Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Developing Music Technology

Developing Music Technology,

A lot of the technology that I have introduced so far at my current school has had a positive impact in helping to develop and facilitate learning. However, this is mainly to enhance the learning experience rather than learning new skills in Music Technology. That means equipping our student for the future to make music in their home environment. So far we have used Kahoot, Weebly, Websites for research etc. As far as Music Technology, we have used Sonic Pi, Hookpad Theory, and Musescore. These are freeware and hasn’t cost anything to the student. With like most free software, there are extensive limitations to what is possible. This is what I have used in terms of developing Music Technology at the school.

Developing Music Technology

Free Software

Sonic Pi,

Sonic Pi is a program that allows you to make music by programming. I worked with some of my older students creating a piece of music using Sonic-Pi. Whilst the end product that was produced by the student was satisfactory in the whole. However, the program is greatly unstable and refused to work a lot of the time on some of the computers. The IT support team were unable to help the students with bugs or crashes as they were unfamiliar with the software. A lot of teaching time was spent resolving bugs and crashes rather than aiding students progress with the course. However, students did meet the learning outcomes and it did allow for students who were not previously inspired by music to get involved. 


Musescore is a basic notation software. This is useful for notation basics for students in middle school but does not have the extras that are necessary for the IBDP course. For the middle school, it can be quite slow to create any meaningful results as the software is cumbersome. This means students often get bored or frustrated using this software.


A free DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) that means you can sequence and use recorded audio. It reminds me of early FL studio but is not as intuitive and is confusing to use. However, it is free to use and students of all standards can create meaningful results.

Cloud-based software

With BYO devices, some of the best options for students using Music Technology are cloud-based software’s. Meaning students do not have to download any software. Most of these types of software have been captured by the company Musicfirst in the marketplace.


The free version of this cloud-based program I have used in explaining the concepts of song structure and structuring music. It uses building blocks rather than notation so it is easier to help understand the concepts and ideas of music theory. It uses modern and classical music so it relevant to the student.

The Hookpad is great online music composition tool which works by sequencing and using harmonic building blocks. It is very accessible and intuitive and quick to produce results for students. However, with the free version, there are limitations to how much music can be produced and there is no possibility to save any work produced and export what is produced. With a subscription, there are possibilities to export work into Musescore to help the students to understand how their musical creations can relate to music notation. Or be exported into any DAW such as LMMS or Logic or Garageband. The subscription also gives classroom support and teaching guides. Subscription is $349 regardless of the size of the school.


Noteflight is similar to Musescore as it is a notation based software. However, the main advantage is that it is Cloud based. Classes can be created to monitor and share ideas. There are even lesson templates that are created to help demonstrate ideas In its own literature
The classroom subscription offers

·      Noteflight Premium accounts for every user, accessible on any device
·      A private community for secure communication and collaboration
·      Unlimited groups for organizing classes and ensembles
·      Activity templates for assignments
·      Perform mode for listening to and performing along with selected parts of a score
·      Discussion and assignment forums for communication and assessment

For ASA’s such as the school band, it is easy to share the scores and arrangements with the group.


Is a sequencer/audio recorder similar to LMMS but works on the cloud. It is more modern and more user-friendly than LMMS. There is a free version but only so much is achievable in that format, for example, there is no sound recording. This is updated for the classroom edition. Where work can be saved and groups can interact using Google Hangouts. Also, audio recording to allow singing or live instruments to be played with sequenced instruments.


Some useful websites to aid teaching music. - Involves lessons in teaching music theory with games to help improve sight reading and recognizing intervals. However, it is straightforward in its teaching so can be dry in its approach to teaching music theory. - Lots of fun games on notation, music history, identifying instruments etc.

More expensive software – Standard Music Technology for most schools

Garageband – A mac only software that allows sequencing, recording, and sharing. It is a great teaching music software and is available on all Apple Macs free.

Sibelius – A notation software that is available in all formats. It meets the requirements for the IB in order to present scores with the correct format. It has lots of features that aid composition. Most of the IB students that I teach have this on their personal computers

Logic – The industry standard sequencer and sound recorder. It is an upgrade from Garageband, but a considerable upgrade. Very useful for performance recordings required by the IBDP and the Cambridge exams

Monday, 7 September 2015

Useful Resources for teachers on the Web.

I thought I would list a series of useful websites for resources that I use if you are hunting resources or looking for ideas for lessons.

TES (Times Education Supplement)

A British based website with lots of resources created by other teachers.


A useful website full of articles and discussions about good teaching practice.


Lessons with Audio-Visual with questions and discussion ideas.


Lots of articles and ideas to make lessons more interesting.


Lots of videos to help support lessons

Musical Contexts

A great website, which is paid, that has complete lesson plans for music lessons. It is constantly updated too.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Visualising Rhythm in a different way.

This is a useful video/ted-talk in trying a different approach to visualising rhythm. Very much in a cyclic pattern, that can be useful for some students to get the concept of rhythm. this can help students who are more visual learners, who can see how rhythm can be the basis in which the music is laid upon.

A ted ed lesson here is available on it.

The Propellerhead iPad app figure uses this model for the creation of rhythms. Which is good to show a practical application for this concept.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Allowing the essay "to flow"

I have talked about the concept of allowing an essay to "flow", but what do I actually mean by this concept? 

It is a concept that all great essays share, and it is about the essay moving logically from one step to the next. That your essay makes sense overall as you have moved from one point to the next. This is not easy to do, especially if you have a habit of moving off topic and rambling on.  

To ensure your essay flows there are a few techniques that you can use. Titles, heading and subheading help give the structure to the essay, so as you write you are not tempted to go too far off topic. But these alone will not ensure a good essay "flow". In your planning, you should make sure your heading and subheading fit together and move logically from one another. Using mind maps can help you organise logical connections between ideas, but prioritising important ideas within mind maps can be more useful. Another idea can be placing your heading and subheadings on post it notes and rearranging these until you have a logical order. 

Please feel free to comment if you have any other suggestions to ensure good essay "flow".

Monday, 1 June 2015

Using "Yes and......." not Using "Yes but......."

I was observing another teacher the other day and observing the questioning of the students. One of the points the stuck out in my mind was the teacher was asking fantastic and thought provoking open questions and leaving lots of room for interpretation. However, there was a small problem with the responses. They were right answers but not quite right, or along the right lines but not exactly the answer that the teacher was looking for in order to move the lesson forward. The teacher had in his mind the answers that would move the lesson forward. What happened was that the teacher would say to answer, that is great but....... or yes but.............

A small point, but it did nothing to validate the students thinking or the students answer. The student was therefore expected to find the correct answer or the validated answer perfectly the first time rather than explore a variety of possibilities for the answer or answers.

An example of the Yes, but..... scenario,  If a teacher asks a music student, can you describe the texture to this piece of music?

Student: It is thick with a melody and accompaniment.

Teacher: Yes, but it is what is called a homophonic texture.

In this example the student was perfectly correct in his answer but the teacher was after the correct terminology for the answer to be truly validated.

The better example would be to let the student or the class explore the possibilities of the answer and come to the conclusions themselves.

Teacher: Can you describe the texture to this music?

Student: It is thick with a melody and accompaniment.

Teacher: Yes and ............, what else can you say about the texture?

Student: The melody is by the strings and the accompaniment is by the orchestra.

At this point further prompting could be given, as the teacher is looking for the student to use the correct terminology. With starting with an open question as the one in the beginning to describe the texture, the teacher can make the question less open, as possibilities of the answer have been correctly explored.

Teacher: Yes, and what musical terminology would you use to describe the music?

Student: A homophonic texture.

The student has been correct all along but has been given an opportunity to show their understanding and explore the possibilities in their answer. Using the yes but......., means you are correct, but the teacher is more correct, therefore you, as the student, are wrong. Using the Yes, and....... validates the students answer and allows the answer to be extended and explored. It allows the student to process the question and to think about all the possible solutions and answers to the question.

Please feel free to comment or give examples of where you might of used the Yes, but....... and could of used Yes, and........

Monday, 13 April 2015

Discover Music - Era guides from Classic FM

Classic FM - Discover Music

A good guide to the different musical eras.

What I like about this series is that full of timelines, composer profiles, interesting facts, music examples and most of all it is visually stimulating for students.

The guides can compliment students revision into the various musical eras.

20th Century -

Romantic -

Classical -

Baroque -

Renaissance -

Early Music -

This goes with another good video series, possibly as introductions to topics or a summary revision. The Classicfm series highlights the key differences and key composers.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

A great Instrument Video series by CDZA

I came across a great series of instrument demonstration on youtube by a group called Collective Cadenza or CDZA.

The videos concern the history of an instrument with a virtuoso performer demonstrating the evolution of the instrument and the pieces in chronological order.

it is great to go through with students and pause and ask about stylistics changes to the instrument and the music they were playing. Also good for glimpses at genre and style.

I would use this as a starting point or a revision tool. To lead into greater depth.

Have a watch at this fantastic series.

Enjoy the great series.