Celebrate the Arts in you!



 Just in case you didn’t know…

Apple will be hosting it’s latest media event on September 9, 2014 to finally present the facts about the new smartphone, the iPhone, and information about its wearable device, the iWatch.  There have also been rumors about a larger iPad in the works.  Of course, iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite.

Until 9.9.2014, patience, as all you are going to get from Apple is,

Wish we could say more.


Summer Inspiration Photos

After taking hundreds of photos while vacationing in Canada this past summer, I’ve narrowed them down to my 10 bests.  I hope to use these photos as impetus for future music compositions and one or two for my father (George Shaw) to use as subjects for his acrylic paintings.  It would please me if you derive some appreciation from viewing them.  Please share your thoughts.




















What does GarageBand and oodles of free apps for your mobile device have in common?

These beyond incredible apps visualize the understanding and performance of music, making you sound GREAT with a few finger gestures.  And, on the go!  Tap into the Arts in you with the aid of mobile technology.

Check out Yaoband in Apple’s teaser film to give you an insight of how these talented musicians gather unique and innovative sounds for their music.

Some of these methods, as well as other useful and powerful tools, tips and techniques will be presented at my upcoming Music Education Workshops November 10 & 11 in Hong Kong with 21 Century Learning International*. 

Please plan to attend.  There will be previews of music compositions especially composed with these various apps for your inspiration and to share with your students.

 MarshallShawFlyer-copy.pdf (page 1 of 2) at 6.54.24 pmMarshallShawFlyer-copy.pdf (page 2 of 2) at 6.54.39 pm

*They provide consultation and speaking services to help drive change and innovation in your organization


iRec by Emu4iOS

PI5RZP9q_400x400This is a free iDevice screen recording app.

iRec is a revolutionary application that allows any user to simply record an iOS device’s screen.  With auto-compression, settings, and full HD quality video there is no end what you could accomplish (or record, for that matter)!

With this app, you can:

  • easily screen record what you are doing on your device
  • modify settings in the main device settings section for video orientation, FPS (24, 30, 60), Bitrate (2500, 3000, 6000), and record audio
  • export video via AirDrop and to your camera roll

To download this app, you need to download the company’s downloader app which allows access to their other apps :



Follow this link to view the company’s main site.

I’ve been using Reflector for the past year at a cost of $12.99 per license (on sale now for $10.39 – 20% discount) which offers a few advantages such as a choice of frame skin, but if you are looking for something FREE, and works directly on your iDevice, give it a try.

Follow the creators of iRec on Twitter: @Emu4iOS

Action Research Complete

Over the past 7 months, I have been involved with an Action Research project for part of my requirements for a Master’s Programme.

Action Research Posting June 2014 at 12.55.40 pm

Here is the abstract if you are interested.  Please contact me if you would like to know about my findings.


Students have challenges applying basic music theory to build the fundamental musical literacy skills to communicate their creations in traditional notation form. This paper describes my investigation of tablet technology, specifically Apple’s iPad (for the specific purpose of using GarageBand), to observe student engagement with numerous apps that aid in writing music, rhythmic notation, and music appreciation in a variety of forms.

Forty-five Year 5 students attending the German Swiss International School in Hong Kong participated in an action research study exploring the question, “What is the effect of using mobile technology in the teaching of music composition and theory?” A two-group comparison design measured student retention of music concepts eight weeks after a unit was taught. The experimental group consisted of a Year 5 class who were taught using specific mobile technology music apps. The comparison group consisted of a Year 5 class taught the same topics using traditional lecture-style approach, less specific music apps, and worksheets. The two groups were tested on basic music notation and rhythmic identification.  A Likert Scale survey was also administered to measure their attitudes about music theory before and after the unit of study eight weeks later. Paired t-test data analysis indicated that the scores of the Treatment Group went up slightly on average 8 weeks after the unit was taught, while the average scores of the Control Group showed significant improvement.


I am so pleased with James Newton Howard’s recent score for Disney’s Maleficent.  It is one of the best orchestral scores I’ve heard in the past year, rich with colourful orchestration and contrasting themes.

A few weeks ago, I downloaded the free Maleficent game app for iPad and one of the main themes ‘caught my ear’.  After seeing the movie last night, I couldn’t get this theme out of my head!

Maleficent Free Fall on the App Store on iTunes at 10.24.27 pmComposer James Newton Howard’s theme for Maleficent is expressive and powerfully built over a strong chord progression, romantic and programmatic, in nature.  If it ‘caught your ear’, then he skillfully created his score to represent the strength of this character well.  My only wish is that it isn’t played with greater frequency.  If you listen carefully throughout the movie, you will hear carefully woven motifs of her theme.

I’ve arranged the theme below in simple piano version, with chord symbols.  If you are classically trained, you may have heard this progression before in some romantic composers works.  If you have the soundtrack, it is from track 3, Maleficent Flies, around 1.35 – 2.00.  The theme comes in later, accented by French Horns/brass (in a different key) which transforms it to epic proportions.

Maleficent.mus at 10.45.08 pm


Launchpad Revolution


If you haven’t heard of Launchpad, you are about to be introduced (and, hopefully impressed) with its ability to create and launch rhythms, melodies, loops, samples or entire songs and mix them together.

At first glance, it doesn’t look like anything special, especially with what we’re seeing tablets capable of doing, but after watching this video, you might think differently.  Meet Nev…


There is an iPad app version which is quite impressive, especially for ‘on the fly’ demos or performances.  It integrates seamlessly with Launchpad mini and Launchpad S… read the specific requirements on their website.

Novation Launchpad on the App Store on iTunes at 6.04.42 pm

Launchpad_App-Pic3This technology truly engages its user from the start without the need for typical music theory.  In watching one of my students play the iPad version, it reveals the coordination (and learning) of another set of skills that could make some keyboard purists uncomfortable.  For me, it inspired, like a gifted performer in any area of expertise.  I see auditory skills of sound, texture and rhythm creation, coordination of the playing and synchronizing of the various pads/keys, and the aesthetics of the visuals which effectively make a performance remarkable.

Launchpad 'Sup small

There is a video on the Launchpad site… Novation, to see, first hand, what the creators want you to see.  YouTube will have others.

This is another technology that is giving a voice/stage to musicians and sound creators around the globe.  Similar to my love of sound mining on GarageBand for iOS, Launchpad allows for customization of each pad with the user’s own sounds which, if strived for,  allows the performer a unique sound.

Create, innovate, and entertain = followers of your sound, and admiration of how you put it together.

Music educators will need to evaluate their various curricula to see how this tool can be utilized to help deliver course content – the elements or concepts of music.  Like other forms of mobile technology, it can be a valuable partner in the teaching and accessibility to the Arts, producing impressive,  instant results and feedback.  Imagine how this technology will ignite hesitant students of music.  I can hardly wait to see!



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