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This past week, the K-1/4-5 science teacher sent me the website link to whalesynth.com. This website was new to me and I have had a wonderful time making music with it.
5th Grade Whale Project
Every year the fifth graders study whales which culminates with a project and a whale trip in Massachusetts. The students research and present about various whales. This year, they are creating google sites to display their knowledge of the whales that they are researching.
The fifth grade science teacher showed me her students’ google sites about whales. This immediately got me thinking as I have one second grade class composing a melody for our kindness song. However, it is a short song and my other second grade class wanted to compose as well. When I saw the google sites, I commented to the science teacher that the sites would be enhanced with music.
The fifth graders were utilizing STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) to create these google sites. The second graders would be using STEAM to create the music. Science-understanding the google sites about the whales. Technology-using this for composing and creating music. Engineering-utilizing these skills to bring the music to the site. Arts-creating music with the visualizations from the google sites to inspire them. Mathematics-understanding the meter and rhythm, along with pitches, when composing the melody.
The second graders began the project by viewing the websites. They were given the problem that the websites lacked music with whale sounds as a way to make the sites more interesting. The students started composing pentatonic melodies that showed melodic direction of waves using a C pentatonic scale. The students utilized noteflight.com as their compositional tool as some of my students would be challenged using traditional methods of paper and pencil to compose melodies.
in the upcoming weeks, the students will export those melodies into Soundtrap with the guidance of utilizing loops to enhance the melodies and create an “oceanic” feel to their music.
Finally, the students will use whalesynth.com to create and record whale sounds. The website does not have a recording option. However, the students can have soundtrap.com open and then open a new tab in whalesynth.com. This works better using a web browser than using the app. It also works better on a chromebook or laptop than an iOS device.
In soundtrap, they could add a new track and select “Voice & microphones.” They can choose the “no headphones” option. They could then press record in soundtrap and then begin making music on whalesynth.com, by clicking on its tab. Once finished, they can press stop in soundtrap.
To make music with whalesynth, you click your mouse or touch your sreen and draw over it. It will produce various whale songs. By clicking on the waves, you can create a chorus effect of your whale songs. When you click on the anchor, it makes your sounds dive deeper into the ocea. The pleats swirl the echoes of the sound. The sonar lets the user play with a variety of whale clicks, pops, and beats. By clicking on the whale, you can change to three different species with three unique sounds. Finally, the site built an Ableton Live instrument for you, but you will need Ableton Live to use it. You can download samples if you do not have the instrument.
I am excited to try this out with my second graders. I will report back with the results and links in the near future.
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