Studio Time: Real Time Music Backed with Technology

Saturday night and home with no major agenda. Looks like a good night to get some music time in – and in my favourite way: live music and technology together.

Three Step Plan

1. I bought a book of folk music (jigs, reels etc.) at the Mill Race Festival last weekend. The music is written as melody lines with chord progressions. I will practise a few on the WX5 midi wind controller. My daughter will be learning some too on her electric violin.

2. I will create an accompaniment using Band in a Box. Band in a Box is a great piece of software that allows you to literally create a ‘band’. You create an accompaniment by choosing the following elements:

time signature (4/4, 3/4 6/8 etc.)
tempo (speed of the music)
style (which determines a default instrumentation and ‘feel’ to the music)

Next you enter in the chord progression and create a ‘roadmap’ – the combination of introduction, verses, choruses, repeats and endings. Now you are set to play along with your ‘band’. This leaves you options to practise, perform live, record, make a CD or mp3, or perhaps include your results in an electronic portfolio of some sort.

3. This is all leading to preparing for CATC by the Water, our summer computer camp for staff where the focus is technology integration. Our 4 day event begins mid next week, and there are always ‘campers’ eager to learn and use music applications in the curriculum.


Learn more about Band in a Box: PG Music

Licensing for Ontario Schools: OSAPAC

Off to the studio!

~ Mark

It is all in the numbers!

My daughter sent me this interesting bit of information yesterday. I have always been interested in numbers and decided to share this today.

A once in your life event will happen today, August 7 , 2009

At 12hr 34 minutes and 56 seconds on the 7th of August this year, the time and date will be

12:34:56 07/08/09

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

This will never happen in your life again!!!!

~ Mark

Missed the ‘noise’ today

How ironic! – talk about 2 days of contrast.

Yesterday my blog post was about managing the ‘noise’ from technology – keeping technology working for you while keeping your life balanced and avoiding information & technology use overload.

Today, there was a big silence in technology land. I was initially puzzled by the quietness of Twitter. Hmm, my session seems to have timed out. I can’t log back in. Now I jump into trouble shooting mode.

Maybe it is:

– my browser: different browser, same issue
– my computer: same results on another computer, checked 2 browsers
– an access issue: try logging in through a Twitter client – no luck
– our network: check with staff, everything is A-OK on our end

Dig in a little deeper:

– compare: try to access from my Blackberry – no luck
– more comparing: can not connect using my Blackberry as a wireless modem

Now I am convinced something serious is up. I contact a friend and fellow blogger who works in another Board. He was having the same experience but had learned that Twitter was experiencing a major Denial of Services (DoS) attack. Now the only plan of action is to wait! It is up to the staff at Twitter to sort through this mess.

What did I learn from this?

I learned I missed the tweets – the trickle of communication coming in from Twitter. I missed learning from the information posted through the tweets and related links. Perhaps more importantly, I recognized how much I learn each day through Twitter and other social media networks and how the people I interact with have become part of my PLN.

It appears the DoS issue has been resolved – YEAH! I am happy to be connected to my online PLN group again and ready to learn and share.

~ Mark

Technology ‘Noise’

Given the times we live in, with technology exploding everywhere, new apps being pumped out daily, user generated content, web 2.0, mobile devices, anytime anywhere learning and business (and the list goes on…) an interesting point for pondering is Technology Saturation. Has technology taken over how we spend our time? Can we/do we balance our lives? Can we unplug when necessary or appropriate?  Focus versus time fragmentation. Does technology use negatively impact the way we spend personal time? family time?  Can you put limits around your technology use that work for you and your family?

From the last week:

I read Will Richardson’s blog post on technoslavery. It is a great article and I would recommend you read it.

Staff at work were talking about technology ‘noise’. They feel they are being bombarded with so much information they are being less effective, rather than more effective. We had an interesting conversation about dialing into the ‘right things’ for them – focusing on information that would be a difference to them in a professional or personal way. At the end of the day, a reduction of participation in mailing lists would be an easy place to reduce the ‘noise level’. There was agreement that being connected to the right people and information sources is important – the PLN concept.

Other discussions focused on social media. How do companies and educational institutions manage social media? Block access to effectively ban it during work hours? Some companies allow use for business purposes related directly to the company – the tweet your products viewpoint. Other leave social media open, and work toward appropriate use. That is a good thing. After all, social media does provide excellent networking and collaboration opportunities while adding to the technology noise level. How do you control your social media time in your non work time?

I think this all boils down to using technology effectively. Do the things that work for you, that help you to be more effective at whatever it is that you do (work, hobby etc.). None the less, it is an interesting point to consider. Lots to think about. I am sure this topic will keep bubbling up as we have more time the think and observe.

As for me, I am powering off for some sleep before I get back online first thing in the morning 🙂

~ Mark

iPod Roundup

As we cross the midpoint of the summer, my thoughts turn to projects for the next school year. One of our initiatives will include more extensive work with iPods in the classroom. I have been checking net based resources over the last month and thought I would share some of the links in today’s post.


iPod Touch: School wide Implementation Classroom 2.0

on Ning: iPods in the Classroom

on Ning iPod Teachers

Why iPods? K-12 project

Classroom project (with commentary) iPod Touch Project

iPod Touch Classroom Mobile Learning

iPod survey Google spreadsheet back end

Interactive multimedia iPods and whiteboards

The Wired Educator: iPod in every classroom

The Wired Educator: iPod Touch in the classroom

David Warlick: a blog post

Ed Tech Bytes: Managing a Class Set

Enjoy the reading!

~ Mark

On the Beat: Mill Race Festival

I spent a fair bit of time this weekend at the Mill Race Festival. The festival features traditional folk music performances, dance groups, children’s performers and arts & craft vendors. For me, this is one of those treasured events that is a stone’s throw from your home that you don’t get around to attending often enough. I am glad I made it this year. Hats off to the organizing committee for producing such an excellent and enjoyable 3 day festival. I was really impressed with the selection of performers and number of venues available people to take in. Well done – take a centre stage bow! 

I wanted to highlight two performances that really impressed me.

The Outside Track

This festival was my first opportunity to hear The Outside Track. They are 5 member multinational ensemble with members from Scotland, Ireland and Canada. The Outside Track plays leading edge modern traditional music. The ensemble was formed when they were all students at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance. 


Norah Rendell (vocals, flute)
Ailie Robertson (harp)
Fiona Black (accordion, fiddle)
Mairi Rankin (fiddle)
Gillian O’Dalaigh (guitar, flute whistles)

The Outside Track has a unique fresh sound. I was really captivated by the energetic performance, the variety of selections and superb musical excellence! I was fortunate to hear their exciting performance a second time at the festival. The Outside Track is a fantastic ensemble with an exciting future ahead. Take advantage of the opportunity to hear them whenever they are in your area. The next concert is in Goderich ON at the Celtic Festival.

Additional information about group, tours, CDs etc. is available at their website.


David Sinclair & Fernando Barros

David Sinclair is a Flamenco guitarist born in Toronto. He now resides in Granada, Spain. David has dedicated more than 10 of his 30 years of guitar playing to Flamenco music. I have had the distinct pleasure of hearing David performance at private house concerts. It is truly an amazing experience to hear a performer in such a quaint setting. 

This year, David appeared with Fernando Barros, a self taught Flamenco singer. Fernando is comfortable with all Flamenco styles and interprets them with depth and authenticity. Right from the first note performed, it was clear we were in for a real musical treat. David and Fernando really bring the music from the Flamenco culture alive – you literally felt like you were in Spain.  It is obvious the two enjoy performing together when you hear and see their interaction of voice and guitar as they weave their way through the complex musical structures.  I was intrigued with the range of colour expressed in their performances: subtle nuances in the music to intense Spanish dance rhythms.  I look forward to the next opportunity to hear them perform.

Additional information is available at David’s website.

~ Mark