Featuring Percussionist, Ben Giroux!

This time last year my private student, Ben Giroux, was off to start his first year at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD. Today, his fantastic playing can be seen on the “Lessons” section of my website.

When I redesigned my website four years ago, my original intent was to feature all of the audition tapes I have recorded and produced for my college bound private students. For those entire four years only one of these videos has been posted while numerous others sit in untouched Final Cut Pro projects.

Well, no more! I am slowly working through these projects, and today you can check out Ben’s college audition tape on my Lessons page. Or just play the video below.

Recent Podcast Episodes - "Noteflight Marketplace" and "Going Paperless"

In case you do not subscribe to either of my podcasts, each had a new episode published this past week. They are good ones...


Going Paperless (Semester 1, Episode 8) | The Class Nerd - 

This week, The Class Nerd breaks down their paperless process. In this one, we cover scanning apps, file organization, PDF annotation apps, and handwritten note apps.


Noteflight Marketplace, with Friend John Mlynczak (Season 3, Episode 6) | Robby Burns + Friends -

This week Robby catches up with John Mlynczak, Managing Director of Noteflight, about their new Marketplace platform and the state of digital music publishing.

App of the Week: AirTable

I am becoming increasingly delighted by this web based spreadsheet app, AirTable. At first sight, AirTable was a little overwhelming to me and I could not quite see its use case in my life. Then I started playing with some of the prebuilt templates and things become clear.

AirTable allows users to create Worspaces which are little repositories of databases, which AirTable refers to as bases. A base is kind of like an Excel spreadsheet, only with very colorful, engaging, and customizable fields. Inside a base, you can have multiple databases (which kind of appear at first like sheets within an Excel doc). You can interact with the fields in your databases in a variety of methods beyond just simply typing text into them. You can create a place for an image, a place to add tags, check boxes, and more. One of the things I have been using AirTable to track is coffee that I like. Notice in the image below how colorful and interactive these documents are. 

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When I first started playing with this, I was floored when I noticed that one of the customizable fields can be set to mirror a record from another database. For example, in my coffee base I can have one database of roasters and another database of coffee. I can create a field in the coffee database called "roasters" that associates the coffee records with the roaster records that they correspond to. Upon this discovery, I realized- this is a relational database 1 for normal people! Cool stuff. 

 Cross referencing coffee databases.

Cross referencing coffee databases.

AirTable has unlimited possible use cases. Most of my bases right now are great for tracking information when I need just a little bit more data and organizational power than a note app can handle. Another example of how I am using it is to plan my familie’s travel. Check out my family travel base below. I have one database of cities to visit, another of places to see, and a field to associate the two together. The date, cost, photo, and tagging fields make this a far more interactive and media rich process than writing it down in a note. Not to mention I can keep way more data visible at a time, without being overwhelmed by the clinical style of an Excel style spreadsheet. Did I mention that AirTable is collaborative!? Notice that I share this travel planning base with my wife, who can also add records, edit fields, and more.

 Sharing the load of family trip planning is easy with AirTable’s collaborative features.

Sharing the load of family trip planning is easy with AirTable’s collaborative features.

My podcast host Craig McClellan has a fantastic overview of AirTable which features a far better description of how it functions conceptually than I am doing justice here. Craig is using this app to track certain elements of his students progress in the classroom, which you will get to hear all about on a coming episode of The Class Nerd podcast. It is really innovative and worth reading about if you want to get a better handle on the app or learn how to automate it.

Check out AirTable here for iOS and here for Android.



    1    For those of you unfamiliar, a relational database (like FileMaker) is software that allows you to create multiple Excel like spreadsheets that you can link data between. Once you have created meaningful relationships between these different records, you can use tools to build user interface tools overtop this data so that you can interact with it more like an app (with buttons and text fields) rather than like a spreadsheet. Filemaker used to make a simple version of this software for the Mac called Bento which for me struck the perfect balance of this idea. Obviously, not that many felt this way. It was discontinued in 2013.

Drummin Dragons Technology Presentation

I am thrilled to be presenting at Howard Community College's Drummin Draggons music camp today. I will be sharing a number of apps that I use to practice effectively. Friend and colleague, Tim McKay, puts on this awesome camp every year. I am glad to be joining as a clinician.

If you are a student at this camp (or not), you can find links to download all of the apps I discussed today here: Drummin Dragons Technology Presentation | July 26, 2018 | Robby Burns