In Praise of Music Teachers: A keynote address to the Greater Manchester Music Hub

Jonathan Savage, Managing Director of UCan Play, was delighted to give a keynote address to the Greater Manchester Music Hub conference held at MMU’s Faculty of Education on Friday 17th June. Titled ‘In Praise of Music Teachers: Teaching music from the inside out’, his full text of his address can be found below. Within it, Jonathan speaks about one of the formative influences in his musical life, the attributes of assessing music musically, and introduces a couple of metaphors to help think about the whole process of teaching music from the inside out (drawn from his Pilates classes!). Following the keynote, Jonathan...

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Steinberg announce their new music notation programme: Dorico

Steinberg Media Technologies have announced details of their highly anticipated music notation software, Dorico. It will be available from UCan Play from the autumn onwards at a highly preferential price for education customers. You can find out a bit more about who Dorico was and why the software is named after him here. Whilst Steinberg have only released a few images of the new software, their recent press release tells us that: With its perfect combination of power and simplicity, Dorico holds the key to unlock a whole new world of musical creativity. Its easy and straightforward single-window user interface...

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Choosing a new piano?

One of the instruments that we are asked more about than anything else are pianos. As a supplier of pianos from Roland, Yamaha, Korg and Casio, we can offer a great range of options from a few hundred pounds all the way up to professional instruments. Whilst we are very happy to give individual advice and consultancy to our prospective customers, there are a range of digital resources to help too. Roland’s digital piano buyer’s guide is one such resource. It contains plenty of helpful video content on the differences between acoustic and digital instruments, the various instruments and their different functions,...

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Jack Garratt on Roland’s SPD-SX

Roland’s SPD-SX is one of our best selling items of technology. In this super video Jack Garratt discusses how he uses his SPD-SX to trigger drum samples, piano lines, synth patterns and other musical materials as part of his live set. The SPD-SX and all the other Roland kit that Jack uses in his setup are available from us here at UCan Play. Contact us for a non-obligatory...

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Kola Bello’s top tips for aspiring keyboard players (and on playing for Ellie Goulding)

Here’s a great interview for any aspiring keyboard player. Kola Bello is currently playing on the Ellie Goulding’s world tour, but Roland caught up with him in Liverpool to find out more about his keyboard setup. The interview ends with him outlining his top three tips for keyboard players wanting to tour and play sessions. They are superb, so do watch to the end! Bello loves the RD800, the JDXi and JDXa all of which are available from ourselves at a preferential price for our educational customers. Do contact us for further...

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Loopers: Where performance and composition meet

Looping products such as the RC505 and RC300 have become a very popular technology within UCan Play’s partnership of schools and colleges. But beyond their obvious performance application, loop stations play a valuable role in helping students create, explore, combine and general work with music ideas prior to building them into a new composition. The looper becomes a site where performance and composition can merge into a composite form of musical production. As Blaine Harrison of Mystery Jets reveals, it was his decision to pick up a RC-300 Loop Station that inspired Telomere: the standout opening track from this year’s acclaimed sixth...

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Working with Adele at Manchester’s MEN

Adele’s crack drum and percussion team utilise a range of acoustic and electronic percussion to bring her music to life on stage. Roland caught up with percussionist Aaron Draper and drummer Derrick White at the Manchester MEN to talk through their their hybrid setups, and explain how Roland gear helps them nail the quirks of the studio originals. “Today’s music is evolving,” says Derrick. “You gotta be a chameleon.” The SPD-SX, KT triggers and V-Drums are all available from us here at UCan Play. Get in touch for a preferential educational...

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Tessa Newton and UCan Studios collaborate

Tessa Newton and UCan Studios collaborate on a Community based music celebration project   Tessa comes from a family of violin players from whom she inherited her love of music, particularly English and Irish folk songs. She began playing the violin at school and by the age of 13 she had played in a number of musicals, including Guys and Dolls and the Bernstein-Sondheim collaboration, West Side Story. She then joined the Lincolnshire Chamber Orchestra and played in and around Lincoln and Louth in local churches and Lincoln Cathedral. In her twenties she played alongside her aunt for the...

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Connect: Resound 2016 Learning Network Gathering

UCan Play is looking forward to attending the Connect:Resound 2016 – NYMAZ remote music learning network gathering on the 29th June at York St John University. There are a number of key questions that we’ll be exploring throughout the day, including: 1. How can technology increase access to music education opportunities for children and young people facing geographic and other boundaries? 2. Can young people have a rich, high quality experience of instrumental education and music in performance online? Starting at 10am, the event will explore loads of other aspects of delivering music education online. We’ll be contributing to...

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PreSonus console mixers discounted until the end of July!

PreSonus have lowered the price of selected mixers until July 2016! As an authorised PreSonus retailer we can offer preferential educational rates. Please contact us for a quote. StudioLive SL1642AI Product Info: Link PROMO RRP: £1,449 inc VAT PROMO SSP: £1,269 inc VAT StudioLive SL2442AI Product Info: Link PROMO RRP: £1,969 inc VAT PROMO SSP: £1,729 inc VAT StudioLive 3242AI Product Info: Link PROMO RRP: £2,199 inc VAT PROMO SSP: £1,919 inc VAT...

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Take part in the Make Music 2 Make Music challenge!

What is the Make Music 2 Make Music challenge? UCan Play as retail partner of Musical Futures are helping raise £50,000 to prioritise Musical Futures work with 2,500 children at ten primary schools in the most deprived towns and cities in England. The Make Music 2 Make Music challenge is a campaign inviting performing musicians to simply make music at a gig or concert and pledge to donate 10% of their proceeds to Musical Futures. With your support, we will implement the Musical Futures approach in these schools through equipping them with instruments, training teachers and ensuring children of all...

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Drummer Caleb Flood on the Roland SPD-SX

Caleb Flood, who we supplied with a Roland SPD-SX, speaks of his experience using the sampling pad. “I’m Caleb, a 15 year old drummer from West Yorkshire. I started drumming around the age of 5 because my Dad is a drummer. At the time we lived in a semi-detached house so a full acoustic kit was out of the question. My Dad had a Roland TD-6V electric drum kit which was brilliant. I still use it to this day and it works like it’s brand new. When I was 14 we decided to buy a drum pad, either the Roland SPD-30...

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Richard Navarro innovates with the RC505

It’s always great to hear about what our partners are up too! Recently we heard from Richard Navarro, who is using his RC505s in a particularly ingenious way. He writes … “I have been developing a live improvised score in conjunction with the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury for a new play called ‘Run the Beast Down’ by Titus Halder and featuring Poldark/Dark Knight actor John Hollingsworth.” “I am using two Boss RC505’s, but for this project – rather than chaining them together via MIDI – I am taking the line out of one loop station and feeding it as an input...

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UCan Play’s installation for Putney High School

UCan Play have worked with PreSonus for the last four years, helping them develop educational applications for their full range of live sound and studio technologies. In 2015 we worked with Michael Popper Associations and ITC Concepts to build a new performing arts centre at Putney High School, an independent girls’ school. Working with Andy Noble, our consultant, and director of partner company Piranha AV, we designed and installed a live sound and projection system boasting a state of the art PreSonus PA system including StudioLive digital mixers, Sennheiser wireless microphone systems, live streaming technology provided by Roland, screens...

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UCan Play and Musical Futures forge a new partnership to support music education

UCan Play is the retail partner for the innovative music education organisation Musical Futures. Our partnership will help support the work of Musical Futures and ensure that teachers receive high quality and impartial advice about the musical equipment they use within their programmes. UCan Play and Musical Futures have many things in common. Firstly, both organisations were formed around the same time (2005) and are both not for profit companies limited by guarantee, with charitable aims at their core. This means that we have no shareholders and no dividend payments are made to directors. UCan Play’s profits are fed back into the company to...

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OKGO and the Korg Volca Sample

OK Go album Hungry Ghosts was enjoyed by many of us towards the end of 2014. Korg released a version of their amazing Volca to help you explore their music further. This limited-edition of the Volca Sample is emblazoned with OK Go art and loaded with clips the band used to make the aforementioned release. There are over 100 different sounds total that are all available for use. This version of the Volca Sample features the same multi-touch keyboard, 16-step sequencer and can run on six AA batteries for mobile music making. It’s part of the larger Volca line that includes the Volca...

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Rebuilding that Queen sound with the Korg Kronos

For those of you with musical tastes that extend back before One Direction were even imagined (or conceived!), Queen were rocking stadia around the world. On the recent tribute tour, Spike Edney, their keyboard player, used the Korg Kronos throughout the whole gig. In this video interview, he demonstrates the various functionality of the Kronos including the vocoder, splits, German and Japanese piano samples and other features that allow him to recreate that classic Queen sound: All of Korg’s amazing products are available from ourselves here at UCan Play. Further details available...

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The Korg Kronos at the heart of One Direction’s live sound

Here’s an interesting interview with Jon Shone, the Musical Director of One Direction. His work on their world tour is built around two Korg Kronos synths. In this interview he explores how they have allowed him to build sounds that work within the stadia that he performs within each night. All of Korg’s amazing products are available from ourselves here at UCan Play. Further details...

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The beauty behind Roland’s Kiyola KF-10 Digital Piano

Out of all Roland’s products released at NAMM 2016 (here’s a quick overview in case you missed it!), their Kiyola KF-10 digital piano really shone out for us. It really is a thing of beauty: It’s physical and design aesthetic is matched by the technology that it contains within and, like all Roland pianos, its sonic identity is peerless too. The piano is the product of a collaboration between Roland and the artisan craftsmanship of Japanese furniture specialists Karimoku. Each piano is handcrafted in Japan using all-natural, ethically sourced solid wood. The result is slim, stylish, and individual, revealing unique grain patterns through...

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Spandau Ballet’s Drummer John Keeble on hybrid kits

In this exclusive video interview, filmed behind the scenes on the band’s current tour, Roland interview original drummer John Keeble talks about how he’s using Roland’s gear as part of the live shows. John has been Spandau Ballet’s heartbeat since 1981’s Journeys To Glory album, and in modern times, he’s using a hybrid acoustic/digital kit to give his adventurous drum parts added flair and flexibility. Here, John explains how his old-school shells are augmented by Roland’s RT-30 Acoustic Drum Triggers, with his snare and kick hits triggering “beefed-up” sounds from a Roland TM-2 Trigger Module. “It just gives you fantastic versatility,” he...

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