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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Perfect Music Practice with a Small PA System

Violin protege Lucas Lyons takes his practicing outdoors with the MityVox PA system
Learning to play a musical instrument can be exciting and satisfying. With the proper discipline and training one can pick up any instrument. There are many reasons that contribute to the success of learning a new instrument, the most important can be attributed to the effective practice habits of its students.

Musicians are always told that practice is the key to success, but those who start off do not know how to practice.

Many students believe that “practice makes perfect”, but it is more correct to say that “perfect practice makes perfect”. Results in individual playing are achieved when a student learns to apply and perfect the concept of effective individual practice.

Aim to practice every day and make practice part of your daily routine. There is no doubt that with every practice session you will make some progress towards your goal. Every day you don’t practice something else occurs, you get a little rusty, start to forget and the benefits of your previous practice sessions slowly decline in ability.

Due to a busy schedule, it may not be ideal to practice every day but it is recommended for your average student to practice five times a week. Practicing all the time may be counterproductive, you will need to give yourself the opportunity to rest both physically and mentally. Practicing 10 hours a day only on the weekends will not yield the same results like practicing one hour a day throughout the week.

As a beginner, maintain a practicing session of 20 – 30 minutes daily. 20 minutes is where you should be aiming to start your practice at, if you do less you’re not going to get a lot of benefit from it. Set a time each day and discipline yourself to stick to a schedule so that you do not fall behind.

Practicing at home begins by preparing a practicing area. The area you choose to setup should be free on any distractions, turning off your TV, telephone and any other device that would keep you from interrupting your practicing session. This will enable you to concentrate fully during your practice time.

Additionally do not eat or drink anything while you play, food and drinks can get messy and may be harmful to your instrument. Make sure you cleanse your mouth with water if you ate prior to your practicing session when playing any wind instrument and give your hands a quick wash before your session begins.

Check your instrument to ensure it is in good working condition. An instrument not working correctly keeps you from performing your best. Learn to maintain your instrument, and if your instrument is not working take it to the nearest instrument repair technician to have it fixed.

Every practice session must be organized, before starting your session you need to map out the goals you want to accomplish. Having measurable goals allows you to track your progress and lets you know if you are getting better.

Each practice session that you have should be made of many little tasks and things you want to improve. Know specifically what you need to practice, which bars or notes and what you could do better next time. Making goals that are easily attainable within your practice session reduces discouragement and will give you a sense of accomplishment.

Go slow with any new information when attempting to play a new piece, there is no way you can expect yourself to immediately play it as fast. If you're consistently making mistakes, that means you're probably going faster than you're ready to play. Isolate the difficult bits and repeat them a bunch of times. Once that's solid, make sure you can also nail the transition from the easy part into the hard part.

Enhance your music session by adding a small pa system for personal use. Adding a small pa system allows you to plug in your electric instrument and amplify its sound, better preparing you for any upcoming rehearsal or live performance.

15 year old Lucas Lyons is First Chair Violin at the McHenry County Youth Orchestra
and Badger High School Bach Group School Orchestra

The AmpliVox MityVox wireless battery operated PA system is an all in one PA system that runs on rechargeable batteries and features a wireless microphone. Open the box and you are ready to play with the rechargeable battery already charged. It can even be used outdoors with the protective case that is included.

The MityVox features a wireless handheld microphone, lapel and headset microphone with a transmitter. Comes with a built-in rechargeable battery, AC power cord, recharger and protective case to keep the unit dry and protect it from damage.

This compact and lightweight personal PA system weighs only 7.5 lbs, it is a 20 Watt system that reaches an audiences of 150 people and room sizes of up to 1000 square feet.

End your practice session with something fun that could be some pop, a music theme or something from your band class. Finding enjoyment in the physical act of playing an instrument will keep you motivated and have you look forward to the next time you get to practice.

For more information on the MityVox PA system or our small PA systems please visit:

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

AmpliVox Partners with the NAIA National Track Meets

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) just hosted their Indoor Track & Field National Championships last week in Geneva, Ohio and AmpliVox was there in support by sponsoring the event.

The NAIA is a governing body of small athletics programs that are dedicated to character-driven intercollegiate athletics. Each year more than 60,000 student-athletes have the opportunity to play college sports at NAIA member institutions.

Through their "Champions of Character" program, the NAIA seeks to create an environment in which every student-athlete, coach, official and spectator is committed to the true spirit of competition. Champions of Character provides training for student-athletes and professional development for coaches and staff instilling values of integrity, respect, responsibility, and sportsmanship.

The competitive edge one receives from being an athlete is an experience that can’t be taught in a classroom. Competition teaches students about discipline and how far they can push themselves to achieve a goal on the field and off the course in real life situations.

Building character as a team helps overcome challenges that arise throughout the game and teaches students to work hard together, hold each other accountable, be honest with each other and trust one another as they pursue the same goal. The physical and mental lessons learned in competition develops a better player and pushes each student to reach their overall potential.

AmpliVox supports the NAIA as they pursue the development of character-driven athletics, giving students the chance to share their interests and talents in an atmosphere that builds on those values.

There is no greater opportunity for a student to develop personal integrity and accountability than playing athletics, and the ability to grow as a person by the way one reacts to a situation in an athletic venue may be the best environment to obtain those skills.

To ensure that all members on the field and in the crowd can clearly hear the officiating announcements, AmpliVox provided the SW662 Deluxe Wireless Quad Horn Half-Mile Hailer Kit to assist the NAIA's public address needs.

Larry Able, Master Level Starter for the NAIA had this to say about the SW662 Half-Mile Hailer Kit:

"I have been using AmpliVox portable PA systems for almost 15 years and wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the quality of your company’s products. As a master level starter for the NCAA, NAIA, and USATF, I use my Deluxe Half Mile Hailer Quad Horn kit to project my starting commands so each of the runners will be able to hear them. It also makes it much easier on my voice after a long day at a track meet.

We recently completed the NAIA Indoor National Track and Field Championships at SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio. The championship had approximately 1,000 athletes representing over 100 colleges and universities for the title of “national champion”. For the meet, we used the Deluxe Half Mile Hailer Quad Horn kit. For indoor track, SPIRE is a very large, open area with lots of ambient noise. Also, it is a 300 meter track, so it is more spread out than the traditional 200 meter track. In spite of this, the AmpliVox system carried our voices at a loud, crystal clear level, so that every runner, in both sprints and staggered starts, heard the commands and reacted to them immediately. No races had false starts or were called up because of issues with athletes not hearing us. Another point is that the wireless microphone worked flawlessly. We have had other systems that react negatively to the different types of wireless equipment around a track, like computer timing, but not the AmpliVox.

In closing, let me say that the starters I know, who live and work out of Kansas, all use one of the Half Mile Hailer type kits. The system is reliable and it does the job we need it to do. Thanks to you and AmpliVox for making such a quality product."

Best regards,
Larry Able
Master Level Starter
USA Track and Field (Nebraska Association)

SW662 - Deluxe Wireless Quad Horn Half-Mile Hailer Kit
Easily be heard over a half mile away with the Half Mile Hailer loudspeaker pa system. Your audience can hear loud and clear over noisy crowds and large open spaces while you direct the action.

Its simple straightforward controls and lightweight design make it the most practical and portable indoor or outdoor speaker sound system.

The SW662 Half-Mile Hailer Kit includes:

SW805A 50-watt Amplifier on Compact Tripod
Two S1264 Horn Speakers with Top Tripod Mount
Two S1265 Add-on Horn Speakers for the S1264

S1601 Wireless Lapel Mic and Headset Mic

Three S1080
Heavy-Duty Tripods

S1960 Universal
Carrying Case

S1920 Tripod & Mic Stand Traveling Bag
  • Includes SW610A, 3 extra horn speakers with 40 ft. cables (total 4 speakers), 3 tripods, rugged nylon carrying case with wheels and retractable luggage handle
  • 16 Channel UHF wireless receiver from 584MHz - 608MHz
  • Weatherproof reverberant horn speaker carries sound across several youth sports athletic fields
  • 50 watt multimedia stereo amplifier with built in wireless receiver
  • Wireless lapel mic and headset mic with body pack transmitter
  • Emergency Siren Button
  • Dual Wireless Capability: 2 presenters can be wireless with optional 2nd wireless mic kit
  • Power up to 200 hours with 10 D-cell alkaline batteries
For more information on the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and the SW662 Deluxe Wireless Quad Horn Half-Mile Hailer Kit please visit: http://www.ampli.com/portable-pa-system/Half-Mile-Hailer-Kits.aspx

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Classroom Layouts: Seating Arrangements for Effective Learning

In today’s demanding classroom environments, educators need to be able to have the best seating arrangements for different size classrooms and learning environments.

Moreover, it’s been demonstrated that amplified sound – provided either via ceiling speakers or multimedia podiums – can also contribute to more effective learning.

Boost Effective Learning with Best Classroom Seating Arrangements, Amplified Sound & Multimedia Podium Options:

Seating Arrangements
Every teacher likes to arrange his or her classroom layout for the largest student benefit. Students need to focus and see what is going on in the classroom at any given time. Their seating arrangement can help or hinder a students learning. Although no perfect arrangement exists for all situations, a classroom layout may need to change based on what a student needs are and how the class material is being presented.

It is important for an instructor to establish a classroom structure from the very first session and adapt accordingly to facilitate lectures, promote discussions, encourage group activities, or solve any behavioral problems. Keeping a classroom motivated and in order is more than trying different teaching styles and methods. By simply rearranging how the desks in the room are setup, you can not only get better control of your class but create an open and friendly classroom environment.

There are generally three overall classroom desk arrangement layouts with slight variations to each to accommodate different size rooms, number of students in the class and also assist in the classes function:
  • Traditional Classroom (Large or Small)
  • U-Shaped Layout
  • Circle or Half Circle Arrangements

Each layout has a different purpose and may require an adjustment to teaching method and classroom control. It will be up to the instructor to decide which layout works best for them and their students.

Traditional Classroom
In a traditional class all the desks are facing the chalkboard and teachers desk. This classroom layout is very effective if your lesson often uses projectors, slides and a chalkboard. The layout is suitable for teacher centered classes such as lectures, it encourages focus on the educator and content and is easy to implement with large classes.

The problem with this layout is that the teacher is very far away from students sitting in the back rows. Students sitting in the last rows are more likely to be distracted, lose focus and converse with others. Students can easily become disengaged during the lesson. This layout is not useful for classes designed for conversation and interaction and not easy for the instructor to observe students in the mid and back rows.

Large Classroom
Advantages: Rows of tables with chairs face the front of a room and each person has a space for writing or using a computer. This set-up lends itself to Q&A session with the facilitator rather than interactive discussion between participants.

Disadvantages: Hard for instructor to move into the audience, separating him/her from the students. Student participation seems to drop off towards the back of the room unless sound reinforcement is used.

Action Zone: At the front of the room. Students are focused on the instructor.

Group Involvement: Medium. Allows one way interaction back and forth between instructor and audience or between the trainer and an individual in the group.

Seating: Similar to a school arrangement with participants seated behind a row of desks or tables.

Tables: Arranged in rows, either butted together side by side or standing alone.

The AmpliVox Multimedia Smart Podium is a great presentation center for large classrooms.

It has a roomy work space, plus storage for technology
and learning materials, with locking protection.

Built-in amplified sound options provide excellent sound coverage in rooms up to 20,000 square feet, with wired
or wireless mic options.

Small Classroom
Advantages: Every participant has a good view of the front of the room. This allows the instructor a great deal of control over the students. Provides surface for note taking or reference materials.

Disadvantages: Hard for instructor to move into the audience, separating him/her from the students. Student participation seems to drop off towards the back of the room unless sound reinforcement is used.

Variations of Small Classroom

Perpendicular: Tables are arranged in long rows perpendicular to the trainer’s table. The edge of the first table should be 6 feet away from the trainer’s table and a large corridor should be left in the middle to allow for group participation.

Having the desks split into two groups facing each other is a very effective arrangement for class discussions and debates. The teacher can also walk in between the two groups allowing to see every student and include them in conversations.
Computer Based Training: The classroom set up is commonly used for computers. This can create problems with wires due to the tables being separated.

Ideally, power should be supplied near every table. Wire management is a necessity with this set up to safely conceal wires around the work areas.

The AmpliVox Multimedia Computer Lectern is a great presentation center for small classrooms.

It has a small footprint, yet provides a lot of storage with locking protection, plus a drop-leaf shelf for projector or other multimedia equipment.

Built-in amplified sound options provide excellent sound coverage in small rooms or large, with wired or wireless mic options.

U-Shaped Layout
For smaller classes that want more interaction between the student and educator, a U-Shaped layout is a better option. A U-Shaped desk arrangement encourages discussion and makes it easy for the teacher to observe students and provide one on one help.

Classroom size and number of students can make it difficult to use, for you may not be able to fit a U-Shape pattern in a small room with a large number of students. The layout spreads children out considerably so that it can be hard to address them all and makes group work harder because the desks can’t easily be moved around.

Advantages: Easy to see and hear everyone in the group. Front of room commands the group’s attention. Unity is created by ganging all the tables together. Openness gives trainees a sense of freedom and encourages participation. Best set up to view audio visual presentations. Works well with role-playing and other physical activities.

Disadvantages: Requires more space than any other configuration. Due to space and learning requirements, the maximum amount of participants should not exceed 24.

Action Zone: Center and at the open end of the “U”.

Group Involvement: High. Creates a sense of equality within the group.

Tables: Rectangular tables set in a “U’ configuration. Pie shapes are commonly used at the corners to complete the shape and eliminate the hard edges. Trainer’s table is at the opening of the “U”.

Accommodates AV: Yes. This configuration is one of the best for visual displays and multimedia presentations. Equipment set at open end of “U”.

Variations of U-Shaped

Double “U”: Allows trainer to seat more people than single “U’ set up. Limits discussions between the group. Best used when the outside group is observing the discussions or activities of the inside group.
“U” Computer Training: Allows wires to run under the tables easily. This set up also allows the instructor to monitor student's work easily while speaking to the class.

The AmpliVox 2.4 GHz Universal Wireless Microphone is an excellent amplified speaking option for U-Shaped seating configurations, as it gives the presenter or presenters the freedom to roam around the room and fully engage with the audience as well as the presentation materials.

Its receiver plugs easily into any amplifier, and it can be used as either a headset or handheld mic.

Circle or Half Circle Arrangements
Desks or chairs arranged in a circle or half circle promote community and encourage all students to participate. Everyone sits in the front row. It also allows the instructor to see everyone from an equal distance and communicate easier with students.

Advantages: Involves everyone in the group. There is no table in the middle, therefore people are unobstructed and can speak directly to each other. Creates equality among the group, with no designated “leader” position.

Disadvantages: Some people feel uncomfortable or exposed in this type of arrangement. Can only handle small groups of people. Not conducive to visual aids or AV presentations.

Action Zone: Center of the circle.

Group Involvement: High. Aims to involve all participants in group interaction.

Seating: Chairs arranged in complete circle.

Tables: None in this configuration.

Maximum # of people: No more than 20 participants.

Accommodates AV: No. Not conducive for AV presentations, used primarily for group discussions. Cannot place a visual aid in an area that can be viewed by everyone.

Variations with Circle of Chairs

Circle and Table: Combines informal, open characteristics of a circle, yet gives trainees a table for books and note taking. The table may also remove the sense of vulnerability.
Broken Circle: Possesses all of the advantages of the circle but allows visual aids to be used effectively. Also identifies a leader position to pressure involvement of participants if needed.

The AmpliVox SW925 Digital Audio Travel Partner Plus is a great way to ensure presentation clarity to any gathering of people indoors or out, from a modest group up to a crowd of 7,500.

It includes not only wireless microphone convenience, but also a media player allowing you to play music from a thumb drive or SD card.

Or, stream audio wirelessly from your smartphone or other Bluetooth enabled device.

Designing a seating arrangement is an essential part of any teachers toolkit and managing behavior is necessary for effective learning to take place. A classrooms arrangement finally comes down to what will the student learn, how will the student learn it and that should then guide in the organization of the room.

Easy-to-Install Amplified Sound
In addition to using lecterns with sound capability, you can add amplified sound to small or medium sound classrooms with the AmpliVox Classroom Audio System with Wireless Microphone.

This complete, easy-to-install sound system consists of three elements that combine to produce crisp, powerful sound:

1. 4-speaker, 2’ x 2’ ceiling-tile-style speaker that provides 360-degree sound dispersion. It’s easily installed in most standard classroom acoustic ceilings.

2. 7-channel mixer-amplifier that includes an MP3 Player with USB and SD card inputs and Bluetooth connectivity, plus an AM/FM radio for featured programming and emergency broadcasts. There’s an IR remote control.

3. 2.4 GHz universal digital wireless microphone with a receiver that simply plugs into the mixer-amplifier. The microphone can be used as either a headset, or handheld.

To install the system, simply insert the 4-speaker ceiling tile and run the wiring through the ceiling to the mixer-amplifier. Plug in the wireless receiver for the microphone, and you can stand up to 50 feet away from the mixer-amplifier.

Communication Tips for School Safety and Education Success
How do you put forth a clear voice and strong image when communicating in and around schools?

Watch this short video for six proven tips.