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week 1 – intro & soundtrap

How These Blogs Will Be Formatted

“People become better critical thinkers by making their learning public.” – James Humberstone

Have given way too much thought to this, but essentially will take notes in my notebook during class like normal, then will organise them into a blog post for each week:
– reflecting on the different ideas I find particularly intriguing
– jotting down the new technical information, and
– collecting the works I’ve created,
all grouped under their own subheadings.

Mindfulness and Meditation

“Every time you open your phone you’re playing roulette with a million dollar AI fighting for your attention.” – James Humberstone

I enjoy the apparent juxtaposition of beginning a technology in music education course with mindfulness. It was a useful reminder to myself to allow myself to concentrate on one thing at a time, instead of often going back and forth between my phone, the internet, and different tasks.

James’ recommended mindfulness apps:

Fun Miscellaneous Tech Tips

To create an email alias: add +no. to your email address. Eg: Watch out scribd, here I come with unlimited one month free trials. [20/3/20 UPDATE: due to covid-19, scribd has provided 30 days free. It’s probably also a marketing tactic, but I’ll take it.]

To encrypt a password: I believe James used a chrome extension, but here’s a website.

To make a link shorter: Use bitly.

New Words

MIDI vs Audio: MIDI translates into notation (a piano roll, such as in Ableton Live, is notation!) (also into programs like Sibelius and Musescore, etc). MIDI can be edited, and played directly into a DAW/notation program with a MIDI keyboard. Audio is normal recorded (or generated) sound.

Stem: a group of audio sources that have been mixed together, to be understood as one unit for delivery.

Sequencer vs DAW: Program for creating music. Sequencer was originally for MIDI, DAW for audio. Now they do both, and are used interchangeably.


Unfortunately I struggle to consume any media through audio, hyperacusis (super sensitive ears) means I can’t listen to anything on headphones for long. Regardless I’d like to get the chance sometime, so! Recommendations:

  • James’ podcast, Music Zettel (shenanigans from last year’s SPW residency feature in ep.8!)
  • Not a podcast, but I got distracted on his blog and want to read Class, Control, and Classical Music now. Been thinking about classism in classical music (and therefore, in music education) lately.

Soundtrap Features

Loops Browser! Not only fun to play with, but can be great for classroom music creating. Anyone can create something that sounds good to them, and can teach about texture and structure. Can also create your own loops in soundtrack and have students create songs with these, or remix your loops, or share what they’ve been making with their classmates! My attempt at editing some Soundtrap-made loops is as follows:

Playing on the MIDI keyboard imports sound directly into Soundtrap! I enjoy this way of making music, here’s a drum track I created that way:

Can also create assignments, and help students get started with templates instead of having to deal with blank page syndrome.

Further Explorations

Have been writing a song for my boyfriend, but struggled to produce it while not in Sydney, having only my laptop and a notebook with me. I gave it a go on notation programs, but am keen to try creating it on Soundtrap instead!


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