2020 Countdown: 10 Websites for the Elementary General Music Class #6 and #5

Let’s continue the countdown to 2020 with #6 and #5 of 10 websites for the elementary general music class. Again, a few reminders as we countdown:

  • This list does not include all and there are many other great websites out there.
  • Use this list to choose a couple of websites to try in 2020. Trying all of them would not assist in completing your goal for your students in your classroom.
  • This list can be used with one device in the classroom, to stations, to a 1:1 or 1:World classroom.
  • On 1/1/20, we will conclude the list. A webinar showcasing the ten websites will follow shortly after.
  • Always experiment with the websites in your teaching area before using them with the students. Always remember that there are 25 other letters in the alphabet if Plan A goes awry.
  • Find a tech buddy to assist you if you need help or ask for assistance from your local music education organizations through their social media sites.

More Music Creation Websites!

#6 Chrome Music Websites

Over the past few years, inventors for Chrome have created many wonderful and musical websites for teachers and students. Here are a few:

Chrome Music Lab (musiclab.chromeexperiments.com

In March of 2016, Google launched Chrome Music Lab to support the National Association for Music Education’s (NAfME) initiative of Music in Our Schools Month® (MIOSM). As stated on the Chrome Music Lab’s website, many teachers use this website as a tool to explore music and to connect music with science, art, math, and more (Google, 2018).

Chrome Music Lab consists of thirteen musical activities and explorations that can be done in a 1:World classroom, as well as a teacher projecting the website onto a screen and having students participate by taking turns creating, making, and exploring music. The requirements to use this website is a device that has the Chrome web browser. I would also suggest a decent pair of speakers and of course, a projector, if you are using this in a one-device classroom. If you are utilizing this in a 1:World classroom, I would suggest headphones or to space the students around the room so that they can focus on their music creations. However, students in a group or at a station can also wonderfully use these activities so that students can collaborate together to create and make music.

  • Rhythm: Built by George Michael Brower. This consists of animated characters playing rhythms in meters of 3, 4, 5, and 6 (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: Rhythm 
  • In a one-device setting, use this tool to show meters as well as having students move to the meters. In addition, have a student create a rhythm pattern within in the meter. For older elementary, students can decode the rhythm pattern that was created on screen.
    • In a 1:World Chromebook classroom, assign the students to first explore each meter and then to create a rhythm pattern for one of the meters. Once finished, have the students use classroom percussion instruments to play and record their rhythm patterns. Since this will create an atmosphere with very full sounds, encourage the students to perform each classmate’s rhythm patterns as a large percussion ensemble.
  • Sound Waves: Built by Mark Lundin. This consists of an exploration and visualization of a sound wave moving through air molecules.
Figure 2
  • Figure 2: Sound Waves
    • In a one-device setting, I use this activity to introduce a STEAM unit. I collaborate with the science teacher as we work together on teaching about sound and music. With Sound Waves, I have a student play the keyboard provided in the app and they watch the blue dots move. The blue dots represent air moving through molecules. The higher the pitch, the faster the air moves. When the magnifying class is clicked, a red line will appear that draws the shape of one molecule moving through the air (see Figure 2).
    • In a 1:World classroom setting, have students explore long sounds, short sounds, high sounds, and low sounds. Ask them to answer higher order thinking questions about why the shape of the red line changes. They can reflect on this using their Seesaw journals, or a padlet (padlet.com), or writing their answers with paper and pencil.
  • Kandinsky: Built by Active Theory and inspired by Russian abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky. This app turns anything you draw into sound.
Figure 3: Kandinsky
  • In a one-device and a 1:World setting, the students draw a pattern on paper. This pattern can include shapes and lines. Set a guideline such as two shapes and three lines so that they can perform all of their drawings. Have the students draw their pictures into the app and listen to the results (see Figure 3). Ask them if they thought if it would sound the way the Kandinsky app played it. In addition, make the cross-curricular connections with learning about the artist in art class.
  • Song Maker: Built by Google Creative Lab, Use All Five, and Yotam Mann. This app can make simple songs with melody, harmony and rhythm. The songs can be shared via a link or social media, where others can collaborate and add to or change the song. Click the “Settings” button to determine the song’s length, beats per bar, subdivisions, scale (major, minor, pentatonic), tonic, and range.
    • In a one-device setting, the elementary music educator can create a melody in the app, like Lucy Locket, and have the students try to identify the melody. Then hand out boomwhackers and have them perform the melody. Song Maker uses the colors that are closely related to boomwhacker colors.
Figure 4: Song Maker
  • In addition, the music educator can show a visualization of beat subdivisions by creating a song in a simple, triple meter and having the “Settings” show “Beats per bar 3/Split beats into 1” (see Figure 4). Have the students or the teacher create a melody when the notes will appear as dotted half notes. Then go back into the “Settings” and change “Split beats into 3”. The melody now changes and shows the subdivision within each measure.
    • In a 1:World classroom setting, have the students create a melody and rhythm in a guided form, such as ABA coda, or AABB.
    • Sharing the Song: When finished, click the “Save” button and the app will generate a link. The students can share this link on your music classroom’s Facebook or Twitter page. You can also copy the embed code to embed in a music classroom webpage. Finally, the students can copy the link and email you the link (if you do not share your email address with your students, consider setting up a gmail account just for students to send you work, ie examplemusicteacherschoolexample@gmail.com), place the link on their Seesaw journal, or place the link on their Google classroom. Finally, share the link with another elementary music classroom and have the students collaborate and comment on each other’s musical work.
Figure 5: ROCK YOU

Groove Pizza

Figure 6: Rectangle Loop

Groove Pizza is a music creation app that can be found in the MusEDLab (musedlab.org). Led and researched by Alex Ruthmann, “The NYU Music Experience Design Lab (MusEDLab) researches and designs new technologies and experiences for music making learning and engagement together with students, educators, non-profit, and industry partners” (NYU, 2017). MusEDLab has six apps that promote creativity with music, but the one I mainly focus on is Groove Pizza.

Elementary students can experiment with creating looping drumbeats using mathematics in the forms of shapes and angles. One of the lessons that I enjoy is to have the students use one of the special loops called, “ROCK YOU” (see Figure 5). The first part of the loop is the drumbeat found in the song, “We Will Rock You,” written by Brian May and recorded by Queen. The loop is based on the shape of a rectangle (see Figure 6). The students can create more loops for the other three measures based on other shapes and then they compare and contrast the loops.

Once finished, the newly created loops can be exported as a MIDI or audio file that can be opened in any notation software or digital audio workstation (DAW). It also can be automatically opened in Soundtrap by tapping the “CONTINUE IN SOUNDTRAP” button. Since we have the EDU version of Soundtrap, the students can now add a track where they record themselves playing “We will, we will rock you” on the recorder, boomwhacker, or Orff instrument using the notes C B A G A A. In Soundtrap, the students can collaborate with other students in other music classes found in the same school or around the country.

Creatability with Google – https://experiments.withgoogle.com/collection/creatability

https://experiments.withgoogle.com/collection/creatability

This site features many creative experiments using drawing, music, and other tools to make them more accessible using web and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Technology. This site is amazing as there are a lot of education tools you can use with your students or your students can use to create in a 1:1 classroom.

One of my favorites is “Seeing Music” by Jay Alan Zimmerman. I love to use this audio and visual website to show pitch explorations, to discover high and low sounds, and to see sound produced from various instruments. It is also a great correlation between music and sound, especially when showcasing STEAM in the music classroom. Try it once with your students and you and them will be hooked.

Have students who cannot play a keyboard or xylophone with traditional methods use the keyboard created by Use All Five & Google Creative Lab. This is a simple musical keyboard you can play with your face, body, mouse, or keys.

#5 Soundtrap

What is Soundtrap?

soundtrap.com

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.

Audio Editing

Though the free audio editing tool Audacity 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, a couple of years ago, 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.

Need to lengthen your folk dancing soundtrack? Place the track in Soundtrap and click and drag the loop button (the little curly arrow found at the top right-hand corner of the track) so it is the length you need it for your folk dancing events. Or, edit out the ending, loop the middle until it is the length you need, and then add back in the ending.

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.

Honorable mention is BandLab, which is similar with its online music production tools and social creation platform.

Stay Tuned!

Tomorrow’s post will feature #4 and #3. 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.

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