Sunday, May 1, 2011

Technology in The Music Classroom

When I finally got an old blue iMac in my vocal music classroom in 2009-2010, I was so excited!  I did not have much on it but it did have iTunes.  Not being a very good pianist, this was a life saver.  I used an audio in/out cable to hook the iMac up to my stereo so I had the sound that I would need. 

I used the Get America Singing series with my 6th and 7th grade general music classes, and I had purchased the CDs that went with them.  After putting all the songs on iTunes, I made a playlist for each class.  One student would get to be my assistant and run the iTunes for me.  I used this as an incentive for behavior and participation and it worked wonders.  I had kids singing that normally would not! 

We also did daily listenings and journal work in the 6th and 7th grade class as well.  I had a playlist with all of the works from all of the different CDs that I used.  I would often misplace the CD I needed and have to hunt for it...but not now!

I also had my wonderful accompanist record the accompaniments for all of the 8th Grade Choir Songs and then imported them to iTunes.  The 8th Grade Choir playlist let us run the songs "with the accompaniments" even though she could only come once every other week.  The kids that were taking solos to contest also had the accompaniments for their songs on a playlist.

The best part of iTunes was when I had a substitute the kids could still have class!  I had students in each class that knew what needed to be done. For 45 min of the 90 min block my kids would teach class.  If it was contest season, the remaining 45 min the students with solos got on with headphones and could listen to the accompaniments and "sing" in their head. It may not have been the best rehearsal but they still got to go over what they knew and the substitutes loved it.

Google Images 

If you have a projector or an interactive white board in your room, Google Images is the best! When we would talk about instruments, I would just project the image on the board.  It was so much better than the posters that I used when I taught K-5.  I had multiple images of the instruments and we could write "on them" as we talked about them. 

 We also could look up maps and talked about where composers lived.  Lots of times I could find a map of what the country looked like then and now. I also would show the kids images of what the composer looked like. 

Google Images would also come in handy when talking about the history of a song.  The one that I remember best is when we talked about the song Erie Canal. I was able to find maps and images of the canal being built and used.  The kids enjoyed it and I think remembered a lot more than in years when I did not have the projector. 

I was lucky enough to have a projector in my room that was hooked to a iBook.  The kids and I enjoyed doing was playing the games on On this page, Ms. Garrett, a instrumental music teacher at a public elementary school in Birmingham, Alabama, has several games and quizzes.  They are a fun way to get the kids to review.  We would break up in to teams and play as a class.  She also has lesson plans and worksheets available as well.  

I know this is not the first place most music teachers would look for things to use in class.  Many times there are stories on NPR that work with what I am teaching.  When we would talk about the song MLK by U2 we listened to the story "Sanitation Workers Last Stand".  It had direct accounts of what Dr. Martin Luther King's last speech was like and the conditions the sanitation workers had to deal with.  This is first hand information that otherwise I would never be able to give the kids. There is also a great story about how life in New York City paralleled West Side Story when it opened on Broadway. Now with the music blog on NPR there are lots of resources you can use with your class. 

I would have liked to use Youtube more than I did, but it was blocked at school.  I did download lots of things and then use them.  When we talked about organs there was a news report about the Wick's Organ Company in St. Louis that we would watch. In my 8th grade choir classes,we would watch other choirs perform and critique them.

Hilary Myers is in her first year as a 3rd-5th grade Technology Instructor in Missouri.  Prior to her current position, Hilary spent eight years in the general/vocal music classroom mostly at the middle school level.  Hilary is currently working on her Masters in Education and just completed her thesis Six Elements of an Effective Technology Professional Development Program. You can follow Hilary on her blog, Tips 4 Tech, or on Twitter @musictech02