Virtual Drum Kit

Tuesday 20 March, 2012

Here’s an awesome online virtual drum kit that you can play using your computer keyboard!

Click the picture above to go to

Try the “Michael Bland” kit to begin with. He’s been the drummer for Prince since 1989. Click “play” and then use the following keys to get a beat started:

X = hihat

V = snare drum

B = bass drum

Try a basic rock beat using the keys above to play the following pattern:

X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X       (left hand)

        V              V          (right hand)

B          B  B                   (right hand)


YouTube Symphony Orchestra, Sydney

Friday 1 April, 2011

YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011

The YouTube Symphony Orchestra (YTSO) is the world’s first online collaborative orchestra. Initially I thought musicians would be playing all over the world at the same time to create a concert. But later I found out that the internet was merely for the auditioning process.

Still the YTSO crunched some impressive numbers during it’s second concert on 20th March 2011 at the Sydney Opera House. The concert was streamed 33 million times to 189 different countries, making it one of the most viewed streamed events to date. The orchestra comprised of 101 musicians from 33 countries around the world. They rehearsed and performed in Sydney for a week, culminating in a 3 1/2 hour Grand Finale concert (see video below).

Download the official videos here

Download the official pictures here

Perfect Pitch Test

Sunday 18 April, 2010

Absolute Pitch @ Wikipedia

Okay, you’ve heard that the test of a good musician is a good ear. Let’s see how you do…

Click here for the Perfect Pitch and Relative Pitch Tests

Perfect pitch (or absolute pitch) means you can identify a note’s pitch by hearing it on its own. Relative pitch means you can identify a note’s pitch when given a known note before it, which basically means you can work out the interval between the two notes.

Click here for the Distorted Tunes Test

A much easier test to see if you can identify a tune that stays within the same key (tonal centre).

Music Copyright for Schools ~ Print Music

Sunday 7 March, 2010

Information for Schools @ APRA-AMCOS website

Music copyright has been a constant source of frustration for me as a music teacher! So I am listing my investigations to make it clearer to me.

I stumbled across the Teachers and Schools brochure (PDF file) put out by Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI) whose aim it is to raise awareness of music piracy in Australia. At the end, it lists the main copyright authorities and their relevant licences:

  1. AMCOS/ ARIA Schools’ Recording Licence – Allows copying of music in specified situations.
    All government schools in Australia are covered by the licence, and private schools may also be covered through an agreement with their peak education body.
  2. AMCOS Schools’ Photocopying Licence – Allows photocopying of sheet music (limits apply).
    All government schools are covered by the licence. If you teach at a non-government school you should check with your peak education body whether your school is covered.
  3. PPCA Public Performance Licence – Covers the public performance of sound recordings.
    Your school must contact PPCA to obtain the relevant licence. Alternatively, your school can contact the relevant copyright owner directly.
  4. APRA Public Performance Licence – Covers the public performance of musical works.
    All government schools are covered by the licence and most other schools in Australia are covered through an agreement with their peak education body. Check with your peak education body if unsure.

As photocopying music for the classroom is one of the most important areas for me as an educator, I am listing the rules I have found from the MIPI Teachers and Schools brochure, the AMCOS website, the AMCOS Music Copyright for Schools brochure and the AMCOS Print Music Guide.

  1. Your school must own the original sheet music (i.e. not just the teacher).
  2. Licenses cost 59.43 cents per student. Government schools are automatically covered, Non-Government school teachers should check with their relevant peak body. In my case, $250 will cover my 420 students (mandatory course, elective courses and ensembles).
  3. Each copy must be stamped with “AMCOS Licensed Copy”, the school’s name, the date and the copy number (eg. 1/15).
  4. Private music tutors are not covered by the AMCOS Schools’ Photocopying Licence.
  5. Private music tutors are not allowed to photocopy music from the school library for their students.
  6. Digital copying, scanning and computer storage is not covered under the licence.
  7. Print music may be copied for the classroom, instrumental ensembles and singing groups within the school.
  8. Copies may be lent to other schools if performing together, but must be returned at the end of the event.
  9. Copies may not be lent to private music tutors, community groups, churches or for students’ external music exams.
  10. The AMCOS licence does not cover copying textbooks, dictionaries, method books, theory books, libretti and more than 3 songs from a stage production.
  11. Photocopies of photocopies may only be made to replace lost, stolen or destroyed copy.
  12. The Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) licence only covers up to 10% of a music work.
  13. The CAL licences does cover up to 10% for digital copying only if it is not commercially available, or is too expensive, or takes too long to order (how ridiculous!).
  14. Copies may be given to students for home practice, but are not in addition to the allowable copy limits (listed below).
  15. Song books with words are not covered and you will need to contact the music publishers (including Christmas carols).

The following table lists how many copies may be made in relation to how many originals the school owns:

Type of Work
Primary School High School
Separate Choral Sheet 5 5
Separate Musical Work 30 15
Up to 3 Songs from a Collection 30 15
Transcription of a Musical Work 30 15
Transposition of a Musical Work 30 15
Parts from an Orchestral/Band Set 30 30
Up to 3 Works from
an Orchestral/Band Set Collection
30 each 30 each
Parts from a Chamber Music Work
(with a maximum of 1 per instrument)
10 10

Right, so that’s about as much details as I can be bothered with. Perhaps in a later post I will detail the other half of music copyright for schools …performance!

Beethoven’s 9th Symphony in D minor (Op. 125)

Monday 21 December, 2009

Ludwig van Beethoven @ Wikipedia

Ludwig van Beethoven‘s “Choral” Symphony No. 9 in D minor (Op. 125) was the last symphony he wrote. It is one of the most famous pieces, if not the most famous, in Western classical music. It was completed in 1824 when he was 53 years of age, three years before his death.

Beethoven’s 9th Symphony is the first example of a major composer using voices. He uses both an SATB choir and vocal quartet comprising of Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Baritone voices. These appear only in the final 4th movement where we hear the familiar “Ode to Joy” tune. The words were adopted from a poem by Friedrich von Schiller.

Interestingly, Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” tune is used as the “Anthem of Europe“, most notably for the European Union. It is officially played as an instrumental only, and at a much slower tempo than the original.

Below are three videos excerpts of the famous final movement, conducted by one of the world’s most famous conductors Leonard Bernstein. It was recorded in the Konzerthaus Berlin in 1989. Underneath the first two videos are the German text with English translation under each section. Enjoy!




Baritone (solo) (Presto)

O Freunde, nicht diese Töne
Sondern laßt uns angenehmere anstimmen
Und freudenvollere


Oh friends, not these tones
Rather, let us raise our voices in more pleasing
And more joyful sounds

Baritone (solo) with Chorus (Allegro assai)

Freude! Freude!


Joy! Joy!

Baritone (solo)

Freude, schöner Götterfunken
Tochter aus Elysium
Wir betreten feuertrunken
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum

Deine Zauber binden wieder
Was die Mode streng geteilt
Alle Menschen werden Brüder
Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt


Joy, beautiful spark of gods
Daughter of Elysium
We enter drunk with fire
Heavenly one, your sanctuary

Your magic binds again
What custom strictly divided
All men become brothers
Where your gentle wing rests


Deine Zauber binden wieder
Was die Mode streng geteilt
Alle Menschen werden Brüder
Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt


Your magic binds again
What custom strictly divided
All men become brothers
Where your gentle wing rests

Read the rest of this entry »

Why Music Matters – Dr. Jack Stamp

Friday 27 November, 2009

Dr. Jack Stamp is Professor of Music at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania‘s College of Fine Arts. In the audio clip above he speaks of how music, particularly playing in a band, gives us what no other area can… “technical perfection” and “emotion”. He also speaks of why 95% can be an “A” in one subject area, but a “Fail” in music. Hope you enjoy!

Piano Stairs in Sweden

Tuesday 17 November, 2009

Click title to go to

Here is an awesome clip of some piano stairs in a Swedish train station. I think it is a fantastic way to promote commuter interaction and add some fun to the ordinary and mundane activity of going to and from work or school.

From the creators: “We believe that the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better is by making it fun to do. We call it The fun theory”

I hope you enjoy the clip as much as I did!

Dizzler – Free Online Music Player

Sunday 25 October, 2009

Click for

Sick of trying to find songs on YouTube?!

Why not access thousands of songs for free with‘s online music player!

Dizzler allows you to search through thousands of song titles and artists simply by typing in the search box. The songs stream through your browser from locations all over the internet, there’s lots of all full-length tracks and it’s completely free!

You can also search by genre, for video clips and song lyrics. Genres include rock, pop, jazz and classical. If you sign up for a free account, you can even create playlists. is a similar site based in France. Although it looks much cleaner, includes album artwork and allows you to stream songs through iTunes, there seems to be a lot less songs to choose from, and song choice is definitely the most important aspect for a music library to have.

Leave a comment if you love it or hate it!

Online Virtual Keyboards

Thursday 15 October, 2009

Have you ever wanted to quickly find the starting note for a song?

Have you ever wished you could check the pitch of something online?

Have you ever needed a keyboard handy to work something out?

Well… here are two cool online keyboards to help you!

~ click on the picture to go to the keyboard ~

Virtual Keyboard

Virtual Keyboard by Birmingham Grid for Learning


Virtual Piano

Virtual Piano by Crystal Magic Studio

Let me know if you find any other groovy online keyboards!

Classical Music Online

Tuesday 6 October, 2009

Classical Music @ Wikipedia

Here are a few great online classical music locations for your musical pleasure…

There are hundreds more for you to check out at Classical Webcast and Classical DJ which list classical stations from around the world.

Leave a post if you find a station you like!