“Are you still blogging?”
I am still here, absorbing news, developing opinions, and still working full time as a middle school choir (and a bit of technology general music and ukulele teacher), plus dealing with my responsibilities as a husband and as a dad. I’m also gearing up for six (!) music education conferences over the next four months, which include Wisconsin, Iowa, Florida, Michigan, Illinois, and Maryland.
I have been waiting for something exciting to happen before blogging on the webpage, but to be honest, everything is pretty quiet following the release of iOS 10 and Mac OS Sierra. There have been a number of updated apps, but all of the updates haven’t really brought new functions to any of the apps that I use.
Paul Shimmons and I have begun a podcast, and we cover news issues there–but the fun part is talking to other people and hearing about their stories and how they are connected to the larger issue of technology in music education. Paul and I will be getting together soon to record podcast #4. We’re also very excited to have a sponsor, UberChord, that has picked up the hosting costs for the podcast.
The development I have my eye on at the moment is the current trend of long-time web-based apps that are releasing stand-alone versions on the iPad. Chromebook momentum would have you believe that apps would be going the other way. From what I understand, iOS apps bring in significantly more revenue than other platforms, so it makes sense. I still believe that iPad is a better solution for music education (pretty much any level, PK-college) than any other device; yet schools are still investing heavily in Chromebooks. Things are better all the time on Chrome, but it still isn’t the device that I would choose for my program. So the shift of web app to iOS app (SoundTrap, Kahoot, Gustaf) is an interesting trend that seems to have “legs.”
Meanwhile, I am waiting for news on new Macs and new iPads. There is some talk about these things happening this month (they have to, paritcularly iPad, if new iPads will be a part of the shopping experience for the holiday season). This impacts me as I am in the market for both an iPad Pro (12 inch) and potentially MacBook.
Other than that, I have been having a pretty good year (not that the overall situation has improved, but my mindset and attitude has) integrating ukulele into all of my teaching (I haven’t touched the piano ONCE this year (Still working on barre I, IV, and V chords for warm-ups). Last weekend I attended a ukulele festival in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and had a chance to meet some of the major vendors and artists on the “mainland (in particular, Mainland Ukuleles, Lil’ Rev, and Danielle Ate the Sandwich.”). Most of the other “major” ukulele performers and pedagogues are in California, Hawaii, or Canada. It is funny to think about how far I have come with this instrument in 10 months and how much joy and passion it has brought back into my life. I am also fortunate that I teach in the situation where I teach, where I have the freedom to depart from traditional choral music to approach choir in different ways. I am pretty sure that what I am doing would be successful just about anywhere–I doubt that most teachers would want to learn/teach ukulele to do it. And I am certain that my students will be tremendously prepared for the next level–either high school choir or just to enjoy playing and singing music for the rest of their lives.
I hope you have had a fantastic start of the year. After another month or two, I’ll write a bit about the philosophy that has been keeping me afloat this year…it might help some of you, too. I just need to make sure that it isn’t something I lose after another month goes by. I might just wait until the holiday concert has come and gone before writing that post.