Getting Started Fast with Pro Tools

I just came across this great wee video series from Avid Blogs on YouTube. It explains the whole process of creating a song from start to finish in ProTools, and he does it in very easy to understand language and with clear examples. Thoroughly recommended to anyone working with ProTools, either as a teacher or as a student.

Using an audio interface with your iPad

UR44 and iPad running Cubasis

Did you know that you can use a separate audio interface with your iPad?

Well you can!

If you do a quick Google search for iPad Audio Interface, you will come up with plenty of suggestions for interfaces that will work with your iPad.

My current weapon of choice is the Steinberg UR44, which I’m using with my MacBook Pro and my iPad Pro. It allows me to attach guitars, mics and midi keyboards to either device, which in turn means i can input any audio signal into whichever DAW i’m using. Currently, these are Cubase 9 on the  Mac and  Cubasis on the iPad, but the same setup would work equally well with ProTools and GarageBand respectively.

Castle Toward

Castle Toward – Yesterday

Yesterday, I was delivering a training session in Dunoon, and I took the opportunity to visit an old stomping ground – Castle Toward. For those who are possibly unaware, Castle Toward was a residential centre where many thousands of young people, myself included, spent many happy times learning and teaching music. The building itself is a magnificent old place and it was not unusual for pupils to be in tears when they left there for the last time before they left school.

In recent years, however, it has stopped being used as a residential centre, and had fallen into a state of disrepair, as a local community group tried to buy it from the council, who disagreed with the sale, and a lengthy legal battle ensued.

I went along yesterday to see if I would be allowed to see the place, and lo and behold, I simply walked up the drive, and there the old girl stood. Not only was the building still there, but there were people working in and around it. On speaking to a friendly workman, I discovered that it has been sold to a local businessman with the view to turning it into a wedding and function venue. With that information, as I looked around I could see that the terrace has had new concrete finials installed, there is a state-of-the-art security system in place with cameras everywhere, and the rooms inside are in the process of upgrading to modern standards, by all accounts.

I posted a picture of the castle on facebook, with the caption saying that I’m not sure what type of emoji to use. I’m happy that the castle is going to be used again, but not happy that it is no longer going to be a residential centre that many future generations of children can benefit from, in the way that many past generations have.

So I suppose the emoji should be the one with the straight mouth – neither happy nor sad.


Sibelius – Focus On Staves

The Focus On Staves button on the Layout tab of Sibelius is an enormous time-saver, especially when working on a large score.

Basically, you select the staves you want to work on, or at least see, then press the Focus On Staves button, and all other staves disappear, leaving you to focus on just the staves you want to see.

The benefit is, though, that when you play your score, you hear every stave.

So if for example you are working on the string section of an orchestral score, but you also want to see the Flute line, because it is interacting with the Violin 1 part, you can focus on just those staves, but hear how they all fit in with the full score. If you want to only hear the visible staves, just select them all before you start playback.

Once you start using this feature, you will realise that it will save hours of selecting, deselecting etc.

New Website

I’ve decided (again!) to redo my online presence, and bring everything into a single website – this one, to be exact!

Over the years, I have had various sites, under various names – LoNoteMusic, Martin-Thomson, Music Made Easy, Scottish Music Services etc. That just got confusing for everyone, including me. So, I have made the decision to bring everything under a single site, and only have 2 domain names pointing at it – and That way, if you search for me, you’ll find me.

I WILL be keeping it updated. I haven’t been good at that in the past, but call it a mid-year resolution – I’m doing it!

I may be offering a sales service as time goes on, but only for very occasional things. I have decided that the sales side of what I do is too time-consuming and just plain awkward, and so I will be removing the option of reselling other companies software. I may offer some of my own stuff for sale (services, compositions etc), and I will be keeping in touch with the big companies, so if you need something, let me know and I’ll see what I can do. The good thing about that is that because I’m not focusing on sales, I’m not that fussed about making big profits, so my prices should be competitive!

So, enjoy the site, and keep in touch, either via my blog, or via the Contact  page. I’m always delighted to hear from you!


Why is everyone raving about this person, who has spent her adult life singing so badly that she has damaged her voice – again. Possibly career-endingly badly this time.

And she sings out of tune!

And most of her songs are miserable!

I don’t get that!