Distance Learning in the Music Classroom- bad news and good news

September 28, 2006

First for the bad news- for those of you who read my other posts on distance learning (scroll down or see archives) I had been very excited about piloting a broadband video/audio link with another school in my district. They came to install the hardware the other day, and realized that they were missing a few essential peices of installation hardware!

My district technology director was on site and was livid to say the least! Unfortunately, the timeline for installation of the equipment has been set back significantly and I’m unsure when it will actually be installed. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that I was in Tallahassee recently and stopped in to my Alma Mater- the Florida State University to visit my old practice room and locker. In fact, I was in town on another matter and had the opportunity to stop by- I hadn’t been there in years! I got into a conversation about distance learning with the Jazz Studies graduate assistant who gave me the names of the Director of Jazz Studies and the Music Education Department Chair and seemed to think that they would be receptive to the idea of having music education majors mentor my high school musicians. I will try this collaboration first, although any of my readers are welcome to join the effort!

Updating my recording system in the bandroom

September 24, 2006

It’s been a bit longer between posts for me due in part to my research on recording equipment for my bandroom. I bought my recording equipment in 2001, when the school opened, and am looking for a way to make it easier to take advantage of “teachable moments” in rehearsal by upgrading my recording hardware.

Currently, I’m using a Sony CD burner with a dbx digital microphone preamp and two earthworks microphones. All together, in 2001, this “state of the art” recording system cost upwards of $4,000! Now, it is just inconvenient and clunky…

Here is my delemma in a nutshell- do I go with hard disk recording on my laptop with a firewire interface or do I get a stand-alone system? CD or HD? Software or Hardware? How about a flash recorder? $4,000 today allows me to look at a dizzying array of options, but perhaps the best news (esp. for my principal) is that I think I can get a really fine solution for less than half of that!

Currently, I am looking at the Edirol R-09 flash recorder. This would allow me to have a high quality recording system that fits into the palm of my hand using capable, built-in electret condenser stereo microphones . In a matter of seconds, I could capture a high-definition recording of my ensemble and transfer it to my laptop via the usb bus. The only drawback is the external microphone input- it will only accept a 1/8″ stereo mini-jack microphone, which limits my options for upgrading the mics and precludes me from using my high-buck earthworks mics.

Whatever I decide, you can bet that I will be consulting with Sweetwater Audio  before I do anything.  If you haven’t heard about this company, let me be the first to heartily recommend them.  They do business a bit differently.  The first time you call you are assigned a personal representative that will get to know you, your equipment, and your needs.  He or she will then be your contact for the entire duration of your business relationship.  David Hess, my representitive, not only knows what kind of technology I have, but also my personal preferences and can recommend items based on what he thinks would be of interest to me.  Best of all, Sweetwater will interface with what you currently have- not try to sell you an entire warehouse of equipment because they need to meet a quota.  This is truly unique in the industry.

If you do happen to call on Sweetwater, please mention my name (Owen Bradley) and that you heard about them on my blog.  Another nice feature to their service is their loyalty to customers.  While I won’t recieve a bonus check, I will get a nice thank you card from David and Sweetwater for the referrals- it is just a nice way of doing business!

I plan to blog about my purchase process, the uses of recording in the music classroom and the philosophy behind my decisions (along with some useful techno-jargon) in later posts.  For now, I think I’ll go back to evaluating the pros and cons of different options….if you don’t hear from me in a week or so….send out the virtual search party!

links for 2006-09-19

September 19, 2006

links for 2006-09-13

September 13, 2006

What are these wierd posts?

September 12, 2006

You may notice that the last post was kind of funny looking.  I have linked my del.icio.us account to my blog and it will post the links that I add to the account.  In my firefox browser, I am using the firefox del.icio.us add-on (you can find it HERE) and tag websites that interest me (usually on music education or music technology).

I’m sure that there is a way to put these links into the sidebar of my blog, but if you will indulge me, I’ll let it auto-post for a while.  I’m testing the waters here- but I think that it is a way that I can share interesting items from the web.  Of course, you can always go to del.icio.us itself and add me to your network (then you would have my bookmarks and I could share yours as well!) social bookmarking is another way that we can collaborate with each other in an area of interest.

links for 2006-09-12

September 12, 2006

Where did the photo go?

September 11, 2006

Well…I just got all excited about an email photo post I did from flickr, and then went and deleted the darn thing by accident!  This web 2.0 thing doesn’t work very well when you try to restrict what it was built to do.  I didn’t want the photo to be public (at least on flickr for now) until I got more comfortable with the technology.  In my haste, I deleted the photo from my last post!

I the future, I will be more careful, but for now, I’m stuck with an ugly post where a cool picture used to be.  As I tell my students, I’m still learning

If you are interested in flickr and all the wonderful things you can do with it- check out the site here

Flickr email post!

September 11, 2006

Flickr email post!

Originally uploaded by obradley48.

I just signed up for flickr’s auto post to my blog! If you haven’t tried

this, you don’t know what your’re missing! I’ve attached a picture I took

of my students as we were preparing for our last football game (band kids

are the same everywhere, I think…)

I plan to post using photos I take in my classroom of my students doing

actual lessons and projects. I’m going to think some more about how to use

this in my classroom effectively, but for now, I’m just going to play around

with it!

By the way, I used my new cameraphone to take the photo- with type of

technology, we can take advantage of those “teachable moments” more than


Web 2.0 a-go-go

September 10, 2006

What is this web 2.0 thing anyway? Web 1.0 (the original world wide web) was all about the “webmaster” posting information on pages and constantly updating them. The web usedto be about one person or group of people exporting information and knowlege while “surfers” searched for the knowledge or information. Web 2.0 is about collaboration. Social bookmarking, wiki spaces, blogging, and podcasting are all examples of Web 2.0 (or read/write web) technologies. The really exciting thing is that they are all FREE! OpenSourceprograms are built on adaptable code that is freely shared for the good of all. Hence, there are upwards of 20-30 new open source, web 2.0, social interaction technologies birthed every week!.

Recently Joe Pisano, the music technology professor at Grove City College posted a facinating article highlighting the best of Web 2.0. In his latest post, “Top 5 web 2.0 applications”, he gives us some wonderful insight on these cool tools. CAUTION! when you read this post, make sure you give yourself several hours to explore all the goodies- if you’re like me, you’ll get lost in them and the hours will fly by!

Distance Learning in the Music Classroom- one step closer!

September 7, 2006

Breaking news on the distance learning front!  After talking with my district technology coordinator, they are looking for a chance to test out a state of the art conferencing system.  Are you kidding?  COUNT ME IN!  They are going to hook up my school to a school about 40 miles away (still in the district) with a system capable of transferring data at over 1 terrabyte per second!

The idea will be to deliver concept lessons over distance.  For example, the band director that I will be sharing this project with is an outstanding educator that has many great “tips and tools” that he can deliver to my students without having to set foot in my classroom!  I will do the same for him.  It will be sort of like having a clinician on call!

Other uses for this technology will be masterclasses led by the finer musicians in each of our bands, and possibly some private instruction.  I would love to hear suggestions from readers on how best to take advantage of this opportunity!  Once the equipment (from what I understand, it is pretty portable) is installed, I will blog about the progress with this project.   Once I am comfortable with the technology, and if it is compatible with other systems (I HOPE it’s not a proprietary system) I will be anxious to try a collaboration over a greater distance.  I am very excited about the possibilities!


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