Pipe Dream?

At a recent in service there were requests from many of my colleagues for instructors to be issued with laptops (pre-loaded with Sibelius score writing software). Our co-ordinator, Peter Antonelli, asked that anyone who already uses their own laptop in lessons email him a description of use. It was agreed that I would post details here and send Peter a link.


  • Calendar (including reminder function) for noting report deadlines, quality assurance, exams, concerts, East Lothian rehearsals
  • Reporting (preparing txt to paste into Filemaker) – we need to save time as access to intranet via school computer (the only route) can be extremely limited
  • Auxiliary record of work – speed of typing and the impossibility of running out of space means that more detail can be included – abbreviations, whose meaning are lost to PTs (and sometimes after the event even to me) can be avoided. Copy/paste as relevant here as it is elsewhere.
  • Compiling SQA programmes including timings, negotiating order of pieces with pupil etc.

Solo repertoire

  • Having own edition of music with preferred fingering, written technical advice/reminders, personal layout choices for ease of reading – e.g. section numbers for ease of finding place – new phrases beginning at the left of the page
  • highlighting or excluding any passage e.g. a paraphrase of the great Scottish folk song “O you play the blue notes and I’ll play the black ones, And I’ll reach bar sixteen before you….”
  • highlighting top or bass notes
  • moving all notes to single pitch to concentrate solely on rhythm
  • having and altering a metronome (click track) for play-along
  • extracting midi file for pupils (usually several at a variety of speeds)
  • extracting passages to create exercises for specific technical points which arise
  • ties – one version with only played notes visible – another with played and held notes visible (sorry for the jargon – no way round this one)

Ensemble repertoire

  • using a file as virtual ensemble in lessons
  • being able to add to or subtract from pupils individual part with their agreement (resaving under their name before extracting to print)
  • preparation of midi files for pupils to take home and also for posting on Exc-el


  • playing pupils an extract of a professional recording of a piece on which they are working e.g. in iTunes
  • playing interesting while tidying up – things which may have come up in conversation in the lesson
  • preparation of supplementary theory handouts
  • preventing pupils from excluding an unpractised piece from the lesson by “forgetting it”
  • Countdown spelling game for concepts and musical terms i.e. spell out the word letter by letter in the hope that someone will recognise it before you get too far into the word

This final use often leads to short discussion about the component parts of the word where separating them out with the spacebar is a great help. I feel that those with an interest in language are more likely to retain the word thereafter. Were we connected to the internet in our rooms, I should love to access my favourite etymological website so that pupils might see from where some the names of concepts arise. Here are a few examples for your delectation:

syncopation   anacrusis   harmony   melody   rhythm   cadence   counterpoint

(I can see a new idea for an additional page on the blog emerging)

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