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The Music Show

As I write this, I’m on a train back from The Music Show in Manchester, where I was pleased to do a brief talk on using limited music technology resources with large classes. I couldn’t make the first day of the two day event but I’ve come back from today having really enjoyed myself and I’m reminded how small the world of music education can be.  I knew that I would be bumping into David Ashworth having seen a tweet a couple of months back but I was delighted to also see David Ashworth, James Garnett, Kevin Rodgers, Lizzie Moore, Simon Lock, John Mander, Simon Foxall and Jim Frankel (apologies for anyone that I’ve missed from this list). I hadn’t realised until a few days before that the Music Mark conference was taking place in the same building at the same time, so lots of music education types were there alongside the swarms of retailers, service providers and publishers.  It was a real pleasure to see the latest and greatest things that are available to music educators and I thought I would mention a couple that stood out to me.  

No one had paid or asked me to write the below and I apologise to anyone who had a great product that I haven’t mentioned.  

Music First
I had been aware that Music First had formed as a grouping of various cloud music applications but I didn’t realise how far these products have been developed.  I’m already a big fan of Focus on Sound and it was good to have a chat with its creator, Simon Foxall after all the emails that I’ve exchanged with him.  I was delighted to find that Noteflight now works in HTML5, making it a viable product for use on mobile devices and really opening up some great possibilities for schools.  Soundation is another product that I’ve had half an eye on but the ability to control a software instrument in a cloud app with a MIDI controller with barely noticeable latency is just extraordinary. There are some very exciting things being developed when it comes to cloud music making and I hope that having a passionate team like Music First leads to an integrated database, allowing pupils to access any of the apps using just one username/password (assuming that their teachers have paid for it, of course!). I will certainly keep watching what comes next.  
Rhinegold Education
Admittedly, I’ve got a bit of a vested interest in this company considering that I’ve just contributed a chapter to their upcoming Teaching Music textbook but I was really impressed with the improved reader app that Lizzie More demonstrated to me.  I was privileged to have access to a pre-publication version and it was great to see that all of the bugs have been well and truly ironed out.  Pages turns are smooth, notes are synced across devices, music examples and videos play back smoothly.  A great product that is sure to meet the high standards that consumers have come to expect from a mobile app. 
There was plenty more that I could talk about but, for me, these were the two stand out features of the show.  Well done to the teams at both Rhinegold Education and Music First. On a weekend following a damning OfSTED report, it is reassuring to know that there are people working hard to bring us products that have the potential to make a real difference.  
The ‘zone’ where I delivered my presentation.