Celebrate the Arts in you!

Playground App – Create!


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.


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!)


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.


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

GarageBand iOS 2016.png

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:


DJ with Live Loops:



Live Loops with FX feature:


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


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


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












GarageBand Xmas Activity

If you need a ‘one-lesson’ activity before Christmas, here’s a freebie to invite students to try their hand at jingle writing.  It is only meant as a starter activity, but can certainly lead to follow-up classes to broaden their knowledge and interest with GarageBand for iOS.

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GB Basic Introduction Activity

Please email me with any questions or suggestions.  I have a demo sound file, if interested.

Happy Christmas holidays.

What’s New?

November and December has been techno-licious months for certain types of apps and their implications for educational use at home and school.  Some support ‘Hour of Code’ to promote the basics of programming (Code.org’s worldwide initiative). Here are a few I’m exploring now:

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Floors by Pixel Press

From their website:

Ready to draw your own video game?

Pixel Press Floors is changing the way we experience mobile games by letting anyone be the creator, publisher and player of their own video game. With the Pixel Press creator platform, you can literally draw your own video game – no coding required.

POP - Prototyping on Paper. on the App Store Firefox, Today at 11.50.42 AM.png

Pop – Prototyping on Paper

From their website:

Have an app idea?  Make this real, with POP.  Whether you’re a student, a designer, or an entrepreneur, POP helps you transform your pen + paper ideas into a real working prototype.

Periscope on the App Store Firefox, Today at 11.57.30 AM.png


From their app description:

Periscope lets you broadcast live video to the world. Going live will instantly notify your followers who can join, comment and send you hearts in real time. The more hearts you get, the higher they flutter on the screen.

WriteRight. enjoy writing on the App Store Firefox, Today at 12.02.39 PM.png


From their app description:

WriteRight is the best writing app with countless synonyms, antonyms and phraseology for iPad, iPad Mini and iPhone, built upon Markdown. It makes smart replacements preserving conjugation, gender and number.


[From the world of academia, for use with my Doctorate of Education programme research and reporting,]

Papers 3 - Academic Reference Manager on the App Store Firefox, Today at 12.06.56 PM.png


From their website:

Papers helps you collect and curate the research material that you’re passionate about. This award winning reference manager will improve the way you find, organize, read, cite and share.

Monument Valley on the App Store Firefox, Today at 12.13.27 PM.png

Monument Valley – free, now

From their website:



Mobile Arts & Adobe

Adobe has done a phenomenal job in re-branding itself with monthly subscriptions to their powerhouse products and a huge array of free mobile apps to stay relevant in this ever changing techno landscape.  Similar to the mobile music apps I follow, people have the capabilities to develop the hidden artist skills that lay dormant until tapped and nurtured, especially in concert with these incredible, transformational apps.

Here is what I am testing and using on my various mobile devices to demonstrate in workshops and with teachers and students on my my travels.

You will need to make a free Adobe account to use these apps.  It’s time to capture the world around you and see it in a totally different way, as inspiration for expressing your aesthetic notions from within.

Please email me if you have any questions, suggestions on how you use these or other apps, or collaboration ideas.

Adobe Free Apps.png


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