Seven great ed-tech tools for music instruction

Here are seven music apps, tools, and websites for use in the classroom, courtesy of Common Sense Media and its new Graphite service.

Here are seven music apps, tools, and websites for use in the classroom.

As we reported recently, new research confirms that music education can help close student achievement gaps and enhance learning in other subjects. Here are seven music apps and websites for use in the classroom, courtesy of Common Sense Media and its new Graphite service—a free database of teacher-written reviews of ed-tech tools.



Learning rating: 4 (out of 5)

Grade range: K-8

What is it? Schoolhouse Rock meets Tupac in this delightful, hip-hop-based platform.

Pros: Smart songs are helpful and catchy; they hit all the right spots to satisfy both teachers and students.

Cons: There aren’t too many songs for the sciences or social studies, and advanced topics aren’t addressed as much as simpler ones.

Bottom line: Flocabulary is savvy enough to keep kids focused, and teachers will be tapping their toes to see that this unorthodox learning method actually works.



Learning rating: 5

Grade range: 4-12

What is it? Amazingly powerful music workstation unleashes the musician in us all.

Pros: Portable, intuitive touch-screen design puts amazing music creation at kids’ fingertips.

Cons: Can’t purchase additional pre-recorded loops; brass and woodwind instruments are absent from Smart Instruments.

Bottom line: Exceptional function and value in this all-inclusive digital music workstation—it’s fantastic for recording anything anywhere, especially on the go.




Learning rating: 3

Grade range: 6-12

What is it? Mix and groove along to a variety of sweet beats.

Pros: Design is outstanding, and writing music is beyond fun with these guys at your fingertips.

Cons: Play can become repetitive, and kids may tire of it eventually.

Bottom line: Musically-minded kids will go wild here, creating compelling pieces of music in minutes, and beginners will feel like pros right away.



Learning rating: 4

Grade range: 6-12

What is it? Safe, collaborative space for creating and sharing original music.

Pros: Noteflight for Teachers helps teachers and students safely share assignments, musical concept examples, and opinions.

Cons: The extensive options can be confusing at first for novices; student comments offer key feedback, but with no language filter, these could get out of hand.

Bottom line: This useful, well-constructed music composition tool lets classrooms collaborate and comment on student-created songs.



Sound Shapes

Learning rating: 4

Grade range: 9-12

What is it? Jazzy music game lets kids design levels and create music.

Pros: Find an exciting and inspiring way for kids to tap into their digital music creativity.

Cons: Kids won’t learn formal music notation.

Bottom line: Simple but powerful, Sound Shapes exposes kids to creative tools and offers a robust online community for sharing.



Learning rating: 3

Grade range: 7-12

What is it? Music site brimming with great info is a tad text heavy and glitchy.

Pros: An impressive amount of detailed information, and the interactive tools that work help illustrate song components.

Cons: Plug-ins required for some of the tools can be problematic, and the one tool that works doesn’t offer feedback.

Bottom line: Kudos for the site’s extensive music-related content, but adjustments to its tools would make for a better resource.



The Beatles: Rock Band

Learning rating: 4

Grade range: 6-12

What is it? Iconic music becomes interactive in this rockin’ rhythm game.

Pros: This authentic Beatles experience encourages kids to practice rhythm, listening, accuracy, and singing in a game setting with practice modes and adjustable difficulties.

Cons: At 45 songs, this game only covers a fraction of the Beatles’ catalog.

Bottom line: A fun way for kids to interact with the music of The Beatles without having to master real instruments.


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