Celebrate the Arts in you!

Posts tagged ‘marshall shaw’

Video – Creative Options

Smartphone video capabilities have moved far beyond mentioning the obvious… their ease and usefulness as a mobile solution everywhere.  Moving beyond a simple video post on Facebook or YouTube, what’s new for those who want a more sophisticated or quirky look typically provided by pro user apps on computers like Final Cut Pro and other Adobe products?

Considering the ever-increasing amount of videos and photos accumulating on your device’s flash drive, is there another way to convert them into attractive video content?  For many, this is an extra production step that keeps us from ‘sharing’ work in a more artistic and creative way producing something of originality compared with the basic (but incredible) repertoire of functions typically found in iMovie.

Over recent years, smaller companies have been producing robust video apps that offer comprehensive video creation abilities for mobile devices.  Vimo is a fine example of such an app that adds video stickers and flashier transitions compared with iMovie (at a small cost).

Vimo - Video editor + Motion Sticker and Text on the App Store Firefox, Today at 1.23.25 PM


Moving beyond video stickers and predictable transitions, here’s what I’m looking at for rich and dynamic content – a DIY (do it yourself) transitions idea inspired by a company/app I found who describes their app as creative, able to dazzle, and distort reality.

Meet: D’efekt

Defekt App Icon.png

I see it as a tool to create short, 3 – 5 second transitions to be saved and imported into iMovie or other apps.  The sample below shows four, favorite effects applied to clips then brought together in iMovie.  Each effect can be modified by various parameters.

I recommend you download this free app and tap it on, view your surroundings and be inspired by its capabilities.  I’m hoping for more content from this company in the next year… it would be worth an ‘in app purchase’ for extra plug ins or effects.


GB iOS Beat Sequencer Activity


This resource includes numerous pages for helping the teacher and/or students with the basics of this fabulous component new to GarageBand for iOS (iPad, iPhone).

This activity promotes exploration of the app, GarageBand for iOS and the tactile experience of using the graphic layout to represent the rhythm and percussion instruments.

This resource focuses on the basics of the Beat Sequencer component, the graphic representation of rhythm (quarter, eighth and sixteenth notes and rests), building a 1 – 4 bar/measure pattern and changing the percussion instruments. Students can use different time signatures, as well.

They will create one measure/bar patterns for quick assessment, e.g., one period lesson, which leads up to a 4 bar product with characteristics of a typical 4 – 8 bar drum pattern with contrasting bars, e.g., bars 2 and 4, and bar 4 having a ‘fill in’ or riff.

Next step lessons would include looking at the features on the bottom right of this component, that include Velocity, Note Repeat, and Chance.

Discussions could easily be generated on common features (rhythms, instrument choice and velocity) of the various genres included under the pattern icon on the bottom left of the Beat Sequence screen, e.g., Classic House, Warehouse Vibes, Festival Bounce, Wavey, Backbeat Funk, etc. Students could ‘play’ with these, modify them, or create their own with descriptive titles.

If your plan is to have students write actual drum music on a drum staff, check out this site for an online Web 2.0 resource called Groove Scribe, an excellent resource.


Thank you for supporting actual teachers in the school system trying to give their students the best of a blended approach to education. These resources are used within my classrooms, tested and modified to make them engaging and meaningful for our students’ future. Your continued support at a modest cost for these resources will prompt me to provide further support in this type of resource, as well as modify them based on your valuable comments. Thank you.

Smart Instrument Chording


This is a paid activity is for GarageBand for iPad available from Teachers Pay Teachers.

Chords are the emotional support for your melody. Teaching students chord progressions is so important to model this important foundation of melody writing.

Using the Smart Instruments chord bars and Autoplay, they can explore loop-type chord patterns to underscore their chord-based melodies (taught in an other resource).

In this activity, students enter chord patterns using the Autoplay feature, changing chords when necessary to match the chord requirements. In another track, the melody can be played – sheet provided. Additional tracks can introduce drums and bass, or any other instrument.

Using the track settings, students will learn about panning, treble and bass enhancement, as well as reverb and echo. There are other features here, as well. Quantisation and graphic notation editing is also mentioned.

Saved work can be shared via email, Airdrop, as a audio file, or a GarageBand file to be worked on another device or the Mac GarageBand version. Remember, once an iPad version project file has been transferred to a Mac and modified by GarageBand for Mac, it cannot be exported back to the iPad for editing.

Enjoy and let me know your thoughts!

In Search of Instant Alpha

In my ongoing test of iPad apps that could replace my MacBook Pro laptop, I find myself once again searching for the best graphic tool to remove backgrounds or features within a photo.

Here is my list of favourite apps, in order of preference, all apps for iPad (some available for Android/Google Play).  Please let me know your favourites… there are not many out there that do the job for more complex photos.

Superimpose X app logo.png

Superimpose X $2.99

Photoshop Mix App.png

Adobe Photoshop Mix – Free

Pages App logo.png

Pages for iOS – Free

Pixomatic app logo.png

Pixomatic $4.99 – Pro version is FREE but has in app purchases (IAP)

Pixelmator app logo.png

Pixelmator $5.99

Pixelmator doesn’t have an exclusive Instant Alpha remover tool but is good for helping to remove it by a variety of tools.  Check it’s current price in your country.



Fostering Musical Language

We are living in an age where traditional music notation is no longer a prerequisite to being successful in music creation or performance.  Traditionally, music education has been driven by factual knowledge over musical creation.  Technology has opened music creation to the masses producing music styles that involve traditional composition with notation programs (Finale, Sibelius, etc.),  Digital Audio Workstations via computer (Logic Pro X, FL Studio, Ableton Live, etc.) or mobile device/apps (GarageBand, Notion, Symphony Pro, etc.)  The fact is, mobile technology allows for music creation with results beyond anything seen anytime in the history of music.

Fostering Musical Awareness


Students are influenced with years of school-based music programmes that typically drive music theory and history as the building blocks to musical knowledge.  Isolating music theory in small packages without a larger picture can damper any interests students may have about music, especially what they listen to and participate in outside of school.  Backwards by Design thinking supports this notion that music engagements can start on the other end of looking at a completed work, and traverse backwards looking at how it was created (melody, chords, accompaniment, instrumentation, and rhythm, for example).  Think of the motivation this would create within our classrooms!

Using a variety of apps, my goal is to introduce creation of music without the baggage of  having to learn to read music first.  I want to open their minds to the incredible ways mobile tech can allow them to play around with musical sound, rhythm and chords to create music first, then assimilate music theory directly related to their interests.  This is nothing new in other subject areas, but critical to give students the tools to be independent in their trek through music creation.  Many of these apps are available for other platforms, not just Apple.

In the first month of weekly classes, apps were chosen to reinforce that music isn’t determined by their knowledge of theory and ability to read notation.  The goal: sound creation through hand gestures and icons on the screen.  eDrops Nature and eDrops – Bouncing Balls Music App Studio are similar to a pinball game reacting to the laws of physics with the results being a pattern like, musical soundscape.  I demonstrated this by recording one and a half minute of music from eDrops Nature and premiered it over a 4K nature video to stimulate musical conversation with the students.  The questions were, “What would the music look like in notation for this score?”  “Could you do this?” “What are the challenges of notation?”  They were so surprised that there was no music notation, only a game-like screen with falling balls of light bouncing from various points on the screen.  Yes, it is normal for some students to enjoy the game aspect of this app forgetting they are creating sound.

eDrops Nature . Music pinball to create relaxing ambiences on the App Store on iTunes at 1.03.20 pm.png

eDrops Nature


eDrops – Bouncing Balls Music App Studio


The next app is quite a unique one, called Playground.  It provides sets of instruments that react to finger movement.  It has proven to be the students’ favourite app because of its contemporary sounds and tactile involvement.  After a ‘play’ period, we talked about the importance of establishing a beat, like a drummer.  Students need to become familiar with the layout of the instruments and the various icons and triggers that affect the sound creation.  Within the second week of using this app, students had to start to show patterns of rhythm and consistent tempo of finger movement.  You must try this app to understand what this means.  It’s free to try!




Within the third week, students explored Nodebeat.   This is a pattern creating musical app that has a game-like appearance.  It’s an enormous app that has so much to offer and would be better presented over a couple of classes highlighting its capabilities.  Students need time to learn the icons and their associated sounds and instrumentation.  Sound modification is also important within this app.  It is highly customisable.



Next Steps

Students will be challenged to use one of these apps to create a thirty to sixty second musical piece.  I find they are highly motivated when they have an endpoint and useful reason for doing this.  Their music will be promoted on SoundCloud for others in the school (and parents/teachers) to listen to and comment.  It will also be meshed with video of their choosing and placed on YouTube for the same purpose.  The goal is to get their music ‘out there’ for the world of social media to push them along with careful guidance from their teachers.

Please comment and share.  Thank you for reading!  This post will be updated throughout the year.


App-etisers for May

I’m excited to share some apps that are new, or just discovered.  I will highlight which features are transformational in the way we (students, teachers, and everyone else) can aid in personal music or art education, whether at school, home, or on the go.

Touch Notation Free – iOS

Touch Notation Free on the App Store Firefox, Today at 12.52.15 PM.png


The fine app (Kawai Musical Instruments Manufacturing Co., Ltd.) has the fastest ‘on the go’ notation entry I’ve ever used – I’ve tried many.  Regardless, finger or Apple Pencil, a few minutes of using, and an exquisite piano sample sound plays your music.  I’m still testing the free version with limitations – try this out!  Full version, with further in-app purchases is about $12 US.

Vanido – Your personal singing coach – FREE

Vanido - Your personal singing coach on the App Store Firefox, Today at 1.06.15 PM.png


Vanido (Himanshu Singh) takes you through progressive, traditional, vocal exercises (chest voice, foundation, head voice, agility) with piano support.  Where this app flies is its visual of your voice as a sound wave-like line that signifies your accuracy to the target pitch.  For hesitant singers, this gives a much needed visual goal to strive for.  It has a basic, colourful display, game-like qualities, and must be used with earphones with built-in microphone.  See if this app supports your independent learning to become a better singer.

Art Break – FREE
Art Break. Draw, Relax and Get Things Done on the App Store Firefox, Today at 1.29.02 PM.png

Art Break: Draw, Relax and Get Things Done (Tarasov Mobile) gives you a unique set of tools (brushes) that motivate an exploration of your love (or lack of) for drawing on a tablet (available at Google Play) with or without a stylus.  Students love the brushes that augment your line as you draw – ribbon, shaded, fur, web.  If you remember the popular Spirograph set years ago and the excitement that it caused, the next set of brushes bring a new level of amazement for users of all ages.  Mirror ribbon, symmetry ribbon, and symmetry fur are worth a look.  There are in-app purchases to upgrade to Premium version and remove Art Break watermark from your drawings and the addition of more brushes for Premium users in next updates.

This photo is from a student’s first use of the app over 10 minutes.


Backwards Planning for Success

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.


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