New Podcast Episode: MET Podcast 009 with Eckart Burgwedel from UberChord

Paul and I are happy to announce the release of our latest podcast.  In the first half, Paula and I talk a bit about our summers and what we are up to, as well as technology news.  In the second half, we interview Eckart Burgwedel, CEO of UberChord.

UberChord kindly offered to pay for our first year’s hosting fees on SoundCloud, but we would have interviewed SoundCloud anyway.  If you are a developer or a company, and you would like to talk with Paul and I about your product and its potential for music education, please contact us!  We are also open to talking to other influential teachers in the field.

We are learning a lot in this podcast endeavor–and we are hoping that you are, too.  We enjoy hearing the back stories behind the apps and the products.

Show notes (metpodcast.wordpress.com)

Slowing Down/Speeding Up YouTube Videos

I am starting to work on a wickedly hard ukulele play along (I'm not saying what it is yet), and I realize that even the best players are going to need to stop and take a look at some of the chord before being successful. Most elementary programs will not be able to tackle this song (on ukulele), but that's okay…their teacher can play it, or a few of the ukulele superstars can work on it at home.

But here's the question: how can you slow down a YouTube video and maintain the pitch? Or, how can you speed up a YouTube video and maintain the pitch?

You can save a video, open it in iMovie, and alter the speed, saving the pitch.

But if you don't want to do all that…YouTube has speed controls with "preserve pitch" built in. Perhaps you knew that already. I did not. I figure that if I don't know something, there is a chance that others do not as well.

As a warning, this would mean that you would need to open the video in YouTube, having internet access, and you may want to prepare ahead of time with a service such as safeyoutube.net that does not show all of the other YouTube "clutter." (And yes, your class will react if they see something on a video sidebar that isn't appropriate). In fact, it might be smart to share ALL YouTube links as safeyoutube.net links in school settings (regardless of the age of the student).

How do you slow down or speed up a video (this also works on safeyoutube.net)?

Step 1: Click the "gear" in the lower right hand corner of the screen.


Step 2: Choose the "Speed Option"

Step 3: Choose the speed of your choice

Step 4: Restart the video (movie the Play head back to the beginning…don't reload the website)

Can you believe how easy that is? A few of the music teachers that have been making these videos have been doing so with multiple speed formats, which may be helpful if they are trying to download the files locally to use in a presentation (See note below). However…every person watching a YouTube video can take advantage of this feature for any reason. I can see a number of musical reasons to use this feature–ukulele just brought it to my attention.

Note: I always encourage presenters, such as at music conventions, to make sure that all of their media is on their device and embedded in a presentation. Never rely on wi-fi at a convention–you have been warned!

This post will also be available on ukestuff.info

A quick mention about my ukulele efforts…

If you are interested in ukulele, and aren’t yet following my blog at ukestuff.info, or my YouTube Channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6jZYLoYuV1CxY4Stzm6mgg (I cannot register a unique URL until the channel has 100 followers), please consider doing so.  I have been attempting to limit my ukulele talk on techinmusiced.com unless I am doing something that also coincides with technology or could be useful in other areas.

I am nearing the end of my main summer video projects, as I have created all of the videos that I HAD to make, and now am just making videos for things I want to create.  Ultimately, I am creating resources for myself, or for others who have asked–and sharing those with the larger population.  That includes a list of all the extant similar videos for ukulele instruction.

I will be updating my (ukulele) play along list on the ukestuff.info play along site, and will probably not mention this again on techinmusiced.com.  So…if you are finding any use for these videos, please check out my Video Play Alongs page from time to time and see what is new.

https://ukestuff.wordpress.com/video-play-alongs/

Books Update

I have been busy working on my ukulele video resources this summer, and on the side I have been watching the technology news.

Amy Burns posted about her iBook which is entitled, “Help!  I am an elementary music teacher with a SMART Board!”  SMART recently updated its main program (SMART Notebook), changing some things and removing some older components.  Amy updated the exercises in her book so that activities can be used with the latest software.

This made me think about my own iBooks (and eBooks).  All of them are dated at this point, and I don’t intend on updating anything until after iOS 11 is released in the fall.  I don’t really suggest buying them right now, and when I do update them, I am going to reconsider pricing, etc.

I think a quick summary of my positions with music technology are worth stating in the meantime.

  1. I still think the iPad is the most flexible solution for music education–for teachers or students.  It will fit in any teaching situation, there are incredible apps for the platform, there are a number of quality accessories for the device, and the “new” 9.7″ iPad is in the same general price range as many Chromebooks.  The old argument about price being the determiner of Chromebook vs. iPad is over…it now becomes a question of philosophy and allegiance to a physical keyboard.
  2. Chromebooks are improving, and I really liked Michelle Mastin’s (ViolaJack) recent blog posts where she is using a “flipping” Chromebook in performance settings via Android.  The problem is that schools are not buying these more flexible (and less rugged) devices.
  3. Web-based programs keep getting better.  Noteflight, Flat.io, and Soundtrap are awesome solutions that now work together–and all of these services are offering better solutions for Google Apps schools (note…iPad schools can be Google Apps schools, too).  And of course, there is the New SmartMusic and all of the MusicFirst catalog including Sight Reading Factory.
  4. Two challenges remain for web-based apps.  First, they (rightly, fairly) cost money for annual subscriptions, and integrating them INTO secondary performance-based music education requires less time with performance, or integrating assignments OUT of the classroom.  Some of the web-based services, such as Noteflight, are including fund-raising opportunities to help schools raise money for resources.
  5. I don’t agree that web-based solutions are the only way to go.  If you are at an iPad school, for example, you may have a better experience with native apps such as Keynote, Notion, or GarageBand.  Yes, web-based solutions (should) work on every platform–but there are some things that are better on a specific platform.  I am sure that high school music technology teachers would insist on a Mac with Logic Pro or GarageBand.  However, if you are not at a device-specific school, it is pretty amazing how many quality solutions are available.  Don’t fail to look around and see the wreckage of web-based services that didn’t make it.  Or those that might not (SoundCloud).  [Note: We’re not sure what we will do with our podcast if SoundCloud folds]
  6. I still feel that the most natural way to use technology in music is as a replacement of and improvement on paper music.  One of the web-based digital music services recently questioned my continued support of PDF based technology such as forScore and unrealBook (iPad).  I can see where the future is going with Newzik and Gustaf, and if I didn’t have forScore and unrealBook, I would be able to use those solutions.  As it stands, the PDF music readers still offer a huge variety of tools that are not yet included in the MusicXML-based solutions.  Those features will continue to be added, and eventually all of us will move to those solutions.  I still love using Showbie in our 1:1 iPad scenario as a way to securely distribute music, allow students to interact with the music, do live assessments with music, and still not have too many tools in their hands (don’t give a middle school student a Swiss Army knife like forScore as a music reader.  They will be distracted by all the tools and find themselves plucking someone else’s hair our with the tweezers instead of simply cutting a rope with the knife).
  7. Ultimately, I feel like we are on the edge of a major distruption in technology in music education.  It is sort of like Moana standing at the edge of the water (sorry, I have young boys).  Things are about to change, but I can’t quite see where they are going.

This is going to be an expensive year for me in terms of technology.  I just replaced my iPad, my iPhone will be updated in the fall, and at some point this year, I will buy the new MacBook, as my current MacBook can no longer run the latest versions of the productivity software from Apple.  I encoded a video on my MacBook a couple of days ago–something I haven’t done since purchasing Luma Fusion (see my previous post).  All I’m going to say is this: my new iPad Pro can process a similar video in a fraction of the time it takes my 2008 MacBook to achieve…with more features.  I never thought I would see that occur.

One other note: Paul and I interviewed the CEO of UberChord a couple of weeks ago and have not found a common time to record the intro for that podcast.  We’re both on family vacations for the next weeks, so be aware that something IS coming.  (And that is NOT a reference to Game of Throne, Season 7, which premieres tonight).

Luma Fusion iOS App


Every now and then, an app comes along that changes your workflow.

For years, the easiest way to create movies was to use iMovie for Mac.  Sorry, Windows users (I was one), but Windows Movie Maker didn’t cut it.  Chromebook friends, WeVideo is NOT in the same league.

A lot of my energy has been put into making ukulele play along videos over the last month.  I owe a lot to the ukulele–it has reignited my passion for and interest in music.  It has allowed me to tweak my choir program at school to make the program slightly more interesting to more students.  And it has given me the opportunity to flex my musical brain, from creating arrangements to analyzing audio tracks for chord progressions, to modulating keys of audio files, to creating play along videos.

In the midst of some very dark years of teaching, the ukulele has truly been a ray of sunshine in my world.  (And yes, I’ll point you to this fun play along video that I put together: https://youtu.be/tZOzIAn2FAo).

The process of making these videos has been in a state of flux for me.  As of late, I create lyric and chord slides in Keynote, time them to the audio, export that as a movie, bring the movie into iMovie where I then re-sync audio and add a transparent PNG for a “bouncing ball.”  I had to do almost all of this work on my Mac, as iOS apps wouldn’t allow it…and iMovie on iOS is crippled versus its desktop version.

[Incidentally, Apple has made movie making even simpler and less complex with Clips…whereas I would want to see iMovie add more functionality.]

Last night, 9 to 5 Mac had a feature on Luma Fusion, which brings nearly the full spectrum of video editing to iOS.  The video capability that I wanted to use is to be able to add a transparent PNG file to a video, and then position that PNG file anywhere on the screen.  It wasn’t straightforward in the app’s listed capabilities, but spending a little time on their forum showed that the app could do that.  It was a $20 app…but I had a gift card, so I bought it.

While I did play around with the app a little last night, I went to work this morning.  I understand that I’m a little faster with technology than the average bear–so when I use a new software package, the amount of time that I have to spend to learn it–or the amount of time that I find myself frustrated–yields itself three or four times for the average user.  

What I found out was that I could make an entire ukulele play along video on my iPad.  In some ways, with better results than my previous videos.  Check it out: https://youtu.be/AM__0nYC_n4

Some general observations:

1) If you know how to edit a movie in iMovie, editing in Luma Fusion is very similar.

2) I was amazed to be able to make multiple font text overlays, and then to be able to make a template of that overlay…saving me a lot of time making slides

3) Cut and paste (lyrics) is still a mess on the iPad (not Luma Fusion‘s fault).  Maybe iOS 11 will fix this.

4) There are some things missing in Luma Fusion that will make my life easier in the future.  I couldn’t copy and paste a series of existing PNG images…meaning that every one had to be cloned and dragged.  This will change in the future.  I also missed iMovie’s default behavior of placing a transition on every PIP (picture in picture) image…and had to apply those manually.  This will also be addressed in the future by Luma Fusion.  There are currently no alignment guides.  They are coming in the future.  There is no iCloud Drive integration…and this, too, will come in the future.  I can work without any of these.  It will be nice to have all of them.

5) I had a couple of questions and feature requests for the developer.  They responded very quickly.

6) The iPad makes working with transparent PNG files a bit of a challenge…it can be done.

Overall, I am shocked right now…I have one less reason to use my MacBook…and once again, a small development team creates a program that large companies cannot.  I love that aspect of the App Store.

Do you do any video editing?  Or do you have any interest in making a ukulele play along video?  If so, check out Luma Fusion for $20.  It is an incredible app.  I did not receive a trial version of this software, and hours after starting to work with the app, I am pleased with the purchase.

P.S.  The company’s name is Luma Touch…the app is called Luma Fusion.