Category Archives: General Musings

Some miscellaneous tech info: Light Signature, NiceChart, and RehearsalAids

Every now and then, I hear from developers and companies about their products, and they don’t always fit into my workflow.  I know that my blog (and others) frequently receive requests to feature articles by other bloggers (likely for a fee), which is something that I am not particularly interested in, either.  This is a blog that I write from my own experiences as a way to give back to the community of music educators.  With all sincerity, if you want to share your thoughts, start your own blog!  Let me know about it and I’ll be happy to include it on my blog roll here on this site.

The first tech item is an app by Matthew Fagan, who has developed a keyboard-based app to interact with various scales and chords, and also has MIDI in/out functionality.  That app is called LightSignature.   Go check it out!

The second tech item is a new sheet music technology that was just launched at the Midwest Band and Orchestra clinic, called NiceChart.  NiceChart is a customization-based  technology that allows directors to customize arrangements to their instrumentation and individual proficiency levels of each member of the ensemble.  You can find their website at, and you should see a growing list of available titles as time goes on.

The third tech item is an existing service by RehearsalAids, where the company will create rehearsal tracks (visual and sound) from your existing literature for (choral) students to use.  If you contact the company, you will find that the services are very affordably priced for schools.  I don’t know what your school year looks like, but January through March was always the “heavy” part of the year at the high school level with a conference music festival, large group contest, and solo and ensemble contest.  If I were a director that was not going to make these resources myself, I would certainly look into this service.

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A quick ukulele post

If a ukulele was under your tree this morning, or you are buying one tomorrow…I highly recommend Barry Maz’s book, which is on sale right now in the Kindle format for $1.99.  Highly recommended.

Some additional Apple Care Thoughts

Aron Nelson, developer of unrealBook (One of the pro-level PDF Music Readers for iOS) reminded me that, for phones, AppleCare + is not the only option.

Specifically, he mentioned:

  • If you pay your phone bill with a Wells Fargo CC, your entire family is covered – up to 4 phones with only $25 deductible and up to $600 per incident per year.
  • If you use SquareTrade, you pay $129 or so and get genius bar fixes with deductible.
  • If you have T-Mobile, for $10/month you have Apple Care and theft coverage.

I would simply add that AppleCare plus is $129 to $199 (depending what device you buy) up front.  AppleCare+ for iPhone extends your coverage to two years from the original purchase date of your iPhone and adds up to two incidents of accidental damage coverage, each subject to a service fee of $29 for screen damage, or $99 for any other damage, plus applicable tax.

All Better…

It was a little touch and go for a while, but a replacement iPad Pro is back up and running.

The touch and go wasn’t Apple’s fault…it was mine.  I called Apple and verified that my Apple Care + coverage covered accidental damage (i.e. stupidity on my part).  It did.  So I went online and scheduled a time at the Apple Store at the Mall of America (about a 30 minute drive) at 3:20.

I arrived early and checked in…and there was no record of my appointment.  So…I pulled up my e-mail…and I had registered for 3:20pm on Monday.  Oops.  Apple was still able to put me into a cue for “walk-in” appointments, and I was texted a little less than an hour later for an appointment.

I didn’t have to explain what happened, and I didn’t make any excuses or demands (some other customers did around me, however, which was interesting to listen to).  The store had one more Apple Care iPad Pro 12.9″ unit with 256GB in stock–and was able to replace it.   The cost?  $49 plus tax.  If I didn’t have Apple Care?  $600.  The $149 I have paid for Apple Care and this repair have now paid themselves back by $450.  Two incidents are covered…so a next repair (let’s hope it doesn’t happen) might make the insurance worth $1100.  I’ll trade you $150 for $1100 anytime.  Just send me an e-mail!  🙂

The moral of the story?  Buy Apple Care.  The Apple Genius recommended Apple Care on iPads and Apple Watches in particular.  I had it on my MacBook (now 9 years old and counting), but have not had it on my iPhone or my wife’s iPhone.  I didn’t get it on my boy’s iPad Mini’s (we’re going to have to replace screens).   I might just get it all the time now.  There were no lectures from the Apple Genius–only kindness…and only kindness shown to the other customers around me as well, on a very busy afternoon at the Apple Store at the Mall of America.

So…I’m set for tomorrow.  I can work on some small changes to my lesson plan tonight when I publish this post.  I have learned a lesson about where to store my iPad in my car.  And I will now recommend Apple Care to everyone on every device.

Have a great week (It is Sunday night)!

Ouch. iPad Pro.


This morning, after church, we went out to lunch.  My iPad is my note-taker (Notability) and Bible (Olive Tree Bible), and I put it in my customary location when driving…between my car door and driver’s seat.  After lunch, I got back in the car, and took a bad angle…basically snapping the iPad Pro.  My wife realized it before I did…and it was a long drive back home.

I bought Apple Care + for this reason–just in case something happened.  I didn’t think that I would be “clipping” the iPad getting into the car–I thought I would drop it (big screen and a portable device).  The iPad Pro hasn’t had any problems, even tucked into my carry-on bag on Spirit Airlines or in my over-the-shoulder bag for school.  It has also survived many (many) trips being tucked into that same location in my car.

Well, it won’t power on–but Apple does print the Serial Number of every device on the back of every device (it is small–you might need a magnifying glass).  Now I have to wonder if I set things up correctly.  Did I have iCloud Backup turned on correctly?  I can’t back up because the device isn’t responding and you need to be able to authorize a device to do a wired backup to iTunes.  I’m going to lose what I did this morning…but I wonder about all my files in places like Luma Fusion (video editing) and forScore which do not use iCloud syncing.


We’ll find out.  My Genius Bar appointment is at 3:20.  I wasn’t planning on heading to the Mall of America today…but today HAS to be the day.  We have concerts or events every night this week, and I have my tri-annual observation in the morning.  I would have rather worked on another video or two today, as well as look at some of the new job openings in the field of music education–but today becomes all about the iPad.

I’ll blog later about how the restoration process goes, as well as how Apple handles this.  I’m sure they have seen worse.  I know they have.  Other than the bends in the aluminum case, the exterior glass and the rest of the device is spotless, so it is clear that it has been cared for.

I have a few other bits of news to write today…but I also wanted to write to verify that accidents happen to everyone–even people that are “techy” and if you are going to buy an iPad Pro, I think Apple Care + is a VERY smart investment.  I don’t have it on my phone…I probably should think about that next time.