Leonardo’s Da Vinci’s Viola Organista

21 11 2013

What a cool instrument.  The viola organista.  Leonardo Da Vinci had many talents and was given a large dose of creativity.  One of his inventions was just created for the first time.  A new instrument called a “viola organista” that is a cross between a piano, a violin, and listen for yourself.  Interesting article  from “the Age Entertainment” Nov. 18, 2013  Read more.

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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





Learning How to Play Guitar by Playing a Game

22 03 2013

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String Wars is a game that can be played using a real guitar

“The most enjoyable and effective way to learn guitar!”

So many of us are gamers and love music as well.  Stringwars is a great way to do both at the same time.  I can see it being a tremendous boost for getting students to practice.  When we are having fun learning it doesn’t seem like practice.  I unfortunately do not play guitar myself but I am going to get my students to try it out and see what they think.  You can even record your performance for assessment.  Great fun!  Learn to play guitar and enjoy music.  Try out String Wars





Cool New MIDI Instrument – Percussa Audio Blocks

28 05 2012

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Audio Blocks is one of the coolest new instruments I have seen.  These look like so much fun.  Audio Blocks by Percussa are a new MIDI instrument that you can input your own samples to create completely original and new compositions of your own.

I wish they were a bit cheaper to buy.  A set of four blocks runs around $600 US.  A little steep.

Here is some info from their site.

Improvisor is a MIDI sequencer application which plays back multiple step sequences with up to 64 steps in length.

Each sequence is entered using velocity and semitone patterns, relative to a root note.

Semitone patterns can be played back using different velocity patterns or the other way around.

Semitone patterns can follow each other, which means they will add to each other’s relative semitone steps.

By drawing your own semitone and velocity patterns, and making patterns follow each other, you can create completely new melodies, which you didn’t imagine before!





Guitar and Vocal Effects for LIVE as well as the Studio

12 05 2012

VoiceLive Play GTX is the first ever combination of complete vocal and guitar processing, VoiceLive Play GTX takes everything that VoiceLive Play gives to singers and adds award-winning TC Electronic guitar effects and AmpTones. Artist presets offer signature vocal and guitar sounds while full editing ability allows you to define your unique style. Pro or Practicing, acoustic or electric, VoiceLive Play GTX is the singing guitarist’s dream machine.  And if you are going to use it on stage you can even get a special microphone that has a switch right on the mic so that you can turn it on and off as you like.  It is full of presets that imitate some of the most famous songs by the most famous bands.  It is even affordable at around $250 US.  Check it out!

Click on the links to see a video hosted by Dire Straits guitarist singer on how it works.

200+ song & artist inspired presets for vocals & guitar
Dedicated guitar effects processing from TC Electronic. No amp required
Key for harmonies and pitch correction set automatically from guitar input
Plug in your MP3 player to the AUX input and sing along using Vocal Cancel feature

Read an in depth article about the unit in the New York Times





Drum Stuff

29 11 2011

If you are ever in need of some drum equipment or drum lessons while in the Toronto area you might want to try Drumland in Toronto.  They provide a large selection of drums and equipment along with private drum lessons for all ages.  Check it out at Drumland.





Using an iPad for School Counseling

7 09 2010

This post has nothing to do with music but I thought is was worthy of note.
Adam Clark the student counselor at Yokohama International School is piloting a program on the benefits (if any) of using an ipad for his work with students. Adam has published some of his findings thus far on his blog Freedom Philosophy in an article “Two Essential Tools for Counseling”. He is quite happy with the product thus far and describes many of the benefits he sees in using the device. Check out the full article here.