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I was excited to perform a joint clinic with Richard McCready at the 2013 TMEA/TI:ME 2013 Conferences in San Antonio last week. Fifty minutes was not enough time to do the clinic justice -and juggling all of the gear made it challenging, nonetheless it sure was informative for the large crowd and lots of fun to present!The clinic focused around the concept of using iPad Apps for Encouraging Improvisation, but more importantly, the creativity that is developed and used through the act of improvisation. Richard and I both are teachers and performers and we both have a common love of sharing our knowledge and exploring creativity through music making.
I started the clinic by talking about “old school”, traditional, improvisational learning approaches. Anyone my age or older that has learned improvisation in a school setting will talk about using the Jamey Abersold Jazz Recordings -indeed, they are fantastic. (By the way, Jamey has made his “Red” book about improvisation free to all as a downloadable PDF!) We spent years learning the vocabulary of scales, chords progressions, riffs, and patterns… I started the clinic by reviewing four interesting and useful “old-school” iPad apps that adhere to that approach (Click the link to go to iTunes, Click the image for a larger view of the app):
Next, Richard began to talk about improvisation and creativity from a fresher, newer perspetive, that of creating music and improvising by ear and with little or no formal or “visual” training. The dialog evolved into the manipulation of sounds and recording sequences with incredibly innovative iPad apps. He also did a quick “show and tell” of a JamHub (Bedroom edition) which allows electronic musicians to “jam” anywhere without bothering their neighbors… The apps that he demonstrated during this time were:
After a “cool” session by Richard, I did a quick “impromptu” improvisation using the Every Day Looper app (wicked-cool by the way!):
Not to be outdone, Richard then did a quick “impromptu” multi-improvisational recording using the Cube Jam app:
We closed the session jamming to the chord progression by Pink Floyd’s “Breathe”. Richard created a GarageBand file of the background music (via the iPad app), which we displayed with the projector to the audience. Richard improvised using a Black, Roland AX-09 keyboard and I used a pocket Bb trumpet with a twist… I used the Yamaha Silent Brass Mute and connected the output to an Apogee Jam. Then, I connected the Apogee Jam to my iPad and used the iPad app JamUP Pro XT to alter the sound of the trumpet significantly. Both of us were inputting into a Roland BA 55 amp (outstanding sound). I can’t tell you how tremendously “cool” it was to be jamming with Richard over Pink Floyd chords to a full house at the Texas Music Educator’s Association/TI:ME Convention! Needless to say, I was making some very ethereal sounds come out of my “old school” trumpet coupled with the iPad effects!
Our Pinterest Board, iPads for Encouraging Improvisation
If the board is not visible click this link to go directly to the Pinterest Site.
The “Gear” that we used our session:
Most of the gear that we used are easily found at online stores such as Sweetwater.
Richard and I also talked about an incredible social media site that I started for Music Educators on Facebook – The Music Educators Facebook Group.
We both also encourage anyone to check out the TI:ME (Technology Institute for Music Educators) -they are a fantastic organization that helps music teachers to learn about and benefit from technologies such as those discussed at our session.
Joseph M. Pisano, Ph.D. is an industry innovator, education clinician and lecturer, trumpeter and conductor, and the creator of many education websites. He is currently the Vice President of Innovation and Engagement at Keystone Ridge Designs, Inc. After twenty-three years as a professor and administrator at Grove City College, he made the move into industry in 2018. As one of the youngest full professors in Grove City’s history, he served in various roles over his tenure including the Technical Director of the Pew Fine Arts Center, Assistant and Associate Chairs of Music and Music and Fine Arts, Director of Music and Fine Arts Technology, Director of Jazz Studies, Stage Manager, and he finished his tenure as the Director of Bands where he directed the college’s Symphonic Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, Marching Band, Pep Bands, and various small ensembles.
He been named a TI:ME Teacher of the Year, received the JEN Jazz Educator Award, the PA Citation of Excellence, and named a “member for life” of the PA Intercollegiate Bandmasters Association. He is a past Vice President of the Technology Institute for Music Educators, an associate member of the American Bandmasters Association, a past President of the PA Intercollegiate Bandmasters Association, and a member of various education and music honoraries. He has written for numerous publications including DCI Magazine, Teaching Music Magazine, and was the Educational Editor for In-Tune Monthly Magazine for eight years; he has contributed hundreds of articles to various publications. He is an active conductor, trumpeter, clinician, and educator. Find out more at his website jpisano.com.
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