Celebrate the Arts in you!

I am pleased to present my newest piece of music, entitled

Aethan and Alcides – A Journey.  This is a orchestrated segment of music from this story.

Aethan and Alcides Graphic.png

Enduring months of perilous trials and disenchantments while journeying on their quest, Alcides reproached his sage and wise counselor, Aethan in utter despair.  After unwearyingly listening to his recollections of the tumultuous events that led them to this hopeless point, compassionately, he reprimanded Alcides for his absence of faith.

“Hope, faith, and belief, born from within oneself shapes the future beyond these earthly sufferings that are always present for those who dwell on them”, Aethan chided.

Alcides lashed out pathetically and angrily expressing his utter disappointment with the situation.  He vented his frustration that Aethan hadn’t showed his true power famed to his name and all outcomes fell upon his weary, warrior shoulders.

Swiftly and exacting, Aethan thrust his walking stick in the air, silencing his beleaguered student, and voiced one articulated phrase,

“from a tiny seed… is born… a mighty giant”,

and without warning, both were lifted into the air.

There, in front of them, above the monolithic rock structures that once blocked their way, was a verdant landscape of incomparable beauty… their way was clear!  A little further, and Alcides would have discovered this with his own determination.  Tears in his eyes, wavering to maintain balance, he cried in disgrace for his lack of faith and the realization that Aethan was the steadfast master that he profoundly longed to see.  As he opened his tearful eyes, he realized they were slowly descending back from whence they came.  Feet firmly on earth, he kneeled before Aethan, both hands gently grasping the sage’s worn and gnarled walking stick.  The air was serene and silent except for the gentle breeze that replenished the tired warrior’s body.  All was good.

Upcoming Workshop

Associated with Blossoms Education Centre, HK, I am presenting a parent and children’s workshop entitled,

Tips to help Primary students learn English through free apps

Blossoms Talk Poster

I will be discussing the potential of mobile technology as a valuable partner in a well-rounded approach to education.

The following is the essence of the talk portion of the workshop, followed by various apps and their value to parents, children, and educators.  Please forward this workshop to anyone you feel would benefit from attending.  They need to register here.

Technology-assisted language learning for efficiency

People are interacting more frequently with their mobile device while going about their daily routines.  This highlights the level of engagement these devices bring, connecting people to their interests, and providing a powerful platform of diverse apps that allow for ‘on the go’ creating.  The most common use for mobile devices includes texting, gaming, photography, phone calls, mapping, and Internet searches.  However, these devices are capable of providing experiences that are active, engaging, and individualised for each user.

Technology-assisted language learning promotes the enjoyment, ease and mobility of their device coupled with a myriad of carefully selected apps that boost a variety of educational outcomes.  Typically, it begins with helping participants ‘open their eyes’ to the potential of their device in aiding learning in a personal and dynamic manner.

The ‘On-the-go’ concept is driven by these key goals,

the ability to work and learn from anywhere and anytime (Internet/Wi-Fi connection required with some apps)
the ease of transference of files and continuation of work on a variety of devices for flexibility and convenience
sharing of work, learning, and results
availability of apps for almost all curriculum and interest areas

Technology-assisted language learning involves a blend of traditional and 21st century digital skills aimed at offering a broad and balanced set of learning engagements.  Mobile technology can:

build skills in a playful, gaming environment catering to the individual
promote reading and writing in a variety of authentic context reinforcing skills of the future
translate spoken text into numerous languages for further development in written and oral form
instant feedback on the success of the participant
provide competitive-style activities which increase in difficulty and highlights errors for reinforcement
allow for meaningful interaction for collaboration beyond the classroom walls
promotes interactive problem solving skills that drive inquiry
encourages creating and multiple ways to share
provide constantly updated information which builds research strategies
motivate student-driven ownership over their learning

Carefully chosen apps that have a proven longevity and serve a variety of purposes are recommended.  Students become familiar using them in many subject areas, and can access them online, as well as on their computer, e.g., Cloud technology with Microsoft Word and Apple Pages.  A translation app will provide the ability for students to dictate words and sentences for easy development later from their device or computer.  Multimedia apps can allow for adding dialogue to photos for presentation purposes, e.g., Shadow Puppet.  Note taking apps aid in students making notes, diagrams, and scribing their collaborations with others on a variety of documents types, e.g., Penultimate and Skitch.

Students can benefit with a partnership with a mobile technology-minded mentor.  This association guides their interaction making the best use of the device and apps, and helping them to harass the full potential of their mobile device.  Preparing for the future involves training with the people who are helping to create the future.

GarageBand-ify My Music Program - MShawGarageBand iOS/Mac = Music Creation

GarageBand for iPad/iPhone (iOS) and the Mac version (OS) can provide a virtual environment for students to consolidate their understanding about many aspects of music curriculum.  In the infographic above, I’ve tried to show areas of music study that would be beneficial for students to know.  These are the building blocks of a solid music foundation to be able to use in many facets of music lessons giving students independence to create and share.

Through building a typical GarageBand piece of music, the following areas could be introduced and developed:

  • music elements of pitch, duration, beat, metre, tempo, rhythm, timbre, dynamics, articulation, texture, form
  • panning, reverb, echo, and volume of each instrument track (mixing)
  • looping concepts and creation
  • chord progression, broken and arpeggiated chords, ostinato
  • chord theory, inversions, cadences, roman numerals,
  • musical form and structure (e.g., ABA Ternary, ABACAB1A Rondo, verse and chorus, etc.)
  • chord-based melody writing, auxiliary and passing notes, sequence, repetition, imitation, inversion
  • orchestration
  • archiving, iCloud syncing with GarageBand for Mac version for further development, saving and sharing
  • sound mining to build a unique sound library

Many of these activities can be ‘open-ended’ to let your students explore what aspects of music theory they find useful.  GarageBand provides the stage for music inquiry with the teacher providing the background scaffolding that is required.

This infographic is available (in A3 size) from my Teacher pay Teacher site where I sell many resources at extremely reasonable prices to support my income after leaving the full-time classroom.  Your support is appreciated.  I am available for teacher and student workshops on any aspects of music creation.  Please contact me to discuss any ideas you may have.

I recently was sent a post from the talented music educator in Australia, Katie Wardrobe who runs a music and technology education site and training service for educators.  I’ve followed her for a few years, always impressed with her talent and the generosity of her site.  I highly recommend to follow her at Midnight Music.

KORG | padKONTROL Firefox, Today at 12.33.07 pm

This post was about ASME (Australian Society for Music Education) 2015 conference and an elective session titled Access For All – Quality Music Making for Everyone Including Pupils with Special Needs and Disabilities with an accompanying video showing 14 different ‘toys’ or tools that students with special needs and disabilities could use to participate in music creation.

This is where our differences in philosophy differs.


Music education needs to cater to as many student interests as possible.  Mobile technology effectively helps with that in tablets and mobile phones (apps).  Music creation has moved from theory first, creation second, to as I put it,

Creation First, Theory Second

which allows for greater, less stifled participation with students who are typically turned off by theory that has no appeal or relativity in their lives.  Many years of teaching technology in the music classroom has taught me that its about creating a balance of approaches and a blended learning style that offers the most potential in making music important to our students.  This includes a cornucopia of traditional strategies and new ideas from the past one or two decades.  There is no one style or method that is a perfect fit for 20 – 30 students in your classroom.

nu-desine-alphasphere-970-80These devices, toys, or tools for music creation are for everyone and some should be present in today’s music classrooms.  What I find helpful in notating, writing, or performing music, may not appeal for many of my students.  This diversity, if implemented in a well-planned manner cognisant of the demands of their department, school budgets, and effective teacher training, can offer students quite an array of tools for musical expression.


Borrowed from Katie’s post, here is a list and links of the 14 music toys, tools, gadgets, and keyboards that were played with at this session.  Some of these may have an alluring quality and perfect use for your students.  Once music creation begins to happen, educators have a glimpse into the musical interests and abilities of their students. From there, it is the role of the music educator as a facilitator to prompt inquiry into certain aspects of music theory that could improve their work.  In this context, students have a better opportunity to grasp how formal music theory may enhance their future creations.

  1. Korg padKontrol
  2. Skoog
  3. Soundbeam
  4. Alphasphere
  5. Korg NanoPad
  6. Beamz iPad app
  7. iKaossilator
  8. Soundbeam switches
  9. Akai LPD8 midi controller
  10. Beamz
  11. Soundbeam switches
  12. Airvox app
  13. MaKey MaKey
  14. Numark Orbit

That Perfect Graphic

Finding that perfect piece of clip art graphic can be a time consuming task for anyone pursuing a unique, personal look to their work.  There are numerous image sites that provide free graphics for a variety of situations, e.g., pixabay.  Another alternative is what I am sharing here.

Adobe has put out apps that allow for image capture and simple manipulation to create that perfect piece of clip art, in this case, vector graphics.  Using these two, free apps provide a new perspective to photo taking, learning about the best ways to capture the outlines of your desired shapes.  Once taken, you can use other apps to colorize or 3D-ify them, which I’ll mention later.

Finder Finder, Today at 5.48.02 pm

Adobe Capture

Finder Finder, Today at 5.41.12 pm

Adobe Shape

Both of these apps (available for Apple and Android devices) capture shapes for conversion into vector clip art.  Adobe Shape is solely for this purpose, syncing all creations with your free Adobe account.  This syncs your images for use with any Adobe computer apps you may have, e.g., Adobe Illustrator CC, Adobe Illustrator Draw or Adobe Photoshop CC, however Adobe Capture offers other capabilities for gathering colour schemes, shapes, brushes, and looks.  These features are especially useful if you are wishing to extract colour themes from photos for use within other works.  Brushes take on the shape of your saved vector graphic for adding creative brush drawing within Illustrator and Photoshop documents.

Here is an example:

I want to create a music sheet for students with a musical instrument graphic, a recorder.  Here is the original photo taken after using Adobe Shape.

JPEG image-A1C2164E37C8-1

Here are two examples of taking the graphic into Pages (Mac) with a simple title added:

Recorder Challenge 1This is the same image copied, and flipped horizontally, with a shadow added to it.

Recorder Challenge 2Here is the same image with an added yellow line around/within the recorder from another app for Mac called, Logoist 2.5 (a fantastic app).  The image was enhanced, then copy-pasted back into the original Pages document.

This gives you an idea of how you can use Adobe Shape and Capture ‘on the go’ from your mobile phone to your finished document.  You will never look at small trinkets and unique objects the same way now that they can be captured in these two apps.

Another way I used the apps was to draw an image on paper with pencil.  After following the routines with editing the picture, these apps smooth out your lines making your artwork look even better – I’ve very humble drawing skills, but this helped me realise my thinking.  I could fill the shape with another colour, or add 3D effects to it.

JPEG image-2F33525BF79E-1Download and have fun!

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or suggestions.

Recommended music apps October 2015

Interactive English

English On-the-Go!, Digital Storytelling, and Hong Kong Schools Speech Festival Training

I am offering two tutoring courses in learning, refining, and polishing the use of English through a variety of routines, activities, and resources, including mobile technology.  This approach is tailored for each student, blending the goals of the child, parents, and school.  I provide a holistic method to develop the child’s positive self-image and practice meaningful reflection to nurture intrinsic goal setting routines.

Please contact me to set up a free consultation and trial lesson.Shaw English Courses Oct 15Hk Speech Festival Training Oct 15


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