Tech Tuesday: iPiano Tutor iPad app update

This last Saturday I had the fun opportunity along with my husband to meet Andy Fling and his wife with MakingMusicFun.net for breakfast. Until recently, I didn’t realize that Andy lived so close to me so this was the first time meeting him in person. If you recall I had featured Andy’s iPiano Tutor app that is in development in Tech Tuesday a couple weeks ago. In our conversation at breakfast, Andy mentioned his concern about teachers not fully understanding this app. He was concerned that teachers might be looking at this app as the latest “teach yourself” ploy. Where in fact it is quite the opposite. iPiano Tutor’s purpose is to be a tool that helps students to practice smart at home after lessons. It allows students to practice in very small chunks, as small as one note or chord if needed, and being able to not only see, but hear how it should go. Then taking those challenging sections and being successful in their practicing. In short, iPad Tutor is a practice tool that teachers will want their students to use at home.

You can learn more about and support this app here. I for one, would love to see this app developed. Students in this generation would jump at something like this to use in their practicing. On a personal level I could even see benefiting from this app in my practicing.

 

 

 

Note Hitter App Winner!

Saturday was much busier than anticipated and I know you are anxiously awaiting to see who won the Note Hitter app…

The lucky winner (using random.org) was Amy who said “Great tool to help students! Thanks!”  Amy, email me: jennifer@foxxpianostudio.com for instructions to download your new app! Congratulations!

 

Remember you can purchase Note Hitter for only $1.99.

Tech Tuesday: Note Hitter App Review and Giveaway

Note Hitter

Last week I reviewed an app called ScaleHelper developed by Spectral Efficiency, Ltd. This week I wanted to review a sight-reading app they had developed called Note Hitter. As notes move across the screen, the students will use their instrument and play (or sing) the notes before they hit the wall. When you play the correct note, the note will pop. Once you hit the wall, game over. As you improve the game will become more faster and challenging.

Like ScaleHelper, Note Hitter allows you to create more then one profile. (LOVE!) There is a list of almost instruments to choose from, including voice. Voice has the option to sing in Alto, Baritone, Soprano or Tenor. For fun, I decided to try out voice and though it didn’t take me long to hit the wall, it was quite accurate. Under the piano option you can choose the bass clef or treble clef option. I would love to see a grand staff option in the future. The note options include notes up to 3 octaves, with sharps and flats and the ability to change the metronome speed between 40-250. Increasing the tempo allows for an added challenge. Notes can be shown via major arpeggio, major scale and minor scale, blues scale, pentatonic major and pentatonic minor with notes chosen from 6 types of exercise and all tonics.

Note Hitter is a great app that can be used both as a quick sight-reading tool during lessons or a more challenging sight-reading tool to play over and over progressing over time during lab time or home.

Note Hitter is $1.99. There is also a free “lite” version. The lite version however is limited to 1 octave of C major scale or arpeggio at 50 bpm. (Lite is a good way to test the app before buying it)

The developers of Note Hitters are feeling the love this month and have graciously offered to give away a Note Hitter app to one of my blog readers! YAY!!!

So… for 1 entry leave a comment below. For an extra entry share this review on your blog, Facebook or Twitter and leave a separate comment where you shared.

Deadline to get entries in is before midnight MST on Friday, February 15th.  Happy Valentines!

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this app in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own. 

Disney Tips for MTNA Conference

Disney family pic

Our family is huge Disney fans. My husband and I celebrated our honeymoon there, we celebrated at least one anniversary there and on average we take our kids to either Disneyland or Disneyworld about every other year. When I found out that MTNA conference would be held at the Disneyland hotel in 2013 I was so excited for a couple reasons. 1) Staying at the Disney hotel has always been on our wish list 2) It was close to home (AZ).  Then I found out that MTNA conference will actually be during our spring break (that never happens). That made me happy because I wouldn’t have to worry about taking my studio spring break the opposite week all of my students have spring break PLUS my family can come along and enjoy Disney!

I thought since we have been to Disney so many times I would share some tips that might be helpful to teachers and their families who decide to visit the most happiest place on earth!

1. Plan on crowds– Even thought California isn’t on spring break that week, doesn’t mean surrounding states aren’t. I know for a fact that AZ and Texas will be. We were crazy and went during our spring break two years ago and yes it was very crowded.

2. Tickets– I would recommend getting park hoppers because then you are not limited to which park. If you find Disneyland is ridiculously crowded that day, hop over to CA Adventures and see if it’s better. I would recommend buying your tickets in advance through the MTNA link. These are going to be much better deals then if you waited and bought them at the park. But be careful what you buy. Even though the Twilight ticket may seem like the most ideal option since we will be in classes all morning/afternoon, depending how many days you want to go to the parks, it might not be. For example a 1 day Twilight park hopper is $76.00 a day. If you plan on going at least 3 days, you get more value for your money by purchasing the 3 Day Park Hopper ($200 versus $76 x 3= $228) Basically the longer you stay, the cheaper to play!

3. Food– Food is expensive at the Disney parks and hotel. So I would plan on bringing some food if you can. (I heard that every Disney resort has a fridge in each room) Food is allowed to bring inside the parks. If you are driving and will have a car, then you can drive to restaurants that surround Disney. This will save you money as well. There are also restaurants that are in walkable distance from the parks. Our family likes to budget and splurge at a couple Disney restaurants while we are there. For some restaurants, like the Blue Bayou (inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride) you will need a reservation. Reservations can book up months in advance so if you think you want to do that, do it now! Use the Dine Line — (714) 781-DINE to book a reservation in advance. Another food tip is eat during the “off” hours. Either early or late, because restaurants, etc… do get very crowded during prime hours. A little tip I learned at our last Disney trip is a cup of water is free! I’m not a big soda drinker and bottled water costs $2.50, but if you ask for a cup of water there is no charge!

4. Hotel– Like I mentioned earlier, I was super excited that this years conference was at the DL hotel so our family will be staying there this year. However in the past we have usually stayed across the street at hotels that are within walking distance for much cheaper.

5. Extra Magic Hours– The perk to staying at a Disney sponsored hotel is the Disney Extra Magic Hours. This is especially good if you have family that is coming to play while you are in classes. Extra Magic hours allow guests to go to the parks early or stay late.

6. Fast Pass– We love our fast passes! So Space Mountain has a 90 minute wait, what do you do? Get a fast pass of course! Fast passes allow you to by-pass the regular line and go into the “fast pass” line which will be a shorter wait. When you get your fast pass you will receive a return time frame when you can get in the fast pass line. On the fast pass ticket it will let you know when you can redeem another fast pass. (Click on link to see list of rides that take fast passes) Fast passes can sell out, so if there is a ride you want to use it on, don’t wait too long! (Especially CarsLand)

7. Rides and Entertainment– If you have never been to Disney I would highly recommend taking in the firework shows, parades, etc… They are spectacular! However if you have seen them, then this is the perfect time to ride the rides that usually have long waits is during those shows. Some rides will also have what is called a “single ride” line. (See link for list of rides that have single ride lines) If you don’t mind sitting next to a stranger on the ride, these lines will save you a lot of time! If you are planning on seeing a firework show or parade plan on crowds, grab a snack (or meal) and find your ideal spot early. (But not so early that you are wasting time on not doing anything) If you are taking along a child, ask a cast member about doing a child swap! If you aren’t big into rides, the beauty of Disney is there is entertainment going on all over the parks all the time. You can just be walking down Main Street and all of the sudden several cast members in costume break out into a song. Take the time to stop and enjoy the entertainment!

8. Weather– Though California is nice in March, it does get chilly at night. So be sure to bring a jacket or sweater. There are many times we have been rained on, so it wouldn’t hurt to bring along a poncho and/or umbrella just in case. Be sure to wear sunscreen!

9. Mobile Apps– It is essential to download a Disneyland and California Adventure app in my opinion. You can see wait times, maps to both parks, restaurant info (including menu’s!) and more!

10. PhotoPass–  You might notice Disney photographers hanging around prime picture locations. Even though you have your camera, I would recommend getting a photo pass from a photographer and having them snap your picture as well. It’s free for them to take your picture. You then take your photo pass home, log on and decide if you want to purchase any of those pictures.

11. When to go– Well, we have limited choices of when to go, but the most crowded of course will be on the weekends. So if you are only going to visit the parks for a couple days, then I would go on Tuesday/Wednesday.

12. Comfort– Walking, standing in line, and all this AFTER classes can be wearing on a body. Be sure to dress comfortably and wear comfortable shoes. I would also recommend carry as little as possible. Wear a fanny pack etc… There are lockers, but I personally find it a pain to have to stop the fun to go back to the lockers. Oh, speaking of bringing things, remember you will need to go through security upon entering. So be prepared to unzip your bags, etc… I try hard not to have to bring any bags and just put essentials in our pockets so we can bypass that line.

13. Shopping– The Disneyland hotel is located by DownTown Disney which is a fun shopping experience. There are also plenty of shopping experiences inside the parks. Even though the park may close at 10pm, the stores are usually open 1-2 hours after the park closes. By browsing the stores afterwards, you can avoid the bad rush to transportation. By the way if one of your souvenirs breaks (accidents happen) just take it to the nearest store that carries that product and they will replace it for free. Shopped until you dropped? You do not have to carry your packages around with you all day. You can either have them sent up to the front of the park to pick up on your way out or if you are staying on Disney property you can have them sent to your resort’s gift shop (usually next day- verify how long with cast member).

14. Rest and relaxation– When our family needs a much needed rest, we take the train ride. There are 4 stations– Main Street, New Orleans Square (near the Haunted Mansion), Toontown Depot (next to Small World), and Tomorrowland Station (behind Autopia). It’s nice to sit, relax and see parts of the park that you can only see on the train.

15. HAVE FUN! Disney is a magical place to be! Yes, there will be crowds, and I can pretty much guarantee that mishaps will happen but make the best of it and just enjoy! And hopefully you gave yourself a little extra time off after conference to recuperate before getting back to teaching because you will need it!

See you at MTNA conference! Be sure to say ‘hi’ if you see me!

iPiano Tutor iPad App in the Works

If you are familiar with MakingMusic.net then you may have heard about the exciting app that is in the works. Andy Fling of MakingMusic.Net is in the process of developing an app called iPiano Tutor for the iPad. This app actually reminds me a little of PianoMarvel if you are familiar with their program and was something I was hoping there would be an app for.

Andy started the journey in developing this app in October 2012, with initial plans and designs. After securing the interest of app development company Jiffy Software (developers of Cut the Rope) they turned the focus to fundraising through Indiegogo. If all goes as hoped they will begin developing iPiano Tutor in April 2013. The anticipated date for it to be ready is this summer!

I would recommend visiting Indiegogo to read details about this app and view the video to see what it will entail. I personally am excited for it and plan to donate.

Before blogging about this app, I had a few questions for Andy. I thought I would share what I learned.

I first asked if we should look at this app as a method book tool or more of a supplementary tool.

“I guess you could regard the app as being an interactive method book. Eventually, all of the piano sheet music from MakingMusicFun.net will be available for in-app purchase. The advantage that iPiano Tutor will provide is that kids will now have tools to practice more effectively. They will be able to select two measure phrases for example, hear how they sound, and then practice them effectively. One of the most exciting things is that this musical phrase touch selection feature will get kids thinking in terms of phrases, and practicing part-to-whole instead of beginning to end.”

I then asked if there will be a way to email scores to teachers when students play this at home?

“Yes, you will always be able to get a printable version of the sheet music at MakingMusicFun.net. Teachers may also download the app, and have the sheet music on their iPad as well.”

My next question was regarding the feedback/scoring system. I asked if it will simply give a score or will it highlight the mistakes made (notes, rhythm, etc…)?

“By accessing the “Listen” feature student will receive immediate feedback as to weather they played the note/chord correctly. Each time the student plays a note/chord correctly the cursor will acknowledge their success, and then advance to the next note/chord. Highlighting the incorrect note sounds like a great idea, and something we could look into incorporating in the function of the app. Thanks for the idea!”

He went on to explain a little about the funding opportunity…

“The one thing I would love to make sure teachers and student don’t miss is the money saving opportunity they can have if they they join our development team.

At the $25 Level iPiano Tutor app owners will be entitled to all sheet current music titles at the time the app is published to the Apple App Store, and all future sheet music titles when app it updated. If they wait until iPiano Tutor is available to the public they will be able to download the app for free, though will be given only five sheet music titles to test drive the app, and then will need to purchase the rest through in-app purchase. If they join our development team all sheet music titles on each update will be sent directly to their “My Music Library”, providing significant savings.”

Thank you Andy for answering my questions. If you have any other questions for Andy, feel free to contact him on MakingMusicFun.Net, Facebook or on his Indiegogo page.

Tech Tuesday: ScaleHelper App

I recently came across an app called Scale Helper created by Spectral Efficiency, Ltd.

ScaleHelper listens, evaluates and gives feedback (complete with cheering!) on how you played your scales and arpeggios. There are over 30 instrument options; however I was surprised to learn that piano wasn’t one of them.

The creator of ScaleHelper explained to me, “We don’t claim to support piano with ScaleHelper because of the difficulty of presenting useful feedback for two hands but I know several people who use it for piano anyway, albeit one hand at a time. ScaleHelper is very useful for the range of instruments that it does support though and we get consistently good feedback on how unique and fun it is.”

Upon experimenting with the app, I was still able to choose another instrument and use it just fine on the piano. I played around with the different instrument options to see what would be best to use with where I wanted to play on the piano and noticed for example I can play both the bass clef and the treble clef using different instrument options. For example if I wanted to play my scale in bass clef, I would want to choose a bass instrument such as a bass guitar. Just for kicks I even tried it with two hands together (under bass guitar option) and it seemed to recognize it, though it couldn’t evaluate both hands together. (Just bass) I’m hoping that in the future, they are able to add the piano as an option, but for now it works nonetheless with evaluating one hand at a time.

There are three options in ScaleHelper. 1) Play any scale– this gives you the choice of what to play)  2) Choose a scale– there are a list of scales and arpeggios to choose from  3) Challenge– you would first need to choose or make a syllabus for this option. When you are ready to evaluate your scale you just press the record button. After you are finished you press “assess” and you will then receive a score. The score is based on secure notes, intonation, rhythm, notes/minute. Students also have the option of viewing the scale or arpeggio first before recording. They also have the option of playing back the scale and seeing where (if any) mistakes were made. And if that wasn’t enough, there is also a nice option to store the recordings into files with the ability to email the file. What I like about this feature is students can use this app at home or during lab time and email their recording to the teacher.

Another bonus about ScaleHelper is the ability to add new individual users. I wish more apps would do this as it is an ideal tool for a music studio.

Under preferences, you can change the style of minor scales to harmonic, melodic or natural. You can also change the style of dominant seventh scales to end on dominant or resolve on tonic. The amount of exercises in challenges can be increased or decreased.

The ScaleHelper app has a support website ScaleHelper.com where you can find a very helpful how to page. I look forward to using this app with my students. I think it will be nice for them to not only get scored feedback but also be able to view and listen to what they played.

ScaleHelper is normally $9.99 but is on sale right now for 70% off ($2.99) in support of students participating in the ABRSM and Trinity exams coming up, making it a perfect time to try it out! Also on sale 70% off is Jazz Scale Helper.

P.S. Next week I will reviewing a sight-reading app from Spectral Efficiency, Ltd. called Note Hitter. I will also be holding a giveaway of this app so be on the lookout next Tuesday!