A Day of Discovery

There are some days where lightbulbs turn on in your head at an alarming rate. I love those days, don’t you? I also love music education and technology. So when I had three huge lightbulbs turn on in my head today, ALL related to music education and technology, I’m pretty sure it can be classified as an amazing day in Andy-land! Here were my three major lightbulbs, in order of appearance:

iPads for Choir

I have been tasked with teaching choir this year, and it would be an understatement to say that this puts me outside my comfort zone. While I can hold my own on piano, I fully admit that I am not at the level where I can accompany a choir, especially while at the same time listening and assessing the ensemble. So when I saw a post by Dr. Christopher Russell this morning titled “Using iPads for Choir Sectionals,” my interest was immediately piqued!

In the post, Russell discusses the methods through which he creates practice tracks for each voice part in his chorus using Finale and Notion for iPad, and allows them to practice (along with the score, using ForScore) in sections while he works with other groups. While I intend to use this in my classes, my biggest take-away from the article was actually the “Guided Access Mode” on the iPad, which allows me to lock the iPad into a certain app (and even disable certain parts of the screen in that app!) to prevent students from playing Angry Birds when they should be practicing their part. What an incredible feature! I didn’t even know it existed. If you’re curious, you can find it by tapping Settings -> General -> Accessibility -> Guided Access.

Between “Guided Access” mode and the musical potential that using Finale, Notion, and ForScore (in conjunction with Dropbox) create, I can’t wait to get back to choir this week!

Tonal Energy Tuning App

I have been hearing about the “Tonal Energy” app for iPad and iPhone for a long time, but thought I couldn’t find anything better than my (very expensive) iStrobosoft strobe tuner app. Little did I know… Tonal Energy is really as amazing as everyone says it is! In addition to a very easy to read interface, Tonal Energy is worth every penny of its $3.99 price tag (and then some!) just because of the “Tone Generator” feature. For anyone who has used a Harmony Director before to demonstrate Equal/Just Temperaments and help ensembles develop a sense of intonation on chords, this app can do the exact same thing. It allows for pitches to be played using any instrument sound, and you can sustain as many pitches as you want at once. This is PERFECT for sustaining an open 5th as reference while students tune their instruments at the beginning of class. This will be especially useful now that I know how to….

Wirelessly Mirror Video/Audio from iPad to Projector

I have been looking for a way to wirelessly mirror my iPad to my Promethean projector since I started teaching. I have an extra long VGA cable that works fine as a way to plug my iPad into the projector, but this creates a few problems:

  1. I can’t move around much, because the cable keeps coming loose from the bottom of the iPad
  2. I can’t play audio from my iPad through my classroom sound system without actually placing the iPad near the sound system and connecting it through an 1/8″ Aux cable

Enter Chris Burns (@clb1015 on Twitter) who suggested I look into AirServer as an option. Sure enough, this is exactly what I was looking for! For a nominal $11.99 educational license, AirServer lets me wirelessly mirror my iPad (video AND audio) to the iMac sitting near my Promethean board. From there, I can connect the iMac to my projector and sound system using the appropriate VGA/Aux cables, and with a tap of a screen, I can easily walk around the room with my iPad screen displayed on the projector and iPad audio running out of my classroom speakers. I can think of a few applications for this already:

  • Display TonalEnergy on the projector while I pump that open 5th through the speakers to help with tuning in band classes
  • Play audio accompaniments through the speakers while I use ForScore to follow along in Chorus (AKA never need a choral score again!)
  • Display Tenuto or other Music Theory/Ear Training app on the screen while playing ear training exercises in Music Theory classes
  • Quickly play listening examples in all classes without having to walk away from the class to plug in the iPad, causing the class to go nuts (happens EVERY time…)

The only downside to all these discoveries? I have to wait a whole day before I can start to implement them because we have Martin Luther King, Jr. Day off tomorrow! Not that I’m complaining about the long weekend, of course…

What other applications am I not thinking of for all these great new ideas I came across today? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

“The Art of Wind Band Teaching” Symposium

After an enjoyable end to my Cayman trip (sorry for the lack of updates!), moving out, and a LONG drive, I’m here in Minnesota getting ready to attend the University of Minnesota’s “The Art of Wind Band Teaching” Symposium starting this afternoon in Minneapolis! I was originally accepted to the Symposium with a new teacher/college student fellowship that offered a reduced registration fee, but soon after also was offered the opportunity to participate in a conducting fellowship workshop during the Symposium! I am looking forward to a wonderful week of learning, exploring, and meeting great new people.

The star-studded clinician line-up for the “AWBT” Symposium is a who’s who of American Wind Band composers/conductors:

  • Craig Kirchhoff, University of Minnesota
  • Frank Ticheli, University of Southern California
  • Richard Floyd, University of Texas
  • Richard Mayne, University of Northern Colorado
  • Allan McMurray, University of Colorado
  • Marianne Ploger, Vanderbilt University
  • Timothy Diem, University of Minnesota
  • Alexander Fiterstein, University of Minnesota
  • Shelley Hanson, composer
  • Libby Larsen, Composer
  • Jerry Luckhardt, University of Minnesota
  • Alicia Neal, University of Minnesota
  • Laura Sindberg, University of Minnesota
  • Jim Cochran, Shattinger Music

I’m looking forward to meeting and working with these great minds, as well as meeting some of the great people in my Professional Learning Network for the first time. You can stay updated on my experiences by following me on Twitter @Zweibz7, where I will be using the #AWBT11 hashtag to update as often as I can from the sessions.

As an aside, if you are on Google+, consider adding my profile to one of your circles! I’m still not sure if Google+ will catch on and I’m very unsure of how I plan to use it, but it has been a great resource for more long-form discussion so far!

What The Future Holds

Hey all! I know it’s been a while since I updated here, but just wanted to give a quick update on what I’m up to and on my future.

First, I’m excited to say I have officially finished my degree and graduated from the University of Miami! The past six months have been a complete whirlwind, between student teaching, graduation, job applications, and saying a lot of difficult goodbyes to my friends. They have, however, been some of the best months of my life, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

As I mentioned, I’m applying for jobs at the moment. I hope to have good news to report very soon (cross your fingers for me!), but for the time being I am trying to not divulge too much publicly about the positions I am being considered for. If you want more info about my job search, get in touch with me and I will let you know in a private conversation.

In addition to the job search, I am excited to be participating in two very exciting events this summer. First, I will be traveling to the Cayman Islands next week with the Creative Music Project to teach a week-long free music workshop to the students on the island. I’ll hopefully be able to provide some frequent updates during this trip, so if you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to this blog to stay updated. Also, in late July I will be attending the University of Minnesota’s “Art of Wind Band Teaching” Symposium on a new teacher fellowship. I am extremely excited to learn from some of the best in the world!

If you follow me on Twitter (@Zweibz7), you likely know that I recently handed off the Editor-in-Chief position at MusicEdMajor.net to Andy Ritenour. I founded MusicEdMajor.net over two years ago and loved every minute of running it, but as I explained in my post announcing the move, it needs to be run by current Music Ed Majors. I have no doubt Andy will lead the website even better than I was able to in the next year.

What all this means…

This means I’m back to blogging right here! I have refreshed the look of my website (including adding a digital Portfolio), and re-purposed the blog to act a lot more like a “Tumblog.” What’s a tumblog?

A tumblelog is a quick and dirty stream of consciousness, a bit like a remaindered links style linklog but with more than just links. – Wikipedia Article

In other words, expect to see more frequent but shorter posts here in the future. I hope to share random thoughts I have (called “Asides”), photos from places I go (in “Galleries”), and other media (videos, quotes, audio recordings, etc.). Some of it will be about Music Education, some of it will be random musings about my personal life.

Don’t forget, you can stay updated with what I’m posting here by subscribing to the feed for this blog.

Until next time!

My Presenting Debut

Tomorrow morning (Friday, October 1), I will be making my debut as a presenter when I speak to the Music Education students at the University of Miami on blogging in the music classroom. I am extremely excited to have been given this opportunity, and I’m looking forward to getting to share some of the concepts I have discovered in my “online life” with my peers at school. The presentation is titled “Music Teacher 2.0: Blogging Your Way to a Better Classroom,” and focuses on how blogging can help improve a classroom by helping the teacher with professional development, ensuring that administrative tasks are accomplished efficiently, and engaging the students in their assignments. I have included a few polls and interactive portions of the presentation to help engage the audience more, but it doesn’t stop there!

I NEED YOUR HELP!

The end of my presentation focuses on the use of Twitter (a micro-blogging service) for professional development. This is where I need a hand from my wonderful Twitter network. I have set up my presentation to automatically tweet certain thoughts/ideas/questions during my presentation, using the hashtag #mt20. If you are on Twitter and available from 9:00 until 10:00 am EST tomorrow, please fire up your favorite Twitter app and respond to some of my thoughts/questions as I present! I will have TweetDeck open, and we will be checking in using hover notifications to see your thoughts throughout the presentation! I’m hoping, as well, to get even a few people in the room involved with Tweeting through text message. Let’s show them the power of Twitter!

As an aside, my presentation materials (including an audio recording) will all be available on a landing page at MusicEdMajor.net during and after the session. I will update this post with a link to the landing page once it’s up, and I’ll also auto-tweet a link to it during the session.

I look forward to seeing you on Twitter tomorrow morning!

I’ve Been Busy…

Well it’s been almost three months since I’ve posted here and I’m feeling, in a word, ashamed about it. This was intended to become a blog to chronicle the goings-on of my life, and has turned into a dormant feed filled with old thoughts and outdated information. So while I try to figure out how to increase my posting frequency here (any/all suggestions on what topics you want me to write on are welcome!), here are a few updates on what I’ve been doing while I haven’t been posting here:

  1. New Website Design – As you may have noticed, my website has a new design! I chose this for a few reasons: first, I want this website to act as my virtual resume and portfolio, so I chose to showcase my “vitals” on the homepage as opposed to displaying outdated blog posts. Secondly, and on that note, I try to “market” myself as someone interested social media/blogging in music education. While I do have a regularly updated professional blog, I thought it was a poor representation of me to have my personal homepage display a very outdated blog. Finally, I wanted to add more social media integration into my site, which I have done through the Twitter integration on the homepage, and my new “Connect” page. If you have any other thoughts/suggestions about the new design, please feel free to let me know!
  2. Personal Life – This summer has been fairly low-key for me, as I’ve been working two jobs. The first is a 9-5 day job at the IT Service Desk for the UM School of Business Administration. This job lets me exercise my “techie” side, as I help professors and business students troubleshoot their technology issues. My other job is for the Frost School of Music, working in the concert halls as an usher/set-up-person/whatever-else-they-need. Outside of work, I celebrated one year with Liz in early June, and I’m already gearing up for next school year!
  3. Online Activities – I have been very busy online since my last post. On Twitter, I created #MusEdChat, an online twitter chat for Music Educators. The chat has gained a significant amount of popularity, and I had the opportunity to give a short presentation about it while I was in Washington, D.C. for MENC’s Music Education Week in June (I live-blogged the event with three other pre-service music teachers). Additionally, I have been continuing my posts at MusicEdMajor.net, with the help of my co-editor Andy Ritenour. Finally, I have been participating as a member of the launch team for the new MusicPLN, which launches tomorrow at noon. It has been an incredible project, and I would encourage any Music Educators (or Music Ed Majors) to join us!
  4. The Future… Scary isn’t it? I only have one year left of school before I’m out there on my own, doing who-knows-what! I’ve spent a lot of time this summer thinking about what I’m going to do come June, and I’m still not completely decided, but I know in my first few years out of my undergrad, I want to do two things: teach high school band (and music technology, if possible), and start a Master’s degree in Instructional Technology. Whether I pursue this degree full-time and if I start it right away remains to be seen, but as I’ve spent more time exploring technology for music education, it has become clear to me that this is the way I want to take my career. Stay tuned for a more detailed post about my future and a call for advice soon!

Holy cow! As I said, I’ve been busy. At any rate, that’s just a small sampling of what I’ve been up to over the past three months. I’ll try my best to keep this blog updated more frequently over the coming months, as well. If you would like me to blog about any specific topics, please leave a comment, and I would be happy to oblige!

P.S. – Only three days until I celebrate the first anniversary of my 21st birthday!