Using Technology To Let Students SEE Musical Concepts – MultiTrack DAW to the Rescue!

MultiTrack LogoWe are in Middle School Band rehearsal and I am trying to explain the concept of shaping notes a particular way. I am trying to explain the space I want between the notes. I am trying to get the students to understand that there is a start to each note, a middle to each note and an end to each note. I am even playing for them on my instrument so they have a professional to listen to and model. And…. as frequently happens in middle school it’s not sinking in with nearly enough of the little children.

I stop…

I pause…

I think. In fact I think FAST!!!! HELP!!!!! What can I do to help them understand? Then it hits me, they are musicians and so many musicians are VISUAL learners!

I grab my phone and quickly AirPlay it out to my Apple TV. I tell the kids to watch the screen. I open up MultiTrack DAW SmallMultiTrackDAW and see a few quizzical looks on their faces… ah, ha! I’ve got ’em! Technology!

I record enable track one and hit the play button and I record the perfect take of a few short measures. NOW they are SEEING the music! We talk about what they see, the digital waveform, the shape, the space. Then It happens… a student raises his hand and says… “Can I try?”

He records. We compare the shapes. We listen to the two recordings and compare. Now the students SEE and HEAR both! We record a few other kids and slowly the style and shape starts to come around to what I want. We leave class feeling like we learned something today, feeling like we are superstar recording artists! (well…. OK, OK…. that might be pushing it.)

Here is what they saw… Which version is mine do you think? Which one is WAY too run together with not nearly enough space?

Notice that the Mute buttons are on for three of the tracks – that is because I wanted to record four different times but not hear the other tracks. It didn’t matter that they did not line up because we were just using them to visualize a very difficult concept which just got a whole lot easier.


You can do this with MultiTrackDAW, GarageBand or any other app that is sitting on your phone/iPad or computer. But man is it cool when you can whip out that phone and in seconds be recording/showing the kids what they sound like. I like MultiTrackDAW because it is one of the most solid and straight forward recording apps to work with that works on BOTH iPhone and iPad!

MT DAW gives you 8 tracks fro $9.99 and if you want to add 8 more it is an IAP for $5.99 and if you want to add a glorious  16 more it will cost $7.99


One thought on “Using Technology To Let Students SEE Musical Concepts – MultiTrack DAW to the Rescue!

  1. This is a perfect example of how Western notation is deficient at displaying subtle and sometimes not so subtle variations in timing and phrasing. You’ve hit upon a very valuable teaching tool through comparative waveform analysis, bravo!

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