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Archive for the ‘Music Technology’ Category

From Print to Audio, Part 1

Happy 2016! As many of you know I love technology and all it can do. However, I just don’t take the time to blog about my findings. One of my goals in 2016 is to blog more often and even create some “how to” videos! So, here we go! Let’s get started.

It always helps to have a project! My neighbor’s daughter made Honor Choir and I’m planning to help her learn her music. What better way to support her practice but to create an Audio Track that she can use at home. There are a number of ways to do this – enter all the notes of the choral score using Finale; play the score into Logic or Pro Tools; or try using my iPad and Apps. I’ve chosen the third option as it is a new solution to me and probably to many of you!

First up – NotateMe. This app that is by Neuratron includes an optional plug-in to use the camera of your iPad to capture the notation and then recognize it as a file readable by Music Apps. I purchased the plug-in and think it will be a time saver for all.

After opening NotateMe (the paid App), I selected “PhotoScore” from the upper right hand navigation. After granting PhotoScore permission to use my camera, it was as simple as taking a picture of each page of my score. In between each picture, the software recognized the score and then gave me the option to take pictures or the next page, Retake, or Finish. After completing the picture-taking process, I then was able to play the score. Yes, there were some mistakes but I could certainly take 5 pictures of a 3-part choral arrangement faster than I could enter all the music into Finale or Logic.

Now I have two options. I can edit the score in NotateMe using handwriting recognition and my Apple Pencil or I can export the score to Notation. Let’s start with the first option and see how it goes.

Well, I just completed 28 measures of the melody. There is a learning curve! PhotoScore did include some of the dynamic markings in the regular score and messed up more of the lyrics than the notes. It was VERY easy to use the Apple Pencil and correct the notes by mostly adding dots and ties. The pitches were mostly correct! YEA in the treble part!!!

I’m now going to Export the score and select “Open In” “XML” and select “Copy to Notion.” Now that the score is opened, I can tell you learning Notion will take some time. It took me ages to figure out how to delete a measure within the score. I finally had to resort to Google to discover how!

Well, I’m not finished yet but still working my way through the notation, mainly the keyboard part. I will say that NotateMe did a pretty great job getting the notes correct! I could probably correct things in Finale faster but just like any new software, it takes time to learn! So, I’m going to plod on and check back in a few days!

Wish me luck!


Lewisville ISD Music Teachers

Dave at JamStudio has offered to provide the music teachers who attend the Lewisville ISD Training on August 16, a FREE Access Pass. Please click on the link below to submit your information. All questions are required.


Change Tempo and Key of Audio Files on Your iPad or iPhone

The other week I stumbled upon Anytune – the music slow downer app that also allows you to change the key of audio files. Thanks to the folks at Anytune, I got a demo license to give Anytune Pro HQ a try on my iPad. This is a great app for music teachers who want to have “control” over some of the audio files they use with their students.

Have you ever wanted your beginner guitar students to play-along with a recording but it is in the wrong key? How about a piece that your recorder students could perform, if the recording was in an appropriate key? Are you trying to teach a folk dance and need a recording that is a bit slower for your students? Enter Anytune!

Like all of us, I wish I had more time to “play” with this and other apps but after a quick try, I was very impressed with what this app can do. To get started with the app, I selected “Choose a Song” and could see my iTunes Library on my iPad. Songs in black are ready for Anytune; those in grey text are either DRM protected files (and not available to Anytune) or songs that are matched but not yet downloaded to your device. Also, I found that some of the tracks that were in black, were not supported by Anytunes – I haven’t taken time to figure out why – could be DRM protected.

Once the track opens in Anytunes, hide the Song List and you’re ready to begin. For teachers, the simple thing is that you can quickly change the tempo of the song using the + and – buttons. Tempo changes up/down by .05 at a time. Also, easily change the key up/down by a semi-tone. Of course, you can change both the key and the tempo! I gave this a try and was amazed with the sound quality.   Of course, instrumental only recordings sounded better than those with vocals depending on the amount of change you apply to the track. Connect your iPad to an Audio Source or AirPlay with a device and you are ready to go!

Did I mention that when Anytunes loads your audio file, it does a quick analysis and provides the BPM of the track?

Anytunes can do much more than change the key and/or tempo. Have a section that you want your students to rehearse, easily setup a loop. Click the Loop icon to have the A marker appear. With your playhead (red line) at the end section of what you want to loop, click the B marker icon and you are ready to go. Of course, click and hold the A or B marker to easily drag them right or left. Other tools are available to fine tune the loop as well.

Anytunes even imports lyrics if you have them setup in iTunes! If you want to learn more, you should visit the Anytunes website by clicking here. Keep in mind that there are four versions of the app – the free version all the way to the Pro HQ version.

Thanks to the folks at Anytune, I have TWO trial codes for Anytune Pro HQ to give away. These codes are valid for two weeks. Just Retweet this post to be eligible to win and include @shirleylacroix and @AnytuneApp in your tweet. Also, you must follow both @shirleylacroix and @anytuneApp to be eligible. Winners will be contacted by midnight EST on 09/03/12. That’s today – so start Tweeting.

Creating an Wireless Ad-Hoc Network

Teachers who are trying to use their devices in schools that won’t allow mirroring on their school WiFi need to remember that they can use their computer to establish a wireless ad-hoc or peer-to-peer or closed network. I’ve seen all three names for this type of network.

Here is what you need to do on a Mac to make this work.

  1. From your computer, select the Airport icon on your menu bar (it looks like a fan)
  2. Select “Create Network…”
  3. In “Network Name” give the network a name so you will recognize on another device
  4. Select the “Security” pull down menu and add a password if desired
  5. Click “Create”
  6. On your Menu Bar, you will see a picture of a computer now indicating you are on your Ad-Hoc Network
  7. Go to your iOS Device and select this Ad-Hoc network as your Wi-Fi connection in Settings

You should now be able to use apps like Reflection or Air Display on your computer with your iPad or other iDevice. Remember to turn on  AirPlay Mirroring on your iDevice once the Ad-Hoc network is established and your device is connected.

I find that I have to setup a new Ad-Hoc Network every time I want to do this. Not a problem as once you know how it only takes a minute!

PDF Files can be played on your iPad with a little bit of work!

Have you ever wanted to be able to take a PDF file and play it with a music notation program? How about playing it on your iPad? Well, you can with a few simple steps!  During a Finale course I took this summer, I was reintroduced to PhotoScore, a scanning a program that I purchased a few years ago and then failed to update! This program came highly recommended to me a few summer’s ago and so I thought I’d give it one more try. First, I needed to upgrade my copy. With the help of the kind people at Neuratron, I was able to purchase an upgrade via a simple link!

Once installed, I opened PhotoScore and located the “Open PDFs” button in the top menu bar. I chose a simple folk song to open to give this a test run! After opening the PDF, PhotoScore performed its magic and I was seeing the notation in seconds! I was able to make any corrections to the lyrics or notation in PhotoScore. The notation came in perfectly but there were a few small edits needed for the lyrics. I decided to take care of these in Finale!

Once finished, I went to Save As and choose MusicXML as the format. Now it was time to open Finale and select “Import MusicXML” in the Launch Window. In a few seconds, the PDF which was converted to MusicXML was now open in Finale! I made a few changes to the lyrics. If you need to change the key, you would do it now in Finale before opening the notation on your iPad! Save your file as a MUS file and you now have converted your PDF to a file that can play without entering a note!

Of course, you could stop here. However, remember my goal was that I wanted this file to play on my iPad. Since I save my critical files to DropBox, the next step was easy.  [If you don’t have DropBox click on this link to get your free account!] I broke out my iPad and opened my DropBox App. After navigating to the folder where I saved the MUS file, I clicked on the file and then clicked on the Share button in the upper right hand corner and selected SongBook. Don’t be alarmed when you first click on file and see a large message that says “Unable to view file.” Just look for the share icon and you’ll be on your way.

If you are not familiar with Finale SongBook, it is a must have App if you are a Finale user and have an iPad. After choosing SongBook from the Share icon, the app immediately opened and my MUS file opened and appeared on the screen. At this point, you can play the file and change the tempo right from your iPad! Remember, you can’t change the key in SongBook so, as I suggested before, change the key in Finale before opening your iPad!

There are many other options for notation on your iPad! The key is to find the best solution for your personal goal and the most efficient way to accomplish your goal. Have fun exploring and trying other options.

Look how great the notation looks on my iPad!

New Life for my iMac!

Have you ever wanted to breathe new life into one of your Apple computers without getting under the hood? Although I have changed internal HDDs on laptop computers, I didn’t want to take apart my 2011 iMac! I had watched some of the online videos about using suction cups to remove the glass, and thought this wasn’t worth voiding my warranty. However, now that my laptops have SSD drives, I was feeling the sluggishness of this computer during my daily work.

I’ve been engaged in some software testing and have been using Super Duper (SD) to create a sandbox drive! With SD, I can keep my user home files on my larger internal drive but transfer a copy of the OS and applications to the external drive. The purpose is that if the test software goes bad, my internal is in pristine shape. I had created this sandbox with a FireWire drive but I started thinking about the faster speeds of ThunderBolt drives and wondered if there was an affordable external SSD drive with Thunderbolt connectivity!

As I was reading about some of this on the Internet, I stumbled on a new use for the Seagate Thunderbolt Adapter that turns the Seagate external drive into a Thunderbolt drive. It can also be used with internal laptop drives! Was this my solution?

I visited my local Best Buy and purchased an internal 180 GB internal laptop drive – SSD version – for about $170. I plugged it into the Seagate sleeve – be careful as it needs a little support as it is bare drive! A Thunderbolt cable was needed to connect my external drive to my computer. I used SD and copied the OS and apps to the SSD drive as a Sandbox drive. After complete, I booted from the external SSD and took it for a test!

First impressions is that Apps that used to take 5-6 bounces on the dock to start, now open in 1-2 bounces! Not a scientific test but my reality! Everything feels faster but I will need a week of usage to really test this out! I’m having some issues with the MS Office license – it sees the new drive as a new computer and wants a new license for the drive. Not sure how I’m going to solve this except with a call to MS.

Since this computer is a desktop, the external drive is not going to travel with me. Remember, it’s a bare drive so be careful where you place it! The entire solution was under $300 – cheaper than a new iMac or an external SSD like the LaCie 240GB Little Big Disk Thunderbolt Series SSD.

Read before you buy your SSD, I hear some don’t work with the Seagate sleeve. The one I bought from Best Buy was on sale!

So, what did you do this weekend?

Keynote on the iPad and mp3 files

I made an exciting discovery the other day when I started exploring Keynote. Maybe some of you were aware of this feature but it had completely escaped me! I’m a die-hard PowerPoint user and have created presentations for years using that software. Because of the iPad and iCloud, I really wanted to become more proficient in Keynote so I added this to my weekend of challenges.

One of the things that frustrated me with my iPad was not being able to add audio to my Keynote presentations. As a musician, I like to embed my audio and I just couldn’t make it happen on my iPad. I tried 6 months ago, I mean really tried, and just gave up!

As I was using my desktop to create a Keynote presentation this weekend, I didn’t have to think twice about how to add audio. I dragged a mp3 file that was on my desktop onto the Keynote slide and it just worked! (This is so Apple!). I completed my presentation and decided to upload it to my iCloud account so I could review on my iPad while enjoying my coffee!

In the morning, I opened my iPad and the Keynote App. There was my presentation from the night before – remember, it just works! I opened the file and began to play it in presentation mode. Guess what happened? Yes, there was music – the mp3 file I had attached was working in Keynote on the iPad. I was so excited, I couldn’t believe it. I tested a mp4 file and the same was true. A discovery!

Lesson learned – you can play Keynote presentations on your iPad that include mp3 and mp4 files but you need to add these files using a computer, not an iPad. I am delighted to know I can do this and then easily transfer a completed presentation to iCloud. Of course, when I open it from the iPad App, I can easily edit my presentation, add some effects, etc. The point is that there is sound!

I’ll be back again as I want to share my experiences with a cloud-based video editing software!

Reflection App

I have so many things I want to blog about this evening and only time for one blog. I’ve made some amazing technical discoveries over the last few days that I will share across the week. I’m also very excited about the new MBP announced today and the new information about Mountain Lion and iOS6. However, that will have to wait for another day.

Since my LCD Projector doesn’t have an HDMI port, I was wondering how to see what I was doing on my iPad without a way to connect to the projector. I know that Apple TV is one option but what happens if you don’t have a way to get the ATV and your laptop on the same network?

The first option I discovered and have used is AirServer . It works fine but I did run into some issues and had no response from customer support.  I know that Apple TV is one option but what happens if you don’t have a way to get the ATV and your laptop on the same network?

Enter Reflection. This App was introduced to me by a fellow blogger and as I’ve been planning for my workshop, I thought it would be great to share with teachers. However, when it was first released it was a Mac-only piece of software. Of course, I love my Apple products but teachers still have PC computers and need ideas! So, last week, I saw an announcement that Reflection is now available for PCs. Perfect timing!!

I purchased a copy of Reflection this evening and in seconds I had it downloaded, installed, and up and running with my iPad. I used it to show a Keynote with audio and the audio from my iPad was playing via my computer speakers. I love the effects – Reflection includes an iPad image–black and white–so it looks like a real iPad screen on your computer. Of course, if you connect the projector to your computer, what is showing on your computer screen including your iPad screen will be projected. To connect your iPad, all you do is double click the “home” button so you can see the icons in the tray. Swipe the tray to the right and click the AirPlay button (see image blue). Be sure to select your computer and Mirroring ON and you are set to go. I’ve include a few photos to help.


Of course, this is all working because all of my devices live happily on my WiFi network. Next up, creating a closed network so my computer and iPad can “speak” to each other even when they are in a location with protected WiFi, or worse, no WiFi at all.

Music Making with JamStudio

Today I am working on my session for my adult students. The project they will tackle is to create an accompaniment for a familiar song. Because they can bring their personal computer to this class, the range of hardware is usually too extensive to imagine. I’ve decided to focus on cloud-based software for my three sessions so all have equal access to the same software. As some of these adult learners are a bit tentative when it comes to technology, Day 1 will begin with an introduction to This intuitive software would be ideal for elementary students to explore harmonic progression and create simple arrangements.

Before we make music, I do want to give the group a quick overview of the easy-to-navigate windows that will become their creative pallet. This software isn’t without limitations but is a great way to start. It is very much like Band-in-a-Box but not nearly as sophisticated. One major limitation is the inability to add multiple chord changes in a measure. Of course, I’m a Band-in-a-Box user from way back and that was not one of the easy to find features in Band-in-a-Box when it first launched! The other limitation is that all songs have to be in meter in 4. There is a meter in 3 button but it says “coming soon.” Let’s hope soon means sooner rather than later.

I wrote to to find out more about the “All Access Pass.” They use the Freemium model. Currently, I can only access a subset of their sound library. Of course, I can pay $4.95 for a monthly pass or $24.95 for a 6-month pass to get more. According to one of the JamStudio employees, “music teachers can apply for a grant using JamStudio to be able to use this tool [All Access Pass] for their students in their classroom!” I do recommend that teachers contact JamStudio to apply for that grant! In the meantime, I’ll be pulling out my credit card later today.

Some of the amazing things about this program is that students have the ability to create an 8-track arrangement with full control of the sounds for each of these tracks. Chords are relatively easy to enter and with the click of a button many different chord variations are at your fingertips.

Well, I wanted to give you a “peak” into my Sunday planning. I’m also using this blog to step back and “think about” my plans as I explore and learn new tools. I’m creating my handout with “Pages” a new learning experience for this MS Word user! Maybe that’s a topic for later today.

Have a great day!

Apple TV and iPad with Projector

I thought that as I was preparing for my Boone presentation, I would blog about some of my findings. This way the people that attend my session can read more about my process and thinking after the workshop. Also, this might help others as they explore using different technologies in their classrooms.

Problem: I don’t have an Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) in my classroom but want to find different ways to engage students. My school budget won’t support my buying an IWB. What are my options?

Solution: There are many ways to engage students without an IWB. One solution that works great includes an Apple TV (ATV); iPad; LCD Projector and this little device from Kanex.

Here is what I did to make this work.

Since my LCD Projector is an older model, it does not have the HDMI port required to connect to an Apple TV. So, I discovered the Kanex ATV Pro. Using an HDMI cable, connect the Apple TV to the Kanex on one side of the device. On the other side, use your VGA cable to connect the Kanex to your LCD Projector. If you want sound, connect an audio device, like a Bose SoundDock, to the Audio port on the Kanex.

Connect your ATV and iPad to the same WiFi network. If you teach, you may need to “beg” your IT people to make this happen. If they say “no”, I have another option in  a later post.

Turn on the ATV and the LCD Projector (in that order). Then fire up your iPad. Remember, Apple has a free App called Remote that will let you control your ATV on your iPad. This is a great way to be sure your ATV settings are correct including that AirPlay is setup on your ATV.

Go to your iPad and be sure to select AirPlay and Mirroring “ON.” If you can’t find these settings, from the main iPad screen , double click the “HOME” button and a tool bar will appear at the bottom of your screen. Swipe the bar to the right to see the AirPlay icon along with controls for audio. Select your device in AirPlay and be sure to turn on Mirroring.

Now like magic, everything from your iPad is projected to the screen. Visit a website or a favorite App and those are also projected. Select an interactive activity via a website or App and pass the iPad around your classroom. Your students will be engaged and interacting without the expense of an IWB.

More to come.