Fiddlewax Blue is an interactive iPad or iPhone app developed by Alex Kumpf that allows the user to experiment with different chords and keys without a piano. The app has a variety of settings that you can change such as what instrument you use (preset or custom), what key you want to mess around in (CM, bm, e harmonic, etc), which of the 8 functions you want displayed, and even more I didn’t delve into much.
Before I tried out the app, I watched this tutorial (below) by Alex Kumpf to get an idea of what its features were and that really helped me see and understand what it was capable of doing. It was really hard for me to grasp what the Fiddlewax Blue app was by just reading the description, so it was nice having a visual aid.
And then here is a video of him giving viewers a sample of what it looks like to actually “use” the app:
Fiddlewax Blue also has a feature where you can record compositions you create within the app and either email it to yourself or access the recording through your computer later.
I like the idea of this app and the potential it has to give users a greater understanding of musical keys and chords, but after dabbling in it for a while, I felt like it could have been a bit more user friendly and the sound quality could’ve been better. However, I’m sure these are things that will be updated the longer the app is available.
Go for the Gold! Recorder is a multi-touch book created for a Mac or iPad and can be purchased through iTunes to read and enjoy in your iBooks. This is a beginner edition and from what I’ve read, to take full advantage of the interactive aspects the book offers, it’s best to use an iPad.
Not only will readers learn the basics of playing the recorder, but they will learn about different sports as well as some fun facts about different countries’ geography, culture, and music. This book has somewhat of an “Olympic” theme to it!
I love it when multiple subjects are incorporated into one resource because, at least from my own experience, when events, historical figures, and/or subjects are correlated, I tend to retain that information a lot longer. I’m not sure why exactly this is, but it seems like our brains naturally gravitate toward retaining pieces of information that relate to each other-especially when they’ve been learned at the same time. The ability God’s given our mind and memory is incredible!
According to the website, it appears that when you purchase the interactive book, the student receives a one-year subscription and it’s not a one time purchase. That detail is pretty unclear if you’re just looking at the product in iTunes. On the website, it shows that Go for the Gold! Recorder has some competition involved and that there’s also a ”teacher” subscription you can purchase. Check out the website for more details about these things!
Karen Gibson, publisher of The Piano Bench Mag,has established an “on the go” music magazine for teachers! Whether waiting for an appointment or just sitting at home, you’ll find a plethora of different ideas in her monthly publication.
The magazine has a specific topic for each month. December focused on Practice, January was Games, February takes a look at Students,and the most recent focuses on Technique. I really like how Gibson includes a variety of articles, as well as resources and helpful tidbit pages. I am much more inclined to look through an entire magazine if I can acquire information apart from just reading articles. Each monthly issue seems to be pretty substantial, too, so you’re pretty well guaranteed a good amount of information and ideas!
If you’d like to purchase an issue or subscribe to The Piano Bench Mag – providing resources and inspiration for piano teachers, it’s available for mobile devices through Apple Newsstand and Google Play (for Android). You can also find The Piano Bench Mag on Facebook.
To try it out, I downloaded it to my iPhone Newsstand (which I have never used before) and I could navigate it pretty well, but from what I could tell, the formatting for the iPad version looked nicer.
If you want a free 3 month subscription, be one of the first three to comment “subscribe me” and the free subscription will be yours!
In a world of advancing technological capabilities, I love discovering new inventions that create more efficient ways to do things or provide another outlet to learn.
Even though I have not personally tried UltraMusician, I like the approach that David Mann has developed for people to learn music on the site. UltraMusician teaches full music comprehension by using 4 of the most essential skills (instrument, theory, sound, and notation) to become a well-rounded musician.
The program is designed with a game-like interface that moves from one skill to another so that everything remains cohesive. And it’s not just designed for youngsters but anyone wanting to learn music.
Below is a video giving further detail about this total music comprehension site and how it works, as well as introducing their desire to launch development of the “UltraMusician Mobile App”.
Leila Veiss has written a wonderful post about the “Apps I Use at Every Lesson” that relate to the business side of studio operations. One of the listed apps is Evernote, but she also includes with it a Sample Lesson Note Template that is fabulous!
I love the Glossary of Terms section, especially the brief explanation of what “Learn” and “Master” mean (I guess my students aren’t the only ones that seem confused by what I really meant when I told them to learn a particular piece or portion thereof… ). I also really like her Progress Score numbers and explanations. What a great tool for maintaining consistency and providing tangible instruction and feedback for each lesson!
Check out the latest studio management app – Moosic Studio! Compatible with iPad ios 5.0 and later, this app is designed to make student information, billing, and other studio management issues a breeze. Check out the full list of features at the iTunes store.
Now for the best news…you can win a free download of this brand new app! Just leave a comment below to be entered in a drawing to win a coupon code for a free download. The winner will be chosen using a random number generator at noon (CST) on Thursday, March 7, 2013.
In the November/December 2012 issue of Clavier Companion magazine, Penny Lazarus wrote a fascinating article called, “Silent Movie Music in the Piano Studio.” This was fresh on my mind when our family was invited to participate in a special talent-sharing night at a local church, so we decided to give the silent movie idea a try. Instead of just finding a silent movie, though, we opted to create our own. We wrote our script/storyboard (not sure you can call it a script if it’s for a silent movie!), gathered our costumes and props, filmed each scene over a weekend, and then showed the movie on an overhead screen while providing the music live at the event. It turned out to be a ton of fun and was a huge hit with the audience!
Here’s the original silent movie (I recommend turning the sound on this video all the way off and using the sound from the following video so you can hear the music selections from the live performance):
Also, anyone want to take a guess as to what part I play in the film? …
Here’s the video from the live performance (I recommend playing this simultaneously with the above video so you can listen to the music selections while watching the silent movie):
Theme from The Patriot (we opted to play an excerpt from the soundtrack rather than play a live version of this one)
The entire November/December 2012 issue of Clavier Companion is one of the most interesting magazines I’ve read! I highly recommend subscribing to and reading it. Here’s one other practical, imaginative idea from an article by Donald Sosin called, “Sound and Silents” that I want to try with my students at our next group class:
“…ask for two volunteers from the audience and have them walk in a neutral way towards each other onstage a few times, exchanging a letter as they pass. The pianists take turns creating different moods. I caution the actors never to alter what they are doing. The only thing that changes is the music, which informs the audience as to what is going on. Depending upon what is played, the scene might look like a teenage romance, a spy film, a horror flick, or an announcement of a tragic death. I often have to keep reminding the actors to ignore the music, so strong is their impulse to react to what they’re hearing.”
We’re really excited to announce the latest version of our innovative iPad app that helps musicians of all levels read music! It’s called Sight Reader and n honor of the New Year and to commence our resolution to become better sight readers, we’re giving away a $25 iTunes gift card to one lucky (sight) reader.
While there are a number of mobile and tablet apps that teach and allow you to practice your reading, the end result is that you become very good at touching a screen. That’s because touching a screen is how you interact with these apps and not by playing your instrument.
What makes Sight Reader different is that you practice reading music by reading on your instrument and Sight Reader has many ways in which you interact with your music. For the very beginner there are animated lessons introducing the basic notes on one of 12 supported instruments. There are then simple exercises to read and play followed by challenges that offer newly generated music with each use to prevent memorization. In addition, students can use flashcards to test how quickly they can identify then play a random note shown on screen.
For the more serious reader, there are Rhythm Only exercises that are a single pitch with infinite rhythm combinations, Note Only exercises which are steady streams of notes at particular rhythms to increase speed and dexterity, Intervals which allow you to practice recognizing intervals more quickly, and Scales so you can practice your scales in all 12 keys.
What’s also important is that everything you play is graded objectively and students can monitor their results. This makes it great for practicing without a teacher present.
Tell us what’s most important in your sight reading practice routine in the comments below. The $25 iTunes gift card winner will be drawn using a random number generator at noon (CST) on Thursday, January 31, 2013. Happy reading!
Ever since I started teaching almost 15 years ago I feel like I’ve been searching for ways to organize and streamline lesson planning. From endless lists, to spreadsheets, to binders, to paper files, I’ve tried dozens of different ideas. None of them have accomplished what I really want in the way of planning repertoire and collecting ideas specific to each student. Nothing, that is, until I spent some time over Christmas break exploring the fabulous (and free!) Evernote app!
This is one more reason why I can’t imagine teaching without my iPod Touch at my fingertips. Evernote is optimal for lesson planning purposes because you can create a folder for each student and then create notes within the folder. Notes can include text, photos, links, audio clips, etc. This is a super cool way to record different repertoire excerpts for students that you can play back for them when they’re at the lesson. You can also e-mail the notes, so you could easily use this to record lesson assignments and then send it to the student. There is also a version that you can use on a desktop/laptop computer and sync with your mobile version.
Another cool feature is the ability to create tags. For example, I can create a tag called “music to buy.” Then, whenever I create a note that includes a book or resource that I need to buy for a particular student, I just assign it that tag. On the home screen of Evernote I can select the “Tag” area and all the tags will be sorted alphabetically, quickly allowing me to access the “music to buy” category and see an overview of all the notes containing purchases I need to make. Isn’t that cool? I’m sure there are even more capabilities that I haven’t discovered yet. There are so many possibilities! Is anyone else using the Evernote app for lesson planning? I’d love to hear your ideas on how you’ve used it!