I have been presenting workshops on iPads in Music Education and Technology in Music Education this week at the Wisconsin Center for Music Education (We are actually meeting at Waunakee High School).
One of the participants in our iPad workshop has a son who has created some iPad apps, and I downloaded one of them tonight: The Most Addicting Sheep Game (link). It is only $0.99.
The premise is that you control a sheep that jumps to the beat, either with a single finger tap, two finger tap, or swipe. The farther you go in the app, the harder it gets. The only negative about the app is that it has not been optimized for the longer iPhone 5 models or the new iPod Touch. It does fit on the iPad screen, however.
The connection to music education is light, as there is no direct connection to written rhythm. But you still jump to the beat. I'm having fun playing the game, and it is always fun to use an app written by someone that you know (or their son).
If you are looking for or are just “up to” a fun little game, check out The Most Addicting Sheep Game.
Within 24 hours of an e-mail (and news update) from MakeMusic, an update to SmartMusic for the iPad was released to make the app compatible with SmartMusic files created by Finale 2014, as well as to add the ability to see fingering charts for notes on the iPad app.
Although I am not an expert, I am very familiar with SmartMusic, and it is getting safe to say that (for the student), there isn't much that the iPad app cannot do that desktop/notebook version can do. That's very exciting.
Included in this update is the end of SmartMusic incompatibility issues. In the past, you had to have the same version (in terms of release, versus actual “label”) of Finale as SmartMusic. Just as Finale will no longer have backwards compatibilty issues, neither will Finale-created SmartMusic files. Michael Good, creator of the MusicXML standard and a VP at MakeMusic wrote about this on his blog (which I cannot currently open, the server may be temporarily offline). In a tweet, Michael Good stated:
“MakeMusic's new universal file format comes to SmartMusic, restoring compatibilty with Finale 2014.”
I like the work that Michael Good has overseen this year, where the SmartMusic team has created backwards compatible formats, much like Mr. Good's prior (and contiuning) work with the MusicXML format.
Next on my “dream” wish list? For SmartMusic, pricing for choral students who don't use the same resources of band students, and for Finale, a utility that converts all of your old Finale .mus files (any age) into the new Finale format.
MakeMusic sent an e-mail to SmartMusic educators today that announced that next update of Finale 2014 will be able to make SmartMusic files. Through today’s announcement, if you wanted to create your own SmartMusic file from Finale, you needed to use Finale 2012.
MakeMusic also announced that an upcoming version of the SmartMusic iOS app will allow SmartMusic on the iPad to run SmartMusic files created by Finale 2014, and will also allow fingering charts to appear on notes in SmartMusic on the iPad.
The full e-mail appears below:
Dear SmartMusic Educator,
A new school year is just around the corner, and it’s important that you have in advance the tools you need to succeed.
That’s why we are happy to announce that SmartMusic will be updated to include compatibility with custom SmartMusic accompaniments created in Finale 2014.
This update is planned to take place early in the week of July 14th. If you are using the latest version of SmartMusic, this update will be applied automatically unless you have turned off automatic updates. To update from earlier versions of SmartMusic, download the latest version from http://www.smartmusic.com/support/downloads/.
Shortly after, our iPad app will be updated to include Finale 2014 compatibility and fingering charts.
Although I have had the full version of NotateMe's PhotoScore In-App Purchase, I haven't had much time to work with the app. We had a long family vacation, I am continuing to work in the basement, and I was getting ready for my sessions with the Wisconsin Center for Music Education this week.
I'm currently in a hotel, ready to work with teachers tomorrow–and an evening (or few) away from home gives me an opportunity to finally work with some of the apps I have wanted more time to work with.
I just finished scanning a two-part choral score that I purchased for my students at the end of last year. I won't say what the score is, but I would guarantee that most middle school teachers either have performed this piece or will perform it in the near future, as it is a very popular song from a very recent animated movie.
I chose to scan the score on my iPhone versus my iPad for two very important reasons. First, this is a hotel, and like all hotel rooms, lighting is not great in the room–so I could use the flash for the pictures. Second, I figure the iPhone has a better camera than the iPad (this is always true…the best camera ALWAYS goes into the top-of-the-line iPhone. In my case, we're talking both a 4th Generation iPad and an iPhone 5, neither is the newest, but the iPhone's camera is still better than the iPad's).
Ultimately, I am very impressed with the results. Like the PC/Mac version of the software, The Notate Me PhotoScore In-App Purchase does a good job reading most notes, diacritical markings, and yes, even lyrics. When I export from NotateMe into Notion on the iPad, the accuacy is amazing–I would say in the 95% range or higher.
Like other music readers, the app does occasionally miss stave groupings (e.g. reading voice parts and piano as continual vs. combined staves), but this may be because of the bad lighting in the room. I will try this again in the future.
However, like other scanning products, PhotoScore does get confused in a choral score where there are occasionally two staves, three staves, and four staves (when empty staves are hidden). I don't know if there is a way to encourage any scanning software to fill staves systems from the bottom up, versus the top down.
Let me put this another way: if you have an iPad (or iPhone), and you want to enter music into any software program (NotateMe, Notion, Finale, Sibelius, MuseScore), this app and its plugin should be considered a must-have. Without doubt, it is a pricey combination…$39.99 for the app and $29.99 for the plug-in. At the same time, you don't need to buy a scanner, and remember that PhotoScore Ultimate (Mac/PC) is a $249 option. Granted, the desktop/notebook version does have a editor embedded (And you can use NotateMe to edit), but as a Finale user, I have always found it easier to simply pull the MusicXML from PhotoScore into Finale. This holds true with the NotateMe version of PhotoScore….you may want to export the file to DropBox and open it in whatever app you wish, be it Finale, Sibelius, Notion, Notion for iPad, MuseScore, or any other app.
Musitek, the makers of SmartScore (paired with Finale, but not owned by MakeMusic) also has a scanning app for Android and soon iOS. My “hacked” HP Tablet running Android doesn't have a good enough camera for me to test that app and compare it with NotateMe's PhotoScore (also available on Android). I my experience, PhotoScore has always been more accurate for the music I scan (choral octavos) than SmartScore…and PhotoScore imports text (sometimes incorrectly, many cases of “the” are recognized as “tne,” for example). However, the SmartScore app will be a $10.00 In-App Purchase, so it will be worth purchasing at any case (SmartScore Pro X2 is a $299 program). The SmartScore app will also handle PDFs, whereas NotateMe's PhotoScore cannot handle PDFs at this time (something I hope for, as all of my music has been converted to PDF files). When the SmartScore app is released for iOS, I will certainly purchase it, and may even write a head-to-head article.
All I can say is that I wouldn't hesitate for a second to spend $39.99 on this app and another $29.99 for the PhotoScore IAP if I had a recent iPad and wanted to scan music…choral, band, or orchestral.
Referral Link: NotateMe (full version)
You can also download the free one-staff NotateMe Now, which comes with a free PhotoScore Now feature that scans one part at a time.
I am preparing for my “Technology in Music Education” workshop on Monday and Tuesday, and I am also going through old Feedly “saved” items.
One of the questions I am often asked is, “This is great, but how do you integrate this technology into music education?” The answer isn’t hard, and it isn’t a sarcastic answer: you do it.
If you have one iPad (your own), you mirror the iPad and you teach from your iPad. You use apps to SUBSTITUTE or REPLACE things you previously did without technology (e.g. sheet music, audio player, etc.) as well as to AUGMENT what you use to do. Basically, you are simply ENHANCING your curriculum. You don’t start trying to TRANSFORM, MODIFY, or REDEFINE what you are doing right off the bat, because you want to make sure that you are using the technology. As you SUBSTITUTE and REPLACE, you will learn new techniques and you will take new risks.
These are all edu-speak terms that follow the SAMR and RAT models of technology integration.
Additionally, as you integrate technology, expect things to not work from time to time. Your Windows Notebook, MacBook, or Chromebook may crash. The wi-fi might go down. There might be an app update that accidentally breaks the functionality of your app. Google might, overnight, completely rewrite or replace a service. This stuff happens all the time.
So as you teach with technology, you always have to have a backup plan in mind, even if you never use it. And you know what, this isn’t any different than life before technology in your classroom. You didn’t know if you would have a day where you lost your voice, something major interrupted the school day, or a grade level or class took a trip without reminding the entire staff.
Over the last twenty-four hours, I have seen two videos that exemplify using technology in music education. The first is a video from my friend Paul Shimmons (who blogs at iPads and Technology in Music Education) which shows a first grade class using the iPad App Flashnote Derby to strengthen their note reading ability. This is a model of a one-iPad implementation that is an example of Augmentation. Note how one student is at the iPad, and the rest of the class in 100% engaged in the process. Flashnote Derby is still a great app, and this could be done with a number of any other apps including StaffWars, which came out this year on the iPad.
The second video was tweeted yesterday by Steven Struhar, the Product Manager of SmartMusic with MakeMusic. This is a twenty minute video by Dave Faires, the band director of the Willowcreek Middle School Band program in Lehi, Utah. In this video, Mr. Faires discusses the various apps that they use in their band program. This includes SmartMusic, TonalEnergy Tuner, Tenuto, Read Rhythm, Sight Reading Machine, iReal Pro, Vic Firth, and forScore (and a few other apps). At the end of the video, Mr. Faires makes a joke about people lasting through the whole video–but if you are interested in integrating technology in your music program, this video is invaluable as it shows how one director is doing things–again, mainly with levels of SUBSTITUTION, REPLACEMENT, and AUGMENTATION on the SAMR and RAT models. If you are interested, I wrote a similar post about how students used (free) apps in my middle school choir program this past year.
So again, technology integration isn’t a scary thing, and you just need to move forward and start with SUBSTITUTION and REPLACEMENT. Set a goal, and go meet it. Expect bumps along the way. Failure isn’t fatal in this arena, even if it can be annoying…but as we have been told, FAIL=”First Attempt In Learning.”