong Kong will be presenting their GarageBand projects on Tuesday, April 8th for their parents and other special guests.  Their projects reflect many of the capabilities of GarageBand for the iOS, and celebrates the talented students and their use of the Arts and tablet technology.

I will be posting sample student work soon.

Galactic Giggles

Galactic Giggles - Musical Joke

This is my offering for the Garritan Weekend Challenge – April Fools edition called, Galactic Giggles. All I will mention about this playful tune involves piano, marimba, glockenspiel, piccolo, harp, and one other unique instrument to add to the giggle factor of this piece. Most of the sounds are driven by the Garritan Virtual Instrument libraries.
Keep in mind the title and the surprise instrument/melody woven into this prankster-filled piece.

The use of this surprise melody is used in reverence and respect for the original composer.

As always, I love to read your comments.

Marshall Shaw

GAFE Badges Awarded

I’m pleased to be finished the main lesson portion of the

Google Apps for Educators Course

with the following Badges:

Google Apps For Teachers Final Achievements - M ShawThis course if offered by Jeff Utecht is an educational technology consultant, educator and author.

With the completion of this course, I can apply to become a Google Certified Trainer.

I recommend this course, through Jeff Utecht if you want to remain current with the explosion of uses and potential of Google in any Internet, Cloud technology, or mobile partnership/venture you are considering.

Cyparissae – New Music

Cyparissae and the Aurora Borealis

Cyparissae Graphic Icon SC

Between Earth and outer space lies a region known as the auroral zone barely visible to the human eye. Poised for the exact moment when the energy-charged particles carried on solar wind transpierce the magnetosphere in the high Arctic can Cyparissae hope to begin her quest. Armed with auroral coloured shards of trapped, accelerated particles, she may only enter the blue and purple bottoms of the curtains where the highest levels of solar energy exist, but also, the greatest danger.

Apple TV and iOS Devices

Here is a poster to remind us how to connect our iOS devices to the Apple TV.  This is becoming more common in our schools which makes it easier to demonstrate our students’ explorations and inquiries from their iPad/iPhone to the TV or LED projector for all to see and learn from.

Apple TV and the iPad Instructions


[Re-post from Garritan]

March is Music in our Schools Month, and we’re delighted to welcome educator Marshall Shaw to the Garritan blog. Today Marshall tells us how he uses Garritan libraries in partnership with programs like GarageBand, Logic, and Finale, to enhance his lesson plans for music students.

I want my students to engage with music in a way that is relevant, powerful and meaningful. Apps and computer technology allow students to interact with the various elements of music in such a rewarding and profound way. With the help of technology like Garritan in the classroom, abstract concepts now become visible and tangible.

Creating music has been one of the strongest motivators for student involvement and achievement, especially when driven with technology. Authentic instrument samples and mobile recording ability allow students to achieve impressive results with a basic level of experience with music notation and digital audio workstation software. Finale and Logic Pro can both use Garritan libraries to produce music in any style that is artistically rich and satisfying.

As an educator, I see the value of using Garritan libraries to enhance my teaching. I also see the impact these sounds have on my students’ musical endeavors.

Here are 10 ways I use Garritan libraries in my music programs:

  1. Students use a variety of Garritan instruments to set up a round in 2, 3 or 4 parts.
  2. Students produce duets or trios for contrasting instruments, and/or clefs, and use Garritan instruments to listen to their compositions.
  3. I use Garritan to introduce students to the families of the orchestra by composing similar pieces as above. For example, a string duet, violin and cello, or trumpet, horn and tuba trio – Garritan gives the user the freedom to experiment with combinations of instruments.
  4. I use Garritan to demonstrate the sound of a variety of instrument articulations and techniques like trills, tremolos, pizzicato, and string harmonics. From this, students and I modify simple melodies with articulations and listen to the contrasting final products. For example, we’ll apply legato first, then staccato, and discuss how the same melody has changed in character.
  5. I teach my students simple composition techniques to create soundscapes for effect. For example, we blend instruments, use instrument overlays, clusters, rips, glissandi, and attacks. We use Garritan samples to listen to the soundscape we’ve created compositionally. We also use a variety of Instant Orchestra combinations and blending textures to explore orchestration and tone color, especially when writing with video in Finale.
  6. I use Garritan World Instruments to explore the sounds of world instruments with my students. For example, we practice writing in a variety of scales and modes typical of regions of the world, like pentatonic, music using the Chinese Bawu and percussion.
  7. My students practice writing in the theme and variation form. They represent each variation with a different instrument.
  8. Garritan assists my students in learning about instrument range, how the timbre changes in the extreme registers of each instrument, and how composers use these extreme registers for evocative effects.
  9. I’ve found that using free midi files of popular pieces and classical repertoire to study orchestration, harmony, and historical performance practices, can be very motivating for my students. Using an existing midi file as a base saves time in note entry so we can move onto blending instruments and listening to our final results faster. Midi files can be altered with any sound library patch for re-orchestrating and arranging lessons. Students can even play the solo part of a concerto or solo piece midi file, or listen to authentic performances from their computer. They can adjust tempo for practicing, modify the instrument, or change it.
  10. My students love to use sound libraries like Garritan to create their own ringtones for their mobile phone. 

Thanks to all the Garritan Blog subscribers for letting me share the joy Garritan Libraries have brought to my musical and educational life. I’d love to share more ideas and lesson plans for using technology in the classroom. Leave me a comment below. 

Marshall currently resides in Hong Kong. He has 27 years of classroom teaching experience, and is the founder and owner of Expressivo, a consulting firm for technology, education, and music.

Visit Marshall Shaw’s Blog and stay up to date with his musical endeavors.

Listen to original music by Marshall Shaw here, and visit his SoundCloud page to hear more!

War Horse is an equestrian feat and a musical treat of a movie, one of the many collaborations of director, Steven Spielberg and composer, John Williams.


In this post, I am exploring musical theme development of the friendship between a horse named Joey and a young man called Albert, who tames and trains him.  John Williams has written a stirring and evocative theme to describe the closeness of their friendship, typically played in the expressive register of the French Horn in Bb major (concert pitch, Eb), or low flute.  He accompanies his theme with rich string writing which helps portray the loving bond between Joey and Albert.

War Horse Theme 1You can hear examples of this emotional melody at the following sections from the War Horse CD or playlist at the following timelines, or approximately at these YouTube clips:

 Bringing Joey home and bonding – 03:16

The Reunion – 00:37

Remembering Emily and Finale – 00:08 and 03:48

The 3/4 meter rounds the theme creating a tighter phrasing, especially at this slower tempo.

John Williams moves this same theme into a 4/4 time signature to broaden and strengthen its character for sections of the movie that require emphatic and momentous motion.

War Horse Theme 2

Plowing – 03:33

The Homecoming – 05.26

There are slight melodic and rhythmic variations in bars 6 and 8 of each version.

This score was written in 2010 – 2011 around the time of John Williams’ 80th birthday.  His recent scores include:

  • The Adventures of TinTin – 2011
  • Lincoln – 2012
  • The Book Thief – 2013
  • Star Wars Episode VII – coming 2015!

John Williams, the most Oscar Nominated Person Alive


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