There's surely never been a more productive year for music technology. The past 12 months has seen the emergence of some excellent teaching and playing resources. The really good news is that many of them are at BETT.
Synergy TV, for example, will be demonstrating its dbass online service for students to publish and share music - interactive online software allows students and teachers to upload and download music files and chat (blog) about how they created them.
Two other web-based products to have established themselves are SmartMusic (pound;100) and Gigajam. Smartmusic is an interactive exercise and rehearsal program that boasts "intelligent accompaniment" software. Other features include simple and compound rhythm exercises and an excellent selection of standards. Gigajam, meanwhile, is an interactive music education system which has been nominated for a BETT learning and skills award (see today's issue of TES Teacher magazine).
Sibelius now has a complete education suite to show, including Compass (Pounds 150), shortlisted for a BETT secondary software award, and Sibelius Student Edition (pound;99), a budget version of the celebrated notation software for schools. Also on display will be Sibelius 3 (pound;340) and a new version of G7 (pound;126), the guitar software program that is already being widely used in music colleges and performance courses. Sibelius users, incidentally, will welcome the Garritan Personal Orchestra (pound;140), a comprehensive collection of high-quality orchestra samples, which represents terrific value for money.
Creative's Prodikeys, (pound;65) which can be used as both a computer and music keyboard, is a useful and inexpensive classroom tool equipped with sustain and pitch wheels and MIDI functionality (www.prodikeys.com). If it's serious keyboards you're after, however, the new range from Yamaha is hard to beat, combining internet accessibility (for downloads and extras) with stunning onboard technology. Pick of the bunch are the PSR-K1 (pound;350) and the PSR-1500 (pound;1,000).
Shortlisted for a BETT Award in the early years and primary hardware category, the Mixman DM2 (pound;46) is a twin-desk digital mixing device that allows users to cross-fade, scratch, and import voice and sound samples by manipulating either the mixer or a virtual on-screen representation. For advice on using Mixman in class, visit www.hitchams.suffolk.sch.ukictmusicmixman.
eSAAMS, the video and audio capture and assessment tool, from Counterpoint MTC, has a new multi-user version that allows departments and even whole schools to review and report on students' work. Other new features include write-to-CD, lesson planning templates and quick notes that can be attached to students' files.
Most of the flagship sequencing programs have been updated including Steinberg's Cubase SX3 (pound;270) with over 70 new features, the hugely improved Storm 3 (both from www. Arbitermt.co.uk) and Logic Pro Audio 7 (Pounds 600), a long-time favourite with Apple users. Mac musicians also have the excellent GarageBand sequencer and loop tool which can be seen on the Apple stand and which hosts the same plug-ins as Logic Pro. Part of the iLife suite, it's a bargain at pound;40. Since the demise of Logic Education, Duncan Mackrill, music consultant and PGCE music tutor at Sussex University, suggests Music Studio Deluxe (pound;30) as "the only viable alternative" for PC users.
M-Audio hosts two of the most powerful sequencing programs available.
Ableton Live (pound;250) has long been an education favourite and new features for version 4 include midi sequencing and the ability to reverse any audio sample in real time. Teachers using Propellerhead's Reason will be keen to investigate Teaching Music with Reason, a specially adapted version of the sequencing program with a resource pack and lesson plans.
Dance eJay continues to be hugely popular in schools. Partly because it's so cheap (pound;20) but also because teachers and students find it a comprehensive creation tool. Check out the excellent guide at www.ejay.co.ukschools.
Primary resources are well represented at BETT. The highly regarded Music Toolkit can be seen on the 2Simple stand, comprising a set of six programs (pound;39) for foundation, key stage 1 and 2 that encourages children to investigate a range of musical concepts.
ESP will preview The Dums site, www.thedums.com, featuring some of The Dums (pound;50) characters. ESP will also be demonstrating updated versions of Compose World Junior (pound;24) and Compose World 2 (pound;64).
If you're visiting BETT and want a glimpse of the future, head for the NESTA stand and check out Drumsteps, a software tool for percussion composition that has been developed at the Centre for Research in ICT in Education.
2Simple - Music Toolkit Stand F76
Tel: 020 8203 1781
Gigajam Stand SW61
Tel: 0870 744 2040
synergy TV - dbass Stand G70
Tel: 0113 246 9989
Apple Stand E34
Tel: 0800 039 1515
CounterPoint MTC Stand Z18
Tel: 01903 539 922
ESP Stand SW90
Tel: 0115 944 4140
Tel: 0870 873 8731
M-Audio Stand Z130
Tel: 01442 416 590
Nesta Stand W14
Tel: 0117 915 1293
Sibelius Stand E116
Tel: 020 7561 7999
Tag Learning Stand F50
01474 537 886