Band Parents Night Scheduled for October 9

High school band students received the following letter in class. They were asked to to take it home for parents to fill out and return for band parents night. If your student did not bring it home, and you would like to attend, you may download and print the letter here. The information is due Monday, October 5. Please return to Mr. Bley in the high school band room.

Band Parents Night Letter

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Vocal Students Post a Comment in the Practice Room

Vocal students — click on “Practice Room” above, and leave a comment with your first name, last initial, and class.

Example:

John D., 7/8th grade vocal class

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Patriots Music Website Moved

Welcome to the new website for the Patrick Henry MS/HS music program. The site is still under construction, but please feel free to look around. Additional information will be posted as it becomes available.

This website doubles as Mr. Bley’s personal music website, so you may notice old blog posts and pages from his previous teaching positions and graduate school work.

Scott Bley, Music Director

Patrick Henry MS/HS

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Protected: Concert Band Library

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

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Technology Boot Camp Final Reflection

During the past 12 weeks, I have had the opportunity to pursue personal goals and improve my technology skills in the classroom. You can review my updated skills checklist to see my personal growth in technology this semester.

In module 1, I identified five goals and 17 objectives that I completed during modules 2 through 6. Two objectives were added along the way when I encountered technical issues with other objectives. Next to each objective below, I have indicated whether I meet the objective or encountered technical issues while attempting to complete each objective:

  • Module 2 – Learn how to use the AKAI MPK mini compact keyboard and pad controller
    • Install the software MEET
    • Record a song using the device TECHNICAL ISSUES
    • Program the pads to produce other sounds TECHNICAL ISSUES
    • Identify other capabilities of the software and device MEET
    • Add-on – Explore AudioTool.com MEET
  • Module 3 – Review several online music notation programs
    • Identify free music notation programs available for student use MEET
    • Transcribe a song in each program MEET
    • Test the capabilities of each program to identify pros and cons for classroom use MEET
  • Module 4 – Review several cell phone apps for recording and creating music
    • Research popular and highly rated recording apps MEET
    • Record and/or create a song MEET
    • Test the capabilities of the apps to identify pros and cons for classroom use MEET
  • Module 5 – Learn how to use the Tascam DP-008EX Digital Multitrack Recorder
    • Record ensemble parts into separate tracks MEET
    • Mix the tracks MEET
    • Export the file for use in an mp3 player or other personal music device MEET
  • Module 6 – Learn how to use the Numark Mixtrack II DJ Software Controller
    • Install the software provided with the device MEET
    • Learn the capabilities of the device MEET
    • Assign samples, loops, and synth sounds to the pads MEET
    • Mix a song using the device MEET [TECHNICAL ISSUES WITH EXPORTING]
    • Add-on – Review/explore other dj apps for iPad and Android MEET

I have learned so much during the “technology skills boot camp.” On the surface, my goals may seem like a hodgepodge of unrelated skills. In the bigger picture, my overall goal was to explore a variety of music technology so that I could see what was out there. I had an absolute blast identifying and learning how to use a variety of apps on my new iPad. I learned to use several new pieces of hardware: MIDI controller, DJ controller, and multitrack recorder. I also increased my knowledge of music resources online such as Noteflight, SoundCloud, and Audiotool.

I plan to continue my tech skills growth by continuing to use these resources on a regular basis and increasing my proficiency. I have also joined TI:ME (technology institute for music educators), so that I have access to additional resources and networking with others in the profession. In conjunction with my final project, the tech skills I have gained will help me incorporate technology into music instruction more authentically.

Products

I created several products based on the equipment and apps identified in each module:

Learning to teach yourself

One of the most important skills I honed during this process is where to find information to teach myself. Whenever I encountered a task that I didn’t know how to do, I simply went to Google and searched for, “How do I [thing I couldn’t do] with [name of software or hardware].” It was during one of these online searches that I realized that education doesn’t only occur in the classroom during the school day and that the teacher is not the only source of knowledge. Students are using the internet to teach themselves all sorts of new skills that they want to learn but may not be learning in the classroom.

I believe that a similar process of setting individuals goals would go over well in large professional development (PD) sessions. Too often, PD is relegated to a one-size-fits-all approach where teachers are told what skills and knowledge is most important for them to learn. They are given little, if any, choice in the content of PD. Unfortunately, some topics may not be as applicable to some teachers depending on their subject area or access to resources. When teachers develop their own goals and outline a plan for achieving them, they have more invested in the process and are more motivated to achieve their goals.

Personalized instruction

And after having typed that last sentence, I realize that I should be doing the same thing with my students. I should be using a more personalized approach to instruction where students identify personal areas of growth rather than me making all of the decisions. Depending on their grade level or experience, some teachers and students may need more assistance developing a plan for learning. By providing students with options that meet curricular requirements or providing adults with choices of PD topics, I can facilitate a process of personalized learning. Others (students and teachers) may prefer to be told what to learn rather than having to decide for themselves. These individuals may benefit from working with others in a group setting. A hybrid approach to personalized learning (both in the classroom and in PD) may be the best approach in the end. This provides the most flexibility in designing instruction for students and teachers from a variety of backgrounds.

Learning new technology in other areas

This semester, I also learned new technology skills outside of this course. While completing my master’s thesis this semester (An Examination of the Time Management and Work-Life Balance of K-12 Music Educators), I improved my skills in several programs including Microsoft Word, Excel, and Access as well as SurveyMonkey, an online tool for conducting surveys. I also learned how to use SPSS to do statistical analysis for the study. For the final copy, I learned to combine documents using Adobe XI, add bookmarks, and set document properties.

I am also taking an advanced recording techniques course this semester. We are focusing on learning how to use recording equipment and edit recordings using ProTools. It has been an eye-opening experience working with recording hardware and editing/mixing in ProTools. The course is project-based, so we have completed three projects so far: a radio commercial, a classical recording project, and a 4-minute movie soundtrack project. The last project is a multitrack session with a rock band using ProTools.

Posted in Music Technology

DJing with the Numark Mixtrack II DJ Software Controller

My goal for module 6 was to learn how to use the Numark Mixtrack II DJ Software Controller. I selected this goal for two reasons: (1) I had the device and didn’t know how to use it and (2) DJing is a skill that anyone can develop and use for a variety of events.

Numark Mixtrack II DJ Software Controller

The user guide provided an initial overview of the device, explaining the function of each button and giving a simple lesson on how to mix songs. A video tutorial on the website provided more instruction.

Using the DJ software controller, I was able to practice beat matching, queuing up tracks, and transitioning through loops and effects. I discovered that being a DJ is a lot more difficult than it looks. It takes quite a bit of practice, skill, and creativity to be able to keep the beat going between songs while also creating (sometimes improvising) new mixes on the fly.

I ran into technical issues attempting to export a mix for this module. As a consolation, I explored other DJ apps to see what other options exist. I tested two DJ apps for iPad: Pacemaker and edjing

Pacemaker works with your own song library, or you can use it with Spotify if you have a premium account ($10 a month or $5 for students). The app suggests songs with similar beats-per-minute (beat-matching) and style to create a seamless mix for any event. You can either put it on autopilot or transition between songs on your own. Additional add-ons can be purchased in app for special effects, looping, or EQ.

edjing can be downloaded free for iPad or Android. An upgraded version with more features can be purchased for iPad ($8.99). Both versions work similar to other DJ programs. Though edjing won’t work with streaming services such as Spotify, it will work with SoundCloud, allowing users to share their mixes and search for other free music. It also has an automix feature that allows the app to select music by itself with beat matching. A neat feature of edjing is that users get their own webpage to feature their mixes. Check out my webpage and my first mix! – mR!bLEY’s Mixes on edjing World.

Here is a link to my updated skills checklist.

Posted in Music Technology

Multitrack recording with the Tascam DP-008EX

My goal for module 5 was to learn how to use the Tascam DP-008EX Digital Multitrack Recorder. I purchased the device for 75% off on Cyber Monday in 2014 and haven’t had a chance to learn how to use it yet. The device has two internal microphones and can record up to 8 separate tracks.

Tascam DP-00EX Digital Multitrack Recorder

Tascam DP-008EX Digital Multitrack Recorder

I started my learning process by messing around with the demo track that came preloaded on the device. I started by balancing the track levels to match my preference. I then panned each track to a different spot on the stereo spectrum. The mixing process was easy to do.

I then watched the tutorials available on the manufacturer website to gain more expertise. Finally, I sat down and recorded a 4-part brass quartet. I started by laying down the tuba tracks. I set the mic levels and then recorded each tuba part on 2 tracks so that I could pan each part in two areas. Then set the mic levels for the trombone and recorded each trombone part on two separate tracks. That filled up all 8 tracks.

I balanced the track levels and panned the tracks to give it the feel of a double brass quartet. I bounced the tracks and mixed them down without any problem. When it came to mastering the tracks, I ran into some difficulty and dug out the user manual. I mastered the track, exported in to my computer, and uploaded it. Check it out!

You can view my updated skills checklist here.

Posted in Music Technology

Top recording app identified for use in the music classroom

My goal for module 4 was to review several apps for recording and creating music. My research of popular and highly rated recording apps available on the app store produced the following options that were available to download for free:

I tested both apps while working with individual band students who were preparing solos for music contest. Both apps allowed for ease in recording and sharing. First I recorded myself performing excerpts from the solo and then emailed the files to the student to use as a reference when practicing at home. Then I recorded the student and included my comments at the end of the recording and emailed the file to the student as a reference. The process was very simple with both apps; however one app stood out for its ability to categorize, file, and edit recordings, and it was also the only one of the two apps available on both iOS and Android. The winner app was… [drumroll]…

Other apps with the ability to record included:

  • PracticePlus –  This all-in-one metronome and tuner also includes the ability to record for no cost. Recordings can’t be edited, but can be shared via email or social media; however, it is available on iOS but not Android.
  • Metronome Plus – Like PracticePlus, this app includes a metronome and tuner along with a recording feature. Recordings can’t be edited but can be emailed (not shared on social media). It is available on iOS but not Android.
  • StudioTrack by Sonoma Wire Works is a multitrack recorder iPad. StudioTrack is a great app for recording multiple parts in an ensemble; it is available for iPad but not Android.

I also reviewed these popular apps used for creating music with loops and other prerecorded material.

  • Music Studio Lite – This free app for iPad (not available on Android), has a variety of instruments that users can use to create loops and recordings in app.
  • Auxy for iPad (not available on Android) was super easy to use and created an amazing sound. Though not as robust with features as Music Studio Lite, the simple interface makes this an ideal app for beginners who want to create their own loops. Recordings can be made and exported. Check out this song I made!
  • GrooveMaker lets users create live, loop-based music. It turns the mobile device into a real instrument great for DJing parties. After some practice, users will feel comfortable producing live music, or exporting recorded music.

You can review my updated skills checklist for module 4.

Posted in Music Technology

Noteflight Offers Ideal Interface for Student Composition

My goal for module 3 was to review several online music notation programs to find one that offered the best composing experience. The ideal program would be free, not require a special device to use, have the ability to share, and be user friendly with multiple input methods. I considered several options: Noteflight, MuseScore, Finale Notepad, Sibelius, Scorio, and ScoreCloud. The winning program was… [drumroll]

Setting up a Noteflight account is free and easy. Though it does not offer an app option for iOS or Android, the site can be accessed through any browser. One particular discussion board hinted that an app may be in the works. Tutorials are available on the website to explain how to use the program:

The site offers multiple entry methods including simple point and click mouse as well as quick keyboard entry. One of the great features of Noteflight is the ability to share music with others and browse through other users’ music. Check out this Sample Song I transcribed to test the capabilities of the site. Users can also print their songs. For an additional fee, Noteflight offers classroom options for setting up class assignments as well as MIDI input. Honorable mention goes to Scorio, which offers additional features for a fee, though setting up an account is nearly impossible. Noteflight provides an ideal music notation experience that provides a solid foundation for future composing with advanced programs such as Sibelius and Finale.

You can review my updated skills development checklist here.

Posted in Music Technology

My quest begins with the AKAI Professional MPK mini compact keyboard and pad controller

My goal for module 2 was to learn how to use the AKAI Professional MPK mini compact keyboard and pad controller. What is it? Check it out on the manufacturer’s website:

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 5.49.43 PM

I unpacked the box, which included a USB cable, the keyboard, and a user guide, and plugged the device into my Mac. It was plug-and-play, so it worked immediately with my Sibelius music notation software after I added the device to the list of input devices. It made entering notes much quicker than using the mouse to click each note. I could hold down multiple keys and they would all show up on the music. I could click the octave up or down buttons and it would change the range of the notes. I was able to transcribe a Mary Had a Little Lamb and some triads with the midi keyboard.

Unfortunately, I ran into a wall when attempting to use the other software with the program. I installed the software fine, but when I tried to open the programs up, they required license keys in order to use. That was disappointing, considering the manufacturer said that the software came with the device.

I really wanted to have something more substantial to show as a product for this module, so I called an audible and decided to try out some new material that I learned about at the Ohio Music Educators Conference this past weekend in Cleveland. I purchased a book called Music Tech 101, which has a lot of ideas for incorporating music technology into the classroom. The first project involved creating a song using audiotool.com. I created four drum patterns using the Beatbox 8, sequenced the four patterns in a song, and added a Bassline pattern and a Tonematrix musical pattern to the mix. Then I balanced the tracks and published the song. It is called Sample Song and it is embedded below. 

I can see audiotool being an excellent way to introduce students to recording interfaces, loops, and the more technical side of sound production. It also provides a tool for teaching musical content, allowing students to create music, share their songs, discover new music, and remix other people’s music. What a great tool with a wide range of possibilities for use in the music classroom.

I have also included my updated checklist of skills, goals, and objectives for Module 2.

Posted in Music Technology

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