Technology in the music room is just as important as in the general education classroom. Providing opportunities for students to create digitally is exciting and engaging – even for the most difficult music students. Some of us already have interactive boards on our walls, but few have their own iPads, I would imagine. Keep reading to find out the means by which I received a class set of iPads and how I incorporated them into my lessons.
No Computer Lab, No Problem
I was fortunate to open a new school last year. It was beautiful with all the latest bells and whistles, but I was surprised to learn there was no computer lab in the plans. “What is a school without computers?” I thought. It wasn’t long before I discovered we were well stocked with technological devices including iPad carts for every class of younger grades and Chrome books for each class of older students. That said, there were no carts available to checkout or reserve when I wanted to use technology in Music class. As a result, I took action.
Grants Are Our Friends
Knowing I didn’t have the budget for even one iPad, I sought other avenues of achieving my goal. The district in which I worked had amazing grant opportunities, especially for technology. I had heard about teachers applying for a few iPads or Chrome books or Maker Space products in the past, but I was extremely intimidated by having to write. Finally deciding to step out, I wrote a technology grant for a set of iPads, two charging/docking stations, and headphones. The process was fairly easy and the reward was great! If I can do it, you can too. 🙂
iPads Delivered, Now What?
When I finally received the new iPads, there were only six weeks left of school. Eager to get the equipment into the students’ hands, I concentrated on a few different apps to enrich the music learning process. The following is a breakdown of how I led the students to “learn” by playing with technology…
6th Grade -Composers. Each student chose their favorite composer to research, answering 15 questions such as country of origin, primary instrument, famous works, etc. Students were guided to search on kid-friendly websites and were allowed to listen to famous works using the YouTube Kids app. When research was complete, students created an “autobiography” on the Chatterpix Kids app by taking a picture of their composer and recording a summary of their research findings. The end result is a video of a composer “talking” about their life. It was a lot of fun and we got some laughs as we learned about the historical musicians while watching the presentations. **Bonus –this project is cross-curricular. L.A. and History teachers give this lesson an A+.
5th Grade – Recorder. With only a few weeks left to earn their recorder karate belts, students took advantage of independent practice time before being called to play off a piece. Developers have made a fun recorder app called Play Along Recorder that my kiddos absolutely loved. They created their own avatar and followed the directions for fingerings, staff reading, and creating a good tone. Many of our “testing” songs are included on this app, so students were able to play along/practice while receiving feedback. This was a win/win for them and for me.
4th Grade – Orchestra. I was surprised to discover my students were not familiar with using QR codes, so the first thing they did was an instrument scavenger hunt where the codes were read on the iPad camera and the name/family was revealed. Following this activity, students were asked to choose an instrument they might like to learn to play when they reached middle school age. The kids researched their instrument using a short question page. The information learned was turned into a narrative where the students had become a local news anchor explaining about their instrument escaping from the orchestra. Any prompt could be used, but this was fun for us to let creativity run wild. The best part about this project is creating the media presentation. Telestory is an app where you can tell your story through different characters and scenes such as aliens from outer space, news anchors reporting about the sports or weather, spies on a mission, and others. I was amazed at how well students explained characteristics of their instrument using their creative juices. We laughed and laughed as many really got into character. **Another cross-curricular bonus.
3rd Grade – Composition. Crayola DJ, Incredibox, and Toca Band were perfect for my student to get their groovy beat going. Each of these apps are different whereas one involves beat boxing, another uses aliens, and still another gives the choice of fun genres and DJ capabilities, Similarly, all three teach looping and mixing of a variety of sounds to compose your own groove. What I love about this activity is students work independently to create and then they proudly come up to show me what they have done. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by listening to their “songs.”
2nd Grade – Rhythm. Rhythm Swing is good for any level, but my students were practicing half notes/rests. Going on a jungle adventure is part of the fun, but watch out for King Crocodile, he’s out to get the swinging monkey if too many mistakes are made. This app has a “play, practice, learn” feature to use depending on where you are in the teaching process. It was a hit among my class.
1st Grade – Orchestra. After a brief introduction and some short videos of different families, students were able to do some exploration of sounds and visual identification by playing games. Meet the Orchestra and Sounds of the Orchestra were two apps I found to be suitable for the younger kids. Some students partnered up to play matching games and take quizzes, but many chose to continue independent guidance as they navigated through the options. Fun. Fun.
Is That It? What Else Can I Do?
There are TONS of apps for music education on the iTunes app store. Some are free, but some come with a price. Part of the fun as a teacher is browsing through all the options and finding the apps that will best suit your students. You will have them doing back flips to play on iPads without even realizing the scope of learning that is taking place. Need an activity to leave for emergency sub plans? iPads are easy to use in your absence and allow music education to continue – even when your sub isn’t musically proficient (wink, wink.) Many of the apps don’t require any explanation prior to playing/exploring, so the kids can do it on their own under the substitute’s supervision. Do you celebrate “fun day” or “reward day” in your Music classroom? iPad time is an excellent way to encourage good behavior or working toward a goal. Students love free choice apps where they can have control over which music concept they learn.
I hope this information was helpful when it comes to adding technology to your music lessons. Of course, these ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. I encourage you to discover some resources for obtaining iPads, as well as use your creativity in developing fun and engaging lessons for your students.
Stacie Bates @ The Bates Clef