Thursday, February 6, 2014

Recorder Interactive is Here!!

Recorder Interactive: A Magical Method has finally been released in the iBookstore! Designed from scratch for iBooks on the iPad and Mac, this new recorder method includes 75 pages of instruction, over 30 songs, and over 100 audio files and scads of interactive features. Suitable for ages 8 to adult, it can be used for self-instruction, as a lesson book, or as a classroom method. I'm hoping to have it tested out in some one-to-one iPad schools–please contact me if your school is interested!

Recorder Interactive is priced at $7.99 in the iBookstore, but you can download a free sample that includes the entire first chapter and several pages from later in the book for your perusal. If you are a music educator, I have a few free promo codes if you'd like a review copy. Thank you so much for checking out this labor of love!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Musical Storybooks on iPads

Here is another of my handouts from my 2013 NCMEA/TI:ME presentation, "iPad Projects that Work." This plan uses the app Book Creator ($4.99), and is especially effective if your students are already creating books with their language teachers. If your school has iPads and your classroom teachers AREN'T using this app (or something similar), you might want to show it to them!

Musical Storybooks
Level: Grades 1-4
National Standards: Depending on how the lesson is implemented, it may include: 2. Performing on instruments, 3. Improvising melodies, 4. Composing and arranging, and/or 8. Understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts.
Purpose: To create a soundtrack for an original story, created independently or as a joint project with your students' language arts teacher.
Materials: iPad(s) loaded with Book Creator app or similar, and one or more student-created storybooks; virtual instrument apps and a variety of classroom instruments.
1. Show your students a video clip that demonstrates the importance of soundtrack. Possibilities include excerpts from Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep, Star Wars, etc. For students in grade 4 and up, also consider the video "Star Wars Without John Williams" available on YouTube for a humorous example of how much music can affect the impact of a scene.
2. Depending on the length and scope of this project, decide whether students will work individually on their own stories (longest), in small groups with one story per group, or as a class, with each individual/group assigned a page, scene, or character.
3. Depending on step 2, students plan where to insert music into their storybook.
4. Students create music depending on your guidelines, the scope of the project, and the age of the class. Any sound file that can be put into iTunes can be used in Book Creator. If you have enough iPads, consider using virtual instrument apps or GarageBand. You can also record live performances directly into Book Creator.
5. Share your completed stories with each other, your students' language arts teacher, and/or a younger class of students!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ten Ideas for Using GarageBand on iPads in the Classroom

Hello strangers--it's been a while! Who knew that raising three kids while teaching full time and conducting a little orchestra on the side could be so hectic? Okay, that does seem obvious now that I write it down. Sorry to say, the blog has been on a waaaay back burner for quite some time. Time to stir the pot!

Since the NCMEA conference in November, I've been meaning to post blog versions of the handouts from my tech sessions. Today's post is from my "iPad Projects that Work" session. I know lots of teachers and students who love GarageBand, but sometimes it's hard to turn that fun exploration into a definable project. The desktop version of GarageBand is more powerful (though the iOS version is catching up quickly), but I love using GarageBand on the iPad in the classroom because kids are naturally drawn to the virtual instruments over the built-in loops. If Apple figures out how to bring a video track into the iOS version of GarageBand, I'll be in nerd teacher heaven!

10 Ideas for Using GarageBand on iPads

  • Give students a chord progression that fits with a song you're singing or playing on instruments. Have them create accompaniments for the song using Smart Instruments. Optionally, record the song over each accompaniment.
  • Teach about scales and modes by improvising melodies on virtual instruments with scale restrictions turned on.
  • Explore popular styles by creating songs using a single category of built-in loops (i.e., Urban, Blues).
  • Lead student songwriters through a studio recording experience as they record each part of their song onto separate tracks.
  • Load a premade accompaniment into GarageBand (easily done through iCloud) and have students compose or improvise additional tracks on recorder, voice, or virtual instruments.
  • Arrange students into bands and show them how to have a Jam Session.
  • Teach about I-V-I, I-IV-V-I, etc. using smart guitar, strings, or keyboard.
  • Have each student record one rhythmic or melodic “snippet” into an audio track. This works well with recorders or xylophones arranged into a pentatonic scale. Individually or as a class, rearrange and/or loop the snippets to create a single song.
  • Keep a class collaborative song in the cloud or on one iPad that each student may add to during free or project time. Depending on the maturity of the students, you may need to create strict rules about modifying vs. erasing other students’ contributions.
  • Show students the joy of your first Casio keyboard by recording sounds into the built-in sampler. Challenge students to create interesting songs from their sampled instruments.

And a few hints:

  • Use headphones! Splitters are inexpensive and very useful for pairs and small groups.
  • Be aware that it is VERY easy to edit other students’ songs, and that GarageBand automatically opens into the most recent song. Teach students to return to “My Songs” before quitting, rename their files to something recognizable, and sort the songs into folders by class or group. If you are not saving documents in iCloud, students will need to use the same iPad each class.
  • Teach to the concept you’re covering, but don’t overteach how to use the app. You’ll be amazed how quickly students of all ages will learn all its features simply by exploring.

Do you use GarageBand in your teaching? Please share your ideas and tips in the comments!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

App Storm today at NCMEA!

This morning I'll be presenting an "App Storm" session at the NCMEA 2013 conference. Instead of paper handouts, I'm putting my list of apps right here. Enjoy! Please note that I ran out of time to finish up a couple of categories. And even with weeks more, there's no way I'd find every appropriate app! :)

Access the PDF here:

I'll post the full text here as soon as I have a chance. Enjoy!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Welcome back, Lower School!

We're off to a great start this year in the Lower School (I'll write a separate post about Middle School)! We're finishing up our third week of school and second week of music classes. I'm fortunate enough to see all my LS classes twice a week, so we're already well into things. Here's a summary of what we've done so far.

A couple of years ago, I finally purchased a Tibetan singing bowl, something I've wanted for a long time--both because there is no other sound like it in the world, and I wanted to use it as a mindfulness tool in the classroom. The kids have always loved it. I can practically see their heart rates slowing down and their focus coming back to center as they listen to it, and they enjoy raising a finger to show when each person stops hearing the incredibly long sound. This year, I've decided to start every music class with "the ringing of the bowl." This fits well with our Friends school practice of settling in, and I have a long-term plan to work on some additional mindfulness techniques and queries during this special 2-3 minutes. So far, I'm feeling much more settled MYSELF at the start of a busy class, and the kids seem more ready to focus.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Updating my PLN for the new year

It's that time--everyone is gearing up for the new school year! My older two kids are carrying their new backpacks and lunch bags wherever they go; my baby is getting used to his daycare a few hours at a time (sniff). My house is a mess of new supplies and instruments!

I'm also updating my PLN and checking out a bunch of new apps and websites. One website that's recently caught my attention is Common Sense Media's Graphite. Graphite is a site for teachers, featuring reviews of computer apps, mobile apps, games, and websites for use in education. Each listing is reviewed by Common Sense Media writers, but educators can also add their own "field notes," a combination of ratings and classroom suggestions, and detailed lesson plans. The selection of resources isn't huge at the moment, since it only includes things reviewed by Common Sense Media itself, but there is a form for teachers to suggest apps and sites for review, as well as a submission form for developers. I think this site has lots of potential and I look forward to seeing it grow!

The Graphite beta home page

Another PLN tool I've been enjoying this summer is a new-ish feature in the popular iOS app Flipboard, which allows you to "flip" articles into your own magazines. These magazines can be private or shared with the community. Though I'm in the habit of saving articles and lesson ideas with my all-time favorite Evernote, Flipboard offers a beautiful reading interface and the ability to view your Twitter feed (and RSS feeds, and many more) in a magazine format, with links and photos already pulled up for you into articles.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Beach and Magic Moves

Greetings from one of my favorite places on Earth!

This week my family is at Emerald Isle, NC for our annual beach vacation. The ocean is warm and the weather is perfect–but even so, my young children need a lot of in-condo activities during our breaks from the sun. Out of the entire bin of toys and art supplies, there is one clear favorite, the Magic Moves Electronic Wand. It looks like this:

This ingenious little toy may look like any number of cheap plastic light-up toys, but it is really a preschool/elementary school music and movement class packed into a kid-friendly plastic case. Its catchy little theme goes like this: "Shake it up, work it out. Magic moves is all about.... Moving!" It has 90 different movements, from "Stomp like a dinosaur," to "float like a butterfly," to "gallop like a camel." After each movement instruction, it plays appropriate instrumental/orchestral music to accompany the movement, followed by "freeze!" and the next motion. There is also a button to repeat the movement, so when my kids get to one they especially like they will do it over and over.... and over. Though the sound quality from the speaker is not fantastic (though it's quite good for the low price), the musical selections are very well done and sound like music I would pick for creative listening and movement time in my classroom.

The manufacturer's recommended age for this toy is 3-10. Though it might be seen as a "little kid toy" by the older set, it is a fantastic toy for siblings and is a fun way to get an older sibling to play with a younger one without getting bored. It would also make a lovely, unique gift for any kid 8 or under (or older, if the child isn't sensitive to a toy looking like it's for younger kids). My kids get a ton of exercise without even realizing it, and I love how they really listen and move to the style and beat of the music.

It's time for more sunscreen here, but I'll be back next week! Happy July. :)