COVID-19 taught all educators that we have the ability to be resilient and adapt to a changing technological world, including those of us who teach music. As we return to our normal classrooms, it’s important that we never forget the lessons we were taught during the pandemic. This article will outline various ways we can implement technology into the music classroom.
Music Technology for Elementary Music Specialists
Do you have old Music Play books in your classroom from decades ago? Did you know that it is all online? www.musicplayonline.com is a wonderful resource created by Denise Gagne for elementary music specialists. All your favourite songs like “Lucy Locket” are there with lesson plans, lyric videos, chords for guitar and ukulele, orff arrangements and boomwackers. In addition to a comprehensive list of songs organized by grade, there are also learning modules in rhythm, solfege, vocal warm-ups and games. This is a necessary resource for all elementary music educators.
www.bucketdrumming.net is another great resource for upper elementary and early middle school teachers. Sammy Foster has created an amazing bucket drumming curriculum that includes proper percussion technique as well as rhythm and pitch reading. I highly recommend his “6 Days of Bucket Drumming” to get your students started right with warm-ups, techniques and play along to popular songs like “We Will Rock You” and “Rolling in the Deep.”
Both Music Play Online and Bucketdrumming.net are perfect play and go resources to supplement your teaching in an engaging and fun way.
Everyone has access to YouTube, a few great play-along channels are musication and swick’s classroom. These are great extensions for the end of your lessons before students are scheduled to leave.
Music Technology for Instrumental Music Specialists
Have you ever worked with a student who was really struggling to read their music? Maybe your student has learning challenges. The band and music classroom has historically been a safe place for students to be. As music educators we have technology at our fingertips to ensure that all our students are challenged and feel included. Figurenotes is a software developed by Drake Music Scotland. Drake Music Scotland is an arts organization that provides music making opportunities for people with disabilities. The Figurenotes software is a music notation software that uses symbols and colours to help students learn how to play music.
Pitches are notated using specific colours. For example, all C’s are red. The teacher then places red stickers on all of the C’s on the piano so that the student can identify the pitch on the music and make that connection. As the student progresses, you place the red C in the middle C space on your music and the student can progress in their music reading.
In terms of rhythms, figurenotes illustrates pitches spaced out over a duration of time instead of using our traditional notation system using quarter notes, half notes, eighth notes, etc. The smallest duration of note showed is an eighth note.
Music Notation Software
It’s vitally important for every band/orchestra teacher to have access and be proficient in some kind of notation software for a few important reasons:
1. Writing out missing original parts.
2. Transposing important missing parts in smaller ensembles (maybe your band doesn’t have a French horn player and you need to rewrite it for alto saxophone).
3. Simplifying music for struggling students.
4. Composing your own music.
As you may know there are many notation softwares on the market such as: Noteflight, Sibelius, Finale, and Musescore.
Sibelius and Finale are more expensive, but are tried and true resources. Noteflight works seamlessly with their marketplace of scores and Musescore has a great community of musicians that arrange music for unlimited kinds of ensembles.
SmartMusic is an incredible resource for instrumental music teachers. They have a practice app that assesses and gives feedback to students on their pitch and rhythmic accuracy. As well, SmartMusic has a vast library of method books and scores so students can practice with accompaniment. SmartMusic also has a tuner and metronome integrated into its practice tools. SmartMusic provides teachers with tools such as a gradebook, custom rubrics and sight-reading tools.
John McAllister Music
Hopefully if you are a music teacher, your classroom will be equipped with a great sound system and a projector. If you are, a great resource is John McAllister who has created a great series of warm-ups for all levels of players. You can print off the warm-ups for your students to read or treat them to an engaging play along on YouTube. These are wonderful resources that every band teacher should know about. https://www.johnmcallistermusic.com/
If your classroom is equipped with a projector and you have access to an iPad, notion is a great app to use. You can download a music staff and illustrate rhythms, warm-ups, theory problems, etc. for your students to see.
JW Pepper and Alfred Music
There is something wonderful about having a physical score, or a physical piece of music. However, there is something equally wonderful about purchasing digital music. If you are someone who is disorganized or doesn’t have time to shuffle through a library full of disorganized music, most online marketplaces such as JW Pepper and Alfred Music are selling e-music. These scores sit in your own personal library ready to be printed and used any time.
Music Technology for Studio Teachers
Have you considered setting up a private studio online? It has never been easier with conferencing apps like skype, zoom and google hangouts. If you need help advertising your services, organizations like Outschool are a great marketplace of parents and students looking for learners. It would be relatively little work to use zoom to project music and use an iphone or ipad as a secondary camera to show your students how to play the piano.
Music Technology over the past five years has skyrocketed. It has never been easier, or necessary to implement music technology into music classrooms. Resources like Music Play, Bucketdrumming.net and various play-along videos have reduced the amount of lesson planning needed in order to have a robust elementary music education program. Music notation software, SmartMusic and digital scores have created engaging and organized instrumental music programs. Finally, conferencing software has created an opening for teachers to connect with students around the world for lessons, and students at home in times of isolation. As we come out of a time of isolation and pandemic, it is vitally important that we don’t forget the resources we learned about and relied on to create strong music education programs.