Piano Belloso Music Studio

Media Management

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One of the many benefits of the Simply Music Piano program is that students have access to a whole variety of multimedia resources. This not only makes learning music more fun, but more effective and more motivating as the entire experience of music becomes layered and multi-dimensional. As great as the piano is by itself, I am wanting to equip students with the ability to take their lessons well beyond that.

Going Beyond the Piano

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In the studio lesson environment, you will often see me interacting with my digital piano, my iPad and a bluetooth speaker, which allows me to quickly cue backing tracks, change voices, play the Simply Music audio tracks, soundtracks, and reference musical examples via YouTube, Spotify, and other online resources.

Fully utilizing such resources provides a much richer and more fulfilling experience compared to just playing music on a laptop, iPad, or phone speakers; and I’d love for students and families to duplicate that experience at home as much as possible.


How to Use This Page

This page is a resource for students and their families who are wanting to do just that (take the studio lesson environment home…or anywhere). Below, I’ve provided a detailed guide to the overall setup of devices, media, and music players (as well as the music listening experience in general). Whether you have extensive or very limited experience with the various technological tools available, I believe you will find something of value here.

Please watch the video tutorial first, then scroll down to browse more detailed information and link to further resources.


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Home Audio Setup

What you will need, and how to set up your practice space in a way that allows quick and easy access to various media (video, audio, and soundtracks).

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Streaming Apps

Info on how to use apps and software that will allow you to stream media via an internet connection (Spotify, Google Play, Amazon Music, etc.), as well as some recommendation on cloud-based storage.

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Downloading & Offline Music Library Management

Info on how to use apps and software that will allow you to download media and store it on your computer or mobile device (with or without iTunes).

A Note About Photos & Videos

Most of this page is dedicated to managing audio. However, video and photos can play a role in both the studio and home environment (we live in a multimedia world).

 

Home Audio Setup

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In order to get the most enjoyable experience out of piano practice, I believe it’s important for students and families to take some extra steps to create an easily-accessible “music creation station.” This will include the piano or keyboard itself, of course. But there are some additional considerations such as speakers, headphones, internet access, bluetooth connectivity, and even seating ergonomics that most beginning students don’t even know about.

 
 

What Do You Need To Get Started?

In this short video Neil Moore, founder of Simply Music, discusses the most basic essentials that every student needs to get started with piano lessons. Topics discussed include what kind of piano or keyboard to purchase, the use of headphones and earbuds when practicing with audio tracks, and the need for a sustain pedal.

 
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Accessing Student Home Materials at the Piano

While you’re at the piano, you will be needing to access various media (audio and video) to watch, listen, and play along. For this reason, it’s critically important to make sure your piano or keyboard is stationed in an area of your home where internet access is available either via a wired or wi-fi (wireless) connection.

To access your student home materials, you will need a laptop, tablet, or phone with a web browser to log in to your Simply Music student account and view your library.

For those of you who are using DVDs or CDs, then you will either need your laptop, a portable DVD player, or a TV/Entertainment System nearby to play the disc.

To demonstrate the use of SHMs at the piano, I’ve created a tutorial video which you can watch at the link below:

 
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Getting the Sound Out

In the previous video, Neil discussed the use of headphones and earbuds to take advantage of soundtracks and to enhance the overall listening experience. Another option is to utilize either a Bluetooth speaker or your keyboard’s own built in speakers to play media from your device. In the following short clip, I demonstrate two such examples:

 

Streaming Apps

While there are countless apps and software that will allow you to stream media via an internet connection, below are my top recommendations for students. In addition, I’ve provided recommendations on a cloud-based storage service for files of all kinds (not just music), and an app to help you identify and find new music.

  1. jump to Spotify

  2. jump to Dropbox

  3. jump to Shazam

 
 

Spotify

While you might expect Apple Music or Google Play to be my recommendation for music service, I personally prefer Spotify for the simple reason that it is a third-party app. This means no reliance upon a particular ecosystem (Apple, Google, or Amazon) and your billing is not tied to any of those accounts. That said, if you are the type of person who likes and enjoys the interconnected architecture of Apple or Google services, then one of those might actually be better for you. If you prefer a combination of streaming music and downloading music, then again, Apple Music or Google Play might be better options (see Downloading and Offline Music Management). I like and have used all of the above myself, but ultimately Spotify won me over with the following features:

Playlists Organization

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Spotify is organized by both A.I. and user-generated playlists. These are collections of various songs by mood, style, or some other personalized category. While you can still browse songs by album and artist when you want, I prefer this method of collection and tend to listen to playlists more often than albums. This also becomes a huge factor in discovering new music. Rather than sorting through the literally thousands of new songs and artist releases available, I can quickly find something suited to my current situation or mood (ex. piano Christmas music). Spotify is also very good at recommending playlists as it gets to know what I like, which brings me to the next stand-out feature…

Recommendations and Music Discovery

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Although all streaming services are utilizing A.I. to tailor recommendations and make their suggestions more personalized, I think Spotify does it BEST. The homescreen on the app has at least two “discovery” playlists constantly updating with new music suggestions based on my listening history. I very rarely find their recommendations to be inaccurate or unenjoyable. In addition, I can “follow” artists or playlists and receive notifications when new music is released. That same music is bundled into a ongoing “New Release” playlist so I can always come back to check on it later.

Pricing

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In addition to the Free, radio-only, plan similar to Pandora, Spotify not only offers a Premium, commercial-free, plan for $9.99/mo and a FAMILY PLAN for $14.99/mo. The Family Plan is a great value and allows up to 6 completely separate Premium users for one low-cost.

You can find out more, or sign up for an account at the link below.

 
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Dropbox

Music streaming apps like Spotify offer a way to access your music (as well as podcasts and videos) from anywhere, because the app is connected to the “cloud” - the internet. But what if you are wanting to access other files, including music that you have stored on your personal computer? Cloud-storage apps like Dropbox are solving this dilemma by offering a very straight-forward “syncing” service. Not only does any file you save to Dropbox get backed up to the cloud, it can also be downloaded to any other device you setup with Dropbox. This means I can save a photo, document, or music file on my computer, and then easily access that file on my phone within seconds, and vice versa.

Although iCloud, Google Drive, and OneDrive are all services offering nearly identical features at close to the same price point (approximately $10/mo for 1 TB of storage), I’m recommending Dropbox for my students and families as, once again, it is a third-party app, not tied to a particular Google account or Apple ID. Dropbox is shareable and very customizable. It recognizes any kind of file and can be organized in pretty much any way you like. It’s flexible, affordable, and extremely useful. If you don’t already have an account, use my referral link below to sign up for a FREE Dropbox account, and get an additional 500 MB bonus storage!

 
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Shazam

One last app I’ll mention is Shazam. Not only does this app have a cool name, it also is a very handy app to have around when you hear a song you like, but don’t know what the name of the song or artist is. Shazam is a music identification app! It will tell you who the artist is, and even provide a quick way to add the song to a Spotify playlist. It also provides lyrics and links to more info about the song and the artist. Simple, but very useful. Shazam is FREE and is available on both iOS and Android devices.

 

Downloading & Offline Music Library Management

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As discussed in my Media Management Tutorial, there are certain cases where streaming music is not a viable option. This could be because your internet connection is too slow or non-existent. It can also become cumbersome to switch between various different services to access different music, rather than having a single home for accessing your library. For this reason, purchasing and downloading music directly is still quite common and unavoidable. In the tutorial, I discussed three different options for managing your music library offline, while still having the ability to sync to your devices via the cloud.

 
 

Apple iTunes (iOS)

While there are definitely other options, Apple iTunes is still one of the most robust music library management tools with cross-platform compatibility and a built in store.

If you’d like a good option to manage your digital music library (as well as CDs, Videos, Podcasts, and Apps), iTunes is a great choice, especially if you:

  • Already use iTunes,

  • Prefer Apple and iOS products, and/or

  • Primarily store and access your music from a laptop or PC

For those of you that haven’t used iTunes much, I’ve provided some helpful resources below to get you started.

DoubleTwist (Android)

If you primarily use Android devices (Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel, etc.), then I recommend downloading any of the apps from DoubleTwist (Sync, Classic Player, or Cloud Player). DoubleTwist will allow you to either sync your iTunes library to an Android OS device (Sync), or play directly from other cloud services like Dropbox and Google Drive (Cloud Player).

 
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Other Apps for iOS Users

If you’d prefer to ditch iTunes, and want something more like DoubleTwist above that allows you sync your music via Dropbox and other cloud services, there are a number of apps available on the App Store. To help you narrow the list, I provided two recommendations with a demonstration in the tutorial. Links to these recommended apps are below.

Free Version

(Try the free version and upgrade later to remove ads or access additional features)

Paid Version

$2.99

$4.99

 

A Note About Photos, Videos, and Documents

In music lessons, the majority media in the studio and home practice environment will be audio. However, there are particular contexts where both pictures and video will be helpful and even necessary. Sometimes, managing videos is supplementary, like when students watch their lessons in the Student Home Materials. Other times, students and families may be asked to record themselves and share that video with me or others in the studio. So, knowing how to interact with digital photos, videos, and documents can actually be crucial to making progress.

 
 
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Photography and Videography

First of all, the studio itself will sometimes employ photography and videography, either by the use of devices or in the hiring of professional photographers to capture various events, including public recitals and performances. This can also extend into the more private lesson environment, where I will often record students and myself interacting with the instrument. For this reason, it is important that everyone taking lessons at the studio become familiar with both my Media Release and my Privacy Policy.

 

Managing Your Digital Library

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Sharing Photos and Videos

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