Etherpad – Real time collaborative editing and sharing of documents

16 02 2010

Etherpad is a wonderful free online software that allows students and teacher to work together in real time to collaborate on any topic. The system is public and does not require accounts. Just log on to the group and start participating instantly. Screens get updated every five seconds. You can save the results as well. Etherpad is offered free for the public version and also offers a professional version for using in a more secure environment. Check out Etherpad and get started sharing and developing ideas in meetings or the classroom.

Google has purchased Etherpad and made it open sourced creating opportunities for new software of similar construction. One new version is called “Pirate Pad”. It looks and acts exactly the same as Etherpad. Note that Google also has Google Wave but it is not the same thing.

Using Teleconferencing for Distance Education – TI:ME Conference Feb. 18, 2010

7 02 2010

A Joint Project
Developed by:

Patricia Riley University of Vermont
and Brad Johnston Yokohama International School

Presenting on “Exploring the Possibilities of Distance Education using Teleconferencing” at the Technology Institute for Music Educators and New Jersey Music Educators Conference
Feb. 18-20, 2010
New Brusnwick, New Jersey
Hilton Hotel

Brad Johnston
Director of Music Technology and IB Music
Yokohama International School
Yokohama, Japan

Originally from Toronto, Canada. Currently in Yokohama, Japan

I started working in the music industry early on in my life as a percussionist/drummer, performing with many different groups from different musical genres that played many different styles of music. I enjoyed performing such a variety of music and this led to involvement in music composition, publishing, the recording industry, producing artists, and now music education.

For the last 22 years I have lived and worked in the music industry in Tokyo, Japan. A large portion of my work involves using technology to produce music, TV, and Radio.

A few years ago I was asked by Yokohama International School if I would be interested in helping them develop new ways of teaching using technology. It proved to be a very exciting offer for me to have some influence in the development of a modern arts program that introduced and developed skills currently needed to succeed in the entertainment industry.

The use of technology in today’s multi billion dollar music industry is growing every day and musicians need a diverse skill set that includes using technology as well as (and in some cases instead of) becoming proficient at performing an instrument.

I first met Patricia Riley in the spring of 2009. We were both presenting at a music conference in San Antonio that was hosted by the Technology Institute for Music Educators or TI:ME. She was presenting a project she had developed with a school in Mexico. In it they used skype (online conferencing software), the internet, and computers to link teachers in Vermont with a classroom in Mexico. They experimented with the possibiities of this medium and it’s usefulness in the field of education. This was an area that facinated me.

A number of years ago I was asked to appear and perform in a short film produced by electronics giant Panasonic. In the film musicians from around the world recorded a piece of music. The interesting twist was the fact that all the musicians were located in different countries at the time of the recording. Using the technologies available musicians were faxed (it was a while ago) copies of music and then linked their studios together via teleconferencing. At the time I thought that it was very cool and that the future holds some real treats. The joining of talents from all over the world in real time and little or no expense.

This is a very viable way of bringing in guest lectures and performers of a variety of expertise into your classroom. The possibilities are endless.

Since starting a joint experiment with Patricia and the U of V music department I started looking for other tech savy and open minded music educators and musicians and have developed several interesting programs linking my music classroom to the virtual world of music.

A great area to find contacts is to use the technology at our fingertips. Twitter and Blogging have both proven to be a great resource for finding new contacts as well as using the vast network of professionals I work with in the entertainment industry.

The students enjoy the experience and it is very easy to set up and use.

If you would like to discuss future possibilities please drop me a line via email.

If you are interested in this project please watch some of the video footage from the telecast at the Vimeo pages found below. The first is using NoteFlight software to help teach grade 7 music students how to write a melody. The second is teaching grade 10 students how to play Djembe.

Vermont Melody Project Web Version from Brad on Vimeo.

Vermont TIME Djembe 2009WEB-desktop from Brad on Vimeo.

Share Experts knowledge with your class – using skype and other online connection tools. Read this article on a previous post.

If you are looking for other ways to connect for a teleconference other than using skype, check out It is a free online service, you do not have to download software and you can invite people to share a URL created. It can be private or public. More interesting is the fact you can also share pics, other files located on you hard disk. Or try “Wetoku” and “Vokle“.

View Yokohama International School Music Homepage

YIS Music Technology and IB Music Online

3 10 2009

Head shot black and whiteYIS LOGO

Brad Johnston is a music teacher at Yokohama International School and has a every growing library of lesson plans and useful music resources. Everything from music history, tech tips, recording software, rubrics, you name it. If you find this blog interesting check out his school site at It is used for the sole purpose of his YIS music classes in music technology and IB Music. However, check it out and if you find something useful let him know. Other sites of Brad’s and ways to connect with him are listed below.

Find it and check it out at:

“Ah..Music! A magic beyond all we do hear!”
quote by: Ablus Dumbledoor

Technology for Teachers – Great resource

29 08 2009

If you haven’t found this chestnut yet, check “FREE TECHNOLOGY FOR TEACHERS“. Full of ideas and sites and other useful stuff for teachers that like to use technology and the internet in their classrooms. This one features “12 Free History and Social Studies Resources” but there is info on all subjects including ideas on

Brazilian/Cuban Music Tutorial with Maria Martinez

15 02 2009

Today myself and other lucky participants were able to learn how to approach Cuban and Brazilian percussion patterns from one of the best in the business.  Maria Martinez was born in Camaguey, Cuba and raised in New Orleans, Maria is a a drummer, percussionist, clinician and educator.  

Her musical talents extend to the authorship of numerous book/CD packages and instructional DVD’s that span virtually every drumming style including Afro-Cuban and Brazilian.  She is a contributing columnist for Modern Drummer, LP’s Educational Newsletter and Percussive notes among others.  She has performed and recorded with many artists such as Lisa Haley, El Chicano rita Coolidge, Angela Bofill, Morris Albert, and the late Barry White to name a few.

Protools Lesson Plans for the Classroom

15 02 2009

High School music programs take note.  Insiders informed me today that there will soon be project based lesson plans for teachers wanting to include instruction using Protools (or other digital recording softwares) in the classrooms.  They should be available in 2009, but nothing was firm as to what the lessons will include (sound files, movie files) or topics addressed.  Recording for pictures is a $31,000,000,000 per year industry.  Many think that basic music education should include preparing students for the digital media world. Currently there are many more jobs in the electronic media world than their are for instrumental musicians.  Educators with Protools and other digital recording set ups will welcome this support from Protools.  For those of you that do not know Protools is the industry standard for recording sound.  Almost all of the music, commercials, tv shows, and movies you hear every day are recorded using this software.  Also in the newly released Protools 8, the ability to use expanded notation software is included from Sibelius.  Apparently not the full version, but more than enough to exchange files between Sibelius and Protools.

Where are the Jobs? Teaching more than music performance.

15 02 2009

I listened to several presenters this week mention the fact that our music education system is only focused on music performance, theory, and history and not on teaching film scoring, recording studio technology, and media technology which represent a 70 Billion dollar industry.  Why is that?

It was mentioned that one university music program in America has 300 string players studying to become classical performers.  This is when we are loosing orchestras every year due to lack of attendance by audiences.

Concert goers want more for their money.  It is not enough just to perform great, they want a show with visual impact like they see on MTV music videos.

Where are the jobs?  Shouldn’t we be offering a more all inclusive education curriculum in our schools?

Technology currently has a huge and growing influence on the music industry and how we produce and listen to music.  It is time to start educating for more than just music performance.

The standard music software used in every studio is Protools, and it doesn’t look like that is going to change any time soon.  Introducing this kind of technology skills to youth will give them great skills for their future. Shouldn’t music technology be part of the regular music curriculum in our schools?  It is a great way to teach composition and musical concepts, maybe even better than the old school method of paper, pencil, and lecture.

Mouse Locator

14 02 2009

Do you use a projector for presentations and can not see the cursor?  If you are a Mac user here is a FREE plugin that highlights the cursor on screen so the audience can see where it is.

Cool Music Software for Projecting Piano Keyboard On Screen

14 02 2009

I discovered a wonderful little software package for Music Teachers.  If you use a laptop/projector/usb midi keyboard combination in class and want your students to see what notes you are playing on the keyboard check this out.  It is a $69 software called “classroom maestro” by Time Warp Technologies.  With it running a piano keyboard and staff show up on the big screen and the keys on the piano light up when you play them.  It will even name chords and intervals visually as you play as well.  Pretty cool.

Sibelius Worksheets by: Tom Rudoph

14 02 2009

Great seminar on the best shortcuts to use with Sibelius.  It wasn’t a how to use the software, but more how to get the most out of it if you are going to use it.  A wealth of great information exchanged.  Way to go Tom!  For more info…