Website updates, SoundCloud integration and a free online Sibelius course. Yes, free.

Long time no blog – but that’s what happens when you take a new job! Since March I’ve been working at the Sydney Conservatorium as a full time lecturer in Music Education. I’m loving it, and I’m exhausted.

Website image
My new website at, designed by Joni-Leigh Doran and coded by yours truly.

This blog post is mostly to draw your attention to the many changes I’ve made at my website, if you only follow my work via my blog. Hopefully some of you have already noticed that my website at had a major overhaul in January. Back then the “Concert Music“, “Education Music” and “About” pages were completely re-made, with many new recordings and scores or score samples uploaded. The design was by Joni-Leigh Doran, and I coded every little bit of the site myself in xHTML using some new HTML5 tags and CSS3.

Soundcloud logoThe annoying thing about going with the HTML5 audio tag was that it really isn’t reliable cross-browser. Internet Explorer users, even those up to date, weren’t going to be able to listen, and there were off and on problems on most of the Windows browsers. I spent HOURS on it. All the Mac browsers were fine, although the latest few releases of Firefox have seemed really flaky to me. Anyway, long story short, last week I took all the music to SoundCloud and embedded it from there – for me, this has the benefit of being able to track plays of each track, but also a financial impact of paying SoundCloud for hosting (and it does seem a ridiculous cost when you compare it to something like a Dropbox subscription!: the sooner Dropbox add embed code and play counts to media in the cloud they will be the best online tool for a music educator that there is).

I like the SoundCloud miniplayer, and that’s what you’ll find on the concert music pages, but didn’t realise until it was too late that while the normal SoundCloud player is a nice <iframe> that can call javascript, HTML5 tags or Flash as required, the miniplayer is Flash only. So until I have time to change that, no playback on mobile devices. On the other hand, the education music pages have the nice <iframe> player. Hint if you’d like to do this on your own site – uncheck the image option when you grab the embed code on the SoundCloud website, then edit the height of the embed code to 68px, and you get something a little closer to the miniplayer.

Free course?

Remix unit When Doves CryOK, so that’s the bit that got to you read this, right? Well, the latest updates on my website are to my Resources pages. I haven’t re-authored some of the units that have been up there for years (although if you haven’t seen the funky HTML5 version of my old When Doves Cry remix unit, you should check it out!), but they’re now nicely organised, and my “lots more” page has got much more information about my academic output than there used to be, including new sections on my research into how composer Malcolm Williamson modified his compositional approach when writing for musically-untrained children. It also lists books and articles I’ve written.

Sibelius 7 book
My lovely book/CD/tutorial videos for Sibelius 7

Talking of books and articles I’ve written, I haven’t actually every written a blog about my book “Sibelius 7 Music Notation Essentials”, a project-based learning course for Sibelius which is the official Avid-endorsed course. Originally, all the resources for this course (Sibelius files, PDFs, other music, audio and video files) and the tutorial videos (some 31 of them!) were supposed to be password-protected, but my publisher never got around to doing that. So I’ve made a new page on my website suggesting that you can actually do much more than just sample the course by using those tutorials and videos: you can actually do much of the course online. And for free! Now, of course, I really actually want you to buy my book, but I have a feeling if you do the course online for nothing, you’ll probably realise that it’s such great quality, you’ll want the book anyway. And it’ll look great on your bookshelves, I promise you. I’ll sign out with a video I made showing how the course works…

3 responses to “Website updates, SoundCloud integration and a free online Sibelius course. Yes, free.”

  1. Soundcloud is fast becoming the industry standard for embedding audio, though you’re right about needing to splash out on a premium account to get the full benefit of it’s features.

    • Very true, Pat – thanks for your comment. And I think SoundCloud is great – just painfully overpriced for what is a fairly simple technology!

  2. Reblogged this on goargrigorian and commented:
    Hi James, Thank you so much for your posts, you are great and congratulations on your new appointment, your students are blessed to have you. You may not remember me ( from UWS)

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