Because so many schools are still doing distance learning this fall, parents and teachers are turning to online music resources to help supplement the education of their students. The following tips and resources will help teachers and parents integrate more music technology into their students lives.
Tips and Resources for Music Teachers
- If you run a high school or junior high band/choir, try creating collaborative (multi-tracked) music projects for your students to do online with Acapella app or Davinci Resolve
- Delve into music history websites and apps if you are having problems with video lag
- Provide your students with access to free DAWs and ear training programs, and make these part of your regular assignments (see below)
- In addition to this, provide your older students a link to free composition/ notation apps and sites too
- To save yourself some time, start using optical music recognition software
- To crisp up low-quality student audios, try an audio editor with a spectogram
- Find a program that allows students to submit playing tests virtually
Free Multi-frame video programs: Acapella – Pitch Perfect. Music Maker
Mixcord is an app that your students can download in order to collaborate with each other. However, if you have an audition-only choir that you are spearheading a virtual project on, try having your students send you individual videos, and syncing them yourself in Resolve.
Music History Apps:
Free DAWs your students:
So your students can mix and master at home, give them the links to Garageband and FL studio (please note that Garageband will only work on Apple devices, but that FL studio should work on any computer. The site Musescore is great free tool for new composition students.
Optical Music Recognition Software:
ScanScore Ensemble is a great place to start, especially for those who teach instrumental music. This piece of technology allows you to take a picture of music, digitize it, and play it back.
A plethora of recordings are being done from a distance now. If you are trying to make a multi-frame project, you’re going to need an easy way to get the white noise and fan sounds out of your students audio. While it’s unrealistic to ask all of your distance pupils to get a full audio setup, what you can do is get this smart tool for your work computer. This brand also has a lot of great free audio plugins on their site.
Virtual Playing Test Submissions: If you have the funding, talk to your administrators about getting a subscription to SmartMusic. SmartMusic is quickly becoming a requirement in some of the bigger school districts in the Midwest. While my pedagogy is strictly against exclusively using SmartMusic, the benefits of this program amidst a pandemic are undeniable. Here are a few of the things it can do:
- Help students create a loop to practice their instrument with
- Allows teachers to set up (audio/ playing test) assignments that can be turned in virtually
- Analyze a students practice to see how they are progressing
- Provides interactive music listening, music theory, and music history lessons on both school Smartboards and student computers
Ideas and Resources for Other Teachers
Core classes designed for any age group can mix lessons up by integrating music technology. Core math and science teachers can use apps such as spectrograms and those that show sound waves to make lessons on acoustics and waves more interesting.
If there is extra time at the end of a class, consider allowing your students to create something of Garageband or Musescore. Composing music has been shown to increase the strength between neural pathways related to language, and to reduce stress overall.
Tips and Resources for Parents
- Start with weekly ear training or basic online music games
- Encourage experimentation with music technology overall, explore new music apps with your children
- Learn a little music theory to better understand your students practice process and experience
Ear training can be started at any age, and is an excellent way to study music with your student if their instrument is stuck in the repair shop. With the help of music technology, we don’t need a home piano to study classical ear training anymore.
Fun Music Games and Experments for Younger Students:
Ear Younger students will enjoy playing the following music games with parents:
- PBS Music
- Classics for Kids
- Chrome Music Lab
While PBS Music doesn’t touch on a ton of national standards, if you can find a safe and fun site for your students to gain more exposure to music with, then that is excellent.
Classics for kids provides interactive puzzles and exposure to standard classical literature. When I had an elementary classroom, I used these games when I had a little extra time, or when a sub come in.
Chrome Music Lab is an excellent interactive music experiment site for students to expore with a parent at their side. Be sure to point out elements like same and different, tone, and patterns.
While this is a little more about music than music tech, if you have an older student in band, take a peek at the site Music Theory For Parents. This will help you understand a little more of what your student is practicing when they’re at home or on Zoom!
Music technology is quickly being integrate into our public schools across the country. Make your student’s classroom or home study session a little more interesting with the help of music tech. Remember, music still connects us all, whether we are in person, or on another Zoom.
About the Author: Aleah Fitzwater is a freelancer, flutist, educator, and blogger. Aleah is also a visual artist and arranger. You can find her personal projects here: https://aleahfitzwater.com/