Music Education Labs In The Cloud

If you are familiar with old music education software titles such as Music Ace or MIBAC then you probably also have fond memories of taking your music classes down to a computer lab and having them boot up the machines, only to then battle with the local network or file storage that seemed to always be losing the student’s submitted work.  As technology has progressed over the years many schools have started to do away with dedicated computer labs entirely in favor of one to one computing.  Music teachers can also benefit from this shift in focus by doing away with these old CD based software tools and instead move traditionally lab based projects and activities into the cloud.

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Technology Based Assessment In The Music Classroom

Children Singing

Assessment Technology For The Music Classroom

Criswell Headshot300The tools, apps, and software products listed below are recommended for use in the music education classroom to not only assess student knowledge but also to easily store and aggregate the results of those assessments for use in a planning context by the teacher.  All apps and software on this page either stores the assessment data in a form that can be easily exported as a spreadsheet or it incorporates a dedicated learning management system (online gradebook) for storing assessment data.

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Hooktheory and Hookpad Online Music Composing Tools

To a beginner or even most experienced musicians the act of composing original music is a daunting task.  Due to the perceived difficulty associated with composing most individuals avoid it completely or limit themselves to very basic, unsatisfying projects.  Enter Hooktheory.  An easy to use tool that when combined with classroom instruction can make the act of composing music fun and engaging.

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Using Quizizz In The Classroom

Everyone seems to have a smartphone or tablet with them at all times these days, even in our classrooms, so online assessment tools like Quizizz take advantage of that ubiquity to assess the understanding of a particular concept in a fun, entertaining way.  If you are already familiar with what a Kahoot is then Quizizz will make you feel right at home, but with much less student stress and generally more accurate assessments.

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Adaptive Music Technology For Physically Disabled Students

Classroom Desks

Certain physical disabilities or injuries caused by birth defects or traumatic events can lead people to believe that the door to being an instrumental musician is one that has been permanently closed.  How could a person with only hand possibly play a violin?  How can a person with one arm play the saxophone?   Yet these discouraging situations occasionally carry with them inspirational solutions.  Those solutions lie with three interconnected pieces, first in the man or woman who crafts the instrument that allows that musician to flourish, second in the musician who must find the conviction to succeed, and finally in the teacher with the patience and dedication to help guide the student along his or her musical path.

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Using Plickers as an Assessment Tool in the Music Education Classroom

Music, band, choir, and orchestra classrooms can be huge and assessing the knowledge and retention of individual students in such a large class can be daunting.  Plickers are one of several solutions that can be adapted to work in large groups, making the act of assessing a student’s understanding a little easier and a whole lot faster.  

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The Raspberry Studio USB Microphone Full Review

Guitar Performance

raspberry studio microphoneAre you in the market for a small, easily portable but great sounding microphone to use for podcasting or for recording vocal or instrumental performances?  I got my hands on one of the new Raspberry Studio USB/iOS Microphones by Blue Microphones and took  it for a test drive.  Using it both to record a podcast and to take around to record live music.  At around $200 is the rather miniscule looking Raspberry worth the price?  Read on to find out.

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Organizational Tools and Tricks To Start The School Year Off Right

Organized Classroom Desks

With each new school year comes a variety of new organizational and logistical challenges. Those that lack effective organizational supports can quickly find their optimism and energy that comes with the new year sapped away. But there are ways to turn clutter and confusion into streamlined organization if only you know how to make use of various app based tools.  We spoke with two noted music technology gurus (including one who literally wrote the book on the subject) and got their ideas on the best ways to make common organizational tasks less of a hassle.

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Teaching Woodwind Beginners To Clean Their Instruments

Clarinet Pieces Ready For Cleaning

Woodwind Basics by Bret PimentelTeaching woodwind players about how to clean and maintain their instruments is one topic that is incredibly important but also one that is often overlooked or given only a token mention during the first few lessons.  Dr. Bret Pimentel, Associate Professor of Music at Delta State University in Cleveland, MS is the author of the new book, Woodwind Basics: Core concepts for playing and teaching flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and saxophone.  Says Pimentel, “Woodwind instruments get damp inside from your breath when you play. That moisture can cause a variety of problems.  For one thing, it gets very germy in there, and after a while it can start to smell bad or even make you sick. But the moisture can also damage your instrument.  A little effort keeping the instrument clean and dry lets it play its best and saves money on trips to the repair shop.”

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Sanitizing Mouthpieces- Cleaning and Disinfecting Instruments

saxophone player 300Despite the best intentions of many band directors the practice of sharing mouthpieces on school owned brass or woodwind instruments continues in many schools.  As we move forward into yet another flu season it is wise to take a moment to consider the health based consequences of sharing mouthpieces between students and what we can all do to stop the spread of illness throughout our ensembles.

Various studies over the last fifty years have shown that an instrument’s mouthpiece can harbor germs on it for 48 hours or more while the instrument is in it’s case.  This in turn can lead not only to cross contamination by passing germs on to the next user of the instrument but also potentially reinfecting the original student, sometimes days after the initial illness.  This was the case with

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Breathing Exercises to Build Endurance In Brass Players

Photo by highwaystarz

One of the keys to having a good brass sound is to also have a good air stream.  We spoke with Dr. Ramon Vasquez, assistant band director at Lopez High School in Brownsville, Texas to get some tips on encouraging proper breath support in young musicians.  As one would expect diagnosing the problem is his first step.  Says Vasquez, “I begin by listening for the quality of the sound.  If it is small and not as resonant as it could be, I look into how much of their capacity they are really using.  I then start some exercises

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