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6 fun tools to teach creativity through music

By Cathy Houchin
January 18th, 2016

music-tools

Use these music apps and tools to make your own keyboards or work on a song with others around the world

Technology is not just for the traditional academic classes, but is also a great addition to the “special” classes, particularly the arts, and music is no exception. When it comes to getting students to experience music through, most of us are at least aware of the basics — Garageband, iTunes, and Youtube. But I like to focus on some new lesser-known tools that can be of great help.

Remember, that the goal is not to use apps and websites for their own sake, but rather to engage learners and impart knowledge. Let’s use technology to allow the students to take ownership of their own learning. Here are some ways that I incorporate technology into my elementary music class.

Flat is listed as a music score editor that allows multiple users to write and edit a song. It is based on the same concept as a Google Docs except it is a musical score. Students in the same class can collaborate or team up with a class anywhere in the world. They can start an assignment at school and pull it up on their own computer at home. It will play back what you have written so they can hear their composition. Just like Google Docs , the teacher can see who has edited the song and add comments.

Plickers are cards that allow you to get a formative assessment from your students at any time. It is an app that can be put on an apple or android device. The cards allow your students to give one of four answers depending on the position of the card.  The teacher then just snaps a photo of the answers  given by the students.  The app will tell you who was right and what wrong answer is predominate. It is a quick, easy way to assess the class.

Makey Makey’s are a great way to produce a hands-on, STEAM activity in your class.  I have students compose a song within set parameters.  After the song is written correctly, they then proceed to play it on their Makey Makey piano, which can be made partly out of Play-Doh, bananas, gummy worms, or a myriad of other materials.  Other ideas for Makey Makey are a flash revolution dance mat or musical stairs. Creativity is literally all that is needed.

ZooBurst is a great tool to make 3D pop up books. In music class this can be used to have the class write musical stories about instruments or composers. Why not have older students write a story about a concept the younger students are learning? An example could be dynamics or note values. Again, ownership is important.  The older student will be reinforcing their knowledge while teaching new concepts to the younger student.

ThinkFun’s Compose Yourself is a new way to introduce composition or create music for a project. You must buy a set of composing cards.  Each card is a measure with four codes depending on how it is placed. These codes are entered on ThinkFun’s website and your song is played by an orchestra.  Your song can be printed as sheet music or downloaded as an mp3. Imagine the joy of a student when they can share their piece with a friend or relative who lives miles away. There are 60 cards in a deck and they are available at Thinkfun or Amazon about $20.  They are well worth the investment.

DenVoicesConnect is a singing collaboration with schools around the world. In its second year of existence, it pairs students with a partner classroom, allowing both to connect and share via the internet. Each year a song is chosen for the classrooms to learn. The school then submits a video performing the chosen song. The videos are then combined to make one performance, which includes all the schools that participated.

These are just a few of the many ways technology can be infused into your classroom.  Don’t be afraid to try new things.  If you are bored teaching the same thing it will noticeable to your students.  Create excitement  and step out of your routine.

About the Author:

Cathy Houchin has been teaching music for more than 38 years, She has presented at many conferences around the United States and Canada. Cathy is a member of ISTE and is on the Wisconsin Leadership Council of the Discovery Education Network. Mrs. Houchin loves infusing technology in her classroom in order to reach all students. You can follow her on twitter @cathy_houchin or her website at www.Cathyhouchin.com.

Cathy is a member of Discovery Education’s Discovery Educator Network (DEN), a global community of educators that are passionate about transforming the learning experience with digital media.