Open-Source Tools for Music Educators

Music educators love music! In today’s world, educators must learn to stretch a dollar further than ever. During crises, ingenuity can emerge and help when little to no money is available.

Sharing knowledge through open-source venues helps both novice and veteran educators instruct with digital media at their fingertips. Open source is a development method for software that harnesses the power of distributed peer review and transparency of process. The promise of open source is better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility, lower cost, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in (Open Source.org, n.d.).

For music educators, open-source software typically provides a free avenue for accessing needed software. A search will lead to the Top 100 in various media categories. For our purposes, the following are useful for music teachers in the classroom and their students.

MEDIA PLAYER

VLC

A/V File Conversion Software

Depending on what software you are using, some files must be converted “from” a particular format “to” another format. This  formatting change allows the software to communicate. Essentially, they speak the same language after the conversion occurs. Those using iLife ’11 must convert “from” some video formats (i.e., cell phone videos, Youtube downloads) “to” the language that Apple understands. iMovie imports videos in “.mov” (or QuickTime formatted movies). To convert outside languages files (.flv, .m4v, etc.), use the following Open Source file converters to easily get you where you want to go.

STEP #1: Download MPEG Streamclip.

Squared 5
It is called "Squared 5" vs. MPEGStreamclip.

MPEG Streamclip is a powerful free video converter, player,and  editor for Mac and Windows. It can play many movie files, not only MPEGs; it can convert MPEG files between muxed/demuxed formats for authoring; it can encode movies to many formats, including iPod; it can cut, trim and join movies. MPEG Streamclip can also download videos from YouTube and Google by entering the page URL.

STEP #2: Download the companion software, Perian


Perian is a free, open source QuickTime component that adds native support for many popular video formats.

3rd Party Software working in tandem

Observe how to install Perian and use it.

STEP #3: Drag the video you need to convert onto the MPEGStreamclip window. Select 100% as the video size for conversion. Sit back and watch these two Open Source partners do their thing.

STEP #4: Import the “new” .mov movie into your movies editor, i.e., iMovie.

This also works when converting cell phone videos into various file formats needed for editing video.

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