Technology is my passion!

Posts tagged ‘Technology’

Virtual Teaching and Learning

Since March 2020, I’ve been very quiet on my blog. It seems that although the world had stopped my time was taken up with work and life. I’ve wanted to get back to the blog with tips for teachers, especially music teachers but I didn’t have the time to “play” with software and since I’m no longer actively teaching, I wasn’t facing the day-to-day problems that so many of you are facing!

I’ve been working on a special project with a friend that includes video taping and editing. We are almost ready to launch this project and I’m sure it will be something you’ll be interested in for your own health and well being. Keep watching the blog for more information.

As I’m learning new technology tools as part of that project, I thought it was time to share some tips with all my followers. I’d also like to know if there is something you’re struggling with and would appreciate some ideas or tips on how to improve your technology skills.

If you’re reading this post, please comment and let me know if there is something you’re interested in learning related to technology and music. Maybe a new skill for you personally or maybe something that directly relates to your teaching. I don’t know all the answers but will certainly do my best to support your needs with clearly outlined tips or through video demos. I will also start blogging some tips and instructional support hoping that may be of interest, even to your personal knowledge.

This has been a challenging time for all of us but let’s be engaged and walk through this new world together!

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?

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!