Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"The Times They are a Changing"

 Monday, I went to Milton-Union Schools in Southwest Ohio to give a presentation for Macmillan Publishing on their elementary music textbook series, "Spotlight on Music". This was the first time that I had an opportunity to use a smart-board. 

I quickly surmised that it  is basically a touch-screen monitor. The jack to plug into my Macbook is the new "female type, so an adapter for the older projectors was not needed.

Luckily, my Mac is automatically configured to handle this. The attachment cord comes included with all Macbook Pros. This is very important, listen up:

Remember to plug in the cable to the smart-board into your computer BEFORE you boot up your PC. I had to learn that one the hard way. 

I had used the system preferences and configured the smart-board to run in in parallel mode. This means that the smart-board was a continuation of the right side of my laptop monitor. I had to drag the open windows to the left until they were not visible on my laptop monitor. I kept scrolling the window to the left and they eventually showed up on the smart-board. cool!

I chose to used my touchpad on the Mac and remain seated to run the powerpoint presentation. Only occasionally, did I get up and drag my finger against the screen of the smart=board to control the mouse. 

The Final Word..........

I love smart-boards! 

I wish I had one when I was teaching. I remember entire classes scrunched around the 14 inch monitor on the only PC in the room to watch computer demonstrations about music technology. Dylan said it best, "The Times They are a Changing".
I, for one, think that they are changing for the better. 

Friday, February 13, 2009

Follow the Leader

Wednesday I was asked to play the bass with a swing band for a Valentine's Day Party. I usually am the pianist for this bunch, but the bass player is in Florida for the Winter. I have played the drums with them on occasion, as pianists are easier to get that good drummers. Wel,, I guess the same it true of bass players. I walked into the club carrying my bass to the confused looks of the other band-mates. They thought that I was carrying the bass for someone else, as they had no clue that I could play. 
The gig went off great except for one song which was a total train-wreck because of me.
(Yes, after all these years, I am still learning the hard way)

Here is what happened.......

The band is very established and has over 1200 charts in their books. It is such a pain tolisten to the band leader to  find and get out the songs before we play. (Here's where I got lazy)......

I had the bright idea of just looking over  the pianist shoulder instead of getting out the bass parts when the leader called them. Well, we had just finished playing a tune and I noticed song 217 on the piano rack. Being the nice guy I am, I told the drummer to get out song 317. The only problem was that the next song to play was 1226! The pianist hadn't put his songs in the right order. Because of this, the piano, bass, and (because of me) drummer started off playing the wrong song!

My ear cam name that mistake in one note, so I scrambled over to look at the bandleader's rack and see what the horns were playing. I ran back to the piano and drummer and shouted 1226! 1226!

About 20 measures into the song, we were all sounding like a band again.

Lesson learned?

Get the tunes out when the bandleader calls them, and then double check by glancing at the bandleader's rack just before the count-off. 

In other words, follow the leader.

Yours musically,

Larry Marra of www.musicteachers911.com

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Female to Female

First, I would like to thank Chad Chriswell,  from MusicEdMagic.com for making musicteachers911 a featured blog on his site. MusicEdMagic.com is a fantastic resource for music educators and I highly suggest that anyone affiliated with music check it out.

On Monday Jan, 26, I gave a presentation about Macmillan Publishing's  Spotlight on Music, elementary music textbook series, to the fine arts staff of Tipp City Schools. 

Prior to the event, I spoke with the Macmillan Ohio Sales Rep, Larry Bohannon, and asked what he needed me to do. He said to present a general overview using a Microsoft PowerPoint slideshow. He suggested that I plug my Macbook Pro into his multi-media projector via the 15 pin jack. I looked and saw that my Mac indeed had a 15 pin jack. Then, a post music-tech sick feeling deep in my soul got my attention. 

I called him back and asked if he would bring the projector by to "road test" it and insure that all would go smoothly. Sure enough, his projector had a 15 prong female jack just like the 15 prong female jack on my Mac. Both the projector and PC had 15 holes but no pins for the other unit! A quick trip to Staples and $12 later we were in business. The presentation went off without a hitch.

The lesson here is to check all hardware in plenty of time to iron out any glitches prior to an event. This goes for music performance equipment as well.