Sunday, January 29, 2012



In speaking with one of my colleagues - I learned of an app that can be used on iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads called notebrainer.  It is an app that will set up flash card type screens to help students learn the names of notes quickly.  Believe it or not - we still have some in the high schools that aren't fluent with this.  I will be looking forward to when we get these tools for our classrooms.

One thing that I hadn't considered before was the whole world of Digital Citizenship.  Along with the normal planning of classroom activities - DC is going to add a great deal of complexity to our plans.  It is not going to be nearly as easy to move into using these tools as one might think.  Also - as the size of my class is considerably larger than the typical academic class - it is going to be more difficult for us to break into small groups to use the tools.  Making sure that each student has access to the tools is going to be yet another thing to consider.  Is it the policy of SBISD that the larger the class size - the more tools they get?

One of the unexpected outcomes of this project is that I don't feel compelled to fully or regularly integrate these new ideas into my classroom.  If I were a lecture format teacher - I think that tons of these things would be helpful.  However - that is a LONG way from how we run performing arts classes.  I don't want to say anything that will jeopardize my job - but suffice it to say - I would love to learn from a music teacher who has successfully integrated these types of technologies into the classroom.  I don't mean at all to say that I am refusing to go this direction.  Nevertheless - I did enjoy learning some of the things that other teachers might use.


Second ending: I was impressed by how much work went into putting all of this together.  I think that KJ and her team were very thorough and put things in a very understandable manner - a blog to demonstrate a blog.  Thanks!


I think that Digital Citizenship is going to be infinitely more complicated than anything we've dealt with in the past - in terms of citizenship.  But the things I would want to stress would be reliability of sources, accountability of what the students contribute to the web and understanding fair use.  The Resources for the 21st Century Classroom will be very helpful for this.  And the simple act of us doing a Google search for different topics as a class could reveal some of the importance of these principles.

Our chief method of corresponding with the students and parents - besides verbal and written announcements - is through email.  Again - I use the CharmsOffice system to send group emails as well as our newsletters.  Through this as well as my blog - I can communicate a lot of information to the parents.  And the great thing is that they can read it at a time that is best for them.


The world is changing, growing - and technology is probably one of the leading forces in this growth.  After going through this assignment - I'm realizing how much I have to learn.  I think that using technology in some classes will help our students become familiar with these new mediums.  Like any good class discussion or assignment - holding students accountable for work they do in stations will keep them engaged and part of the learning process.

I really didn't see anything new that I liked.  There were a lot of apps for metronomes and rhythm simulators, but nothing really new that we haven't already used.  I do plan to use some of these - along with some theremin apps - to stage the first performance of the Memorial iSymphony.  The thought is that we could use an existing piece that is traditionally scored, break into different groups with the devices and have each group come up with ideas on how they can augment the piece using the devices.

Most of our students are able to record their playing tests through CharmsOffice.  This system will automatically send the recordings to my CharmsOffice teacher account.  Unfortunately - their mobile app version doesn't support this activity.  I suppose that the student can record to an iPad and I could go back in and listen to it - but this seems very counterproductive in terms of time spent on task.  Instead of the iPad being in my office while I"m listening to it - it really needs to be in the hands of the students.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


I'm glad to know that we're going to get some iDevices.  I have an iPhone and an iPod Touch, my wife has an iPad - so I'm quite familiar with the devices.  I'm glad to know that you can freeze the image to keep it from rotating.  That could be important in music reading situations!  It will be nice to be able to sync all the devices together.

When we check out microphones, metronomes, tuners, etc. - we ask the students to leave an item as 'collateral'.  This can be something like a wallet or a cell phone.  They get it back when they return the borrowed item.  We will probably use this system for the new tools as well.


One of the more enjoyable things we have done as a class is to trade concerts with other schools.  We have done this with orchestras in San Antonio and Corpus Christi and our plan was to do it in Costa Rica this year, but it was just going to be way too expensive.  I think that we can overcome this financial hurdle by using Skype to collaborate with schools across the country and around the world.

So the plan would be to find another school orchestra that meets close to our class meeting time - watch each other perform on Skype and allow the kids to interact by commenting on each others' performances, ask questions about the music, exchange ideas about each others' cultures.  This might be particularly effective if we can schedule this to happen near contest time - especially if we can find an orchestra that is performing the same piece we are.

Another idea would be to contact a composer that we are playing and see if he or she would watch us perform the piece over Skype and allow that composer time to comment on what we're doing, how we're playing and interpreting, and maybe give us the background behind the composition of the piece.  Again - we've done live this in the past - but finances prevent us from doing this as much as we would like.


For this tool - I chose to use Poll Everywhere and Twitter.  I set up a poll in Poll Everywhere where responses could be texted in using phones.  So - the premise is that during a concert - I can get the audience more involved by asking them questions as we perform a piece.  In this question - I'm trying to see what the reaction of the listener is when we play different sections of the music.

Then - I went to set up a Twitter account.  My son gave me the idea that when we take the Orchestra on an out of town trip such as NYC - I can use Twitter to send out alerts and reminders.  For example - in the mornings - I can send out a message such as 'You need to be on the bus in fifteen minutes' or 'Curfew is in effect in ten minutes', etc.

Here is my Twitter page.


OK - so this one was pretty cool! I'm going to have to come back and look through more of these 2.0 tools. I typed in a ton of random words about the Orchestra in Wordle and this is what came out. It would be pretty cool to have this blown up covering one of the walls in the Orchestra Room.

Wordle: BigMo

Each summer - I choose a musical goal and a character goal and we discuss and work toward these goals in our classes. I put these goals to photos and you can see each of them below. I thought the ski photo was pretty cool because that's what the Orchestra is going to be doing in April!!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012


I just created a new form using Google Docs that was designed to gather information from students for our upcoming ski trip.  I wish I had known about this just a week ago.  But - I think that I can probably modify our registration forms at the beginning of the year and have the kids fill them out using Google Docs.  I emailed this form to several teachers in my department and I'll look forward to 'analyzing' the results in the 'see responses' section.

As a department - we turn in about 700 and dinner orders for the Fine Arts Banquet.  I'm sure that we'll be able to come up with something to make that easier with this tool.


I have found that YouTube and Vimeo offer the most in terms of video for my classroom which is Orchestra.  Discovery deals mostly with the core subjects.  Blinkx is new to me - so I look forward to exploring it more.

I have embedded a couple of things that I would share with my classes.  The first is a performance of the YouTube Symphony.  This is a group of musicians assembled from around the world who auditioned for this orchestra via YouTube postings.

The second is a speech by Benjamin Zander, conductor and motivational artist.

Copyrights can be a tricky thing, so I was pretty surprised when I found myself actually drawn to the music video like the ones I used to watch on Saturday mornings when I was a kid (Conjunction Junction, etc.).  One thing that is new to me is that adding value to materials is probably classified as fair use.  Nice!

Dropbox could be a cool tool for Orchestra.  When we have playing tests - students record the music on their computers and then submit it to us electronically.  We could create a Dropbox for Orchestra where they could just drop in their files and we can listen to them.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Here we are at the second lesson and I'm seeing that (1) this can get complicated in that I'm so anal - as DP puts it - that I'll keep on doing things over and over until they look the way I want them - and that could add up in terms of time (2) this could be a great way of connecting  - I guess I need to throw in 'PLN' with great teachers in my subject around the world.  Probably all things that are worthwhile do take quite a bit of effort.

Sharing my thoughts publicly is not at all natural for me, but I am a good listener.  My guess is that I'll probably be a more avid reader of blogs than I will be a poster.  I thought this was a good list and should prove to be helpful in posting.  I do have a couple of ex-students who blog, so I will be reading them via RSS.

Congrats to Lisa Tames for being the first person to comment on my blog.  Who is next?

Friday, January 6, 2012


This is my first shot at creating a blog.  I have read a few of these, responded to a few of the posts, but I've never even considered having my own blog.

Creating it was pretty easy.  The toughest parts for me so far have been (1) coming up with a name for the blog and (2) understanding the purpose of the blog.  We'll see how this unfolds.  Who knows - maybe I'll love it!

Added later: OK, I gotta say that I just created a Voki and that was the most enjoyable part of this assignment.  Take a listen!      ---------------------------->