Great Composition App for Music Students & Mashups

2 05 2014

One of my music students found a great FREE online application today while trying to make a mashup.  They wanted to find the tempo bpm of a song and the key it was in, so searched for an app and found  This application will do that plus a whole lot more.  They have a beginner music composition music theory ibook for purchase at $14.95 as well as two wonderful online applications that are totally FREE.  This interface is slick and easy to use and it will even create a notated score using western notation and even tabs if needed.  Composing is simple and fun.  Everything is colour coded and the application will even suggest chords to go with your melody.  Checkout THEORY TAB for composing.  The snap shot below gives you an idea of how everything look.  Pretty straight ahead and if you have trouble figuring things out there is an online manual with video tutorials.  CHECK IT OUT YOURSELF ONLINE.  


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IB Music Prescribed Work: Xian’s, Yellow River – Chinese Instruments

10 11 2013
Great resource for investigating Chinese and Western instruments.

Great resource for investigating Chinese and Western instruments.

Those who are studying Chinese music and want to learn more about Chinese Instruments, such as this years IB Music grade 12 students, will find the Musical Instruments E-book site very useful.  IB Music students are studying Xian’s “Yellow River” as one of their prescribed works for their final listening exam.  One of the interesting features of this music is that it was originally composed for Chinese traditional instruments and then later rearranged for Western instruments.  For those not familiar with the Chinese traditional instruments the Musical Instruments E-book is a great resource. It is also a good site for investigating Western instruments as well.  Check it out and learn more.

Here are a couple more useful resources: 1.  Chinese Music Resource from NPR online on the Chinese “Erhu” instrument.  2.  Chinese Music online Radio

Awesome Screenshot app lets you make great tutorials

1 11 2013

Many educators are starting to have quite a presence on web via blogs and websites and many now communicate with their students, parents, and other educators via the internet.  If you have a class site and frequently create ‘how to’ lessons that include screenshots you really need to check out ‘Awesome Screenshot’ for Chrome and Firefox.  It makes life so easy.   As you can see below the app lets you take a screenshot of any or all of your desktop and then annotate it with boxes, pointers, and instructions.  You can then save it to your desktop, email it, or upload onto your google.doc account direct.  Very handy and time saving.  A great way to make instructions clearer and easier for everyone. Awesome Screenshot  I teach IBDP Music in which students are required to produce detailed analysis of music in many different types of media formats as well as essays.  This app helps capture the part of a music score they need and then mark up the exact area of concern for discussion.  Awesome!

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Interactive Listening – Music History Exploration Fun

2 06 2013


Interactive Listening for Music

I have been waiting for something like this new music history electronic textbook to come our way for several years.  Now that computers are affordable to the point many schools are going one to one, the technology can be harnessed to make the exploration of Music History a really fun adventure!  Interactive Listening uses all of the current popular cloud computing applications in such a positive and appropriate way to challenge inquirers to understand and experience music.  It also incoporates looking at music from many different lenses , which links very nicely with the MYP, IBDP Music curriculum.

I have been technology to help my teaching of music for many years but it is always a more than a little bit tricky to have everything run smoothly when you have 20 tabs open with a presentation, audio files, youtubes, audio listening files, backchanneling and even more.  Even if you get it all working smoothly it is such a pain to share all of that with the students for homework.  Interactive Listening brings it all together in one neet package.

Currently it is only available for the ipad as an ibook.  I purchased a copy after trying the free download sample on iTunes.  The ipad version is so slick and is such a fun way to get to know music history, composers, composition techniques, world music history, and so much more. I love this already and I haven’t even used it in the classroom yet.

The winning duo of Pete and Brian are the creators and their team has informed me that an electronic interactive version of the book is coming soon for laptops.  It will not be exactly the same experience as the ipad but I am sure looking forward to playing with that as well.

This has come at a perfect time for me as listening and analysis has become such a major part of the music curriculum in middle and high school. I don’t really like working with textbooks but this seems to have harnessed everything my students need in one.  Apparently there is also a Interactive Listening student workbook in the works as well so students can work independently to complete assignments.

Pete Carney teaches at the City Colleges of Chicago and Saint Xavier University, and is Assistant Band Director for Chicago All City Jazz Ensemble. As a saxophonist, he has performed and composed music for Grammy winners including Kirk Franklin, Tito Puente, the Winans, and the Plain White T’s. He studied composition with William Bolcom and William Albright at the University of Michigan and classical saxophone with Donald Sinta, before completing graduate school at Florida International University and the University of Miami. As a Jazz artist, Pete Carney headlines Jazz festivals in the US and overseas with his group Orange Alert. He was the first American to be featured at the Aberdeen Jazz Festival in Scotland. He lives in Chicago with his wife Caroline. For more information and music go to

Dr. Brian Felix is a music performer, composer and educator. He is an Assistant Professor of Music at the University of North Carolina at Asheville where he teaches classes on jazz piano, jazz history, music business, the Beatles and the Grateful Dead. His ensemble, OM Trio, has toured extensively throughout the US and garnered considerable critical acclaim. Felix holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and lives in Asheville, NC with his wife, Bridget, and sons, Sean and Gavin. For more information, visit

IB DP Music Prescribed Works Online Workshop

9 05 2013

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Triple A Learning is offering an online 3 week workshop on the two prescribed works this month.  Check it out.  I have already taken the Musical Links Investigation workshop and found it a very valuable resource.  A worthwhile bit of PD for DP Music Teachers.  Check out Triple A Learning Workshops.


New Roland R-26 Field Recorder for Recording Music Students and Bands

28 01 2013
New Roland R series Field Recorder

New Roland R series Field Recorder

I have had quite a few music teachers ask me about recording their students and bands at school.  It is getting easier and easier to get great recordings every time.  Over the last several years we have been introduced to several companies making pocket field recorders and they are all great in their own way.  The one I have always liked to use is the Roland R-09 and R-44.  They both give good results and are easy to use with the R-44 giving you the flexibility of recording 4 tracks simultaneously by adding 4 XLR external microphones.   I like to use two stereo NT4 Rodes condenser mics.  It also has two built in mics similar to the R-09 which is a two track recorder.   While recording IB Music Recitals and performances I like to use the R-44 as the main recorder and then back it up by also recording with the R-09, just in case the audio files get lost or corrupted.  This setup gives me great results with little effort and I have never had a problem.

Now Roland has more or less combined the best of both devices in their new model the R-26.  There are many nice features but the most interesting for me is that it has two sets of built in mics and two XLR connections to add two external mics.  The best thing about the R-26 besides the great audio sound, is that you can use all of them at the same time.  The built in mics are a pair of directional and a pair of omnidirectional.  The directional mics can be used to pick up the voice or instrument of the main performance and the omnidirectional will add a the more ambient room sound.  Then of course you can add two external more expensive mics and place them where you like.

Another new feature is that the R-26 has two nice large dials for setting input of the two external mics and touch screen technology.

The R-26 can be purchased online for around US $500.  Quite a good deal.

IB Music – Musical Links Investigation Resource

7 11 2012

I have been teaching IBDP Music for several years and since the last music update a couple of years ago my students scores for their Musical Links Investigation have gone down even though I thought most were writing good quality papers.  I decided to take an online workshop by Triple A Learning that has been designed to help music teachers help their students succeed with the MLI.  I found the course to be well worth the time and money.  It was full of great mentoring and views about how to get your students succeeding with the MLI.  Triple A Learning is located in the UK and is also approved by the IB.  IB-approved online workshops”IB-approved online workshops  Triple A Learning, working closely with the IB, offer a range of high-quality, cost effective online workshops. Successful completion of these workshops leads to certification. Our Category 1 and Category 3 IB-approved online workshops have equivalence with face-to-face workshops of the same category and the certificate is recognized by the IB for a school’s authorization and programme evaluation PD portfolio.

“Triple A Learning, working closely with the IB, offer a range of high-quality, cost effective online workshops. Successful completion of these workshops leads to certification. Our Category 1 and Category 3 IB-approved online workshops have equivalence with face-to-face workshops of the same category and the certificate is recognized by the IB for a school’s authorization and programme evaluation PD portfolio.”

They also offer BACCpacks that help students learn the ins and outs of the two prescribed works.  This year they are Xain’s Yellow River and Prokofiev’s Classic Symphony.  The packs are well put together and include analysis, history, unique instruments, and other background needed to fully understand these two prescribed works.  I have been using both of these BACCpacks and have found them very useful in delivering the material and content.


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