Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Using the iPad for Assessment in Music Class

Yesterday we started an assessment bunch in choir class.  This will continue tomorrow.  This is a class of mostly freshman.  This is a challenging group of social drama.  Days like this when a million things are going on can be crazy.  It worked OK yesterday.

Sample Student Work

Three groups:

1. Each student gets 15 minutes to record themselves singing one of our five solo songs we are studying (On My Own, Its a Grand Night, etc...).  Two iPads are in the room.  One on a Griffin stand facing them (recorder) and another one with iTunes set up with the accompaniment (player).  I hope to sit with each student to analyze their performance.  The video does not lie...

2. The second group used garageband to record "I'm Yours".  Earlier we had taken a class where students had used the Six Strings app to accompany themselves while they sing.  This is not a skill normally done in choir.  Today I demonstrated for ten minutes how to lay down a bass, guitar, drum, and vocal track.  Some of the student work was amazing and sounds like a professional recording.  However, most students DID NOT keep time with the accompaniment and got ahead.  We will re-do.  This assignment works really, really well for teaching theory.

3. The third group worked in groups of five at a table to learn a "Girls Garden" which is one of our songs for the Spring.  I am trying to "teach" practicing.  They sang along with the youTube tapes.  The groups worked well together and "knew" the song by the end of the period.

Monday, February 18, 2013


I'm intrigued by and similar ideas.  I'm thinking of converting my grading system to a system of badges rather than the traditional "average" of a bunch of scores, which I am lately thinking is not at all relevant to student performance.

But I can't quite figure it out.  Is anyone doing this?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Playing and singing in choir class

It's hard to get students to do standard one--play an instrument, in choir class. I try to introduce piano and guitar and the ipad makes it easier.

Today all students learned "I'm Yours" which is a real easy 4 chord song. I pushed them to sing AND play. Freshman played the ipad ukulele using the six strings app and upperclassman played the chords on piano.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Hip Hop 8 Bar Lesson

I spent the last ten minutes of the last class explaining the 4 bar rhyme assignment.  I started the drum beat (its an app...) and gave some examples -- "My name is Jake, and I like to eat cake...".  I also emphasized they would turn in their rhymes using their Evernote folder.

Today as they walked in I had the drum beat playing and prompted them with a "you ready?" as they walked in.  As the bell rang I walked around class.  After two minutes I asked everyone to stand and form a circle.  I went over the rules of the game:

1. We support each other.
2. We try.

I then took the first turn and passed it to the next student.  In the first class there were some students who really prepared some good lyrics.  Second class, not so much.

Next I asked them to create a soundcloud account.  I explained that we will be publishing our music (this is the performing arts!!).

Finally I modeled creating and recording a drum and vocal track in Garageband, which can upload directly to soundcloud.  I demonstrated how to change the tempo, how to change instruments, and how to save and name the file.  Then I let them get started.

Some things that went well:
1. Students were supportive.  They tried.
2. I was able to introduce a lot of musical vocabulary (measures, bars, tempo, etc...).
3. We were able to set up Evernote and Soundcloud.  Much of these first few days is just to iron the kinks out.

Some things that did not go well:
1. One class came in completely unprepared.  I have to give them some freedom, yet I have to insist that they come prepared.
2. A few boys, don't seem to want to do ANY work.

Friday, February 1, 2013

iPad and Technology Workflow in Music Class

Here is our current set-up:

I have one three year old macBook that syncs all the iPads.  We have 14 iPad1 and 5 iPad2.  We keep them in a charging safe.  We have various microphone, Jamhub, and iRig accessories.

I wish wifi iTunes sync would work.  But it really doesn't.  So every two months or so I shut down for a day and make sure all the iPads are backed up and apps are up to date.

I use Google Docs and Google Forms extensively in al my classes.  This is a just a sample of the tools we use:

Choir uses the iPads to access our choir page on Google Sites.  I use noteflight and youtube to create practice tapes.  One app we use is the Six Strings app.  For example, on Monday the class will be assigned "I'm Yours" and "No Woman No Cry".  They will need to perform it using the Six String app and singing along.  The app works great.

Band uses garageband more than choir does.  One assignment I have done is asking them to create an 8 measure composition based on the Bb major scale.  Adding a drum beat, background guitar (what chords should you use?) and then recording themselves using the microphone.

Music Theory uses garageband more extensively.  Today I asked them to create an 8 measure "soundtrack" to a family picture of mine.  They could choose the picture.  Another app we use is madpad.  We used madPad at our Winter Concert to demonstrate form (ABA).  Now we can access noteflight on the iPad!! I use noteflight studio so each student has an account.  I have finale, but I haven't used it in a long, long time.

HipHop for the DJing and MCing aspect of this class I will use Evernote, DJay, Garageband, and soundcloud.  I will share notes with students using Evernote and they will submit their work through Evernote (writing, audio, images) and Soundcloud (publishing/public).  They will create their mixes and beats using DJay and Garageband.

We use youTube most of all....

Big hopes for smartmusic on the iPad.  Can't wait.