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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Why I love Zumocast

Zumocast has to be my favorite app on my iPad and my iPod Touch. I have much more music on CD than it is possible to store on one portable device. I have ripped a lot of my collection onto a couple of large capacity external drives, but it's impossible to carry all that around on a portable device. So, I always end up having to choose which albums to keep on my iPad and iPod, and having to delete some music if I want to put different music on. Then of course, in class I think of a tune I would like to play for the students, so I can demonstrate something, and I realize it's not on my iPad or iPod - I deleted it last week. If only I had my home computer with me, I could access it immediately.

Zumocast to the rescue. Zumocast lets me stream any music directly from my home computer. I just have to leave my computer on during the day when I'm at school or on the road, and a tiny server app plays any music file I need whenever I access Zumocast from my iPad or iPod. Hundreds of albums are available to me and the music streams instantly, and very reliably. It is truly a class-saving tool.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Music Education on iPad

The first time I held an iPad I fell in love. Of course, I wanted one for my own amusement and enjoyment and also the convenience of being able to check the internet on a bright touchscreen. More than that, though, I immediately realized what benefits a tactile surface as this could have for music education. Children already interact well with technology. If that technology is also musical, then we have a great vehicle for teaching. A couple of days after my iPad arrived I had found enough great apps for music education that I agreed to host a session on "iPads in the music classroom" for the Maryland Music Educators Association conference in the fall. In that session I'll be demonstrating lots of wonderful music apps such as the one in the picture - "Percussive". It's just 99 cents at the App Store ( It has four instruments - xylophone, marimba, glockenspiel, and kalimba, with celeste and vibraphone to follow later in the next update. There is no delay in touching the screen and hearing the sound, it has full polyphony so many notes can be played at once, the sounds are gorgeous samples, and it looks beautiful too. If you though Orff pedagogy was disappearing because of the influx of electronic instruments, think again. This app allows many kids to play at the same time, you never have to go hunting for beaters or missing bars. Children with limited hand movement or arm strength can all play, and you could have a full classroom Orff band with just a few iPads. You could of course combine this app with regular mallet instruments and it would easily hold its own as the sound is so good. I'm looking forward to the first Percussive ensemble on youtube.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

One of my student's compositions - Mike Furst (aka Charlie Kilo)

Mike has entered this composition in the Ableton Summer Music Challenge. Please listen to it the whole way through - the more times it gets played, the more chance Mike has to get through to the next part of the Music Challenge. Here's his own program note:

"Remember the Chicago Bomb scare of 2007? Cartoon Network hired a private contractor to place Lite-Brite Mooninites around the city as part of a viral marketing campaign for Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Movie Film For Theatres. Mistaken for bombs, the city panicked and the contractor was promptly arrested. So I guess that's what I was going for here. But yes, this track draws its mood from the mixture of something innocent mistaken for something deadly. Lite-Brite. Boom."