Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Making a Sound Effects Board with an iPad

This year, I'm experimenting with putting Forest and Mountain classes (3rd and 4th grade) into semi-permanent small groups for projects. We all had a lot of fun with our first project a few weeks ago. Using a short, open-ended story and the app Soundslate, each group worked together to enhance the story with sound effects. They could use a maximum of 4 built-in sound effects, and were required to record all of the other sounds using the built-in microphone and their voices, bodies, or instruments in the music studio. Many groups chose to use no built-in sounds at all, which I loved!

Though I learned quite a bit to make this project go more smoothly the next time around, the first try was mostly a success. In addition to learning how much power sound can have over how we experience a story, I found myself facilitating conflict resolution and teaching some basic acoustics, too! In the end, this little story became everything from a comedy/adventure to violent horror. Groups delighted in surprising me with an unexpected sound or humorous twist.

Here is one board, ready for performance:

The story (okay to reproduce for educational purposes):

John and Violet were bored. It was a Saturday in October and it felt like there was nothing to do.
"Let's go for a walk," said Violet. "Maybe we'll find something interesting."
The two friends set out right away. At the end of Violet's street, they followed a dirt path into the thick woods behind her neighborhood, looking for adventure.
At first, everything seemed ordinary. Birds were chirping, squirrels chattering in the branches above them. Just as Violet was about to suggest turning around, John froze in his tracks.
"Listen," he whispered.
At first, Violet didn't hear anything but the breeze rustling the leaves. But when the breeze stopped, she heard it too. There was a strange singing in the distance, like nothing she had heard before. 
Violet felt a chill down her spine, but her curiosity got the better of her. "Come on, John, let's find it!"
John looked nervous, but he wouldn't say so. "Okay," he agreed.
The pair walked for what seemed like hours, not speaking so they could hear the strange music. Finally they reached a creek Violet had never seen before.
"Look!" cried John.
Violet followed his gaze across the creek and saw a tiny wooden house. It looked too small for an ordinary person to live in. Flowers were planted outside the little front door, and smoke came out of a chimney barely taller than Violet's shoulders. One of two windows the size of a sheet of paper was opened, and they could hear the music coming from inside.
"What do you think it is?" whispered John, but Violet didn't answer. She had already leapt across the creek and was knocking on the door.
"No!" shouted John, but it was too late. 

Busy busy busy!!

I have been neglecting my poor blog since the start of the school year. I'm even busier than usual! Here are a few updates:

  • LS students have been enjoying xylophones (River and Sky), recorders (Mountain and Forest), and two iPad projects in Forest and Mountain that I'll be posting on later in more detail.
  • LS Forest and Mountain classes have begun planning our big project for the year, involving the entire Lower School.... (mysterious wink)
  • MS Music Rotation is getting creative with their Stomp Projects, which they'll be performing later today.
  • MS Musicians' Workshop students have been composing, composing, composing! Students have worked on everything from pop songs with lyrics, to sequenced techno tracks, to an ambient concept album. Stay tuned for some audio clips!
  • My MS Advisee group has set goals, sent a small tornado through my house at advisee outing, and is turning the Music House into a haunted music house for our Halloween fun.
  • I have started conducting the Piedmont Youth Orchestra! More on that later, too!
  • I will be presenting three technology clinics at the NC Music Educators Association conference in November. These are iPads in General Music, Using What You Have: Enhancing General Music with Technology, and Using iPads to Teach a Composition-Based Curriculum.
Blog, it's not you, it's me!