Roadie Tuners on Sale for Black Friday 2019!

I just received an e-mail regarding Roadie tuners…all of them are on sale for Black Friday 2019 at a 20% savings. That’s a pretty good deal. While I prefer the Jowoom T2 Smart Tuner, the Roadie 2 is also an excellent device. See https://www.roadiemusic.com for the Black Friday deal.

Jamstik Black Friday Sale

If you play or teach guitar, you should check out the Jamstik, which I think is a great–and I’d even say essential–device for teaching guitar, as you can move around a classroom wirelessly, project left hand string position on a screen, and have a device for individualized learning (students that need more help or need more challenges). The Black Friday 2019 special for the Jamstik is an additional 20% savings.

There are two models of Jamstik available, the Jamstik+ and the Jamstik 7. This coupon brings the price of the Jamstik 7 under $150.

If you’re interested, you can go to jamstik.com right now and order one (or more) Jamstik (s) with these additional savings!

Finale Black Friday Sale!

If you have been waiting for a great price to upgrade to Finale 26, now is the time. From finalemusic.com:

This year, you can skip waiting in Black Friday lines and get right to work making music. We’re offering discounts on Finale version 26 no matter how you purchase:

  • Upgrade from any previous version for $99

  • Trade up from Finale PrintMusic, SongWriter, or Allegro for $99

  • Buy Finale for the first time for $425 (or get the academic version for $249)

Use promo code BLACKFRIDAY19 at check out to take advantage of this offer and get started making music!

This offer ends at 11:59PM EST, on December 2, 2019. Limit one per customer. US only.

Finale 26.2 is out now!

Finale sent out a notice this week that they have released Finale 26.2 (I wonder if they called it “marathon” in house?) which allows Mac owners to use Finale with Catalina (OS X 10.15), and also has other improvements for both Windows and Mac.

If you are a user of Finale 26, this is a free upgrade; if you have older versions of Finale, go to www.finalemusic.com to see the upgrade options that are open to you!

Fret Zealot for Ukulele

I have been in touch with Fret Zealot (the company) for some time. The Fret Zealot is a device that you can put on a guitar–and now a ukulele–to learn how to play the instrument. We decided to wait for a review until the product was released for ukulele. Originally I was hoping to simply review a unit installed on a ukulele, but it made sense for the company to send me a unit to install on one of my ukuleles.

The Fret Zealot is a combination of adhesive strips containing wiring and LED Lights, and a control module that connects to the strips and which gets mounted to the ukulele. The strips (3M) are rather permanent (they can be removed), but the control module can be removed at any time–and is charged by a USB mini plug. The control module interacts with an iOS or Android device, allowing you to interact with the Fret Zealot app.

The app has three basic parts…”Play” “Learn” and “Fun.”

“Play” has a library of songs (more about this in a moment), a tuner, and a metronome. The song list is rather long, but not very useful. The notes or chords that show are not connected to a “real” audio file, and there are no lyrics. So to be honest, I wouldn’t spend much time there.

“Learn” is where the power of the Fret Zealot comes into play. You can have the device show you different chords, scales, and notes. Amazingly, there are a few videos–songs and lessons–from Justin Guitar and The Ukulele Teacher that have been “programmed” to work with the Fret Zealot, and this is simply amazing. This is where the future lies with this technology, and Fret Zealot is on the leading edge. I just hope the library of videos continues to grow. There are also partner apps…Guitar 3D, Uberchord (old acquaintances of mine from techinmusiced.com) and Spark. I do not think that any of these partner apps are ukulele friendly.

“Fun” is, for now, a way to have your Fret Zealot show off rather fun display patterns on the LED strips. You can see examples of this at the start of the YouTube review embedded below.

As for the device itself, it works, and I’m excited about the future for Fret Zealot. The whole idea of the Fret Zealot is that you can turn any ukulele into a learning device, rather than having to buy a specialized ukulele.

I do have some criticism about the device, and I’ll share those thoughts, too. My preference is to have action at the 1st Fret to be .5mm. This was too low for the Fret Zealot and caused buzzing on the dual LED strip in the 1st Fret. I had to find a ukulele that had higher action to avoid the buzz–and had to remove an already installed Fret Zealot to do it. This isn’t the Fret Zealot’s fault, but it isn’t a device to be taken on and off at will–you commit to having it on your device until you take it off.

After installing the Fret Zealot on a different ukulele, I found that I really didn’t like the top row of LEDs, a dual strip. The top row represents an “open string,” and the immediate second row represents the 1st Fret. The diagrams for the Fret Zealot all show installation towards the actual (metal) fret, which placed the indicator for the “nut” in the middle of the 1st Fret–and this really threw me off.

As a result, I uninstalled the Fret Zealot AGAIN and moved it as high as I could on each fret, making the first row of LEDs much closer to the nut. Really, I’d love for that first strip to be above the nut, but I don’t know if that is possible.

And the penalty for a movement of the Fret Zealot a third time was that the top corner of the Fret Zealot (the one with the main cable) no longer sticks like it should, and as a result, there was some buzzing where the G string interacted with the top left corner of the Fret Zealot LED strip. I need to say very clearly that this is my fault and no fault of the Fret Zealot. Adhesive materials simply cannot be removed and replaced over and over again with the same results.

As I previously mentioned, the song library doesn’t seem to be very useful to me, and when installed, the Fret Zealot adds significant weight to the headstock.

That said, this is a product I’m really excited about, because it can help people learn how to play ukulele. The ability to sync videos with the Fret Zealot is a game changer, and the only problem is that videos need to be added one at a time, and that takes hours of labor, and thus lots of money. Perhaps Fret Zealot could make a end-user “video sync” app that would allow end users to make videos that could be added to the Fret Zealot library. I also love the idea of connection with other apps, so it would be fun to see what could be done with some other ukulele apps–anything from Kala’s library (and Musopia/Ukeoke) to Monster Chords (which uses or used to use some functionality with Uberchord).

I hope that future versions will be able to reduce the size of the controller, the height of the LEDs, and the cost of the device. But if you are looking for a device that can help you learn how to play the ukulele–making your existing ukulele an “intelligent ukulele,” Fret Zealot is worth checking out. And while there are other “intelligent ukuleles” on the market, if you buy one of those ukuleles, you have to choose from those ukuleles. With the Fret Zealot, you can connect any concert or tenor ukulele that you might have.

You can find the Fret Zealot at fretzealot.com and Amazon.com (look up “Fret Zealot Ukulele” and choose “concert” or “tenor”).

Many thanks to Fret Zealot for sending me a unit to review!


My video review appears below. Honestly, it’s a little scattered as I was trying to record what I was doing with the Fret Zealot app on my iPad while using the Fret Zealot and making a video at the same time. My iPad wasn’t recording all of the interactions with the app, and the part I wanted to demonstrate most–the syncing with The Ukulele Teacher’s video would not record (perhaps this is an iOS copyright limitation). Therefore, I wrote this more concise blog post, which says everything I say in the video.

At the 2019 Wisconsin Music Education Conference (A Look at the Nuvo Recorder + and Dood)

Greetings! I am writing this while looking out at Lake Monona at the 2019 Wisconsin Music Education Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. I am using personal days to present two sessions on Ukulele while I’m here, and the sessions were organized/scheduled by Peripole for me.

As I have mentioned, technology in elementary is more immediate to me as I am now teaching elementary. I saw a number of plastic instruments from Nuvo, and decided to buy two of them. The first is the Nuvo Recorder +, which has silicon pads to assist students who may not be able to cover recorder holes with their fingers.

It’s a great idea, and pretty well priced (about $15). It may not sound as good as the Peripole Halo, but it serves a different purpose.

The other item is the Nuvo Dood, a reed instrument with recorder fingerings. The reed is plastic, and I can’t wait to play on it. As a brass player, I have never owned a reed instrument, so this is me to me…and my embouchure needs help!

I made a short video…and uploaded it here on location. I hope it uploaded correctly and the link works!

If you are at the convention, find me and say hello! I have another session tomorrow at 10am in rooms M to P.

At the 2019 Wisconsin State Music Convention

Hello! I will be at the Wisconsin State Music Convention on Thursday and Friday of this week. My topics, for once, will be all ukulele related (sessions on Thursday and Friday), but if anyone wants to find me to talk about technology in music education, please let me know! I will have some free time on my hands between/after my sessions, but I am also looking forward to seeing some of the other great sessions offered at the convention.