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iPad, How I Love Thee: An Alphabet of Delights for the Itinerant MacPhail Teaching Artist

by Emily Greenleaf Greenleaf.Emily@MacPhail.org

Are you thinking of requesting an iPad for using in your MacPhail teaching? Here’s a list of ideas:

A     is for Amplification. Suppose it’s April Fool’s day, and you want to play Haydn’s Surprise Symphony for your students. With nothing but a wee, Bluetooth speaker (such as this) you’re good to go.

B     is for saving your Back. In the photo at the right, we have the MacPhail Music for Life™songbook beside an iPad with PDF copies of the same amount of music. Which would you rather carry?

C     is for accessing the Cloud. One of the challenges of the itinerant teaching artist is suddenly realizing you need that thing that is somewhere else – at home, in a different studio at MacPhail, or at work. In Virtual-Landia, The Cloud refers not to the looming grey thing overhead, blocking out the sun and preventing the snow banks from melting; rather, it is the idea of storing digital information you need in a remote location that can be accessed by any device with an internet connection, such as your smart phone, your computer at home, your computer at work, or your iPad. The Cloud is in fact a computer in a server farm out in the boonies with some storage space on it. You can use your iPad to essentially say to The Cloud: “Yo, could you hand me that copy of Blue Moon of Kentucky?” Good systems for storing and retrieving information from The Cloud include Evernote, and Dropbox.

D     is for nice-sized Display. If you have any sort of image you want to show a student or group of students, the iPad display is actually big enough to be visible to mere mortals. You’ll also be able to find pictures of just about anything you need, whether a drawing of the diaphragm, or a close-up of the horse hair used in a violin bow.

    is for EvernoteEvernote uses cloud storage (see Letter C, above),  to sync information between all of your devices – computer (home and office), smart phone, or tablet, which is very handy for the Itinerant MacPhail Teaching Artist. Say you’re on your way to dinner, and you have a brilliant idea for an activity in one of your up-coming classes, but you plan on having a beer with dinner, which might just obliterate said brilliant idea. With Evernote, you can have your beer and preserve your idea, too. Just whip out your smart phone, open the Evernote file with your class plan, and dictate your brilliance into the file. Then drink with impunity. Your brilliance will be preserved for the morning.

F     is for Facebook, just in case you have students of a certain age who will only contact you through the social media site, no matter what you do. Also, did you know that MacPhail is on Facebook? Like!

    is for Garage Band. I’ve seen Josh Osborne use Garage Band to help a class create an original composition. There are other multi-track recording apps available, as well.

H     is for Hey, Good Lookin’! Are you having trouble remembering the names of all of your students? Take a picture of them with your iPad. Using Skitch, an Evernote product, you can write the name of your student on the picture for later study.

I        is for Internet. Many of our partners have wi-fi networks that they will happily make available to the Itinerant MacPhail Teaching Artist. So log on and write a post for this blog!

      is for Just Don’t Drop It! It is true that, if in the chaos of loading your banjo, accordion, and paddle drums into the car, you leave your copy of John Denver’s Greatest Hits on top of the car as you drive off, you might be out all of $16. Not so with the iPad, alas.

K     is for Keyboards. I confess, I would love my iPad a little less if I didn’t have a Bluetooth keyboard to use with it. It would be nice if MacPhail could have a few on hand for faculty to borrow for those times demanding copious amounts of typing.

L     is for Looper. There are lots of fun looping apps to keep you entertained when you’re sitting in your car between teaching gigs and you don’t feel like answering emails.

M    is for Music. You can create PDFs of your music and store them on your iPad in a program such as ForScore. So much easier than schlepping fourteen show tune anthologies.

N     is for Notes. Maybe you want to take notes at a meeting with partner staff. Or you want to take notes in a lesson and email them in the blink of an eye to your student. My favorite app for the task is Notability, which enables you to switch quickly between drawing and typing, and allows you to insert photos or even make a recording.

      is for Outlook. You can sync your MacPhail email and calendar with your iPad, giving you access to your email in those interstitial moments we all have on the road. More importantly, your program administrator will love you for keeping an up-to-date Outlook calendar.

       is for Projection. If your partner has a good projector, you can hook up the iPad and use it to project whatever is on the screen so everyone can see it.

Q        is for Query. Do you wish you had cell service with your iPad? Would you really like to have that $8 Theramin app? Go ahead and query your program administrator. The worst they’ll say is “no”.

R        is for Recording. You can easily record audio or video of a class or individual student and email it to the student or a family member (always asking permission, of course). Sometimes, I’ll make a quick video of a portion of a class that I can then show at a meeting with partner staff as I’m filling them in on some of the activities of the program.

S        is for Skitch. Using Skitch (an Evernote product), you can take a picture of someone in your class and then annotate that picture with the person’s name – a great way of learning names.

T         is for Turboscan. I use TurboScan on my iPhone to make amazingly readable scans of my music, which I then send to my iPad. I have an iPad 2 – the camera on it isn’t high enough quality to use TurboScan, but I understand the iPad 3 will work.

U       is for Ukelin. I was watching Nick Johnson teach a MacPhail Music for Life™ class the other day. He was telling everyone about a once-popular instrument called an Ukelin. I had never heard of such a thing, but I was able to use my iPad to find a photo on line, which I gave to Nick to pass around and show the class. Sometimes, a picture really helps!

V         is for Video. I had a voice student who had the habit of rotating her entire upper body to the left towards the end of her phrases (a movement artifact from her life as a violinist). She was also really resistant to looking at herself in the mirror. So I made a quick video of her with the iPad during her lesson, and we watched it together. The iPad is incredibly handy for making videos that are instantly viewable, since the screen is big enough.

W         is for Waze. For better or worse, your iPad is a GPS device, and there are lots of GPS apps to help you get where you’re going. Nick Johnson introduced me to Waze, which will even tell you where the traffic jams are. Are you getting lost on your way to a new partnership? Open Google Maps for a redemptive set of directions. Note, this only works if you have cell service on your iPad. See Letter Q.

X         is for Xylophone. Whatever would alphabet lists do without the good old xylophone? Did you know that the word comes from the Greek xylon, meaning “wood” and phone, meaning “sound”? I looked that up on my iPad!

        is for YouTube. Did someone in your class request a rendition of Pistol Packin’ Mama - a song you’ve never heard of? You can probably find it on YouTube and give it a quick listen & learn before your next session.

Z         is for Zither. Suppose you want to bring a zither to your class, but all of the MacPhail instruments have been checked out by your colleagues for International Zither Week? No problem! There’s an app for that! There’s an app for most things. Check it out!

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