Archive for February, 2010

Untested Technology

February 27, 2010

One of the things I do not like about writing my own applications for one-time use is that one is never sure if everything will work correctly when the app is in its production use.  Actually, it’s not a problem if I’m the only user, but when 40 high schoolers are counting on this thing to work smoothly as they text all day what they are doing – that gets scary. (more…)


Dead White Men

February 3, 2010

I teach piano, and just about all of the music my students are expected to learn are written by dead white men.  When the listen to the radio, they hear music written by people living very far away from them.  We live in the world where composing music is very distant from your average student.

This is one of the reasons that I teach all of my piano students to compose.  Among other reasons – its fun, it helps us learn how music is constructed (thus, making it easier to learn), and, like all creative endeavors, it validates our existence on this planet.  (OK – maybe that’s a bit existential …)

So, while chatting with the band members of my residency this Monday, I mentioned that one of the reasons I compose is that I get tired of playing (or, more accurately, teaching) only music that is written by dead or far away people.

And then, a lone voice came up from the flute section in front of me.  “I wish we played more music by dead people.” (more…)

Getting the Site Working

February 3, 2010

I visited the PHS Wind Ensemble on Monday to introduce the residency.  Cool bunch!  I’m looking forward to this.  Last few days have been spent getting the technology working for this residency.  On February 27, each of the students in the PHSWE are asked to document what they do during the whole day by texting or emailing the blog  Then, on March 1, the residency begins, and I work with the band to craft a new piece for them, based upon the events of the day that they documented.

Getting the technology to work took some time.  The trick is – how do I get a phone number to which folks can text that will automatically go to the blog?  It turns out that there are some services which will email you your texts.  And since there are blogs to which you can email your entries, I ended up doing this:

cell phone text -> email -> PHP script -> email -> blog

I use a service called 3Jam to buy a cell phone number for only 1 month ($9!) to which anybody can text, and it will forward it to an email account.

3Jam puts in all sorts of extra advertisements into their emails, so I wrote a PHP script (based on this article) to strip out these advertisements and pop the sender’s phone number into the subject line.  The PHP script then re-mails the message contents to the blog, hosted by

Kind of cool, I think.