Ten Interactive Websites to Utilize in the Elementary General Music Classroom
My second top ten list for the week involves interactive websites that an elementary music educator can utilize in his/her general music classroom. Some of these websites can be used by the educator in a one computer classroom, or can be used with multiple computer stations, or a computer lab, or on mobile devices like iPads by using a web browser app like Safari or Google Chrome, or a flash-based web browser app like Photon Edu. The websites listed below are not listed in any particular order.
- Orchestra websites geared for children: There are some excellent websites created for young students by professional orchestras.
The ones that are well known are NY Phil Kidzone (http://www.nyphilkids.org/), Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO kids) (http://www.dsokids.com/), and San Francisco Symphony (SFS kids) (http://www.sfskids.org/). The NY Phil Kidzone can be used to have students explore a variety of composers, create compositions, and explore how to arrange orchestrations for a variety of instruments. DSO kids could be used to learn about the numerous periods of music as well as a lot of games that can be used as a whole class activity. SFS kids is an amazing website to have the students explore all of the instruments of the orchestra through a variety of interactive pictures and sound files.
- Musictechteacher.com: Karen Garrett is a music educator from Alabama and the 2006 TI:ME Teacher of the Year. Her website can give any music educator ideas for lessons, worksheets for lessons, quizzes, and terrific drill/skill practice games. I highly recommend Rhythm Billionaire.
This game can be played by dividing the class into two teams and having one member from each team try to answer the question and earn the points. Also recommended is the Rhythms Hoopshoot by also dividing the class into two teams and having one player from each team come up to the computer/mobile device/interactive whiteboard, answer the question, and try to land a basket to earn points. Karen’s website is amazing and she puts all of the materials on her website for free!
- http://www.musick8kids.com: This website is for students so that they can legally download songs from Plank Road Publishing’s Music K8 for 99 cents and videos for $1.98. There are also excellent interactive resources on this site. Need a recorder fingering chart? Look here: http://www.musick8kids.com/html/recorder_training.php#.UowvuGQwzrE I load this site on my SMART board so that the students can touch the note on the staff and see the recorder fingering appear when they need to learn a new note. Need another set of boom whackers? Try these virtual boom whackers found on the site: http://www.musick8kids.com/html/play_bw.php#.UowwDWQwzrE I have my students play them on a laptop or interactive whiteboard.
- Noteflight: My elementary students have used noteflight (a cloud-based notation software) to compose four to twelve measure melodies.
When their melodies are finished, we export them as midi files and import them to garageband so the students can pick a style of music and loops to create an accompaniment to their melodies. Noteflight has many options and prices for subscriptions and everything is saved in the cloud where it can be easily accessed from any laptop or mobile device.
- The Music Interactive web site: This site has many software applications that can be downloaded onto your computer for free.
They can also be used on an interactive whiteboard, but the interactive whiteboard is not necessary. There are many wonderful applications found on this site. The one that is many music educators’ favorite is Staff Wars Version 2.2, which can be found here. This is a note reading game where the students can use a recorder or a band instrument to perform the notes that float across the staff. If they play the note correctly, the note is “blown off” the staff. Recorder students love this game.
- Incredibox: Incredibox just launched its third version this year. When you launch this site, you can quickly see how easy it is to use by young students. The students can click and drag loops of beats, effects, melodies, and voices onto the the “dudes” (as my students affectionately call them) to create an ostinato or a musical
creation. I have used it for the class to create an ostinato together so that they could recite their “respect raps” that they wrote at the beginning of the year with their newly-created ostinato. I have seen other music educators use it to have the students create a musical creation where they record themselves adding and removing loops and muting and soloing certain loops throughout the recording. If the shirtless “dudes” bother you, use version one where they wear shirts the entire time.
- Skype in the Classroom: Skype in the classroom assists you with finding other music educators to skype with and network. It also helps you find other music classrooms to skype with where you can sing to each other, share musical activities, and create other wonderful musical projects. Skype in the classroom also helps you find guest musicians to skype into your classroom. I have used skype to have my students sing concert songs to other schools in and outside the United States.
- Spotify: Spotify is a cloud-based commercial music streaming service. There is a free version that allows you access to millions of songs from any laptop. The free version also includes ads, so if you decide to use Spotify for all of your musical selections, the ads are a con. There is also the $9.99 a month premium subscription where you can listen to all of the songs on any device from a laptop to a mobile device without any advertisements. An internet service is required to be able to use Spotify. However, think of the endless possibilities if you can have your school purchase a monthly service for your computer so that you have access to music from any computer as you travel from one classroom to the next.
- Youtube/Safeshare: Youtube has endless positive uses in the elementary general music classroom. From watching musicians perform, to viewing listening maps, to finding music education videos that are out of print, to anything, youtube is an asset to a music classroom. However, sometimes the ads and/or the comments are inappropriate for a classroom setting. This is where http://safeshare.tv/ is amazing. You copy and paste the youtube url of the video that you would like into the safeshare.tv box and it will generate a safe link that eliminates all ads and comments. Click on that newly created safe link and voila! No more ads or comments. School blocks youtube or other websites? You can easily download the youtube video in a variety of ways, but one of the simplest ways is to go to the url of the youtube video you would like (i.e. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHogg7pJI_M – this is a video of Jimmy Fallon, the Roots, and the Sesame Street characters all playing the Sesame Street theme song on classroom instruments) and insert “ss” in front of “youtube” (i.e. www.ssyoutube.com/watch?v=SHogg7pJI_M). This leads you to a page where you can easily download the video onto your computer in a variety of formats.
- http://www.musicbulletinboards.net/: Bulletin Boards for the Music Classroom has been a wonderful resource for music educators since 1999 put together by Tracy King. I adore the downloads section because I can find so many powerpoints of traditional songs so that I do not have to create them from scratch.
There are so many more that I would love to list like http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/ to find professional-looking and valuable resources for the music classroom for a small fee; https://www.quavermusic.com where you can explore musical aspects and concepts, create music, compose music, record music, create music videos, and more all on this free site (you do not need the curriculum to access and use the site); http://www.classdojo.com/ for an educator to use to help the students stay on task; Audacity for an educator to use to change the tempo of recordings, to change the keys of recordings, and to remove lyrics from recordings; and so much more. Please check out the “Websites/Software” portion of my website to read about more websites that can be used in the classroom by the students and/or teacher.
Amy M. Burns is an elementary music educator, clinician, author, and musician. She currently works at Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills, NJ teaching PreK through Grade 3 general music, grade 5 instrumental music, and grades 4-8 instrumental band. She is the author of Technology Integration in the Elementary Music Classroom, Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with a SMART Board, and Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with One or more iPads! She is also an author for Online Learning Exchange™ Interactive Music powered by Silver Burdett. She has given numerous presentations on integrating technology into the elementary music classroom as well as being a keynote speaker for music technology conferences in Texas, Indiana, St. Maarten, and Australia. She is the recipient of the 2005 TI:ME Teacher of the Year Award, the 2016 NJ Master Music Teacher Award, the 2016 NJ Governor’s Leader in Arts Education Award, and the 2017 Non-Public School Teacher of the Year Award. You can find out more about Amy at her website: amymburns.com