On the Music Tech Teacher Podcast

MTTP

A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to visit with Katie Wardrobe on her podcast via Skype.  Katie is an Australian music teacher, technology trainer, podcast host (and more) who is the only person I know that has been able to make a full-time job out of helping other music teachers use music technology.  And, may I add, Katie is perfect for the job as she is able to blend instruction, her natural ability to put people at ease, organization, and of course, valuable resources together in one place.  She offers a subscription based community of music educators who benefit from her instruction and resources–and you can check out that community at her website (midnightmusic.com.au).

Our conversation was split into two parts–the first part being about music technology in general, and the second part about ukulele.  The first link went live last week–and I failed to post about that as I have been busy arranging some music for our high school choirs as well as doing some ukulele work.  Now that the second link is out, I figured I would post about both podcast episodes at the same time.

If you haven’t subscribed to Katie’s podcast–you should do so.

You can find the links to our discussion below (to Katie’s Podcast area on the Midnight Music website) or you can find them on Apple Podcasts/Google Play.

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Two App Updates (9/10/18)

I just saw that two apps, neither new, have been updated recently. Treble Cat (and Treble Cat HD), a note reading game, has been refreshed in look and style (I assume we’ll see a similar update to Bass Cat and Rhythm Cat in the future).

I also noticed that Music Memos has been updated. Music Memos remains one of the apps that surprises people the most as I present sessions. Music Memos was invented by Apple to replace the need for musicians to use Voice Notes to “jot down” musical ideas (this was quite common). Music Memos takes a musical recording and analyzes the key, tempo, and harmonic structure–and adds bass and drums to the recording. Ever need to make a quick accompaniment for an ensemble? Try Music Memos. You can also export the final project to Garage Band (Mac only…hoping for iOS integration in the future), or you can export audio as an audio file. Yes, you can edit the program’s interpretation of the chords. When I show this app to audiences, there is always a gasp of awe–even with collegiate students. If you haven’t tried Music Memos, do so–and it is FREE…another wonderful gift for musicians and music educators from Apple.



Finale 26 Sneak Peeks Coming Soon

I would be remiss if I did not mention MakeMusic’s announcement from earlier today that they will soon be offering sneak peeks about Finale 26. There is no word (yet) on release date, but it has been quite a while (2016) since Finale 25 was released, and all updates since that time have been free to owners of the software.

Without a doubt, the margin in the music notation industry continues to shrink, as existing programs keep improving, and newer players (e.g. Dorico) keep expanding. We also cannot forget the impact of freeware, specifically MuseScore. Add to that the online editors (Noteflight, and Flat.io) and you have a very crowded space, indeed (and that doesn’t even factor in any of the iOS apps or StaffPad!).

Can the market continue to support three major notation programs, plus “next level programs” (such as Notion) when MuseScore exists? This isn’t a new thought on this blog, but it is more true than ever. And I am still amazed that SmartMusic (Finale’s sister product) has its own web-based notation editor!

MakeMusic is fully aware of the current state of music notation, and they know what is at stake with Finale 26. I expect to see awesome new features, bug fixes, and an overall improved user experience.

Watch the Finale Blog closely for future updates about Finale 26.



Noteflight Marketplace

Noteflight officially announced “Noteflight Marketplace” yesterday. If you’re not familiar with Noteflight, it is one of two web-based music notation programs that work on every device (well, the iPad isn’t always the best experience, but other than that…). Some time ago, Hal Leonard bought the company (this is directly related to the marketplace announcement), and the company has started to push the boundaries in terms of notation, education, and now distribution of music. This is exactly what we need to see in a technology-rich world.

In terms of education, Noteflight introduced Noteflight Learn a couple of years ago. Noteflight Learn is a solution for education that not only gave students access to the notation editor in a COPPA compliant environment, the program also gave students and teachers access to a optional music library (filled with Hal Leonard titles), as well as a way to record audio (e.g. student playing) and share those files with the teacher.

Noteflight’s latest development is the Noteflight Marketplace. While anyone can buy music from the Marketplace, the Marketplace allows anyone age 18 or older with a Noteflight Premium Subscription (which is actually very affordable) the opportunity to publish music. You can publish your own scores (50% commission), publish scores in the public domain (50% commission), or arranged works (10% commission–as long as the copyright holder has a license agreement with Noteflight, and over 1,000,000 songs do have that agreement). And yes, you can import MusicXML files into Noteflight if you have music you would like to sell but it is currently in another program. My guess is that the number of available songs will grow as other publishers see the strengths of this program, and I have a sneaky suspicion that Noteflight would be open to adding publishing partners (I haven’t talked to anyone about it, but it certainly seems as if Noteflight is ready for this). I love the publishing aspect, which seems to be very similar to publishing your own music (without a label) on iTunes, or an iBook on the iBook Store (without a publisher).

When you buy a song from the Noteflight Marketplace, you can print your music (it creates a PDF) and you can buy a license for a larger number of performers at a set fee (this is awesome for choral music). All scores can be purchased for more performers, but it is awesome to see the option for a 50+ purchase (I hope more composers will utilize this!). Any purchase from the Noteflight Marketplace can be adapted for your needs.

In general, anything that has been published by Hal Leonard (not necessarily its subsidiaries or publishing partners) in the recent past seems to be available in the Noteflight Marketplace catalog. One negative but understandable limitation is that you cannot export a song from the Marketplace to another program via MusicXML. I understand that limitation, but if you are more comfortable on Finale, Sibelius, Dorico, or Notion for editing, you will have to learn how to edit in Noteflight; in my case, my main reason for exporting would be to have another program play the music and create audio files for rehearsal/performance.

I did a little searching on the Marketplace and found a lot of available literature, even songs from The Daily Ukulele! I was a little sad to see that “printed” choral octavos seem to be at their regular price–I would have loved to see a discount offered to buyers due to no printing, shipping, storage, or local music store sale. Sadly, I can always buy a printed score at a discount from local music stores. I don’t expect to buy music at the price that a music store would pay, but perhaps pricing in-between would be possible?

Music publishing, copyright, technology, and specifically tablets (e.g. iPad) have been in an uncomfortable position for years. Can you scan your music? Not legally for use in schools. Can you arrange music (e.g. you don’t have tenors)? Not legally. Can you change the key of a song? Not legally. Some of these problems are now solved if you live in the Noteflight world. And with this development, we probably all should be getting involved in Noteflight.

The only challenge for education that I currently see with the program is how to tie a purchase to an institution versus attributing that purchase to an individual. For example, if I buy all of my concert music from Noteflight for large groups, and then leave the school, how does the next teacher get access to those scores? Or can a team of teachers have access to a single score? Or can a district get access to a purchased score so that any school in the district can use the song (up to the purchased group size)? These problems do not need to be solved right away, but certainly are worth thinking about.

And just a word of caution: if you decide to join Noteflight for the Marketplace, don’t buy one score and then use it with a choir of 50 students. Please respect the innovation offered here and do the right thing (I think back to a teacher that was buying five scores off of a digital music service and using that to provide music for their entire ensemble. Sigh).

Additionally, every score on the Noteflight Marketplace has a preview of the song, as well as the ability to hear it (digitally). If you’re searching for new music for 2018-2019, you might want to spend some time on the Noteflight Marketplace, too!

I’m really excited by this development, and it is one step away from my dream scenario where a school could report the number of students in their program (e.g. 350), and pay a set price per student to access for printed music for the year (think Spotify or Apple Music). That’s a natural next step–but it might be years in the making.



Creating Tabs With A Dotted Leader (Great for Concert Programs)

I was in a Twitter conversation the other day, where Paul Shimmons (ipadmusiced.wordpress.com), Robby Burns (robbyburns.com/blog), and I were discussing some things, including my hesitation toward buying a new MacBook. My ten year old MacBook works just fine, but Apple “iWork” documents that I create on my iPad no longer open on my old MacBook.

I use my iPad for 99% of my work with the exception of Finale work and some things in Apple’s own programs (new versions of which do not operate on my old MacBook, although I can run iCloud.com if I need to).

There are some things that Pages on Mac can still to that, to my knowledge, Pages on iOS cannot. One of those comes to creating a concert program, where I use a dotted leader to show the space between song title and composer/arranger.

I thought this would be an excellent video to create, because I am sure that there are music teachers out there who do not know how to do this…it is easy to do, but you simply need to know what to do. Watch the video for the instructions…it is better to watch than to read about.