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As we approach a new calendar year, I am counting down ten tech tools to assist an elementary music educator in preparation for a concert. This will lead to a webinar that goes into all ten tech tools with a little more depth.
Yesterday, I wrote about #10: Audacity. Today’s tech tool, coming in at #9, is Soundtrap.
What is Soundtrap?
Soundtrap is an online music making tool/DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) that can be used on multiple devices and allows the user to collaborate by making music in real time with others from around the world. When I first decovered Soundtrap, I had read an article by Mic Wright that described it as having the potential to become a “lovechild of GarageBand and Google Docs.” I love this description and find it spot on. Though the music making portion can be done on GarageBand, the collaboration aspect and the fact that it can be used on multiple devices with multiple platforms, makes me choose Soundtrap when I need to create, record, or edit audio.
Though Audacity (#10) can edit audio, I find Soundtrap a bit more intuitive for editing audio. If you have an accompaniment track that needs editing and can add some effects, this app can do that well. For example, last year, my students sang, The Twelve Days of Regifted Christmas by Greg Gilpin. My students loved this song. However, due to time constraints, we had to edit the song to make it shorter and lessen the key changes. I used Audacity to make the recording have less key changes and used Soundtrap to edit the accompaniment to shorten the song and to record a melody track on my flute. It turned out very well.
Creating an Accompaniment Track
I had my young elementary students sing This Little Light of Mine by Harry Dixon Loes. Since they were studying Spanish, I asked my Spanish teacher to help me translate a verse to Spanish. When finished, we had the melody, the lyrics, and the form, but no accompaniment. This was a great time to use Soundtrap to create an accompaniment track for the song. It worked very well and we ended up using this newly created accompaniment track in the concert.
Recording an Accompaniment Track
During rehearsals, it is rare that we can hire an accompanist for all rehearsals. Therefore, we need to use the accompaniment track. If the song has no accompaniment track, then we have to record one. I have used Soundtrap to record myself playing the track. If the track is challenging, I have a few options: 1) I can record it slowly and use Audacity to increase the tempo. 2) I can find an accompaniment track on SoundCloud because some music educators place them there. 3) I can find a performance on youtube and use that for rehearsal (more about how to do this later on in this countdown).
Collaboration, Podcasts, and More
What I have described above is just the tip of the iceberg of what Soundtrap can do. I have seen schools use Soundtrap to have their students create musical podcasts, news podcasts, and even transition music between subjects. I have had my students use it to create and share music with each other as well as trying to collaborate with other students in different areas of the country. With Soundtrap’s ability to have students use almost any device to create music, with its newly merge with Spotify, and with its free version to its paid EDU subscription, Soundtrap is an amazing tool for any music educator.
Tomorrow’s post will feature #8 and #7 so that I can reach #1 on New Year’s Day. Please remember that this list is not intended for one to utilize all of the items on the list. It is meant for one to check out one or two items if they find them interesting.
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