Technology In Music Education

Have you used technology today while teaching music class?

Since I arrived at school at 7:10 this morning I have! I started by scanning in Euphonium parts for the community band, 16 of them. That took about 5 minutes. Then I scanned all the parts for our marching band show for next fall. Three songs, all parts…. That took about one minute per song…. Three minutes and thirty seconds total. I’ve got to pause here and say that I really love the Kinolta BizHub copier/scanner our school purchased a few years ago! Scanning is fast, wicked fast! Every sheet of music I digitize is time saved later. For instance let me continue….

unrealBookThen the kids arrived. A student needs a part because he lost his, honesty does help me not get so upset with these children! It is the student who claims “someone” took his music that I don’t have much patience with! Back to my day though…. I do a spotlight search for that PDF with all the parts in it and print that one page then send a band aid down to get it. Sometimes I simply use UnRealBook or ForScore to find the PDF containing all the parts in it and simply print from my iPad. Time…. 30 seconds of my time and a two minute walk for the band aid. Onto class…. We play a few warm up songs then I direct their attention to the screen which is showing SmartMusic and their next new song. We listen to it through an awesome sund board and sound system, then we sing to it, then we sing and finger the notes and finally we play it. Then of course I record it on my iPhone using AudioBoo so I can later demonstrate to the state, school admins, and students the growth and learning that has taken place over next few weeks.

Next class. This class is performing solos. Of course four students still need music. I open Sibelius, find a couple of solo pieces that I have entered in – from the public domain of course, and effortlessly copy the music into a new staff for their particular instrument. Then I print. Of course that child needs an accompaniment CD to practice with so I use my handheld recorder at lunch time to record myself playing the piano part. Then I take the SD card out, insert into a card reader, dump it into iTunes and burn a disc. The next student simply wants his accompaniment emailed to him so I use iTunes, convert it to an MP3 format and email it. Unfortunately the third student doesn’t use gmail and their email will not allow even the smaller size of the mp3 format so I upload the accompaniment to DropBox and send him the share link. Problem solved.

JazzyTourIconNow it’s elementary, 1st grade music class! I love this class! We use the iPad and apps all the time! Today we are using Jazzy World Tour! This is a wonderful app to help us teach to the National and State standards dealing with music and culture. The app starts you with a world map all in green except for seven countries which are yellow and have flags on them. We then decide that today we should go visit Spain. Upon arriving at Spain we are given three options…. Learn, Play, Create. Wen we started using this app the kids all wanted to go directly to PLAY! Interesting observation right there, for another post later though! Now that we have used this app they all want to jump right to Create because they enjoy it s much! Of course I make them go to the learning section first though! Once there we see a short description of Spain and then at the bottom of the screen there are three spots holding items to learn about. Instruments, animals and things. We zip though these, learning about Flamenco music, matadors and cajon’s. Then when they feel able to correctly identify everything we go over to the Play section. I love this section because it gives us a chance to listen to flamenco music while playing around with the wonderful animals playing different instruments. Then we make the baby chicken run away as I narrate the Momma chicken freaking out and then chasing after the baby which then ends up with a class room of giggling 1st graders when the mama and baby chase each other on the screen looking for each other! All great fun! Soon the students are answering my questions abut what is on the screen correctly so we head off to the create section. In the create section we are given a ton of different items at the bottom of the screen to drag up onto our scene. This reminds me of the old days and my toys…. I cannot remember what those things were called, color forms? Plastic, figures I was able to stick on a scene….. O well….  I then tap othe camera button and we are given thirty seconds to record our video. I rapid fire questions to the kids about identifying everything on the screen and we end with the bull chasing the matador off the screen, which again ends with the kids laughing! If you go to YouTube and search Paul Shimmons you can find several of the videos we have made using this app. The kids love it!

Attendance2-Icon72That brings us to High School Band. As the students walk in they scan their QR code into the iPad sitting by the door. We use the app, Attendance2. This aids me in taking attendance. Once the bell rings I pick the iPad up, tap the hide present button and can quickly double check exactly who is absent. The high school kids have been composing short pieces of music to perform for the rest of the class and today is performance day! We use the iPad to video every ensemble. Later I will use that recording to finalize and double check if I have any questions for their assessment. As they are performing I am using my iPad to mark points and assess the group. I used a web site called which allowed me to create a rubric and today I simply tap on a few boxes and their grades are done.

After class I have a student who takes the videos of the performances and he uploads them to our YouTube account so the students can show their work to parents and friends.

The last class of the day is my 8th grade class and they are finishing their final scale and rhythm assessments for the year in SmartMusic. We have three practice rooms set up with computers. The students follow the computer testing schedule and take care of rotating themselves through every day.

Then I go home!