Elluminating your world

Just when all seems dark and dreary — at least in economic times — there are NEW opp’s that burst on the scene. Sometimes innovation meets solidarity, i.e., a solid wall of resistance. New ideas cost money! Why do we need THAT? It uses too much internet (bandwidth). Maybe you haven’t been faced with solidarity but most educators have and do. The answer? It appears that our instructional approach should “appear” for our students.

While the use of AV has been promulgated by every researcher and journal article-ist, the exact course of action isn’t clear. For example, projection systems are not new but they are an effective way to display powerpoint, photos and movies for instructional purposes. What happens when you want to take a FIELD TRIP with your students…without leaving the campus? Virtual touring. How does the “average” teacher do such a thing?

My suggestion is that you consider using ELLUMINATE (http://knowledgebank.globalteacher.org.au/elluminate).  In basics terms, here is what you can do with Elluminate.

What is Elluminate?

Elluminate is an online application allowing a group of people to communicate in real time through an internet connected computer. You use your own computer to listen, speak to others and participate in activities. All users enter a ‘room’ at a set time, where different people take on the roles of participants, presenters and facilitators. Elluminate vRoom is a FREE product for real-time collaboration with up to three participants. Features include two-way voice-over-IP audio, interactive whiteboard, direct messaging, application sharing, file transfer, web touring, live video, and breakout rooms.elluminate_


R & R Time

As musicians, music educators, music instructional techies, music this and music that — we work, work, work! When we’re not WORKING, we’re possibly BLOGGING!

The old addage “It ain’t ART if it ain’t got HEART” is true.  As creative artists, we must allow TIME for ourselves to rekindle the artistic fires within oursevles. Just this evening, we’ve bought a couple of TIKI candles for the back yard.  I found that the WICK doesn’t do anything without the FUEL.

During seasons of potential R & R, we must take the time to rest and relax. WHY? To keep the fires of creativity, freshness and vibrancy alive in our ART and HEART.

I hope you’ll find time to LIGHT THE WICK… but you’ve got to FILL THE TANK first!! Running low on the fuel needed to be creative?  Take some time to buy a TIKI TORCH @ Wally World.  Sit on the porch. Listen  to the MUSIC OF THE SPHERES when you can.

Go light YOUR torch! The artisitic world will be glad you did.


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I am proud to be a Music Education Blogger! If you haven’t joined the ME Blog? What R U waiting on? Christmas? That’s too far away. But these guys are here. Right now and we are willing to help YOU become a better music tech educator. You’ll glad that you “blogged on”.

Ring Tone Rage

One of the greatest tools in Apple’s iLife is, of course, GARAGEBAND. Multi-faceted programs like GB provide both novice and moderate composers a user-friendly platform on which they express their art in musical style.

Having just taught my students an IMovie lesson, we observed THE OFFICE PARODY @ teachertube.com.  A fascinating concept we discovered is their use of the actual THEME SONG from The Office television program. This led our class to COLLABORATIVELY work on finding various THEME SONGS on the web.

By searching for TV Theme Songs in Google, we discovered multiple FILE FORMATS including .Wav, MP3, MP4 as well as MIDI.

An often overlooked — or underused — feature in GB is its ability to convert file formats. GB allows us to IMPORT files in MIDI.  GB will “default” to particular instruments such as piano, guitar, drums, etc. based on the data stored in the MIDI file.

MIDI is an acronym for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. One “eye-opening” feature for new learners to discover is that MIDI is only data. In other words, there are no actual SOUNDS in a MIDI file.  The quality of an imported MIDI file is the result of several things including the musicality of the one who created the original file. Also, the tone generator on the host computer or software program will also greatly affect the quality of the tones heard.

Our students imported MIDI files into GB from THE OFFICE.  Several students added their own creativity by adding SPECIAL EFFECTS, DRUMS or A DIFFERENT INSTRUMENT than the original MIDI file designated.

Once completed, the song in GB needed to be SHARED. Most often, files are shared to ITUNES. In this case, we shared to RINGTONE.

As students prepare to be relevant in the REAL work force, I believe that projects such as creating ringtones for cell phones is as viable a concept as learning math. After all… what’s YOUR ring tone set to today?

(Please be advised that we must follow copyright laws when creating new works — especially if they are being created for profit.)

Your thoughts?

Googling Around: TOP 12 List

Educators! For many of us, this isn’t a new theme park ride. For some of us, if you haven’t experienced the thrill of using much of GOOGLE’S free tools, you’ve missed lots of FREE FUN. As an educator, you are given many industry-standard options to use at no expense. Better still… they are worth using.As a new WEB 2.0 guy, I learned that collaborating with co-workers online is working smart. When you are away from your computer, are you LOST without your calendar? As an avid EXCEL and WORD user, I struggle to keep the latest update at hand. The list goes on and on unfortunately.

What options does Google offer for you? http://www.google.com/intl/en/options/

Some of my fav’s include:

1. Gmail. The world’s best email.

2. Chat. Send your wife love notes online!

3. Google search… just “Google it!” Like McCain said, we can even “Google it” to find out the top 20 candidates for V.P.

4. Maps. Much more reliable and accurate than MapQuest.

5. Earth. Have you seen your own home online yet using Google Earth? Great virtual field trip option.

6. Scholar. Working on an advanced degree? Need scholarly research for your website?

7. Notebook. Keep your “clips” you find during online searches.

8. Calendar. Keep multiple calendars online (personal, school, church). Link into one calendar if you want to.

9. Documents. This is my NEW FAVORITE! Upload from MS Office any file (.doc, .xls, .ppt) and it’s there. Unfortunately, PDF is not a format in which Google operates… yet.

Part II with Google Documents. Here are the WEB 2.o features. Share your documents by inviting them to “view”. Or invite them as a “collaborator.” Which means… you build a CONCERT PROGRAM. Send it to a colleague. Invite them to ADD TO THE DOCUMENT. Google then notifies YOU when every time the doc has been edited! Google works FOR you.

Then, invite others as a “viewer” to see what is forthcoming at the concert, yet they can’t change the layout. Only collaborators can make changes. Then, email to a Google GROUP that you have set up in GMAIL. (Import/Export addresses to/from various email programs.)

10. Picasa. For our High School Spring Musical, we share pictures among 3 collaborators. No time to meet? View online. Collaborate using Google’s amazing features.

11. Code. For those who understand code, Open Source is a wonderful collaborative tool. Get info using CODE. Incidentally, for those of you who need a free OFFICE program, begin to search the OPEN SOURCE programs available to you. OPEN OFFICE is fully functional on PC/Mac. No longer must EDUCATORS sit in the wings crying because we don’t have funds to purchase software packages. There are hundreds of amazing programs available to those who… seek and find.

12. Translate. Two years ago, we met our German cousins…for the first time! Communicating effectively across languages can be daunting to say the least. Now, using TRANSLATE, you can not only read other languages but Google will translate for you into other languages.

ENJOY Googling Around!

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Belkin TuneTalk + iPod: Recording Student Performance for Evaluation

Twenty-five years ago, I began a career as a music educator in 1983. Lean, green machine, naive, etc. I fantasized that I could be the next ROBERT SHAW — maybe not. But, I did have a passionate vision for becoming an inspiring teacher who loved to teach students to love singing. Today, that same passion exists. My perspective has changed some through the years.

Because of the capabilities that inheritant in D.A.W.’s, I’ve just seen, once again, the power of audio recording for singers. In my high school, a single A (smallest school size), my students competed in a local regional competition. End results were very positive. Here’s why…

OUR PHOTO SHOOT. Here’s the picture of my school. We have students who compete outside the school day yet are unable to actually take choral/vocal classes. Actually, only 2 students in the boys’ quartet actually were enrolled in my classes. One girl in the girl’s trio was enrolled. Our rehearsals were at best intermittent and fragmented. A pretty dismal scene actually in terms of “finding time” to rehearse.

DIGITAL AUDIO ON THE FLY! As the boys breezed in (usually for approximately 5-10 minutes during “break”), we found intonation issues to be a real problem. Very little vocalizing and warm-ups happened due to time constraints. The Trio experienced even less time to practice. We often squeezed in about 10-15 minutes approximately 12x prior to our first competition!

At times, we managed to utilize digital audio recording during rehearsals in order to evaluate our rehearsals. By audio recording REHEARSALS, we can predict adjudicator comments. An audio picture is worth… more than 1000 words. Recording and playback is often sufficient for students to hear their own “problems”. Once we all acknowledge (via analysis and synthesis) what needs to be corrected or what is being performed with excellence, the role of TEACHER-AS-FACILITATOR can work to foster excellence in student performance.

For the first time in my career, I was able to actually audio record student vocal and choral competitions using our own equipment! Here’s what happened. We attached the BELKIN TUNETALK to the base of an IPOD, then pressed the red RECORD button. Once the performance(s) were completed, I raced to my computer to SYNC the IPOD. The recordings appeared as VOICE MEMOS (date and time were default memo names). ITunes stored each of the recordings. The following class period, each of those students welcomed the opportunity to listen to their own performances using iTunes.

End result? Students have now evaluated their own performances on two separate venues. The usually ask for a CD copy for their own keeping to share with their family. As we read adjudicator comments, we are able to honestly evaluate our scores because we could HEAR our own performances firsthand.

All for a few hundred dollars. It’s worth the investment.