Celebrate the Arts in you!

In the Director’s Chair

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Keep up-to-date with the apps that can help you achieve your artistic goals!  Many of these products have an accompanying iPhone or iPad versions that are useful for on-the-go use, and controlling your main Mac computer from the other device.

Go to the App Store from your Mac to something like this:

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As mobile devices advance in capabilities, their technology affects the functionality of apps allowing for new features you may find useful.  For musicians, 3D touch has changed the expressiveness in how we use a keyboard.  Similar to sliding/gestures while playing a stringed instrument, cello, for example, the ability to meld your finger movement while moving between notes/keys is now at your finger tips.  New music apps are utilising this to add greater sensitivity and depth of sound, live in your recordings or performances.

From Apple,

When you press the display, capacitive sensors instantly measure microscopic changes in the distance between the cover glass and the backlight. iOS uses these measurements to provide fast, accurate, and continuous response to finger pressure, which could only happen with deep integration between software and hardware.

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A few years ago, a company called Roli created a dynamic keyboard that caught the eye of film composer Hans Zimmer.  That’s how I learned about it.  Since then, it has continued to evolve the keyboard’s expressive quality providing a more individual and personal sound and playing experience.

Mobility minded, Roli has produced an stunning app, NOISE  that simulates all of this on your 3D touch capable iPhone.

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NOISE is an instrument that unlocks the extraordinary expressive potential of your iOS device as a touch-responsive surface for making music.
Create multidimensional sounds on-screen. NOISE takes advantage of the 3D Touch technology of the iPhone 6s, letting you shape sound through pressure and movement.
Or use NOISE as the ultimate portable sound engine for your favorite MIDI controller.

iTunes App description from Roli

If you have ever found yourself trying to add vibrato to your playing of a piano/keyboard (pushing harder on a key after the initial activation, or gyrating your finger hoping your sound is affected), you need to explore Roli products and its app, Noise.  Your expressive, performer-side of yourself is trying to tell you something!

 

Get Your Students Chording!

Here is another resource I’ve produced for use in teaching the power of chords and melody writing with passing notes.  Visit here, to see.

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It all adds up to students composing for the purpose of creating and sharing.  This type of creation activity encourages tablet use for easily playing chords with a touch of a key.  There are numerous apps and online resources out there that support this.

This activity is holistic in nature building a purposeful  music skills such as notation, rhythm, chords and typical chord progression, melody patterns, motifs, ostinato, and structure.  I’m sure you could find more!

Don’t forget ScoreCloud Express and ScoreCloud Studio for Mac and PC that will listen to your playing or singing, and produce it in notation form, even ‘on-the-go’!

Please support teacher-created materials… thank you!

Playground App – Create!

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HLO S.A.’s Playground app, at first glance looks to be another drumming app with a sometimes haphazard look to it.  Once playing through its tutorial, I soon began to sense that this was something that may help bring the world of popular drumming (and all its techno toys and effects) to people who typically shy away from these types of apps.  If coordination is your challenge in playing tablet or ‘real’ drums, then this app may be for you.  Or, if you are looking to lose yourself in a wonderfully creative world of techno drumming, you’re in the right place.  There’s nothing haphazard about this app.

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I’m looking at this app for students who find reading music notation difficult, or the student who sees no value in learning to read music, let alone, drum notation.  I’m eyeing the student who finds ‘creating’ music in the traditional sense too daunting, or requiring too many steps (note reading, chord understanding, note and rhythm notation, patterns, structure [4-8 bar patterns/progressions], and wants instant results.  (For me, I want jaw-dropping 8 – 16 bar drum soundscapes to import into other music apps!)

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Playground uses a collection of related drum, pitched drum, voices, and effects that sound good together.

You explore the circular and rectangular shapes and tap or slide on them to create your soundscape.  The tutorial follows you through simple finger gestures that help to efficiently touch/glide on the right choice of instruments to produce a drum/voice/effects that sound like a pattern that could be repeated to get impressive results – quickly.

This is how to create an incredible musical pattern with a flow of repetitive finger movements.  Without notation, or possibly any musical training, this app has provided the playground for you to perform quite impressive popular music, record and share it, easily.

Instead of requiring finger dexterity and extreme eye-hand coordination (think Launchpad, or less, Apple’s newest GarageBand for iOS Live Loops), sliding finger gestures help you to create (a) bar(s) of patterns and if your gestures aren’t exact enough, your overall sounds will be out of sync or rhythmically out.  To understand this more clearly, have a look at the tutorial pictures and the recommended finger movements – consistency is the key to create a pattern that can be repeated successfully.  However, some shapes are dynamic and have different variations in the same shape requiring some adjustment to your prescribed flow.

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Contrasting the traditional music composition approach, errors would be seen by studying the score and the notes that aren’t quite right.  Here, you are looking at your movements and listening to the results in real time.  Have a friend listen to give honest feedback, as there is no metronome provided – future suggestion?

Recording your performance is only a finger tap away for recording a .m4a version via email or AirDrop (Apple).

This would be a valuable opportunity for teachers to give students the task to create a success rubric and give advice to their peers on what makes a effective and unique creation.  How would they know if the performance is rhythmically out, or lacks in structure?  How would they communicate this clearly to their classmates?  Don’t forget to add music terminology to this, and possibly a recorded pattern from Playground represented in traditional notation.

I will be trying this app out with students, and add it to my kit of best apps that help students perform and create music ‘on the go’ and in non-traditional forms (which may be traditional in years ahead!).

The key here is, a variety of methods available for student expression of music.  It’s shareable and savable, too… equally important.

Melody Creation Apps

Here’s my recommended melody notation apps in no specific order for suggested Grades 3 – 6 students, with the exception of ScoreCloud.  ScoreCloud is for almost any age that can use a computer, tablet or phone.

My reasons for these choices include:

  • longevity (app has been for a while)
  • app allows for quick melody creation and playback for feedback
  • relatively easy to use
  • attractive presentation
  • most incorporate or support chord-based melody writing basics
  • some explore use of chords, bass, and rhythm (drum patterns)
  • most have some form of sharing capability (Audio and/or MIDI)

Advice to educators: use the chosen app and demonstrate your work; spend time getting to know its possibilities and limitations… no surprises

Melody Writing Apps Feb. 2016

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Apple has updated its long-standing best music apps since early last year.  Most users will find its updates phenomenal, especially fans of Launchpad-type looping.

What Apple is saying at the launch of the app on your device:

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DJ with Live Loops:

 

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Live Loops with FX feature:

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Drummer for iOS:
9 virtual session Drummers who takes direction and plays realistic grooves

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New Keyboard Orchestral Instruments (long waited for) and Guitars:

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‘AppAdvice’s top 10’ lists – Paid or Free

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