Celebrate the Arts in you!

Here’s a glimpse at what software/apps I use frequently to explore and create music (notation-type apps).

There are many companies offering incredible music-making apps for mobile devices that make music creation easier and inexpensive (most free).  I have been a user of Finale for Mac for over 25 years.  With the advent of tablet technology over the past 8 years, my allegiance has changed supporting companies that are re-inventing music creation, and in a mobile manner.

Finale is my absolute preference for large score, orchestral works, however, they have produced nothing for composing ‘on the go’ via a mobile device.  Their $600 US hefty entry fee for their flagship software stops me from recommending it to few.  It will become a relic of the past.  They have student prices and other entry level software packages with less features, however mobile apps offer an impressive alternative, especially with the aid of a stylus, sampling and creating sounds, and work almost anywhere capabilities.

Notion offers the most beautiful, sampled instrument sounds (London Symphony Orchestra) on all their versions, desktop and mobile devices.  Working ‘on the go’ is extremely important to capture ideas while sitting on the bus or subway, then continuing at home or work via cloud technology.  Notion allows this from finger-gestures, Apple Pencil, music keyboard, and mouse input.  Thumbs up, Notion (PreSonus)!

[Personal note: each orchestral instrument has various techniques as sampled sounds included, for example, French Horn includes hand-stopped or muted notes and glissandi.  This is one of the many reasons I use Notion for its ease of use to add these effects or articulations.  Check out my brass piece, ‘I Saw Three Ships’ on SoundCloud that demonstrates this.]

On the bus or subway – iPhone or iPad

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Notion for iPhone/iPad

Symphony Pro 4

Symphony Pro 4 $9.99 US

SP5 Public Preview Signup Firefox, Today at 10.50.38 AM

Symphony Pro 5 Beta

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Symphony Pro

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GarageBand for iOS

GarageBand for iOS is an absolute favourite, now updated with more performance capabilities.  I will celebrate the day when they add notation capabilities.

Personal note: This app awaits its entry into schools to help visualize music for so many disinterested students having to endure a skill or knowledge-based curriculum, rather than a holistic, creation-based one.  Share your thoughts on this, please.

Evaluating:

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Stave’n’Tabs for iOS

In this example, Stave’n’Tabs handles triplets fairly well compared with other music notation apps.  I’ll keep my eye on this app over the next year.

Teaching or at home: iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, MacBook, iMac

building

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ScoreCloud Studio Mac or PC -Free with upgrades

ScoreCloud is known for its ease of input by a variety of means, especially great for school use with students inputting their music by keyboard, voice, or recorder!

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Finale for Mac                                      $600 US

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Notion 6 for Mac     $154 US

Music Notation Software. Create Sheet Music with Finale Music Firefox, Today at 11.34.16 AM.pngSave

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Creativity and Assessment Process MShaw.jpg

This infographic is to help in my understanding and planning for promoting creativity and its assessment in the local schools in Hong Kong.

Looking first at the end goal – what you want your participants to know, understand, and be able to show, is nothing new.  The Understanding by Design Framework is effective pedagogy that ensures what you intend, happens.  (PDF resource available here)

The Primary Years Programme (PYP – International Baccalaureate) has assessment models that are extremely student-focused to ensure success and cater to the diversity of learners within any classroom.  These methods, again, not new, but valuable ‘best practices’ to strive for, formative being the most important for my purposes in the local schools of Hong Kong.  Have a look at the ‘Making the PYP Happen’ PDF.

Bloom’s revised Taxonomy (2001/1956), aids in task creation with a plethora of verbs that help target the Higher Order Thinking Skills, analysing, evaluating, and creating, so important to our students today.  There are many outstanding resources available online (one here).

Evaluating your current school’s assessment practices.  I’m looking at a blend of the valuable Confucian heritage cultural practices and influences in local schools and the above-mentioned methods to integrate the best of each.

Creativity in an ESL Environment.  Communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity – 4 important C words for the 21st century classroom.  These are helpful hints on how to work with English as a second language learners with limited vocabulary and comprehension.

Please let me know your thoughts on this.

 

I Saw Three Ships

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This is a brass quintet arrangement of the English carol, ‘I saw three ships come sailing in’ done exclusively on Notion for iPhone (mostly on a daily bus ride to work!). Sometimes, saved to iCloud, I opened it on my iPad or Notion for Mac to have more screen space. This piece highlights the sampled sounds of the London Symphony Orchestra and others, brass specifically tested and highlighted here.

I relished using the different brass techniques throughout including straight mutes, glissandi, horn hand stopping, and flutter tonguing in the high trumpet in the second last bar.

At different stages of this piece, I input some notes using my Apple pencil on the iPad. Mobile technology is here to stay and I plan to use it as much as possible to create music truly ‘on the go’, or on the bus! Thank you, Notion for allowing this quality of sampled sounds to be available at a reasonable price!

Gregorian Christmas Piece

This is my arrangement of a Gregorian chant I grew up with.

The theme is represented by the characteristically dark Cor Anglaise (English Horn) and later, bassoons in their high register.  A light texture of pizzicato strings gently supports the melody.  The clarinet briefly signals a motif that is used throughout the latter half of the piece in the French Horns.  It represents my belief that strength can be portrayed in a subtle, quiet way, empowering and reassuring.
In the second performance of the melody with the bassoons, there is an church organ pedal and violin harmonics which adds a spiritual and mysterious quality to the piece.

Performed in Logic Pro X with EastWest Symphonic Orchestra Platinum instruments.

I hope you enjoy!  Comments are always welcome.

 

Apple Pencil: a Mediator

Apple says:

When using iPad Pro, there may be moments when you want even greater precision. So we painstakingly designed Apple Pencil to expand on the versatility of Multi-Touch. And while the technology inside is unlike anything we’ve ever engineered, picking up Apple Pencil for the first time feels instantly familiar. It lets you make any number of effects, right down to a single pixel, giving you more creative freedom than ever before.

True.

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Over the past week, I’ve been using the Apple Pencil with a variety of apps to see how my finger vs. Pencil experience has been changed, after 7 years using an iPad.  (I’ve used two other stylus in the past 3 years).  The pencil acts as a mediator between my thoughts and the iPad.  Whether music notation, writing notes, drawing, or within games, Apple Pencil has transformed my intimacy and expressiveness with the art of creation, once again, as most of its technology has.

Recommendation: buy a case for your iPad Pro (9.7″) that includes a protective cradle for your Apple Pencil – check out Speck case: StyleFolio Pencil model.  You’ll never have to wonder where you put your Apple Pencil!

Apps test: (There are too many to show here.)

Music notation

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Notion for iPad

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Symphony Pro

I’ve waited more than 30 years to be able to write music on a device with accuracy, ease, and in an environment that provides authentic music instruments, notation, and sharing.  Thank you, Apple, Notion and Symphony Pro! 

Writing:

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Penultimate

MyScript Nebo – Note Taking for Apple Pencil on the App Store Firefox, Today at 9.38.30 AM.png

 MyScript Nebo -converts written text to print

Drawing:

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Tayasui Sketches

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Drawing Desk

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Pigment: Adult Coloring Book

Are you using the Apple Pencil?  Share your experiences!  What apps would you recommend?

Tech Play for July

I am playing with the following apps to exploit all educational value for students, and/or their usefulness and notch above the rest in creativity .  Please add your thoughts, if interested.

Memrise. learn languages free on the App Store Firefox, Today at 8.44.46 AM.png

Memrise: learn languages free

Poto - Photo Collage Maker on the App Store Firefox, Today at 8.47.28 AM.png

POTO – Photo Collage Maker

Gravity Sketch on the App Store Firefox, Today at 8.51.19 AM.png

Gravity Sketch – 3D Drawing = 3D printing

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Gunpowder – fun, logic game

Languinis. Word Puzzle Challenge on the App Store Firefox, Today at 8.56.58 AM.png

Languinis

“Elegantly pairing the match-three frenzy of Bejeweled with the word-making challenges of Scrabble”

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Visuwords – a site

TextGrabber - image to text app. copy recipe from a cookbook, scan QR code, capture text on photo and send to translator on the App Store Firefox, Today at 9.03.02 AM.png

AABBYY TextGrabber + Translator

LOOPIMAL by YATATOY on the App Store Firefox, Today at 9.13.02 AM.png

Loopimal – intro to music patterning

Please note that all of these apps were FREE at one point this year.  I always use the App, or  www.appadvice.com to get free apps to test.

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The Erhu Debut

With Apple’s release of the Chinese Instruments and loops in the latest GarageBand update,  educating and promoting this beautifully expressive instrument definitely will follow.  Typically heard in soundtracks accompanying Chinese or Hollywood produced movies with a Chinese theme/location, people are probably curious about this traditional Chinese instrument.  It’s tone is unmistakably evocative of China mirror its glorious landscapes seen through online photo searches and famous Chinese painters.

Now, you can become digitally one with the instrument and its techniques through GarageBand.

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This graphic was created using a FREE app presented on Apps Gone Free, called Cameraxis.

Cameraxis - Edit photos, Design graphics & add Creative typography, beautiful artworks over picture on the App Store Firefox, Today at 11.20.50 AM.png

Living in Hong Kong, it is somewhat common to see people playing an instrument near a street corner for extra income and exposure.  Its a treasured experience seeing a performance of a street musician on the Erhu, commonly playing traditional, Chinese melodies.

Have a look at Tim Cook’s “duet” with China’s famous J.J. Lin using GarageBand.  If you think it sounds good, it does!  Give it a try!

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