Category Archives: Android

Reeling a little this evening…


Today I presented on the subject of iPads in Music Education for the Wisconsin Center for Music Education. We covered a lot of territory today, and as usual, the later afternoon becomes a challenge with planned work/reflection time. I am very thankful for those that attended today's session (tomorrow is Chromebook day)…all of them elementary music educators. I have no problems presenting…but part of me wished that I could have flown out Amy Burns for the day…I heavily recommended her resources as well as Katie Wardrobe's resources!

I was thrown completely off my game when one of the workshop attendees mentioned that a bunch of my elementary music apps were no longer on the App Store.

As I have mentioned before, I plan to update all of my books when iOS 11 comes out. That is when I will painstakingly go through every link to make sure that apps are still available. I do have a list of apps on my website…and it was just shocking to realize that so many apps were just…gone. One of the iPad's strengths has been the abundance of quality apps, many at no cost or low cost. Granted, plenty of web apps have disappeared, too (do any web apps from the original iPhone still exist?).

Don't get me wrong…there are still plenty of wonderful resources for the iPad (and Chromebook), and some stellar resources, such as forScore. I still think that forScore (or unrealBook) can completely change the instruction in any music class.

Still–the unannounced disappearance of apps unsettled me. I think it might be related to the upcoming iOS 11 and companies deciding to abandon a product instead of updating it. #sad. I need to update my web list!

A few minutes after the workshop closed, I received notice that none of my TMEA sessions were accepted this year (One on iPad, one on S-Cubed, two on ukulele). That is disappointing, but I have been accepted at TMEA several times (including sessions that I had to decline last year as I presented a number of sessions at the Maryland Music Educators Association the same weekend), and I have previously been declined at TMEA, too. The only sad part is that I have scaled back my presentations as my school was no longer giving me days off to present (they have never been asked to pay for travel, housing, or registration fees), and I was not sure what our new principal would think–so I had only applied at TMEA this year. If you had hoped to see me somewhere in 2017-2018, you'll have to come visit me at my school in Minnesota.

And now…I just received an e-mail from Chromatik that they are closing their services on Monday. That adds to my "reeling." Chromatik started off as a service that would display (and sell) sheet music, as well as offer annotation and group distribution. Funding was made possible with angel investors. It was used on "American Idol," and I had high hopes for the service. They even offered a promo that if you had a certain number of students sign up, they would send you an iPad 2. I did that at my prior school, and that iPad is still in use. Later, Chromatik took a turn, offering sheet music linked with video for all kinds of tunes, with a subscription model. It became a web-based service, and I had continued to talk about it–although I didn't use it very often myself. I still wish it would have continued to exist and improve in its original form, as nobody still has the group distribution model worked out (although Newzik and forScore have some elements of those models). People at Chromatik, thank you for making a "go" of it, and I wish you all the best in your futures.

The other day I wrote a tweet and said this:

Here is the challenge as a music education technologist: there is little new to report on, yet the profession, as a whole, hasn’t adopted the old stuff.

I really feel this is true. The iPad is no longer the "hot commodity" in music education, yet it is about to undergo a major transition with iOS 11 making it easier, better, and faster. The apps are still world class, and some of them exceed or improve on the abilities available on other platforms, often at a better price point. I still believe that the iPad is the best platform for music educators (note: not the only platform), and I would love to see every music teacher (that wanted one) have an iPad (preferably the 12.9" iPad Pro) for their instruction, regardless of what their students have or or are given. Again…forScore (or unrealBook) alone justifies the device. Having apps like Notion, Sheet Music Scanner, Notate Me, Luma Fusion (and more) just sweetens the deal.

Tomorrow is Chromebook day. I'm not against Chromebooks, and I want to help teachers use whatever device they or their students have. The Chromebook has improved a lot, and is so much more useful in music classes. Most of this is thanks to paid services (education versions), such as Noteflight, flat.io, and SoundTrap (and many others carried by MusicFirst, which is also brilliant). Android is coming (in fact, it is already on many Chromebooks), although there are issues to work out in an educational model.

That said, Android isn't iOS when it comes to music education, and neither is Chromebook. The iPad still has a very important place–and not just because I like it. It just does more and it does it better. I just have to hope that we don't ignore it as a profession, as most music educators still haven't had a chance to see what it can really do!

Bandmate Chromatic Tuner

Every now and then, I get an e-mail from a developer about their app (as a note, when the e-mail comes from the developer and not a PR firm, it makes me more likely to pay attention to the app. There are four of five blogs [in total] that discuss apps for music education, and all of us link to each other. It doesn't take that long to reach out to us). Not all apps are easily applicable to music education, and I choose not to blog about some apps, particularly when I don't see the connection to classroom music (which to me also includes band, choir, and orchestra).

The app I would like to bring to your attention today IS an app that is applicable to music education, and it is free without ads. It is a tuner called Bandmate Chromatic Tuner.

From the developer:

My name is Justin Dickson. I am a middle school band director in North Carolina. I wanted to tell you about an app that I designed. It is called Bandmate Chromatic Tuner, available for iOS and Android. It is free, with no ads so it is safe for classroom use. It is a chromatic tuner that displays your note on a music staff. It is the only tuner that does this. Since launching in August, it has had over 36,000 downloads. It has been a game changer with my beginners. Being able to see what note they are playing has made it so much easier to learn how to read music and play the correct notes on their instruments. Bandmate is set up for every instrument that you find in school bands and orchestras, and handles transposition without the user even needing to know what transposition is. In other words, Bandmate is an app that you can use on your first day of beginning band / orchestra with basically no explanation or set up time from the teacher. Download it, turn it on, and go with your lesson.

The unique element of this app is that it is a tuner that visually shows the pitch that is being played on the staff (with transposition in mind), unlike other tuners that show only the frequency. The only other app that comes to my mind that shows the pitch that is played is Magic Stave MIDI Recorder (or Magic Stave Free), but that app isn't a “tuner first,” are still iPhone apps (universal iOS versions are coming), and the free version is ad supported.

I know there is a HUGE following for TonalEnergy Chromatic Tuner and I am NOT suggesting that you “bail” on that app. Sometimes it is nice to have multiple tools in the toolkit, and Bandmate is a nice addtion that is straightforward for beginning students (and beginning technology users) [As a side note, also check out Band Tools].

So…if you tune instruments…go download Bandmate Chromatic Tuner!

 

More on the iPad vs. Chromebook Debate

Tim Holt’s recent article on EdSurge resulted in a lot of debate, including this recent rebuttal (pro-Chromebook). You can find the rebuttal by Joshua Kim at https://www.edsurge.com/n/2014-06-30-3-reasons-why-chromebook-beats-ipad-in-1-1-programs

Here are Kim’s main points:

Reason 1: Chromebooks are for Creating, iPads are for Consuming

Kim’s main point is that the Chromebook has a keyboard attached to it, again, something that makes the device generally useless for most music programs.

And knowing the number of apps that can be used for music creation, where doing so is very limited on a Chromebook, music education lives in a reverse parallel universe from the rest of education. But then again, any subject without desks would feel the same way.

In truth, the argument that iPads are for consumption is tiring; and if I was a Chomebook apologist, I would be upset that it was implied that the Chromebook wasn’t good for consumption either (Yes, you can use Netflix on a Chromebook, too). Addtionally, the first touch screen Chromebooks are out, too, which may lead to similar ways of interacting with apps on a Chromebook as on an iPad.

Reason 2: The App Versus the Web

Kim argues that the web ecosystem is better for education. HTML 5 apps are still not mature, meaning that can make more developed apps for iOS or Android, versus what can get on a web app. Furthermore, web apps eventually need to be profitable, meaning that they need to sell annual subscriptions (most common) or be ad driven (dangerous at school…how do you control what apps are seen?). Most iPad apps…in music education…are buy once, use forever (or at least for multiple years–usually at a 50% discount). iOS developers are also very open to feedback, meaning that they are willing to add features at the request of paying users whereas web developers may not. Again, in music education, the app ecosystem is better…and web ecosystems that run on a Chromebook tend to also run on an iPad (e.g. NoteFlight).

Reason 3: The Google Ecosystem for Collaboration

Kim’s argument is that Chromebooks are better for collaboration. iPads can, for the most part, be used in every collaborative way that a Chromebook would be used. Furthermore, iPads can be mirrored via a dongle, Apple TV, or computer program…with new peer-to-peer mirroring without wi-fi this fall. I was never much of a fan of group projects in school, as I usually ended up doing the work for the entire group (to save the grade) or in self-selected groups, we would finish days before other groups. Music is collaborative in a others sense–everyone interacting with each other to create musical excellence, which at its core doesn’t even require technology.

Again, until we see a Chomebook tablet (again, unlikely as Google is still committed to Android tablets), a choice of Chromebooks in your school is a statement that the “core” matters, and that music and other “electives” don’t need technology integration in your school. I do support a hybrid model of Chromebook carts and 1:1 iPads, with the option of students checking out Chromebooks overnight. My guess is that many students would not take advantage of that opportunity with 1:1 iPads.

Sadly, Mr. Kim’s article focused on (hard to believe that. I would use this terminology, but it is accurate) old technology stereotypes, and ignored some of the existing positives of Chromebook, such as IT management, cost, and upcoming features and connections with between Chromebooks and Android L.

Music Scanning and Recognition on the iPad

In January 2013, Musitek released its latest version of its music scanning/recognition software, Smart Score Pro X2.  I own SmartScore Pro X, and downloaded the demo.  I had also purchased Neuratron’s PhotoScore Ultimate, and on the pieces I used for comparison, PhotoScore Ultimate did a better job of scanning than SmartScore Pro X2, so I chose not to buy the upgrade ($99).

I did notice, at the time, that Musitek was promising “mobile devices” in 2013 (see below):

The header from Musitek (captured 10/5/2013)

A techinmusiced reader sent me a post from Musitek that was on Facebook today:

From the Musitek Facebook page (captured 10/5/2013)

From the Musitek Facebook page (captured 10/5/2013)

The text from the Facebook post indicates that this was using Musitek’s NoteReader App on Android, and apparently you still need to pull the data captured from the app into SmartScore itself to edit the data (no indication if NoteReader can export as a MusicXML file to another program instead).  I hope the plan isn’t to force the user back to the computer–that defeats the purpose.

At the same time, Neuratron has just released a music handwriting recognition app, NotateMe (app link with referral), which also promises to add PhotoScore capability to the app in the near future.

NotateMe Coming Soon (captured 10/45/2013)

NotateMe Coming Soon (captured 10/45/2013)

It is about time for music scanning companies to take advantage of mobile devices for their software, particularly as a camera (of high quality) is attached to the device and the guessing game of scanner quality will no longer be an issue.  There is a time coming–in the VERY near future–where a desktop computer will no longer be needed to notate music.  For me, this includes the tasks of writing music by hand (right on the tablet), playing music into the app (with an attached instrument), or scanning a paper copy of music (taking pictures of each page, converting to music notation).  This is going to be even more true with coming 64-bit processors in all our mobile devices.

Now, what I find interesting is that both Musitek and Neuratron have adopted an Android-first process (although the iOS version of NotateMe came out within weeks of the Android version).  Perhaps that is because Android programming is more similar to desktop programming than iOS; or perhaps the iOS approval process is longer.  Android apps in music education, to this point, have not been very abundant, whereas the iOS app selection for music education apps is overwhelming.

I am not sure how the world will accept these “expensive” apps.  For example, Notion for the iPad (app link with referral)  is currently $16.   NotateMe (app link with referral) is $13 (which is 50% off).  Anyone who has bought a “full” version of software–notation, music recognition, etc.–will recognize the “deal” these apps represent.  But the marketplace is full of free and ad-supported apps that reach a much wider audience (e.g. how many more people would download Temple Run versus NotateMe?).

At any rate–interesting times lie ahead where your tablet really can be a computer replacement.

Now–if we can only get Apple to let us save audio to the music library!

Note: all app links on techinmusiced include a referral code that sends a percentage of the purchase price of the app to techinmusiced.com.  No extra cost is added to the price of the app, so if you are going to purchase an app mentioned on techinmusiced.com, please consider doing so with the referral link that is provided.

New app: NotateMe

Paul Shimmons already posted about this, but there is a new app that converts written music to “printed” notation called NotateMe. It is by Neuratron, the makers of PhotoScore (the scanning software that comes with Sibelius).

Here is a YouTube link:

And a link to the app (also available on Android) that seems to be a universal binary on iOS (runs on iPhones and iPads)

It is 50% off right now and will have future abilities to do music scanning (PhotoScore) right on your device (for an additional fee).

I am purchasing this now and will blog more later.