music

App of the Week: Anylist —> Grocery Shopping and travel preparation has never been easier

This week’s App of the Week is AnyList.

AnyList is an app for making lists. Why use this? I already have Reminders for basic lists, Due for persistent tasks, OmniFocus for project management, and ToDoist for team collaboration. AnyList solves a grab bag of miscellaneous use cases for me, and offers a handful of other compelling features.

I started out needing a fuss-free list app that could allow me to manage reoccurring lists where I need to uncheck the entire list at the end of a process and start over, without recreating the list. This is useful for repeat grocery list items and a travel packing lists. AnyList was amongst the top recommended apps in this category, so I gave it a download.

On the surface, AnyList offers exactly what I wished for. The user-interface is not bad, but it at least looks like it belongs on iOS. A point in its favor. It works well for grocery lists, but also travel lists. As I continue to promote my book at state level music conferences numerous times a year, I am somehow still a really stressful traveler. Having a stock travel list that I can depend on has been instrumental in my ability to manage these trips and be a sane music educator at the same time. The simple feature of unchecking every item on my list and starting from scratch every time I am preparing for a trip is a game changer for me.

Next, I began to investigate the premium features ---> AnyList is also able to import from the Apple Reminders app, integrate with Amazon Echo, share lists with other users, manage grocery shopping, and manage meal planning. I decided to give the premium subscription a go. 

The Apple Reminders import is great. This allows me to keep my “Grocery” list in the Reminders app. I can say “add eggs to my grocery list” and Siri will add it to Apple Reminders. When I open AnyList, it imports items from that exact list into its own database. AnyList also supports Siri natively so I could say “add eggs to my grocery list with AnyList” and it would do the same thing more directly (though with a fussier syntax). Adding items from the Echo is very convenient as I am often in the kitchen when I realize I need something and can now just speak into the thin air, even if my hands are full while cooking.

Syncing a shared grocery list with my wife is a rock solid experience with AnyList. It happens very fast, and I have never had any duplicate copies. AnyList can also automatically organize your shopping list by which aisle of the grocery store certain items are grouped within. This orders them in a way that all allows me to check them off in store order rather than skipping around constantly. Bonus point! —> The Apple Watch version of the app is actually good, and allows me to interact with my lists smoothly and reliably without fiddling with my phone in the store. (Yes, I realize that describing an Apple Watch app as smooth and reliable is setting a low bar for watch apps).

AnyList is also a meal planner app that can parse recipes from websites, automatically add the required items to your shopping list, and walk you through the recipes step by step. (Though I still prefer the superior app, Paprika, for doing that kind of thing.)

Another bonus point! —> AnyList can be programmed to be location aware. You can tag certain shopping items by grocery store and have AnyList remind you when you are near that store. For example, some items I can only buy at Whole Foods. Therefore, I have tagged my precious Hex Ferments kimchi as such in AnyList and have set it to ping my phone when I am within distance. 

Needless to say, I am now subscribed.

Negative point! —> The AnyList Mac app is terrible and is somehow considered a “premium” feature.

None the less, try this app! 

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Adding an Index for Your Real Books in forScore

forScore 10 adds a feature that allows you to add indexes to large scores by uploading a CSV file that links the song titles to specific page numbers of the PDF. This is especially useful for real and fake books that have hundreds of songs all associated with one giant file. A competing score app called unrealBook pioneered this feature to my knowledge. I used to keep it installed on my iPad just for that one feature, but now, I can do everything I need to in forScore.

I created a video tutorial of how to accomplish this. See below:

 You can find the index files I reference in the video here

I don’t have a full technical understanding of how this feature works, so I tried to avoid explaining what is going on with the file. I think I am explaining it well enough that if you imitate my steps, you will be successful in most attempts. If there is anything unclear, let me know and I will try to clarify it in a future post.

One thing I did not cover in the video are the page offset settings at the bottom of the index settings screen. I have attached about 10 indexes to my forScore library and only twice did I need to use those buttons. In some cases, the CSV score may be offset by a few pages leading to the index not linking you to the correct songs. In these cases, I simply fiddled around with the plus and minus buttons until I got the result I wanted. I would be happy to redo the video with that step included if enough people are interested.

You kids like the wrong music

Ethan Hein back at it again with a great post deciphering the idea that it doesn’t take musical ability to be a popular singer these days…

You kids like the wrong music, part two:

It’s true, we don’t expect unamplified and unedited singing at Caruso’s level anymore. But we expect a lot of other things. For one thing, we expect singers to write their own material, which Caruso didn’t do. For another, we demand a lot of studio technique that Caruso would have found unbearably alien. To say that “edited” recordings are of intrinsically lower musical value than live recordings makes no sense. By that standard, we should require that all movies be plays that are filmed in real time. Film acting isn’t the same craft as stage acting, and unamplified stage singing isn’t the same craft as studio singing. Some people manage to master both crafts, but not many.

So much great stuff here. Read the whole thing.

Announcing My First Book ---> Digital Organization Tips for Music Teachers!

I am excited to announce that I am writing a book!

Actually, I already wrote it. Oxford University Press will publish the book, "Digital Organization Tips for Music Teachers," this Fall. It will be the first title in the series, "Essential Music Technology: The Prestissimo Series" with series editor, Richard McCready.

The book will focus on how technology can help rather than stifle productivity in the music teaching profession. It will address such topics as: minimizing paper, managing tasks, taking good notes, organizing iTunes playlists, understanding music streaming services, working in the cloud, and managing scores. The book will provide an overview of the apps and services I have found most useful in my teaching experience. It will include sample workflows for using these technologies in music teaching contexts.

Stay tuned to this site for more information. The blog has been quiet this year as I have spent more time writing the book. Upon release, I plan to write posts of a supplementary nature. I also plan to do a miniseries on my podcast that offers commentary on the book. I will be inviting many insightful guests on the show to discuss a different chapter each episode.

I also have a really fun video trailer in the works featuring some brilliant acting talent from my colleagues in the Howard County Public School System and some awesome editing work from the guys over at Four/Ten Media.

I hope you will pick up a copy when it is released.