Tag Archives: Education

The Blind Man Who Taught Himself To See

Great article
Daniel Kish has been sightless since he was a year old. Yet he can mountain bike. And navigate the wilderness alone. And recognize a building as far away as 1,000 feet. How? The same way bats can see in the dark.

This makes me wonder what else a human can do. Perhaps in music classes, if students were required to wear blindfolds, it would develop their “ear” faster and better? Or maybe we all should have some sort of class which we have to do things completely without sight.

I know when I listen to music, I really have to pretty much close my eyes to listen. I can’t really multitask and listen to something. Nor can I listen to stuff while driving as a lot of my attention goes to the music, the brain picking apart what I’m hearing…..even if I have heard it many many times over. It’s like other things, sight, etc, are interfering with my listening.

Isaac Asimov on Education and Computers in 1988

If you don’t know who Isaac Asimov is then go education yourself. He coined the term Robotics, beat the Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, and wrote a bunch of stuff. He also seemed to pretty much predict what we have today. He has some interesting ideas about education that we should pay attention to. He would have been in his 90s now if he had not died of HIV which he had contracted during a triple bypass surgery in 1983. He would be amazed to see what we have done.

iPad in Education

From the Santa Cruz Sentinel:
“Before, during and even between classes at Hillbrook School this fall, seventh-graders have been spotted on the Los Gatos campus, sometimes burbling Spanish or Mandarin phrases into the glowing screen in their hands, other times staring into it like a looking glass,” Bruce Newman reports for The Mercury News.

“iPads — the Apple of almost every adolescent’s eye — are being provided to students at several Bay Area public and private schools this year, including Hillbrook, which claims to be the only K-8 school in America using tablet computers in class and sending them home,” Newman reports. “This has led to a lot of 12-year-olds swanning around the wooded hillside campus, talking to their iPads.”

It just makes sense. It’s cheaper, more “green”, and more efficient. Now imagine having all your music books in an iPad. Or all that Lit and Analysis stuff accessible instantly. Or having some great ear training Apps to help with sight singing. Soon……it’s happening as we speak…..

Band-in-a-Box 2010.5 – Mac

PGMusic just released Band In A Box 2010.5 for the Mac. Improvements? Yes, several. Here are a few that I think are noteworthy:

  • Styles can now be made that are set to use Half-Time and Double-Time RealTracks. For example, you can make a Jazz Ballad style (tempo 65) that uses a Sax Soloist at tempo 140 (playing double time).
  • For RealTracks, many Jazz comping styles now play triads (instead of 7ths) when simple triads are entered, instead of “jazzing them up” to 7ths chords (e.g. Guitar: Freddie, Wes Piano: Some Jazz. All Stride, Rehearsal). If you prefer this “the old way”, where triads are automatically “jazzed up” when comping using Jazz RealTracks, then you can set the Prefs-Realtracks settings option to force 7ths for triads.

Plus, you get a bunch more RealTracks. One of the Paks comes with some B3, and other has some excellent Jazz Guitar.

Is it worth the money? Yes, I think so. It is a great tool for musicians who want to practice 50 choruses of soloing…..at whatever speed……in whatever style……in whatever key. Or perhaps you’ve like to figure out some chords for a song you were working on? Done. BinaB can help you there. Or maybe figure out what chords were played in a song? Yep, it can help you there too. So many uses for this program…..it should really be a REQUIREMENT for a Musician to own it.

UPDATE: A few of the RealTrack Saxophone tracks are Eric Marienthal. How cool is that???

Band in a Box 2010 for Macintosh

It has been really hard keeping the cat in the bag (I was a beta tester for the last 2 weeks or so), but tonight PG Music finally released Band in a Box 2010 for the Macintosh. As was the case in the previous version, this version is Intel only. So, you people with G5s or other PowerPC chipped computers….you are out of luck. Though the speed increases in this version (more on that in a sec) probably would have made Band in a Box 2010 tolerable for G5 Macintoshes.

There are quite a few new features, and I’ll list the ones that I think are the best.
1. “No more long waits for RealTracks to generate! RealTracks generate much faster, 4X faster on average. A typical song with RealTracks that took 20 seconds to generate will generate now in about 5 seconds. And if you freeze some or all tracks in the song (see below), playback of RealTracks is almost instantaneous.” In Band in a Box 2009.5, generating Real Tracks took FOREVER. Even on a MacPro, it took a while. On an iMac…..it could take nearly a minute in some cases. NOT ANYMORE. On my iMac from 2006 (a lowly 2 Gigahertz Core 2 Duo iMac), it was fast in generating real tracks. Most took maybe 5 seconds to do. I think the longest (like 10 choruses with 4 real tracks and a real soloist) took maybe 10 seconds. Ok, 12. But that was still totally fine. They are NOT kidding about the speed. It is way faster. Useable fast.

2. “Time for generation of MIDI arrangement is much faster – now ‘instantaneous (less than 1 second)!” Yup. Midi arrangements are nearly you press play and it goes. Even if you do 20 choruses with 5+ instruments.

3. “There is now a “Plug-in” mode for your favorite sequencer (GarageBand, ProTools, Logic, Nuendo, Reaper and more). With the new plug-in mode, BB is open as a small always-on-top window, and acts as a plug-in for your favorite DAW/sequencer, so that you can Drag-n-Drop MIDI and audio (AIFF) tracks from BB to your favorite sequencer. Work in your favorite sequencer, type a progression in Band-in-a-Box, and then simply drag the track from Band-in-a-Box to your sequencer’s track at the desired track and bar location.” This is actually really cool, though how it works is a little strange initially. You can, say, load up Garage Band, and say you have been working on a tune that is in 3/4 and is in the key of A and you need a guitar line. Or solo. You can fire up Band in a Box, type in some chords, select a style or soloist or real track, or real soloist (or whatever they call it), and switch Band in a Box into DAW mode, tell it you want to generate AIFF or m4a audio tracks or Midi tracks, and drag the track right into Garageband. Boom. (I did leave out one step, but I feel you need to SEE it to understand it)

4. “Freezing (locking) MIDI or Real tracks/RealDrums. Any track can now be frozen (MIDI or Real track). When frozen, it won’t get changed or re-generated. This saves time when replaying previous songs, and allows you to freeze an arrangement that you like. If you freeze the whole song, you don’t have to wait at all for the song to regenerate. Next time you play, it is ready to go. (Note: this new freeze feature is different than the previous limited freeze feature that renders the whole arrangement to the audio track)” Kinda cool, but since it is so much faster overall in generating tracks I didn’t really use it much. Though if you FREEZE all the RealTracks, it plays back the song instantly.

There are some other things like it will Normalize a rendered Audio file, Endings of songs work better, you can resize the window, things are saved with the song. All good stuff. But the 4 listed above I think are the bread and butter. Ok, so, there are still some things that are in the Windows version of Band in a Box that are not present in the Macintosh version. Most notable is the Ear Training part (which is really nice). It doesn’t detract from the overall amazingness that this program has. If you do music, you NEED to have this program on your computer. If you are a Jazz student, or someone who plays jazz, this program is something you need to have for working out that new chord progression at whatever tempo, for 30 choruses, in a Polka style. Or whatever.

Upgrade price from Band in a Box 2009 is $159. First time purchasers $399. You get something like nearly 70 gigs of stuff. Amazing sounds. Totally worth it. 10/10 (and I can’t remember the last time I gave something a 10 out of 10)

Want better Relative Pitch? There’s an App for that.

Yes, the iPhone/iTouch is amazing. 100,000+ Apps. A lot for free. There are a few diamonds in the ruff, and this one is looking like another find.

RelativePitch is an an iTouch/iPhone app that will drill you on intervals. There is a lite version of it as well. The interface is OK, but I have a few complaints about it. The application does not, at least in the lite version, allow you to vary the root note. Maybe the full version does this, I dunno. Second, the intervals are always UP, as in root then the note above. Down would be a great thing to have in this app as well. Perhaps the full version does it. It would be simple enough to add in an update.

The price? $7.99. Forget that. If the developer knocked it down to $1.99, maybe. You’d be better off searching the web for various free trainers, like http://www.trainear.com/. Hopefully someone will do a better version for the iTouch/iPhone soon. Or a cheaper version. $7.99. Come on people!

Pitch Primer For The iPhone/iTouch

The Apple iPhone/iTouch software market is amazing. Games, tuners (like the great Strobe tuner). Even AutoTune things like I Am T-Pain.

Now, there is the Pitch Primer for the platform. It is amazing. Transcription tool? Sure it could be. Amazing practice tool? YES! Amazing idea? YES! It is easiest to see a demo of it. Things that I’d like it to do would be EXPORT the audio you recorded (several other iPhone/iTouch programs can do this). And it would be killer if it would export things as a midi file. Or Music XML file.

Amazing product. Get it now while it’s $4.99.

Jazz Phrasing For Beginners by Greg Fishman

jpfbGreg Fishman has a number of excellent books out. I’ve reviewed and highly recommend his Jazz Etudes Book Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 and his Saxophone Duets book. His latest book is Jazz Phrasing For Beginners, which is aimed at the beginning student. It contains 10 melodic tunes that great examples of idiomatic “classic” jazz tunes such as “C Jam Blues” and the like. The tunes are great studies in good voice leading and use of jazz rhythms. Also great motivic (or sequential) development. You get 2 CDs with the book. One CD that has Alto Sax demos and backgrounds, and one that has Tenor Sax demos and backgrounds.

As a book for someone who is just starting to play, this would be a good first book before diving into something like Jim Snidero’s Jazz Conception Easy. The etudes are short, and emphasize excellent idea development. However……
Continue reading Jazz Phrasing For Beginners by Greg Fishman

Zinn Practice Regimen For Saxophone

Ok, I think this is the FINAL version of this. Last updated in 2005, this version took out some stuff I had in there, and put in some stuff I have been practicing lately (triad things). 32 Pages of Saxophone goodness.

It is FREE and available here

  Zinn Practice Regimen For Saxophone 2009 version (1.8 MiB, 768 hits)
You do not have permission to download this file. Please either login or create an account first.


and via Lulu here

Plus you can buy a copy for about $13 if you want something already bound and what not. Expect an update to the II-V patterns soon…..it is gonna be HUGE.

Oh, and that is a Conn-O-Sax on the cover. Why? I dunno, it looks cool….thats why!

The Music of George Garzone & The Triadic Chromatic Approach DVD

George Garzone has a 2 DVD instructional set coming out next month. $89.95. Sounds interesting.

“The Music of George Garzone & The Triadic Chromatic Approach”, is a Jazz Improvisation Instructional DVD and much, much more.
MADE FOR ALL INSTRUMENTS

  • Performances: Solo, Duos, Trios, an Sextet performances
  • The Triadic Chromatic Approach: 23 Chapters & 30 Examples of In-Depth Lessons
  • Trading Play Alongs: George Plays / You Play w/ Rhythm Section
  • Pure Play Along: You Play w/ Rhythm Section
  • Garzone On Sound: In-depth Lesson of Saxophone Sound Production
  • PDF Supplements: Transposed for all instruments, examples, exercises and lead sheets
  • Bonus Features: Interviews, Alternate Takes, Extra

The Finale School

I use Finale for notation. True, I did buy Sibelius when they were offering that sweet upgrade price. But, honestly, I haven’t used it. I haven’t had the time to learn it. I’d rather spend it learning, oh, Logic Studio, or ProTools. I like to complain about Finale, cause I use it daily. I want it to be better. It is a great notation product.

Finale has been tagged with the perception that it is hard to learn. That might have been true back in 1999, but that is certainly not the case with the latest versions. For many versions now, MakeMusic has been making Finale much easier for a new user to use. Finale’s real strength is it’s power. You can tweak your music to your hearts content. Learning how to do this can be a long, lonely road.

Enter The Finale School. Matthew Voogt has put together a nice site that has a lot of videos showing how to do stuff in Finale 2007. While the video quality is not great (fuzzy when you blow it up), the content is straight forward and easy to follow. You can learn a lot of new Finale things by watching a few of the videos. Check it out.