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March 31, 06

A Convergence of Technology in Learning

Check out this article from the headlines of msn.com, regarding Harvard's tentative steps towards offering courses online. The wave of the future is approaching - i should seriously consider getting my MBA online...




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Tablet PC's for all 5th Graders at Forest Ridge School

This video clip is too important not to share with every parent and school administrator out there. I'm going to see if i can get in touch with the the folks at Forest Ridge to share thoughts and ideas, as my own 6th grade son Paul has benefitted tremendously from his own experiences with his HP TC1100 tablet pc.

http://on10.net/TheShow/1582/

Just a little warning - the video clip is high quality, but downloads extremely slowly...be patient while it loads, and trust me - it's really worth seeing!!

I have to run to a rehearsal, but i'll post more comments on this later on tonight - i have to also start a new series on academic uses for the Tablet PC, somewhat separate from musical pedagogy, and certainly wider in scope and capability in certain areas. Oh, oh, oh, so much to blog about, so little time in the day!!

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Musebook's FP-31 Wireless Foot Pedal and RF Fingerswitch Overview

There's so much to discuss regarding the new Musebook page turning hardware and SingelNote Music library software that i will need to spread this out over several articles. Today's article will deal with the hardware side of things, since that's really the main reason i purchased the Musebook system.

I have to say that after working with the Musebook FP-31 wireless foot pedal and USB-wired fingerswitch for two days so far, i'm really, really impressed with the quality of the hardware. It's interesting to note that you DON'T need to install the included SingleNote software to be able to use the hardware components - both the foot pedal and the fingerswitch will turn PDF pages just fine, both within Adobe Acrobat and PDF Annotator. I tried plugging in the RF fingerswitch transmitter to my backup tablet pc to test this, and sure enough the wireless foot pedal was able to turn PDF pages just fine (I need to try testing that capability within Windows Journal documents - i'll try to get around to that sometime tomorrow and report back the results.)
The foot pedal was clearly designed with the musician in mind. As i mentioned in the copy of my bulletin board message to the makers of MuseBook, there is no audible "click" when the pedal is depressed - the spring action is firm and silent, and feels very well built and sturdy. Almost too sturdy, in fact - you have to exert a fair bit of pressure to get the pedal down far enough for the "page down" command to register properly. During a masterclass performance of the Shostakovich Violin concerto yesterday, i initially thought the pedal might have gong to sleep during the long stretches of the first movement, as the page didn't respond to initial foot presses - but by the third movement, i was able to figure out that i just needed to prepare for a deeper push of the pedal to get the page turns working on time. It's nice to know that there won't be any additional sound distractions coming from the pedal - i may even venture to use it for recording, since it really is ergonomically more comfortable than the Griffen PowerMate i'm currently using, due to the slight angle that follows the foot's direction of force, as opposed to the PowerMate which requires a direct vertical depression.

Here are some detailed pictures of the hardware components:

When you flip the pedal over, you'll see two switches. The left switch controls the command that will be transmitted to the RF fingerswitch receiver (more on that in a bit) - either "up", "(m)" (don't know what that means yet), or "dn" for "Down". You'll want to leave the switch set on the "dn" setting for regular page turns that advance the music (as opposed to the "up" setting which would - i presume - turn pages 'backwards'). The right switch controls the "off-on" power settings.


Beneath the two switches is the battery compartment. Slide off the cover, and you'll see that the unit is powered by a lithium CR2016 battery. You can find these types of batteries at stores like Radio Shack, or possibly the Pharmacy section of a supermarket (where the other hearing aid batteries tend to be displayed together). You may also want to try out the jewelry section of a department store - they'll usually have a stock of watch batteries on hand.


So how does this all work? The fingerswitch pictured here actually does double duty - not only serving as a well-designed page turning button box, but also as the RF (radio frequency) short range transmitter/receiver for the wireless pedal. The fingerswitch itself is very well-designed - no moving buttons or switches, actually (no clicks!). The unit is able to detect a light finger touch on either the "up" or "down" buttons, kind of like a touch-screen interface, allowing for rapid page-turning action forwards or backwards. The bottom portion seems to be designed for use exclusively within the SingelNote program - apparently, according to the manual, you can program the page turns to follow repeat sign and da capo order (which would have to be manually programmed into the music, naturally). I'll try to get around to playing with that feature soon. Hmmm...maybe that's what the "(m)" switch is for on the foot pedal...


The fingerswitch's use of RF (radio frequency) technology is an interesting choice as opposed to, say, a bluetooth transmitter - i've noticed that with my Motorola Bluetooth earpiece, it takes a fair bit of time before my Samsung i730 PDA Phone will 'recognize' the unit when it's initially turned on. With this RF fingerswitch, the connection is virtually instantaneous.
The fingerswtich connects to the computer via a rather long USB cable - too long, actually, for my taste. I've left the cord wrapped up to minimize clutter on the piano music rack. If you look carefully at the picture, you may notice a small red light that comes on whenever the Fingerswitch unit has power. Whenever a signal is transmitted from the foot pedal, the light blinks indicating a confirmed transmission. I didn't notice any power indicator light on the pedal itself, but maybe i just didn't look hard enough - i'll try to make sure i didn't overlook that detail. If it is indeed missing, then hopefully Musebook will add such a power indicator for their future models to help the performer know when to change batteries.


Here's a picture of my finger with the fingerswitch to give you an idea of the scale of the unit (my hands are relatively small, btw)


Here's a picture of my hand holding the foot pedal, next to the fingerswitch. As you can see, this is a very compact model, and should be virtually 'invisible' from the concert stage, especially without the wires dangling off the side of the piano (and the tricky pre-performance wrap-around procedure to get my old foot pedals in place!) With the USB cable for the fingerswitch tied up, i've had it sitting on the music rack right next to my tablet pc, making for a more compact profile and putting it within easy reach for quick page turns. The fingerswitch also serves as a good "backup" in case the battery suddenly dies in the foot pedal.


In my next article, i'll talk about the Musebook's Music Library software program, SingleNote.

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Madi Marcucci is Juilliard-bound!

Congratulations to Madison "Madi" Marcucci! She's been accepted to Juilliard! What a thrill to hear such wonderful news! If you recall, i worked with Madi a few weeks ago, playing the piano parts for her Juilliard audition in New York. As i told her on the phone after hearing the good news, NOW the work actually begins. Getting to Juilliard is an amazing accomplishment, but it's just the beginning - now she will need to prepare for a very demanding and high-pressured learning environment. Knowing Madi and her amazing work ethic, she'll be just fine!
Once again, congratulations, Madi! I'm so happy to be part of a good-news story! Contrats also go out to Madi's violin teacher, Ms. Kimberly Fisher (we went to school together, Kim and i! yaaay!), for all her amazing work preparing Madi for her big audition. Kim is associate principal of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and co-founder of the Strings summer music camp together with Madi's mother, Sandy Marcucci.


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March 30, 06

Musebook's Wireless Foot Pedal has arrived - with mixed results

After two long years hunting and searching for a wireless foot pedal to turn digital music pages with, i almost heard a heavenly choir sing when i saw the package from DHL sitting outside of my office door today! My Musebook Singlenote Software/Hardware package has arrived! The verdict?
Well...i just finished posting a VERY long bulletin board message on the Musebook support forum. I'm going to copy my detailed message here - the short story?

  • The Good Stuff: Great wireless pedal that's not quite as wireless as i'd hoped it would be.

  • The Bad Stuff: The software sucks.

  • I had great expectations for the software part of the package - after all, it's a pretty big chunk of change (~$190) for the whole package, so i was hoping to get some decent capabilities. Turns out the Musebook Singlenote program is nothing more than a stripped down version of Windows Journal - a good thing, i guess, for regular computer owners who want to be able to "annotate" their music in ink, but pretty useless for the Tablet PC owner who already has that capability for free, and with many more capabilities (search, handwriting recognition, page bar, flags) than what the measly Musebook offers.
    After waiting two years for a wireless pedal, i'm reasonably happy with my purchase - but boy, do i have issues! I'll be blogging over the next few days on the Musebook Singlenote package as i spend more time with both the hardware and software. Detailed pictures to come soon. For now, here's the full version of my long-winded post to the makers of Musebook - i'll be keeping an eye out for their reply. (more) No Trackbacks | Digg this Bookmark this post on del.icio.us. Submit this post on reddit.com. Submit this post on furl.net.l Bookmark this post on Google. Bookmark this post on Yahoo. Add this post to Technorati Favorites Add post text to Rojo Add this to Co.mments Add this post to Newsvine Add this post to Scuttle Add this post to Shadows Add this to Simpy Add this to Spurl Add this to Squidoo Add this to Stumbleupon

    March 29, 06

    Jasmine Choi, Flutist - Concert this Friday 8 pm

    Just received an email from one of my all-time favorite flutists, Jasmine Choi. Her playing is absolutely stunning! She's performing at Perleman Theater in the Kimmel Center this Friday at 8 pm with the Haddonfield Symphony Orchestra as part of their "Rising Stars" series. If you want to hear one of the most amazing young flutists of our generation, grab a ticket to this concert!
    Here's her email message with details on the program:
    I'm playing the Mercadante Flute Concerto with the Haddonfield
    Symphony at the Perleman Theater. ...Also [on the program will be] Barber's Knoxville, Copland Clarinet Concerto(Jose Franch-Ballester is playing), and a new commissioned piece by Andrea Clearfield.

    Best wishes for another wonderful performance, Jasmine!


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    Firefox and the dreaded Double Hyphen

    Web coding is such a strange beast...when i posted this morning's story on Vanessa Kekoanui, everything looked fine within my Internet Explorer browser, but i didn't have a chance to check it with my preferred browser, Mozilla's Firefox. My office laptop is stuck with IE (believe it or not, i don't have administrative privilages on that machine, so i can't install any programs on it without the IT guy's permission...go figure...), so i didn't get a chance to check the story until this morning...and then i noticed that Firefox basically was flipping out over Vanessa!
    This bizarre format freak-out had happened once before when i had quoted Brian Sacawa's bio. It wasn't until i reposted his bio line by line, sentence by sentence that i discovered the strangest thing: Firefox hates double hyphens! IE seems to be completely fine with them, but the double hyphen can throw Firefox's formatting of an entire page into utter chaos - blocks of text thrown about as if a two-year old had a graffiti tantrum on the screen!
    Gotta remember to carefully check for the double hyphen hydras whenever i quote text from another source...lesson re-learned...sigh

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    A Fellow Tech-Loving Musician, Vanessa Kekoanui

    One of the nice things about competitions - if there is such a thing as a "nice thing" in such settings, besides winning - is the chance to meet and network with other musicians. At last week's Bach Festival Vocal Competition, i had the pleasure of meeting Vanessa Kekoanui, one of the Soprano contestants who hails from Texas. Turns out Vanessa loves technology, so i had a lot of fun showing her my tablet pc and page turning PowerMate USB controller! What a rare and wonderful pleasure to meet another classical musician who actually loves technology! (more) No Trackbacks | Digg this Bookmark this post on del.icio.us. Submit this post on reddit.com. Submit this post on furl.net.l Bookmark this post on Google. Bookmark this post on Yahoo. Add this post to Technorati Favorites Add post text to Rojo Add this to Co.mments Add this post to Newsvine Add this post to Scuttle Add this post to Shadows Add this to Simpy Add this to Spurl Add this to Squidoo Add this to Stumbleupon

    March 28, 06

    The 2006 Bach Festival International Vocal Competition

    Last Friday i had the honor of accompanying the Bach Festival's International Vocal Competition at the German Society of Philadelphia, located at the corner of 7th and Spring Garden. What a hidden gem of an auditorium! Wonderful acoustics for both singer and pianist - the sounds just float throughout the hall! The singers were all a delight to work with and gave some exceptional performances (and were graciously accommodating given that i had no clue how most of their pieces were supposed to go! gulp!) (more) No Trackbacks | Digg this Bookmark this post on del.icio.us. Submit this post on reddit.com. Submit this post on furl.net.l Bookmark this post on Google. Bookmark this post on Yahoo. Add this post to Technorati Favorites Add post text to Rojo Add this to Co.mments Add this post to Newsvine Add this post to Scuttle Add this post to Shadows Add this to Simpy Add this to Spurl Add this to Squidoo Add this to Stumbleupon

    Scenes from the Bach Festival's International Vocal Competition

    Here are some pictures from this year's Bach Festival International Vocal Competition - enjoy!
    Here is a picture of the main gate to the German Society of Philadelphia. A little bleak now, but i'm sure it looks better when the trees and grass are in bloom.


    The main entrance to the German Society building - i actually had to enter by the side door for the competition, but i believe this is the entrance used for the public.


    The view from stage - the acoustics were absolutely amazing, thanks to the all-wood paneling of the hall!



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    Cello MTV - Beats Brittany Spears Any Day!

    Check out this amazing video that Barry alerted me to on YouTube.com - here's the intro text:
    This is a pretty amazing video of Ethan Winer playing 37 separate cello parts to create one song. He even plays the percussion parts on his cello. It was recorded on 23 tracks using 37 plug-in effects. He spent hundreds of hours on this project so its worth a listen.

    Here is Ethan Winer's website - and here is the video!

    Just goes to show that Classical Musicians are COOL!

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    March 27, 06

    PowerMate tutorial: Setting it up to turn pages

    A colleague of mine is borrowing one of my PowerMate USB controllers to try out as a foot pedal page turner. He had a hard time finding the online manual and wanted to know how to set up the PowerMate's software settings.

    The PowerMate looks simple on the outside, but is actually incredibly versatile. I put together a flash video tutorial to show how to set up the program driver to turn pages for music within Adobe Acrobat - keep in mind that i've purposely held back on the full capabilities of the PowerMate to ensure "safe" operation in concert settings. I only use one keystroke function (PgDn, or "Page Down" in the vernacular) within my main music reading programs like Journal, Acrobat and PDF Annotator. BTW, my tablet pc screen's resolution was pretty high when i made the tutorial, so you might have to scroll around a bit to see all the text - the "Next" and "Back" buttons can be found on the bottom right of the presentation screen to navigate between lesson bookmarks.

    For programs like Audacity, i've programmed the PowerMate to emulate other keystrokes, like Ctrl-M to bookmark text labels with a click, and left the rotate right/left functions intact to control volume for audio files.

    The Flash tutorial, by the way, was made with a cool freebie program called Wink. You can get it here. Let me know what you think of the tutorial - it runs a bit slow, so i'll have to play around with Wink some more to see if i can speed things up a bit, but hopefully the instructions are clear. Enjoy!

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    Leprechaun Lake Mystery Solved?

    Just got this bit of info from my community's email news service regarding the greenish tinge to our lakes (i set up our neighborhood website, by the way - my wee bit o' civic duty!):
    Residents have inquired about the dredging operations taking place at Lake
    xxx near xxx and xxx, and have also asked about the
    greenish tint of the lake water.'
    Since the dredging began, the water has been inspected by both the NJ
    Department of Environmental Protection, and by our own lake environmental
    testing company. All indications are that the tint seen in the water is the
    result of suspended sediment particles released during the dredging. This
    condition should resolve itself.

    And i thought it was just the luck o' the Irish! Silly wabbit - oops, sorry, wrong commercial! hahaha!

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    March 25, 06

    The Musician as Athlete - Preventing Injury

    The link to Wired magazine's article on hearing loss prevention got me thinking about other health issues that face the musician on a daily basis - that and the fact that i just walked right past my old copy of "Stretching " by Bob Anderson, a book that i credit with saving my professional music career. When i was in my second to last year at Curtis, i was playing the piano on average around 12 hours a day. On top of preparing an enourmous amount of solo material, i was involved with an insane amount of chamber music activity (i loved accompanying my friends and playing in ensembles! Who knew that this was going to be my main job someday?). It was exhausting work, mentally and physically - and the physical part finally began to break down. At the start of my final year at Curtis, i started to experience painful hot and cold flashes up and down my triceps, almost like electical shocks. This was the start of the syndrome that every instrumental musician fears - tendonitis. I immediately stopped playing and forced myself to rest for an entire month. You never really appreciate how much you love something until it is suddenly taken away from you! Well, to make a long story short, i made a slow return to playing, determined to find a completely different approach physically to the piano. I had been playing with tremendous tension and a lot of wasteful gyrations and affectations that looked "flashy" on stage and probably made me "feel" the music more emotionally (there was once a calendar photo of me during high school when i was so badly hunched over the piano, i looked like a turtle), but which were actually extremely ineffecient and physically damaging in the long run. Part of the reconstruction of my technique was discovering how vital it was to treat the musicians' muscles with the same care and conditioning as athletes do. This wonderful book on Stretching by Bob Anderson did so much to help me relieve muscle tension and prevent further injury that i highly recommend it to all my students and colleagues who are struggling with various posture and muscle issues.

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    March 24, 06

    Free Classical Music Site: ClassicCat.net

    Here's another site that i just ran across this morning while looking for catalogue information on some repertoire (opus numbers, key signatures, etc. - working with programs and a database forces me to spend an awful lot of time scouring the internet for source information on repertoire). This looks like a real gem - ClassicCat provides links to over 2800 free classical music performances that can be downloaded as MP3 files. They also have a nice list of the most popular classical works here. A great listening resource, especially for those who are new to classical music! Meow!

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    Wired Magazine article on Princeton's Laptop Orchestra

    Check out this article from Wired Magazine online about the new PLOrk (Princeton Laptop Orchestra - er, OrKestra?) - what will those crazy Mac-mongers think of next? In all seriousness, i'd love to see what software they're running - are the musical motifs all event-triggered? Are 15 laptops really necessary for performance? What about a single laptop simply running a 15 voice multi-track?
    Sometimes it's easy to dismiss such experiements as "gimmicks", but i actually think it would be worthwhile to see what the technical and artistic components are for such an 'ensemble'.
    And sure enough, with a little Google search on "PLOrk", here's what i come up with:
  • PLOrk's home page

  • PLOrk's biography - check out the software links to see what real-time programs they're using to code 'on the fly'

  • a page of sound clips from the PLOrk orchestra - it's interesting to see how improvisation plays such a major component of the orchestra's repertory!

  • Premiere concert taking place April 4, 2006 at Richardson Auditorium, Princeton University. (Someone send me a review!)
    Fascinating concepts - LOUSY name. Good grief, at least dress innovation in some snazzier nom de plume, puh-leeze!! PLOrk sounds like - uh - "DORK"!! Let me suggest a couple of alternate names:
  • Meta-coders

  • Matrix Mavens

  • On-the-fly

  • DaVinci Debuggers

  • Mad Macs

  • I jest, of course - but still, with great respect and curiosity. Best wishes to PLOrk for a fantastic debut concert! Send me an MP3!


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    March 23, 06

    Office Depot Mobile Presentation/Laptop Stand


    One of my guiding philosophies is that small things can make big differences. When I was playing saxophone professionally my colleagues were often buying new mouthpieces. Me, I was fussing over just the right thumb rest angle or cutting the perfect bevel on my mouthpiece patch. This little rolling desk is like that. Not a big deal, but it might be just the trick to make using a laptop more pleasant while practicing.

    [Hugh's Note: Office Depot lists this as a "Mobile Presentation/Laptop Stand", in case you're looking for this product from OfficeDepot.com directly - you can find the link to the faux cherry version of the product here and the grey version here.]

    Why consider this for a music studio? First there's plenty of room for a laptop of course, with room left over for speakers and a mouse. But face it, if you practice standing up, using a computer can be a pain. This desk raises up to a bit over 37", plenty tall for me to use standing and I'm 6'. No more bending over to get to the keyboard. The five-point base with casters means the unit is really stable and moves easily. If space is a premium, the desk tilts up vertically so you can tuck it up against a wall when it's not in use. (Just remember to take everything off if first!) I've been looking for something like this for almost a year and only found one other unit with similar features. That one is from the HON high-end line and lists for over $300, and it doesn't do that tuck trick.

    Assembly was easy and no tools are required besides the supplied allen wrench. I found the build quality to be very good for a unit at this price point and the website says it has a 5-year warranty. The only drawback I found was the desktop rotates very easily. No big deal, but if you're a percussionist, forget about using this for a trap table, it will spin away from you if you bump it. The unit also comes in a faux cherry.

    I just bought two for my home office. They're on sale this week at Office Depot for $80. Regular price is $100, I think. Bottom line both units are identical quality and I'm pleased with the purchase. I have one positioned on each side of my chair when I face my desk which has my monitors on it. The monitors take up most of the real estate on the desk, so now I have lots of desktop space on either side, but I can just push them out of the way whenever I want to.

    Tip: You can see a rail on the desktop in the picture. That's to keep the laptop from sliding off when the unit is tilted. If you're going to put speakers or a mouse on this thing you won't be tilting it, so the rail is a pain. I was pleased to find out it can be installed underneath the desktop. This means the desktop is flat, and the rail becomes a kind of grip to help move the unit around.

    Tip2: If you've got the Justice Visions PSC, this table makes a perfect scanning station because it will adjust to whatever height you need and has room for a lamp. I used a "C" clamp to mount the PSC right to the desktop. Plenty of room left for sheet music and the gray finish is a good neutral background. However, there's no space for a laptop in this configuration because you have to have room to spread out whatever you're scanning.
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    Pocket PC's and Macs

    One of the students at Curtis pulled me aside during our Wednesday tea and asked me if i might be able to help him with a "techie" problem. He has an old Toshiba E330 Pocket PC which came out in 2002 - a perfectly fine PDA, with the operating system by Microsoft. One of the hallmarks of Pocket PC's is their tight compatibility and relative ease of synchronization with Windows-based computers, and in particular, Microsoft's Office line of software (Outlook works especially well with Pocket PC's). In fact, for several years i owned a Toshiba e740, the successor to the e330, so i was pretty familiar with his PDA's specs. He confessed to having defected from the Microsoft empire to the rebel Apple camp, due to his new acquisition of an Apple iBook. Problem is, Macs are NOT compatible with Pocket PC's right out of the box (Palm PDA's, on the other hand, are, but that's another article for the future...) Well, if you know me by now, i ain't too wild about Macs - yeah, they look pretty and have cool lights and all, but i find their overpriced machines and limited software selections a bit hard to justify opening my wallet for (although, if rumors of their tablet-style computers come to fruition, i may be first in line to snap one up! - and by the way, i do LOVE my iPod...ah, divided loyalties! hahaha)
    So, what to do? Give his Toshiba Pocket PC away? Revert to paper-based day-planners?
    Fortunately, i was able to come up with what looks like a very viable solution - check out Mark/Space, which bills itself as "The Future of Mac Synchronization" (although, not having a Mac, i have no way to verify this - if any of you readers have experience with this, please leave a comment and post your thoughts!)
    Mark/Space has links to synchronization software for all manner of PDA's, Windows-based, Palm based, as well as for hiptops (whatever they are...) - the main program seems to be "The Missing Sync".
    The direct link to the Pocket PC version of The Missing Sync can be found here.
    An excellent step by step setup article can be found from www.pdagold.com here.
    Mark/Space has been kind enough to also post a list of Mac-friendly software for the Pocket PC platform here.
    I'll try to set up some time in the near future to talk about my experiences with Pocket PC's, which i've owned in one version or another since their first Windows CE grandaddy models appeared on the marketplace (ah, my old Philips Velo...the memories...the hidden "godzilla" easter egg...)
    Hope this helps!

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    March 22, 06

    Product Review: JVC HA-NC100 Headphones

    Hugh just posted about the benefits of noise-cancelling headphones and mentioned the Phillips and Panasonic models. I own the JVC HA-NC100's and like them a lot. They are not audiophile quality, but neither is the price and they have a special cord-winding feature that makes travelling with them super-easy. I bought my first pair on eBay about a year ago when they were retailing for about $100. This pair was gently used and I paid $35. I give them rough treatment hauling them around in my backpack and risk losing them on every plane trip. Occasionally now I hear a soft pop or crackle when I turn my head that lets me know there's a short in there somewhere. When I saw the price drop to $42 at Buy.com I picked up two more pairs. Those are sitting on the shelf waiting for my first pair to go bad or be left behind on a plane.

    They do a good job of reproducing the music I listen to (mostly Baroque, Mozart, classic jazz) and the noise-cancelling does a decent job of suppressing the furnace fan near my basement office and the coffee grinders and blenders at Caribou. A bit weaker on airplanes, especially the time I was sitting on the window right behind the engines. The noise-cancelling works passively by generating generic white noise. At this price point don't expect the active noise-cancellation that works with a microphone to sample the environment and adjust the frequency spectrum in real time. I imagine those are amazing, but so are the prices.

    The biggest advantage of these headphones is the retractable cord. For me, this is tremendously useful. The headphones themselves are probably a bit better than average, but that cord really makes it. No more carefully winding up a cord just to find it in half a dozen knots when I get home. Just slide the cord lock button and zip goes the cord into the left earpiece housing. The plug then fits into a hole for it on the earpiece shell. Pretty neat. The headband also folds up and the whole thing fits into a nice vinyl bag. Pulling the cord out is easy and there is an inch or so of slightly lighter colored material near the end to tell you the cord is out as far as it will go. You can also pull it out to whatever length you want.

    Pictures and specs can be found in the reviews at pcmag.com and hometheatermag.com. JVC's page on this model is here.

    One thing to watch out for with these: You may find yourself forgetting to pull the cord out of the earpiece housing before putting them on your head. This won't hurt them or you, but because the cord wind mechanism makes a clicking sound it sure can make people look at you funny. The first time this happened to me I think the folks in Caribou thought I was pulling several feet of thread out of my ear!

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    How to Prevent Hearing Loss from Wired Magazine

    Here's an interesting article from Wired magazine online by Eliot Van Buskirk, a musician and freelance writer. Some of his points are just common sense things, like staying away from loud sources and getting your hearing checked - but you should seriously consider investing in a decent pair of noise-cancelling headphones. Click here for an excellent article from CNet.com explaining what noise-cancelling headphones do and how they work. A top-of-the line model from Bose will set you back $299, but it receives excellent ratings from CNet.com - compare that to the Panasonic RP-HC100, which folds up compactly and only costs around $40 (i'll have to see if i can find a pair of those - my Philips noise-cancelling headphones are an over-the-ear model, but it's bulky and there's no easy way to wrap up the cord with that weird battery compartment dangling off of the cord...) They really make a huge sonic difference when listening to audio on the train, plane, or other noisy environments. Save your ears and pick up a pair!

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    Video Games and the Classical Musician

    Here is a link to an article posted by the Christian Science Monitor on March 17th describing how virtuoso double bassist Francois Rabbath was filmed using Motion Capture technology, the same used to film computer-generated characters for such films as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as for video game characters. It's so cool to see folks from a wiser generation embracing technologies of today so wholeheartedly! Gives me great hope that the classical music field will indeed continue to forge new paths - artistically and technologically - in the years to come...

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    March 21, 06

    Putting a Tablet PC System together for Musicians, Part 8: Free Digital Sheet Music

    While online vendors offer an incredible breadth of digital sheet music offerings at prices that are much more reasonable than their paper counterparts, nothing really beats "free". Here are a number of sites that provide a surprising depth of free digital sheet music libraries:


    I think i found the motherlode of free sheet music! Free-Scores.com is an amazing repository of hundreds of websites that offer free music in a dizzying array of formats ( GIF - PDF - EPS/ PS - TEF - ABC - TABRITE - SIBILIUS - CAPELLA - ENC - MUSICTEX - NOTEWORTHY - MUS / ETF - TAB / TXT - GUITAR PRO - SCORCH) as well as their own collection of free PDF scores. An amazing range of instrument repertoire (bagpipes? zithers? bouzouki?) is represented. The website offers its own source of PDF music scores, along with a disclaimer:
    We are proud to participate to the transmission of free sheet music.
    Our project is to distribute for free the most important choice of domain public free scores.
    We feature 2337 piece of music to download in PDF format.

    Their license page is all in French, and my French sucks - but it appears to talk about the differences between various forms of copyright (public domain, creative commons, standard copyrights, etc.) Tons of original music from what i can see being offered at many of the linked websites - the interface is nice and clean, easy to navigate - you can even search for websites that offer repertoire in your preferred format (like PDF or Sibelius).
    If the search engine can't find a free version of your requested work, it will automatically pop up links and ads from commecial vendors that can sell you what they have in stock. Very nice service. I'll be spending plenty of time at this portal site exploring the vast network of contributing sites.

    8Notes.com is another terrific multi-purpose site. They offer a small library of free public domain sheet music of the most popular works in Sibelius, MIDI and PDF formats for a wide variety of instruments and styles. They also have an indexed database linking an ecclectic collection of free sheet music found on outside websites. But perhaps the most interesting aspect of 8Notes.com is their extensive collection of dynamic music and theory lessons. This is one of the cleanest and best designed free-music websites by far - the sheet music offerings are perfect for the beginning and intermediate students, and the online lesson material alone would make a perfect compliment to any serious pedagogy studio.

    SheetMusicArchive.net makes a reasonable set of pdf scans of public domain editions of public domain classical music available for free, or a full cd for $19.95. Again, the quality of the scans varies. Note that you are limited to 2 free downloads a day at this site.


    ClassicalArchives.com is amazing - at the time of this writing, they have 37,213 full length classical music files by 2,002 composers. 5 free downloads a day for non-members, 1000 downloads a month for those who pay a $25 yearly membership fee. This is a massive collection of classical repertoire transcribed into MIDI formats and also avaialble as MP3's - basically what this means is that this is the computer equivalent of an electronic listening library. I'm listening to the Scherzo from Brahms' Sonata in F minor for Two pianos as i'm writing this, and the tempi are a pretty bizarre - the MIDI seems to have been keyed in note by note, rather than being a "live" performance, so the notes are perfectly clean, but the tempi are all rigidly mechanical. You won't find "artistic" interpretations of the classics here, but that's not what this resource is for - it's a great way to get an overview of a ton of repertoire quickly and affordably. Note, while you could technically open the MIDI files as "sheet music" from within a music notation program like Sibelius or Finale, it would only be a bare view of the notes, missing all of the performance instructions, dynamics and title/movement heading texts.

    The above list is by no means exhaustive, but i think they represent some of the larger and better known sites currently available. If you know of any others, please email me and i'll update this list accordingly.

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    The most amazing dinner...

    Just got back after a long, long day...the work part ended with a pretty intense rehearsal of the Tchaikovsky Piano Trio up at Temple University with some very distinguished colleagues (and me flying by the seat of my pants - i hate the "i-don't-know-this-music-and-i'm-reading-as-fast-as-i-can feeling..."); fortunately, it was topped off with a wonderful meal at one of my favorite restaurants, Branzino, specializing in Italian Seafood cuisine (on 17th street between Locust and Spruce). Maestro Luis Biava joined the hungry party, and we were treated to a fantastic meal. I've had pasta and seafood here before, but i have to confess, it was my first Branzino dish (Branzino is a Mediterranean Sea Bass, i believe) - i'm not a huge fish fillet fan, but oh, my, goodness, i don't think i've ever had fish this delicious before! To top it all off, we sat next to a group of wine specialists who generously shared samples of their favorite bottles (Silver Oak 1998 Cabernet...that's what it tastes like when a mouth jumps for joy!)...what a serendipitous meal! Just wish my wife was able to share in the festivities...sigh...
    Back to the grind tomorrow...gotta get some sleep...g'night!

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    March 20, 06

    Notes from Sound Technology Class

    Sorry for the delay - i finally put together my notes from the Sound Technology Class that took place last Thursday. Many thanks again to Barry Brahier and Brian Sacawa for their excellent presentations and lively discussions! Several students have been asking me for the follow-up notes for this class, and i'm pleased to present them in this dynamic format. Barry and Brian (and anyone else who attended the class), please let me know if anything is missing from my notes and i'll update accordingly. These notes were created with MindMap and presented as a dynamic web page diagram.
    To view the notes, click here.
    Please refer to the handout for Barry's discussion on Online Learning Techniques.
    Click here to view the original blog post that contains Barry's and Brian's bios.
    Check out Brian's perspectives of the class and of our soap - yes, our soap...

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    Preview of my Musebook en route

    Check out this video of the Musebook software in action, together with the USB fingerswitch page turner and the WIRELESS foot pedal!
    More info on the Korean-based Musebook Music system can be found at www.musebook.com. They also make several music-related software programs, such as a metronome, a tuner (!), and - whoah, check this out - a "WAV to MIDI converter" - in their own words,
    Converts Monophonic Wave file (44.1KHz 16bit mono) to MIDI file
    Just Drag & Drop one or more Wave files on MuseBook Wav2Midi.
    MuseBook Wav2Midi converts the Wave files into MIDI files in sequence.
    It's easy, quick, and mind-boggling.

    Mind-boggling indeed!
    But wait - there's more! They also have a Sound2MIDI converter - converts your own singing voice (or an acoustic instrument) into MIDI files! Double Whoah! Here's their blurb:
    Real-time Sound2MIDI Software
    Use your own instrument, even your singing voice, as a MIDI controller!

    What an amazing company! I'm going to have to see if i can start trying out some of their programs...oh, and by the way, the Tablet PC model they're using to show off their Musebook program? Ahem ahem - same as mine, the Fujitsu Stylistic Tablet PC! hahahaha - great minds think alike, eh?


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    Listen 101 - 101 essential 20th century concert works

    Here's a fascinating, intellectually penetrating blog by Steve Hicken that discusses contemporary concert music. Check out his list of 101 essential 20th century concert works at the very bottom of his blog!

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    The Self-Tuning Guitar

    I know of a lot of string players that could use this contraption...this is an example illustration of the Tronical PowerTune device for electric guitars. If this were ever developed for violins, i could hear Suzuki teachers across the land jumping for joy...


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    March 19, 06

    Happy Birthday, Uncle Phil - from the Piranas!

    I try not to post blogs on Sundays, but today is my brother Phil's birthday - so here is a rendition of the "Happy Birthday" song for him that ends up...well...let's just say i don't think i can feel my legs anymore...
    Happy Birthday, Phil! from your big Bro!



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    March 18, 06

    HughSung.com now available on iTunes!

    Thanks to feed2podcast.com, this blog is now available for subscription as a podcast on iTunes! (My wife was asking me, "who in the world would want to do that?" i dunno...but there's something really really cool about listening to your own typed words read back to you out of your own iPod!) The HughSung.com feed2podcast RSS listing just got added to their directory, so tell all your iPod friends about it!

    To subscribe to this podcast, click the "Add Podcast" button here or on the left menu to automatically open iTunes. Click on the "subscribe button, and you're all set to go!
    Click the hyperlink to read the manual instructions for subscribing to this podcast. (more) No Trackbacks | Digg this Bookmark this post on del.icio.us. Submit this post on reddit.com. Submit this post on furl.net.l Bookmark this post on Google. Bookmark this post on Yahoo. Add this post to Technorati Favorites Add post text to Rojo Add this to Co.mments Add this post to Newsvine Add this post to Scuttle Add this post to Shadows Add this to Simpy Add this to Spurl Add this to Squidoo Add this to Stumbleupon

    Putting a Tablet PC System together for Musicians, Part 7: Building a Digital Music Library

    We've spent a good deal talking about scanners and scanning techniques - i'm particularly excited about the potential for products like the Justice Visions Portable Camera Scanner (i'll be posting my personal experiences with it in a future article) - but let's face it: scanning is still a pain, no matter how fast it is. It certainly has its place in building a digital library taking full advantage of the Tablet PC's capabilities, but as several folks have already pointed out, there are some serious copyright issues that must be contended with. Freehand Systems, the makers of the MusicPad Pro system (it's a Linux-based music-reading "PDA", something i'm very interesting in exploring, but it is NOT a full Tablet PC and as a result has several shortcomings that i'll discuss in a future article) USED to have an interesting disclaimer page regarding the legality of scanning music, but it has since disappeared - if memory serves me, it said something along the lines of, "as long as you own your own paper versions of the music, you can make scanned copies for your personal use" - well, the lawyers at Freehand have obviously put their foot down and taken that disclaimer off their website. One great hope is that these antiquated copyright laws will be updated to work with the mediums of the 21st century and beyond - after all, something is really really wrong when you have to wait months for a French publication to be dug out of some European warehouse to be delivered by snail mail and then paid for at ludicrous prices that rival the cost of petrol at NASA! So what's a digital musician to do? Read on to explore the world of commercial online digital sheet music!
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    March 17, 06

    The Backyard Loch Ness Monster

    "Dad! Dad!" my oldest son, Paul, burst into the room - "look at the lake! What's wrong with it?"
    We have a (normally) lovely man-made lake in back of our house, and i have a lovely view of it right from my bedroom office window. I had been so engrossed with posting my latest blog this morning i hadn't noticed anything different.
    "What do you mean?" i asked him.
    "Look, Dad! The lake - it's GREEN!"
    Well, what do you know - he was right! The entire lake had a strange, emerald-green hue to it...
    "What do you think made it so green?" Paul asked.
    "I have no idea...maybe the geese polluting the water? Maybe an algae problem?"
    Then i noticed he was wearing a green sweatshirt.
    "What day is it today?" i asked him.
    "Oh, it's St. Patrick's Day," he replied.
    ...you don't suppose...??




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    Read my blog with your ears - Feed2Podcast


    This is just too cool...i've been working on setting up sermon podcasts for my Church's website (i'll update the URL once i've finished 'cleaning house' there - don't want to have the same problem i had when i re-launched THIS website before it was fully finished and 500 'guests' suddenly started rushing in! what a panic! hahaha), so i've been thinking about doing the same for this site for some time...all sorts of neat ideas, like audio interviews with musicians, podcasts of rehearsals (Brian had a great idea in yesterday's Sound Technology class at Curtis discussing the possibility of making a podcast 'series' chronicling how a new commissioned composition gets put together, from conception to rehearsals to final perfomance - a real 'behind the scenes' type of audio diary for musicians!), eventually video podcasts of tools and software demonstrations...but until i get that aspect fully up and running, try out this cool application i found from www.feed2podcast.com! Get this - click on one of the badges below and you can automatically HEAR my written blogs read out loud! Is this a crazy world or what?
    "Scotty, belay that order - no need to beam me up yet, i'm having too much fun on this planet!"
    [Hugh's note: i just submitted my blog as a podcast subscription to iTunes - it usually takes a few days for the submission to start appearing in the podcast directory, but in the meantime, you can manually subscribe and hear this website on your iPod! Click the link below for instructions]


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    Notes from Sound Technology Class - coming soon!

    Many thanks to Barry Brahier and Brian Sacawa for joining me in my talk with the Curtis students at a 'Sound Technology' class on Thursday! i'm sure Murphy's Law dictated that the more technology-related the lecture, the more things are supposed to go wrong! Well, this almost felt like that maxin was coming true - i wanted to use a special speakerphone, but found out that it was incompatible with our digital phone line; Barry wanted to use a Macromedia Breeze web meeting presentation, but that Breeze blew away (couldn't hook up to the server, i think...); i wanted to demonstrate the Justice Visions Portable Camera Scanner, but i think the hookup to the HP projector somehow conflicted with the scanner's video driver; no time to set up the Poulenc "Babar" video/performance demonstration, as i had been slammed all morning with lessons and a big staff meeting (not even time for lunch); sigh...
    In the end, however, i think the minimal "tool" presentation turned out to be a benefit, as its absence actually helped all of us to focus on the discussion about technology and its application to the modern classical musician, rather than just to be passive spectators of its capabilities.
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    March 16, 06

    The Spotted Muse: Wireless Foot Pedal Sighting!!

    This is fantastic news! I feel like i'm coming to the end of a two-year quest...

    Mr. Kelly Demoline, President of Kelly's Music & Computers, has graciously given me permission to post his reply to my email sent to him a couple of weeks ago in reference to his blog about the AMuseTek MuseBook Music Software and wireless foot pedal first spotted at this year's NAMM convention.
    Turns out, they do indeed carry the wireless foot pedal as part of the MuseBook software package! But here - read about it for yourself!
    Thanks for your note, Hugh. I'm sorry for the delay in getting back to you - my sales team forwarded your message to me, so instead of it getting answered the same day (which is our policy), it ended up waiting for me to get back in the office from doing training sessions for schools.

    AMuseTek is a Korean company, so it is probably best to e-mail them at musebook@musebook.com if you want to reach them.

    We are carrying the MuseBook SingleNote package, which includes the software, the wireless foot pedal and the USB finger switch. You can get the details and pricing at http ://kellysmusicandcomputers.com/productinfo.asp?id=1682912297 It is $189 US, although the software can be purchased on it's own for $69 US. You will probably want the hardware, though, as it is probably the most useful part of the package! You can also use it to turn pages in Acrobat Reader if you enable the full screen mode.
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    A Peek at the eStand's Capabilities

    I came across an interesting music journal extract, describing some of the eStand's capabilities, written by Jane Cross (source: Cross, Jane "eStand TM Electronic Music Stand (review)" Notes - Volume 60, Number 3, March 2004, pp. 754-756, Music Library Association). If you recall, the eStand is actually a Gateway Tablet PC. The most interesting aspect of the abstract is its description of the networking capabilities, something that is supposed to be one of the strongest selling points of the unit to orchestras. It describes what appears to be an ad-hoc network setup - that means the computers talk to each other directly, instead of through a central server. It appears that the principal stands would have the original files, and that the subordinate players would simply have the capability to copy the originals to their own machines, but not vice-versa. In other words, the principal player could make markings in their own part and have everyone copy updated versions, but players in the back would not have that capability to 'share' their own markings (although i imagine that wouldn't be hard to set up to go both ways, if the orchestra wanted a more 'democratic' approach to the network.)
    The conductor would not be able to send markings by instrument to individual players or instrument classes, although he/she of course would be able to download the principal players' files for his own reference as individual parts, not automatically incorporated into the full score.
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    March 15, 06

    Travel Tech: Skyroll Garment Bag

    It was bound to happen: at the Sarasota airport on the way back to Philadephia, I was flagged by airport security for "extra screening". Fortunately, Iris had driven me to the airport well ahead of time, so it was no big deal - in fact, it was actually kind of nice not having to push my own bags through the xray machine! As the officers were unzipping my bags and wiping the contents with chemical detection swabs, one lady was perplexed at my Skyroll garment bag. "i've seen a lot of bags," she commented, "but i've never seen anything like this one!"


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    Travel Tech: Brookstone Collapsible Luggage Cart

    I used to have a great, compact collapsible hand luggage cart that was small enough to fit into a briefcase (well, an empty briefcase at least....) I purchased it at Narita airport in Tokyo and it went with me literally around the world. The day it stopped being collapsible was the day it died and was buried cruelly at some forgotten airport trash can (my back still aches at the memory). I had been keeping an eye out for a replacement in luggage stores, but to no avail - until today.

    Wandering into the Atlanta airport Brookstone store (like a candle draws a moth), my eyes lighted upon a reincarnation of my beloved collapsible hand luggage cart, selling for about half the price ($35) that I had paid for previously (several years ago, mind you!).

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    Travel Tech: Snickers, Doritos, and an iPod

    Here's a vending machine at the Atlanta airport that dispenses iPods, PSP's. Gameboys, and other mobile electronic gear. In case you're worried about how your purchases are dispensed, here's a quick video clip I happened to capture of the robotic dispenser system in action:



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    A Better Online Music Dictionary

    Spending some time on OboeInsight.com, i came across a link Patty put on her page to a Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary. What a fantastic resource! I'm definitely adding this one to my links list!

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    March 14, 06

    Idly Running: Getting to Sarasota

    [Hugh's Note: This was actually written yesterday morning on my Samsung i730 PDA Phone as i was either standing in those interminable airport lines or as i was stuck sitting in the airplane - i'm posting this right now before heading off to the Sarasota airport on the way back to Philly - another concert at Curtis tonight...sigh...]

    Idle: Philadelphia Airport/USAir 1075
    Run: used Samsung i730 to email presenter to let her know that Delta
    messed up my tickets and that my flight had been changed to USAir,
    arriving in Sarasota one hour later than planned. Downloaded
    itinerary into i730 from Gmail to work through details with ticket
    attendant.
    Finished other emails to Korea and stateside.
    Called Expedia to complain about Delta - Expedia was great, giving me
    an immediate $100 coupon in my Expedia account and an assurance that
    they would forward my complaint to Delta. Kudos to Expedia!!
    Sitting in plane, blogging away in my i730 and reading Psalm 56 and
    Joshua 10-13 with Laridian's Pocket Bible (man, I love my Samsung PDA
    Phone...)



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    Expanding Repertoire for the Piano

    I received this email from a visitor to the site and wanted to share it with you. He shares some wonderful links for getting sheet music online (free!), along with MIDI and MP3 files for classical music. He poses an interesting question regarding how to expand one's repertoire via software:
    Great blog! I’m interested to find out if you know of any software that can help recommend repertoire, by genre, skill level, or similar pieces. I don’t play professionally and I haven’t had a piano teacher since college. So I’m looking for ways to expand my repertoire and find pieces that would be appropriate for my skill level and interest.
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    March 13, 06

    Woo hoo! 3rd place in The Student Tablet PC Tip Contest!

    Hahaha! Check it out - sliding barely over the finish line with 37 tips and the 3rd place prize!
    Here's the link to the contest results.
    I was beaten by some wild and crazy posters - the first place winner, Nithi Sothilingam, flooded the contest with 86 posts! Whew!
    What a terrific 'contest' - as i stated before, the winners are really everyone who both contributed and came away with something learned!
    Tracy will 'clean up' the submitted tips soon - over 230 in all! - and it should prove to be a fantastic resource for everyone in the Tablet PC and Tech community! Well done, Tracy!

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    Putting a Tablet PC System together for Musicians, Part 6: Maintenance

    Just as a violinist carries a humidor to keep their instrument from cracking, and a clarinetist carries a swab cloth to wipe out the inside of their clarinet after each practice session, there are some basic tools a musician will need to properly care for and maintain their Tablet PC. In fact, as i mentioned in an interview by an Italian online Tablet PC magazine, the more you are able to adopt the mindset of treating the Tablet PC as an artistic instrument, the more things will make sense in terms of its usage and care with relationship to your art.

    There are daily, weekly/monthly, and occasional tasks that need to be done to keep your Tablet PC music system in tip-top shape. Rather than think of these things as a being "too technical", think of the daily, weekly and occasional tasks a violinist needs to constantly keep in mind. For example:

  • Daily: need to wipe off the rosin carefully from the bridge area and the affected fingerboard

  • Weekly/Monthly: Need to get bow(s) rehaired, strings replaced; bridge adjustments

  • Occasional: Need to get cracks and splits sealed; sound post adjustments
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    MyGuestMap Contest!

    MyGuestMap is a fantastic little applet that enables visitors to leave messages in the form of tags that can be placed anywhere on a virtural world map! I'd love to start filling the map up with tags from around the world - ok, so here's the deal: First 10 visitors to leave tags will each be elligible to win 1 free CD from my collection of recordings (as long as the selection is in stock from one of the available online vendors)! I'll pay for the CD and any shipping/handling costs! Be sure to leave an email address in the message box so that i can contact you directly for shipping info if you're a winner. I've already left my own little tag on the map, so you can see where i'm blogging from (well, my office at least!)
    Hope to see you on the map soon!

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    New "Getting Started" Series Topical Page

    To make it easier to navigate the growing "Getting Started" series of articles, i've created a dedicated page that will group them by topic. The current topic is "Putting Together a Tablet PC System for Musicians". Feel free to email me if you have any questions or suggestions for the current or possible future "getting started" articles.

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    Microlesson update: Timmy's Opus

    Here's a video of Timmy playing one of his compositions



    Here's a link to the manuscript!

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    March 11, 06

    Sign in with My Guestmap!

    I've noticed that this website gets hits from all over the world - it just so happens that I found this uber-cool applet while surfing over to the Digital::Pianist's blog - click on the icon and sign in from wherever you are in the world!


    [Hugh's Note again: It looks like the link is up - if you see an icon for "G: Guestmap", that means the link site is "live" - if there is no icon in this blog, then that probably means the map applet is down. we'll see if it tanks again or not, but for now it seems to be working. Leave a note and a pushpin on the map showing me where you're hailing from!]

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    Another Classical Blog Link - Oboe Insight

    It's so fascinating to see who visit this site day by day! This is the profile of the latest blogger to link here from www.oboeinsight.com
    This is the oboe site of Patricia Emerson Mitchell.

    Okay ... that's my name for programs. Everyone else calls me Patty (or mom, or "hey you").

    I am the principal oboist of Opera San Jose, second oboist for Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley, second oboist (acting principal for 2003-2004) of Symphony Silicon Valley, and the oboist and English hornist for American Musical Theatre of San Jose. I also freelance in the Bay Area, and teach at University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara University, and privately at my home.


    Thanks, Patricia - er, excuse me , "Patty!" Welcome to my Classical Blog list!

    BTW, if you're a double reed player, you should check out her links for reed making tutorials, suppliers, instructors, and other terrific resources!

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    Sound Technology Class Lecture at Curtis 3/16/06

    [Hugh's Note: This blog has been updated - Notes from the class are now available here.]

    This is so amazing! Both Barry Brahier AND Brian Sacawa (a synergy of saxophones - hmmmm!) will be joining me for my annual guest lecture for the Sound Technology Class at Curtis! Dr. Al Blatter (brilliant professor, engineer, former professor at Drexel University, composer and conductor - and home pipe organ builder!) leads this class, and every year graciously invites me to make a presentation.
    Barry will be joining me "live" over the internet - he will be using a Macromedia Breeze-based web meeting presentation (that man never ceases to amaze me with the wonderous technological goodies he pulls out of his magic hat!)
    Brian will be coming up from Baltimore to be at the class "in person" (i was all set to do this multiple webcam hookup...when he said, "Why don't I just take the train?" Cool!)
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    Bookbinders

    Wow, now this site brings back memories! I had an artistic friend in middle school - Alan Wiener - who used to make his own blank books with the most beautiful covers, which he had learned to bind himself. When i was first appointed to be the Director of Instrumental Accompaniment at Curtis, i had to move into the office of my esteemed predecessor, the late Dr. Vladimir Sokoloff. Entering his room was like opening the vault to an Egyptian crypt, literally! There were hieroglyphic paintings on the walls, pictures of mummies and pharoh artifacts, Egyptian deity trinkets littered throughout the room - and the unmistakably musty smell of old, old paper, wafting from the hundreds of volumes of music stacked, filed and piled throughout the room. One barely had room to stand, much less sit! Dr. Sokoloff apparently bound his own books, as evidenced by the huge binding vice clamp, the collection of awls and drills, bookbinding tape and string, and the large holes peppered throughout the top of his desk. (more) No Trackbacks | Digg this Bookmark this post on del.icio.us. Submit this post on reddit.com. Submit this post on furl.net.l Bookmark this post on Google. Bookmark this post on Yahoo. Add this post to Technorati Favorites Add post text to Rojo Add this to Co.mments Add this post to Newsvine Add this post to Scuttle Add this post to Shadows Add this to Simpy Add this to Spurl Add this to Squidoo Add this to Stumbleupon

    March 10, 06

    Juilliard Audition

    Spent the day at Juilliard yesterday with a wonderful young violinist, Madison "Madi" Marcucci, helping her with her audition. I played "korean tourist", snapping pictures with my Sony Cybershot DSC-T7.

    As we were driving to the hotel where Maddie and her mother were staying, Madi's father, Rich, said something very poignant: "We spent 18 years getting ready for this day." Those of us involved in adjudicating and accompanying these prospective students to our schools need to really keep that in mind - that brief, 5 or 10 minute appearance is the culmination of a lifetime of work and preparation. These wonderful students (and their families!) deserve all the support, encouragement, and respect possible during audition season!

    Madi's mother, Sandy, was absolutely amazing - with Juilliard only offering a 10 minute warmup time in a tiny room with NO piano, she scoured the street in front of her hotel and came up with a restaurant that was gracious enough to let Madi and me rehearse before her audition! (Dillons Restaurant & Lounge, 245 West 54th Street between Broadway & 8th Avenue). BTW, Sandy Marcucci is the Co-Founder (along with Kimberly Fisher of the Philadelphia Orchestra) of the highly successful Strings International Summer Music Camp!

    Here are some pictures of Madi and me at Dillons -




    Here's another picture of the restaurant owners - THANK YOU!!!


    Madi and me in front of Juilliard


    Madi gets ready to enter


    Follow us inside!




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    I've been blogged!

    Wow! Check out this writeup from Brian Sacawa on Sequenza21, the Contemporary Music Portal (a fantastic resource for insights into the world of contemporary classical music!) He also has a copy of the article on his main blog site, "Sounds Like Now". Brian discusses how the age-old dilemna of page turning music (a particularly acute problem when working with contemporary music - he gives great examples of these difficulties with elaborate paper-based solutions) simply disappears with the use of a tablet pc and programmable foot switch.
    I just posted a comment to Brian's article:

    Great blog, Brian! Just for the record, in my 2 years of using a tablet pc day in, day out for all my rehearsals, lessons, auditions, competitions and performances, there has NEVER been an instance where it has 'frozen up' or 'crashed' on stage - i get asked this a LOT!
    Not to say that this system is perfect - the Achilles' heel, it turns out, actually lies with the footswitch, mainly the USB drivers, not the Tablet PC itself. Under certain circumstances, the driver can hang and freeze up, preventing the footswitch from being recognized by the computer.
    My old Delcom Footswitch (see my website for details) would experience this problem if the USB cable were accidentally removed before properly shutting the driver down, or if the computer was put into standby mode & woken up again without the same driver shutdown sequence.
    I worked out a pretty reliable pre-performance sequence to ensure that these driver problems didn't appear on stage:
    1. Perform a full reboot of the tablet pc 30 minutes before the performance
    2. Plug in the footswitch and activate the driver
    3. Confirm that the page turning commands were being properly transmitted from the footswitch by pressing it a few times to test advance the pages
    4. (this one is critical) LEAVE THE FOOTSWITCH ATTACHED TO THE COMPUTER WHEN WALKING OUT ON STAGE
    5. Test the footswitch with a few clicks before beginning the performance, then return to the first page
    6. Pray and Play.

    As i've said, i've never had a problem as long as i know what could potentially could go wrong. Hence, i also turn off the wireless antenna, defrag my hard drive once a week, etc. etc. etc. Just as a violinist always keeps extra strings in the case and a saxophone player keeps extra reeds (i assume!), using a tablet pc requires a similar mindset for contingencies and preparations. I'll be posting more articles on USB footswitch driver issues in my blog, but i hope this helps for now.
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    March 09, 06

    March 14: Recital by Hugo Goldenzweig, Pianist

    I had an opportunity to meet Dr. Goldenzweig about a month or so ago - we was adjuticating a competition by the New Jersey Music Teachers' Association in Northern New Jersey. I just received an email from him regarding a recital he's giving at Mannes next week:

    MANNES COLLEGE THE NEW SCHOOL FOR MUSIC
    Joel Lester, Dean

    Presents

    FACULTY RECITAL by

    HUGO GOLDENZWEIG, piano

    Tuesday, March 14, 2006 at 8:00 PM
    The Concert hall
    150 West 85th Street, NYC


    Program will consist of works by Schoenberg, Webern, Beethoven and Schubert. Full details at the (More) link below. Best wishes, Dr. Goldenzweig, for a wonderful performance!
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    March 16th 7:30 pm Dolce Suono Chamber Music Concert Series Performance

    Just received this email from flutist extraordinaire Mimi Stillman regarding an upcoming performance by her ensemble, Dolce Suono:

    "I'm pleased to announce our next concert on the Dolce Suono Chamber Music Concert Series on Thursday, March 16 at 7:30pm. I'll be performing a flute and guitar recital with well-known guitarist and Temple University professor Allen Krantz. The theme is "East Meets West" and the program includes music by Bartok, Villa-Lobos, Fauré, Piazzolla, Ravi Shankar, Allen Krantz, Daniel Dorff, and Katherine Hoover. The venue is the Rosenwald Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania Van Pelt-Dietrich Library, 6th floor, 3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia. For more info, email me or call 215-898-7552. I'd be delighted to have you join us!

    Dolce Suono has been active and newsworthy since our first two concerts in October and November, 2005. We've been doing educational outreach performances and talks at Philadelphia public schools. We were featured in the Flutist Quarterly, the magazine of the National Flute Association and Pan, the magazine of the British Flute Society. Watch for an interview with me in the Philadelphia Daily News appearing Friday, March 10.

    Your enthusiasm for Dolce Suono is deeply appreciated. Thank you!
    Best wishes,
    Mimi"

    Mimi Stillman
    Flutist, Yamaha Performing Artist
    Bradley Graduate Fellow in History
    University of Pennsylvania
    DolceSuonoSeries@aol.com
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    Adsense...ugh...

    Pretty obvious, i just added Google's Adsense banners to the site yesterday - they're supposed to place context-relative ads, but so far it's been weird to see them only streaming "get rich from blogging" ads...sorry, folks, that's not my intent here...just hope to eventually earn enough to cover the costs of domain name subscriptions and hosting. Also hope to see some more relevant ads soon...oh well, i'll just categorize this under the "When tech tanks..." category for now...please bear with me as i experiment with banner placements and the like. Oh, and if you'd like to show your support for this site, feel free to click on the ads (hopefully some will actually start to show things you're REALLY interested in...)
    No wonder i failed miserably as a cub scout salesman when i was a kid pawning light bulbs...hahahaha! No Trackbacks | Digg this Bookmark this post on del.icio.us. Submit this post on reddit.com. Submit this post on furl.net.l Bookmark this post on Google. Bookmark this post on Yahoo. Add this post to Technorati Favorites Add post text to Rojo Add this to Co.mments Add this post to Newsvine Add this post to Scuttle Add this post to Shadows Add this to Simpy Add this to Spurl Add this to Squidoo Add this to Stumbleupon

    Micro Lesson progress report

    Quick update: Eric has now surpassed where we left off in his lesson book back in August - we've finally caught up, added a new piece, and seem to be well on the way to finishing his current book within a few weeks. He's also working on D-flat major scales - all the major "sharp scales" are in his fingers; once he completes the major "flat scales", i plan to go back and work on the various minor versions associated with their relative majors. Wow, he might actually be playing ALL scales in all keys by then end of the summer if we keep up this pace...

    Timmy's lessons are also progressing nicely. He's reading more and more without my prompting - should be ready to present "Mary had a little lamb" in a few days! That would be a nice show for his mother!

    Paul is currently focusing on his clarinet (and sounding pretty good!) Brought home some excellent grades for his math and reading - great to see that he too is making good progress! No Trackbacks | Digg this Bookmark this post on del.icio.us. Submit this post on reddit.com. Submit this post on furl.net.l Bookmark this post on Google. Bookmark this post on Yahoo. Add this post to Technorati Favorites Add post text to Rojo Add this to Co.mments Add this post to Newsvine Add this post to Scuttle Add this post to Shadows Add this to Simpy Add this to Spurl Add this to Squidoo Add this to Stumbleupon

    Hunting the Muse: AMuseTek's MuseBook and Wireless Foot Pedal

    I came across this article from Kelly's Music & Computers Blog actually a few days ago, but my searches for any websites from this company or email addresses have come to naught so far - i'm going to try and email the blogger directly to see if he/she has info on AMuseTek, a Korean company that had a presentation at the latest NAMM conference apparently, showing their Tablet PC based MuseBook software along with - get this - a WIRELESS FOOT PEDAL!!! (cue angelic chorus here)
    I've just emailed a wonderful composer friend of mine, Cecilia Kim, who is currently on faculty at Sang Myung University in Korea. Maybe she can come up with some leads! Stay tuned... No Trackbacks | Digg this Bookmark this post on del.icio.us. Submit this post on reddit.com. Submit this post on furl.net.l Bookmark this post on Google. Bookmark this post on Yahoo. Add this post to Technorati Favorites Add post text to Rojo Add this to Co.mments Add this post to Newsvine Add this post to Scuttle Add this post to Shadows Add this to Simpy Add this to Spurl Add this to Squidoo Add this to Stumbleupon

    Meet The Collaborative Pianist!

    Many thanks to Chris Foley, a collaborative pianist who works in Toronto, for adding me as a link on his wonderful blog, "The Collaborative Piano"! It's wonderful to come across other folks in the same field over the blogosphere - our lives are so busy and involved with other instrumentalists/singers, it can be difficult to find occasions to meet & share war stories with other collaborative pianists working "the trenches"! Visit his blog to get some great insights into life as a collaborative pianist, and a backstage view of the vocal/opera scene, as well as cultural life in Toronto and beyond. By the way, Chris has some wonderful on-site resources related to the collaborative arts, such as:
  • What is Collaborative Piano?

  • The One-Page Guide to Collaborative Piano Playing (this is great for ANY musician)

  • Degree Programs in Collaborative Piano

  • Career Options in Collaborative Piano (this is eye-opening, especially for young pianists locked into the 'solo-only' mentality)

  • Be sure to check out his Off-Site resources as well! Great links for the professional and serious music student! (more) No Trackbacks | Digg this Bookmark this post on del.icio.us. Submit this post on reddit.com. Submit this post on furl.net.l Bookmark this post on Google. Bookmark this post on Yahoo. Add this post to Technorati Favorites Add post text to Rojo Add this to Co.mments Add this post to Newsvine Add this post to Scuttle Add this post to Shadows Add this to Simpy Add this to Spurl Add this to Squidoo Add this to Stumbleupon

    The process of mastery: becoming transparent

    i never realized how comfortable my previous footswitch - made by Delcom Engineering - had become over the course of a year, until i switched to the Griffin Technology PowerMate USB Multimedia Controller & Input Device. As nice as the PowerMate is, i became jarringly aware that it was different. Silent, yes; more compact, yet; more stable due to the silicon base that secures to the floor better, yes; more stable driver software, yes yes yes; but being better, i realize now, still does not translate to a seamless transition.
    I was astounded at how some primal memories are unlocked during moments of fear and panic - i vividly remember the times that my left leg would be aching due to the tension of having my foot wait nervously over my first footswitch (the 3-button X-keys foot pedal made by P.I. Engineering), totally in fear of being late with the foot motion. Those same exact memories began to surface during the first few days of using the PowerMate, and i found my left leg starting to have those old aches resurface again, and my foot poised over the pedal well in advance of what was necessary to activate the page turn triggered by the pedal...I was equally amazed at how unconscious the motion eventually became after about 2 or 3 months of continuous use! I actually came to the point where i didn't have to 'think' or 'remind myself' of how or when to position my foot - the pages just seemed to 'magically' turn by themselves without any effort or conscious thought. Switching from the 3-pedal system to a single "one direction/forward ONLY" pedal was a return to another round of anxiety, i well remember - the panic of realizing that i wouldn't be able to turn backwards if i accidentally 'double-pressed' the pedal...very much the feeling of tumbling through the air without a safety net!
    Those anxieties also eventually passed, and the motion became an unconscious extension once again.
    Here i am, a year later, switching to yet another foot pedal system. After about a week, i feel like i'm about 90% back to that old, comfortable 'unconscious instinct' feeling with regard to the PowerMate - that's a credit i guess to having experienced this learning curve before, but it really reinforces the concept that you never really master anything until you don't have to think about it consciously anymore. I was born in the United States and didn't speak more than a few basic words of Korean until i met my wife - she didn't speak English, so i was forced to learn the language. What a struggle! Trying to wrap my head around a foreign syntax, alphabet, pronounciation, much less an entire world of vocabulary - then, idiomatic expressions - wow, it's a wonder my brain didn't melt! I'm not 100% fluent, but again - it's amazing to see how, 15 years later, i don't have to think word for word what i need to say in this second language; the thoughts just flow out automatically. Years of practice, hammering in those basic concepts, eventually bring about the fruit of unconscious result, i guess the beginnings of what we would call, "mastery" (not that i'm a 'master' of Korean by any stretch of the imagination!!)
    This is perhaps one aspect of music education that excells so well: you really cannot perform even on a perfunctory level until you have completely mastered a certain set of skills to advance. You can't 'wing it' or 'fake it' or hobble along - those skill need to pass from competency, to fluency, to what i call transparency: you don't even notice the effort to engage those skills.
    Thanks to my little PowerMate pedal, for reminding me of what it takes to re-learn and re-master, no matter how young or old you are.
    [3/27/06 Note: I just added a flash tutorial to show how to set up the PowerMate's software settings to turn pages within Adobe Acrobat documents.]
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    Free iPod-Ready Stories for Children

    What a wonderful resource! My wife and i love to listen to audio books on our iPods streaming through the car stereo system whenever we take long trips (like the 5 hour ride to visit my Mom and Dad's farm) - Audible.com is an unbeatable resource for online audio bookds - but unless you get children's books only, it can be hard to find material that's completely "safe" for kids, if you know what i mean (i remember going through "The Memory of Running" and diving for the volume control a couple of times to 'blank out' some "no-no" moments...) Children's audio books seem to be rather scarce as an online commodity, so this website is a refreshing resource! Tuck your kids into bed with some of these stories!
    Yet another great link thanks to Lifehacker.com! No Trackbacks | Digg this Bookmark this post on del.icio.us. Submit this post on reddit.com. Submit this post on furl.net.l Bookmark this post on Google. Bookmark this post on Yahoo. Add this post to Technorati Favorites Add post text to Rojo Add this to Co.mments Add this post to Newsvine Add this post to Scuttle Add this post to Shadows Add this to Simpy Add this to Spurl Add this to Squidoo Add this to Stumbleupon

    How to Tie a Scarf

    This one is definitely for my wife. We're always admiring those ladies who seem to know just what to do with those silk scarves (something other than a mummy-choker wraparound...) Who knows? I might borrow one of these ideas for a "french cravate" kind of look...after all, neckties can be soooo boring sometimes...unfortunately, the guides only consist of one-picture illustrations and text directions - it would be much easier if they could have pictures for each folding step...
    Found this link from one of my favorite daily stops, Lifehacker.com - now i really have to start thinking about putting up my "how to tie a bowtie" video tutorial soon!
    Enjoy! No Trackbacks | Digg this Bookmark this post on del.icio.us. Submit this post on reddit.com. Submit this post on furl.net.l Bookmark this post on Google. Bookmark this post on Yahoo. Add this post to Technorati Favorites Add post text to Rojo Add this to Co.mments Add this post to Newsvine Add this post to Scuttle Add this post to Shadows Add this to Simpy Add this to Spurl Add this to Squidoo Add this to Stumbleupon

    March 08, 06

    Brian Sacawa's Links Page

    Good morning, Folks -
    Barry Brahier just sent me this link to Brian Sacawa's Classical Music Links Page - Brian is a FANTASTIC classical saxophonist - recently had the pleasure of working with him a few weeks ago (here's the link with my name in his blog. I'm going to try and send Brian a "hello" and "let's swap links" message - his links page is a great resource for getting connected with other classical music news sites, bloggers, composers/ensembles of interest, etc. etc. etc. With that said, please welcome Brian Sacawa as the latest addition to my "Favorite Musicians" links list!
    My blog wasn't up when we met - but NOW (dum dum dummmmmmm)
    What a small world we live in! No Trackbacks | Digg this Bookmark this post on del.icio.us. Submit this post on reddit.com. Submit this post on furl.net.l Bookmark this post on Google. Bookmark this post on Yahoo. Add this post to Technorati Favorites Add post text to Rojo Add this to Co.mments Add this post to Newsvine Add this post to Scuttle Add this post to Shadows Add this to Simpy Add this to Spurl Add this to Squidoo Add this to Stumbleupon

    Please wait while i catch my breath...

    I might have to take a quick blogging breather for a day or two to catch up with my "real" life (translation: I NEED TO PRACTICE THE PIANO!!!) - I'm so excited that i FINALLY have a functional 'concerts and events' bloggette going, so that will take some time to fill and update accordingly...sooooo many articles that really need some time and attention, so perhaps this 'bookmark' post will help me focus on the next set of projects:
  • i want to take a survey of the classical music news sites on the web. several great paper magazines available, but unfortunately, I DON'T LIKE PAPER ANYMORE! (hahahaha - just kidding - sort of...)

  • finally heard from my Philadelphia Orchestra cellist friend who has had extensive experience teaching webcam lessons with the students he left behind in Georgia. The Orchestra is on tour right now in Florida and Puerto Rico (lucky ducks...), but i'm going to try and set up a visit to see how he does his web-lessons. If i can, i'll try to make a video blog about this one.

  • gotta get around to writing about music notation tips and tricks - i posted a few ideas on Tracy Hooten's Tip Contest over at The Student Tablet PC website, but i really need to expand with a full article detailing some very helpful ideas on working with music as a digital medium. You'll start to really understand why i can't go back to paper anymore...

  • more column updates: need to put up a list of my favorite Tablet PC manufacturers, favorite Pocket PC resources, software links, etc....

  • Bulletin Board? Would anyone here like a bulletin board? that might provide a more interactive way to discuss various topics...let me know what you think. If y'all want one, i can whip up a BB to yer likin'...

  • oh, get this - y'all are going to laugh - i broke down and got myself a PIANO ROLL!!! I'll have to do a full review of this - i'm actually pretty excited about it! Just got it yesterday, so i didnt' have time to really play with it (too busy cracking blog codes all day), so i need to fuss with it before i can present it to all of you properly. Let's just say i have a nice USB MIDI interface waiting to play with my new roll...

  • Preview of my Sound Technology Class lecture next week! Every year i get to take over Dr. Al Blatter's Sound Technology Class for a day, so i'll be writing up a little preview of what i have in store - it should totally blow away any of my previous years' presentations by a whopping mile! Too bad Al will be away on that day...

  • Wow, and i thought i was too tired to write anything...no wonder i'm having a hard time tearing myself away from the computer long enough to work on my OTHER keyboard - the one with black and white keys...
    Take care, and see you back here soon! No Trackbacks | Digg this Bookmark this post on del.icio.us. Submit this post on reddit.com. Submit this post on furl.net.l Bookmark this post on Google. Bookmark this post on Yahoo. Add this post to Technorati Favorites Add post text to Rojo Add this to Co.mments Add this post to Newsvine Add this post to Scuttle Add this post to Shadows Add this to Simpy Add this to Spurl Add this to Squidoo Add this to Stumbleupon

    March 07, 06

    FINALLY!!! Upcoming Concerts and Events - BLOG CODE CRACKED!!

    Ugh!!! Folks, you don't know how long i've been struggling to figure out how to get this to work - from day 1, i've wanted to show a listing of all my upcoming events, like concerts, lectures, master classes, etc. etc. etc. - i tried playing with an event script, but it loaded ALL of my future posts all at once (i try to post articles ahead of time) rather than just selectively posting ones marked as 'concerts' or some such category...i spent the last few weeks reading up on PHP coding, trying to see if i could hand-code something that would be SQL database-driven and called from within one of the side columns...
    ...then suddenly, a flash of "dummy" inspiration: why get all complicated? why not just 'blog' it out?
    Pouring through the nucleus user forums turned up some interesting FAQ's on setting up a gallery script (still in the works here) that basically gutted a template skin and left room for the script to be called within what was left. That gave me the idea to set up the Authors' Bios page.
    Then THAT idea got me thinking...hmmm...why not just put my concerts and events in a gutted skin like that?
    The THAT THAT idea got me thinking AND tinkering...and, lo and behold, VOILA:
    Instant EventBlog, as originally intended (i think) by the script's authors. It just took me forever to figure it out.
    Not perfect yet - categories aren't linking properly within that page, but it'll do. It'll do.
    Now y'all have NO excuse not to see me in person - and i have no more excuse not telling anyone where i'll be!
    ENJOY!!! And let me give me widdy biddy brain some much needed rest...ack... No Trackbacks | Digg this Bookmark this post on del.icio.us. Submit this post on reddit.com. Submit this post on furl.net.l Bookmark this post on Google. Bookmark this post on Yahoo. Add this post to Technorati Favorites Add post text to Rojo Add this to Co.mments Add this post to Newsvine Add this post to Scuttle Add this post to Shadows Add this to Simpy Add this to Spurl Add this to Squidoo Add this to Stumbleupon

    Lyric's for "Hugh's Song"

    Here are the lyric's for "Hugh's Song", generously provided by Sheridan Seyfried:

    <A HREF="http://hughsung.com/images/curtisholidayparty2005.wmv"></A>


    Can't view the clip? Download the player plug-in from Microsoft

    My name is Hugh Sung and I play piano here, been at Curtis for more than
    half my life.
    I accompany the students play in concerts every week but I'm
    getting kinda tired of this gig.
    The work is hard, the hours long; it's tiring you can bet.
    So I've taken to gadgets and hair and shades, and now a cigarette.
    Sometimes I play in a lesson for Ida or Pam or even for Aaron Rosand.
    And when the student clearly isn't prepared I bang as loud as I can.

    I've always loved my gadgets: they simplify my life.
    They help me to get through the days at school.
    There's my scanner and my earpiece, my palm pilot, tablet PC.
    Turning pages with my foot, hey now, that's cool!

    But I'm really sick of all the lessons and I need to get out of this place.
    Tired of playing, scheduling, email, faxes, and working on the database.
    Why do I stay at Curtis year after year, when I could be almost anywhere? 'Cause when it comes to modernizing the school, I'm the only one who cares.

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    Travel Tip: Hotel Card Keys

    **DISCLAIMER** - One of our readers has vigilantly tracked this advisory down and found it to be another Urban Legend. Here's the link explaining how difficult it ACTUALLY is to steal personal info from a hotel card...

    READ ON WITH LOTS OF SALT..
    * * *

    Just got this emailed to me from one of my colleagues - keep this in mind the next time you go to a hotel!

    Hotel Plastic Room Keys

    Hotel Key Cards...This is VERY interesting and I shall take home next
    time.

    When you check out of a hotel that uses the credit-card-type room key,
    the clerk often will ask if you have your key(s) to turn in... or there
    is usually a box or slot on the Reception counter in which to put them.
    This is good for the hotel because they save money by re-using those
    cards. But, it's not good for you, as revealed below.

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    Welcome Shunské Sato to "My Favorite Musicians" link list

    Please welcome the extraordinary young violinist Shunské Sato to my list of "Favorite Musicians" links! He possesses a penetrating intellect and artistic passion so rare among musicians today - a truly remarkable standard bearer for the violinistic arts! If you are fortunate enough to have Mr. Sato visiting your region for a performance, drop everything and listen to this artist!! His debut CD, "Eugčne Ysa˙e: six sonatas for solo violin", has just been released and is available at Amazon Japan and HMV Japan online. There are instructions in English on Shunské's site for purchasing CD's at either online store. No Trackbacks | Digg this Bookmark this post on del.icio.us. Submit this post on reddit.com. Submit this post on furl.net.l Bookmark this post on Google. Bookmark this post on Yahoo. Add this post to Technorati Favorites Add post text to Rojo Add this to Co.mments Add this post to Newsvine Add this post to Scuttle Add this post to Shadows Add this to Simpy Add this to Spurl Add this to Squidoo Add this to Stumbleupon

    Mini Music Dictionary Online

    I'm always wagging my finger at students who don't take the time to look up musical terms and instructions in their music - now, here's another reason to say there's no excuse for not knowing what "a piacere" means. Gramophone magazine has a mini version of Grove Music Concise Dictionary, located in a red box under the left side link column. Keep in mind, this is a very limited dictionary - the definition of "l'istesso tempo" didn't pull up anything (probably because the inclusion of the apostrophe usually messes up some types of SQL database searches), and "piano" only pulled up "(It.)'Flat', 'low', i.e. quiet, abbreviated p; hence pianissimo (pp, very quiet). Also the normal abbreviation for Pianoforte." (you need to click on "pianoforte" to pull up the full definition of the 88-key instrument definition - it links directly from the 'piano' definition). Still, this can be a helpful resource when you need to find a quick musical definition. The magazine itself is a terrific resource for news in the classical music world, and one i'm going to be visiting a lot more frequently from now on. No Trackbacks | Digg this Bookmark this post on del.icio.us. Submit this post on reddit.com. Submit this post on furl.net.l Bookmark this post on Google. Bookmark this post on Yahoo. Add this post to Technorati Favorites Add post text to Rojo Add this to Co.mments Add this post to Newsvine Add this post to Scuttle Add this post to Shadows Add this to Simpy Add this to Spurl Add this to Squidoo Add this to Stumbleupon

    March 06, 06

    Links to Hugh's Recordings

    I get asked a lot about the CD's i've made - now with this blog up and running at full steam, i can finally direct folks to my catalogue! (Note the added item in the left menu column, right under the "Meet the Authors" section.) All of the posted recordings are available through Amazon.com - when i hear of other vendors, i'll post their links as well. Some recordings are either out of stock or awaiting re-issuing, so i'll post news on those as soon as i hear of their status.
    Feel free to leave feedback, good and bad! I have my personal favorites (and some that i'd rather bury under a rock), but that's for me to know and you to find out (hahahaha!) The posts are currently incomplete - missing CD cover images, program info, additional performer/composer names, etc. - i'll try to get around to posting more detailed info on each recording as time permits.

    Enjoy! No Trackbacks | Digg this Bookmark this post on del.icio.us. Submit this post on reddit.com. Submit this post on furl.net.l Bookmark this post on Google. Bookmark this post on Yahoo. Add this post to Technorati Favorites Add post text to Rojo Add this to Co.mments Add this post to Newsvine Add this post to Scuttle Add this post to Shadows Add this to Simpy Add this to Spurl Add this to Squidoo Add this to Stumbleupon

    The Student Tablet PC Tips Contest

    Check this out! Tracy Hooten is running an amazing "contest" on the StudentTabletPC.com website for Tablet PC (and other tech) tips and tricks! Submitter with the most tips gets a nice little batch of prizes - check out my 35 (so far) submissions - no way i'm going to catch up to one of those UBER posters, but maybe i can eek out 2nd...or 3rd...or 6th prize...ahem...but the best prize is one that everyone gets, mainly: learning more about how to make an already amazing tool even more useful/helpful/productive/fun! No Trackbacks | Digg this Bookmark this post on del.icio.us. Submit this post on reddit.com. Submit this post on furl.net.l Bookmark this post on Google. Bookmark this post on Yahoo. Add this post to Technorati Favorites Add post text to Rojo Add this to Co.mments Add this post to Newsvine Add this post to Scuttle Add this post to Shadows Add this to Simpy Add this to Spurl Add this to Squidoo Add this to Stumbleupon

    Links! Links! Links!

    i have a confession to make: i'm an ignoramus when it comes to news from the Classical Music World. It's easy to become insular when you regularly brush elbows with some of the biggest figures in classical music, but i'm now beginning to realize how myopic i've been for so long. My daily news feeds are chocked full of visits to tech sites and blogs like Wired Magazine Online, Tablet PC Buzz, JKOnTheRun, The Student Tablet PC, CNet, etc. etc. etc., but virtually nil with regard to Arts/Classical Music-related news, save for occasional pieces appearing in the New York Times online edition or CNN.com. Well, it's time to rectify that - hence, my new link sets added to the left column of this site:
  • Classical Music News

  • Classical Music Blogs

  • I'll work on re-organizing my tech links as well in the coming days/weeks. For now, i have a LOT of reading to catch up on to get familiar with the present-day buzz that's circulating in the Classical Music Online World.
    BTW, i forgot to mention: if you'd like me to add your name to my "favorite musicians" link table, send me an email! You'll need to have a website (let me know if you need help setting one up) - i hope to set up a banner that can be used for link exchange sometime soon (perhaps i can work on it during my flight to Florida next week...)
    What an amazing, inter-connected world we live in now!
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    OrchestrAid?

    Found an interested whitepaper on what appears to be a Georgia Tech student software project called OrchestrAid involving Tablet PC's and student orchestra pedagogy - i found the description of 'built-in tuner' particularly interesting, along with using webcams focused on mouths and hands for better technique, enabling conductors to zap feedback to players that need correction, auto rest notifications (something that i would find really helpful) letting you know when long stretches rests are about to be completed, among other great ideas...wonder if this project ever got off the ground? It was posted in October of 2005...i'll try emailing the author...
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    March 04, 06

    New Blog Category: "Idly Running"

    Announcing a new set of 'mini blogs' that i'll post from time to time describing how i use those idle moments - riding the train, waiting in line, sitting at the airport, etc. - to be the most productive.
    Today's "Idle Run":
    Idle: Riding PATCO to work
    Run:
  • updated my Flute Audition files by adding text names to each of the applicants' files (i had scanned all their paper applications and ported them into OneNote to collect all their audition repertoire info) - this will make it easier for me to quickly search their names during today's auditions and pull up their repertoire in a flash

  • pulled up some missing repertoire from my Virtual CD copy of my CD Sheet Music 'Flute Solos' CD - i needed to have two sonatas of CPE Bach's added to my 'Flute Audition' folder. Other than that, i think i have all the repertoire ready to go (yesterday's PATCO ride saw me adding movement heading bookmarks to all my repertoire PDF's)

  • ran Microsoft's "SyncToy" to synchronize all my files onto my Toshiba 60 gig portable hard drive - i promise, i promise, a nice little review of this great portable drive soon...
  • caught up on a personal email to a guest who visited our church last Sunday - she wanted info on my recordings, so i used my Samsung i730 PDA Phone to type out an email message directing her to this site (check out links to Aaron Rosand and Jeffrey Khaner for info on purchasing CD's that i've been involved with) - the i730, as i mentioned before, features EVDO wireless broadband on the Verizon network. What a great way to catch up on messages!

  • 'Til my next "idle run"...now i have to get ready for a full day of flute auditions (40 applicants...yikes...) No Trackbacks | Digg this Bookmark this post on del.icio.us. Submit this post on reddit.com. Submit this post on furl.net.l Bookmark this post on Google. Bookmark this post on Yahoo. Add this post to Technorati Favorites Add post text to Rojo Add this to Co.mments Add this post to Newsvine Add this post to Scuttle Add this post to Shadows Add this to Simpy Add this to Spurl Add this to Squidoo Add this to Stumbleupon

    My foot has seen the light - Griffin Technology's PowerMate




    This is what happens when you spend two hours talking on the phone with a technology specialist like Barry Brahier - you end up with a better footswitch! I was asking Barry if he knew of any wireless programmable footswitches for my Tablet PC - he didn't, but then had a flash of inspiration: what about a $45 knob?
    Huh?
    He was talking about Griffin Technology's PowerMate, one of those devices that seems to be too simple to explain - it's a push button rotating dial - and seemingly as usless as a doorknob with a wire, until you realize that this thing is programmable, made out of solid aluminum, makes virtually NO SOUND when you push the button, sports a silicone base, and the creme de la resistance: it has a cool pulsing blue light that glows along the bottom!
    Barry has shown me the perfect footswitch!
    [3/27/06 Note: I just added a flash tutorial to show how to set up the PowerMate's software settings to turn pages within Adobe Acrobat documents.]

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    March 03, 06

    www.laptopartist.com

    Here's something i dug up on my latest surfing expedition -

    www.laptopartist.com

    Here's what the site reads when you visit their front door:

    "laptopartist.com is a forum dedicated to the discussion of laptop music, art, design & video production on laptop computers, hand helds, and other portable devices. feel free to discuss techniques, live performance, production tips and get help from your peers."

    Sounds like a friendly place for musical tech geeks like me! I'll pop in and drop a post or two when i get a chance! No Trackbacks | Digg this Bookmark this post on del.icio.us. Submit this post on reddit.com. Submit this post on furl.net.l Bookmark this post on Google. Bookmark this post on Yahoo. Add this post to Technorati Favorites Add post text to Rojo Add this to Co.mments Add this post to Newsvine Add this post to Scuttle Add this post to Shadows Add this to Simpy Add this to Spurl Add this to Squidoo Add this to Stumbleupon

    Parody is the best - or worst - form of flattery...

    Oh, boy - i had heard about this video, taken during the last Holiday Party at Curtis - the students are in charge of the 'entertainment', and can come up with some really creative - and really wacky - performances and skits! I finally got around to seeing it...here's what i guess i look like through students' eyes...


    <A HREF="http://hughsung.com/images/curtisholidayparty2005.wmv"></A>


    Can't view the clip? Download the player plug-in from Microsoft

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    Jeffrey Khaner's performance of the Rouse Flute Concerto

    Just got back after seeing Jeff perform the Rouse Flute Concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Kimmel Center - he was simply unbelievable! The orchestra did a fantastic job putting a very difficult score together, and it was a real treat to hear from Mr. Rouse onstage speaking about his piece, describing the compositional arc he designed, with the keystone of the piece being influenced by that horrific incident back in the mid 90's when a pair 10-year old boys abducted a 2-year old from a shopping mall and murdered him brutally. I had tears in my eyes as the piece drew to a close - what colorations! what textures! i have no idea how my work with the piano reduction could have had any semblance with the true orchestral score, or how in the world it could be remotely helpful to rehearse with...but there i was with my wife and two friends, sitting in the orchestra box (right in front of Mr. Rouse!), thanks to the heroic efforts of the Philadelphia Orchestra staff to get me comp tickets from both Jeff and Maestro Eschenbach...wow, what an evening! Congratulations to Jeff, Maestro Eschenbach, and Mr. Rouse for reminding all of us of the amazing power music has to move the heart and stir the soul! No Trackbacks | Digg this Bookmark this post on del.icio.us. Submit this post on reddit.com. Submit this post on furl.net.l Bookmark this post on Google. Bookmark this post on Yahoo. Add this post to Technorati Favorites Add post text to Rojo Add this to Co.mments Add this post to Newsvine Add this post to Scuttle Add this post to Shadows Add this to Simpy Add this to Spurl Add this to Squidoo Add this to Stumbleupon

    March 02, 06

    Video: Elgar Violin Concerto with Xi Chen, Violinist

    Here's a new video - much more recent (Feb. 10. 2006) - of me accompanying a fantastic violinist, Xi Chen.


    <A HREF="http://hughsung.com/images/Elgar.wmv"></A>


    Can't view the clip? Download the player plug-in from Microsoft

    This is a pretty large file, so it might take a while to load up (about 31 MB in size...) - i'll try to post a lower res version soon. You'll see how i make my stage entrance with the tablet pc in hand - you'll also see how i set up my footswitch under the piano. The camera goes a little funky near the beginning of the video, but then settles in...

    Let me know what you think! Enjoy!

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    All my eggs...

    Sigh - more hosting server problems this morning...good to see that the database is up and running again, but it was a headache for an hour or so...sorry for the downtime, i just upgraded my hosting service plan...hopefully that will help keep these "tech tanks" down to a minimum. Hope to upload a new video soon, so stay tuned! No Trackbacks | Digg this Bookmark this post on del.icio.us. Submit this post on reddit.com. Submit this post on furl.net.l Bookmark this post on Google. Bookmark this post on Yahoo. Add this post to Technorati Favorites Add post text to Rojo Add this to Co.mments Add this post to Newsvine Add this post to Scuttle Add this post to Shadows Add this to Simpy Add this to Spurl Add this to Squidoo Add this to Stumbleupon

    Project MIDI

    Warning! Warning! Danger, Will Robinson - raw coding ahead! This link is not for those tech-queasy folks - but it is fascinating reading if you like open-heart surgery, open-case motherboard installations, etc...

    Project MIDI

    The author uses MIDI controllers (like a keyboard or an electronic drum pad) to trigger page turns on his Tablet PC displaying music. Cool! No Trackbacks | Digg this Bookmark this post on del.icio.us. Submit this post on reddit.com. Submit this post on furl.net.l Bookmark this post on Google. Bookmark this post on Yahoo. Add this post to Technorati Favorites Add post text to Rojo Add this to Co.mments Add this post to Newsvine Add this post to Scuttle Add this post to Shadows Add this to Simpy Add this to Spurl Add this to Squidoo Add this to Stumbleupon

    March 01, 06

    100 Prayers

    Yesterday morning, as i was driving my youngest son to pre-school, he complained that he had "another bad dream". I suggested that we pray and ask God to help him sleep well and take away his bad dreams. I heard a tiny reply, "I don't wanna pray...i don't like praying..."
    "Why not? God made you, He takes care of you, provides everything you need, saves you from sin...He loves you, so shouldn't you be happy that you can pray to Him?"
    "...I don't like praying..."
    Well, by that point, we were driving into the pre-school drop-off curb, so we left it at that.

    This morning, on our way to pre-school, i tried a different approach...
    "Hey, Timmy! Let's thank God for the sunshine!"
    He replied, "Okay!"
    "Dear God, thank You for the sunshine! In Jesus' name, Amen!"
    "Amen!" he chirped.
    "Good! What else can we thank God for?"
    "Ummmm...our home?"
    "Sure, that sounds great! 'Dear God, thank You for our home! In Jesus' name, Amen.' Anything else? How about Mommy?"
    "Yeah! Yeah! 'Dear God, thank You for Mommy. In Jesus' name, Amen.' "
    "Very good, Timmy! What else?"
    "Paul, Eric, and Grandma..."
    (prayers continue, with Timmy taking the lead)
    "Anything else?"
    "Yeah - how about that sign?" (he was pointing to a street sign)
    "Sure - 'Dear God, thank You for the street sign. In Jesus' name, Amen... "
    We thanked God for cars, for computers, for eggs, etc etc etc...I've never heard him chirp out prayers so happily - i think we just found a new morning drive routine! No Trackbacks | Digg this Bookmark this post on del.icio.us. Submit this post on reddit.com. Submit this post on furl.net.l Bookmark this post on Google. Bookmark this post on Yahoo. Add this post to Technorati Favorites Add post text to Rojo Add this to Co.mments Add this post to Newsvine Add this post to Scuttle Add this post to Shadows Add this to Simpy Add this to Spurl Add this to Squidoo Add this to Stumbleupon

    Argh...hosting server crash last night...

    My apologies...my domain hosting server seemed to be down last night for several hours, making this website inaccessible...in their defense, i've been with them for several years now with other websites i've created and never noticed that happen before. they've been great with customer support - timely response, helpful communications...so i'm giving them the benefit of the doubt. still, it's not fun when tech tanks...even when it's not your fault!
    (My wife was happy to see me getting to sleep earlier instead of being glued in front of the computer monitor...well, tech-tanks can be good for something, i guess...) No Trackbacks | Digg this Bookmark this post on del.icio.us. Submit this post on reddit.com. Submit this post on furl.net.l Bookmark this post on Google. Bookmark this post on Yahoo. Add this post to Technorati Favorites Add post text to Rojo Add this to Co.mments Add this post to Newsvine Add this post to Scuttle Add this post to Shadows Add this to Simpy Add this to Spurl Add this to Squidoo Add this to Stumbleupon

    a look behind the curtain: the eStand is a Tablet PC!

    Whoah! I feel like Keanu Reeves watching Lawrence Fishburne jump across skyscrapers - i just stumbled across the eStand digital music system, and what do you know? It's actually a Tablet PC! Cool!

    I had heard about this system several years ago being introduced to symphony orchestras, but hadn't been following along - apparently they utilize a Gateway Tablet PC with a 14 inch display, which should make for some VERY comfortable reading -
    One problem might be the weight, as it seems the unit tips the scales at a whopping 6 pounds (my Fujitsu Tablet PC is only about 3) - that might be too bulky for some folks, but it might be worth it for the extra screen real estate.

    The eStand website store seems to carry software that's compatible with the Tablet PC platform, as well as a variety of USB foot switches for turning pages - i'm particularly intrigued with the 'silent bumber' model (do they mean, silent BUMPER? hahaha) i'll try to email them to see if it's programmable to emulate regular keystrokes (like PgDn or PgUp), or if it's locked into using their proprietary software only. The major ouch factor for the footswitch is the price: $199! Whoah indeed - i buy my Delcom footswitches for a little over $37 each!

    The fascinating part of the software is the networking capabilities - i'd really intruiged as to how this works in realtime with a group of eStand tablet pc in a chamber music/orchestra setting. Is it a single document sync? Or can everyone annotate their respective parts and see the changes simultaneously on everyone else's parts?

    If you're looking for a pre-built all-in-one Tablet PC system specifically for musicians, you should seriously consider this model. I'll try to send over some FAQ emails to the manufacturer to see if they can shed more light on this interesting product!

    (btw, for some serious catfighting, check out their self-comparisons with Freehand Systems' Musicpad Pro...yeow, i'll stay out of that arena, thank you very much!)

    Here's a link to a press release about the eStand - looks like it was dated Jan 19 2006 No Trackbacks | Digg this Bookmark this post on del.icio.us. Submit this post on reddit.com. Submit this post on furl.net.l Bookmark this post on Google. Bookmark this post on Yahoo. Add this post to Technorati Favorites Add post text to Rojo Add this to Co.mments Add this post to Newsvine Add this post to Scuttle Add this post to Shadows Add this to Simpy Add this to Spurl Add this to Squidoo Add this to Stumbleupon

    Tips for travelling light with OneBag.com

    Wow, just saw a post about this website from Lifehacker - tips for travelling light on www.OneBag.com. I still remember my very first Japan tour - i think i lugged around 3 huge suitcases, 2 carry-on bags, AND a 66-key touch-velocity Roland keyboard (with a wooden frame, believe it or not)...it's a wonder i was able to play at all during that tour, huffing and puffing through the airports with that freight-load of luggage! (Aaron Rosand just rolled his eyes at my travelling naivete :P ) - ok, ok, that was a LONG time ago - nowadays, i try to pack everything literally into one bag, two at the most, ALWAYS carry-on to the plane (i HATE checking in luggage!) A huge help towards that end is the fact that i no longer carry paper music around! I'm definitely going to read up on this site to learn more about packing more efficiently for my upcoming trips - the perfect resource for the travelling musician!
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    Welcome!

    Thank you for visiting this site! I hope you'll find this to be a friendly place to learn about and discuss the fascinating technologies available for the Classical Musician. A great place to get started is with the ongoing "Getting Started" series. Remember, the worst questions are the ones you never ask, so feel free to email me!

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