Technology in the Music Classroom

By Michael Ricciardi, B.Mus B. Ed OCT, Bandology Education Co-ordinator

As of August 21, 2020

Why should I incorporate technology in the music class?

As seen in the image below, the use of current technology when practicing, performing, composing and/or arranging music is part of the Ontario curriculum. It is part of our job to stay up-to-date with emerging music-related technologies to best prepare our students to careers in music in the 21st century.

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What considerations should I keep in mind when researching educational technologies?

  1. Before spending time researching new applications to incorporate into your classroom, read your school and board’s online code of conduct and policies related to use of technologies. If you are unsure, ask your superior for guidance.
  2. Use your professional judgement when selecting applications as boards are not allowed to recommend applications for teachers to use unless the board or ministry has had their legal team go through the user agreements. An example of ministry technologies that have been vetted are Brightspace and Google Classroom. Note that even these companies and the ministry have a contract and renewal of this contract is not guaranteed.
  3. Choose apps that do not require student profiles or login information. As the teacher we hold a lot of power in having the ability to have students use technology in our classes but we need to protect student emails, photos, IP addresses, names, etc. If students need to enter a name (like in Kahoot), have them enter their first name only or a fake code name. 
  4. To maintain an equitable learning environment, avoid selecting “Freemium” applications. These are apps that are free to download but contain in-app purchases.
  5. Read the user agreement. This will tell you how the app uses student information and other hidden features the company does not advertise.
  6. Just because an application is compatible with Google Classroom does NOT mean that the application is safe to use. Still read the user agreement and follow the advice provided prior. 

What technologies are currently available?

Tuner Ninja:

  • Free
  • Web-based 
  • No downloads or student information required
  • Required access to device microphone 

Google Metronome:

  • Free
  • Web-based 
  • No downloads or student information required

Virtual Practice Logs:

  • Invite each student to send you a link to a Google document where you can periodically check in on each student without having to interrupt class time. Leave them notes of encouragement, assessment FOR learning questions, and feedback where you feel it would benefit the student most. 
  • No downloads or student information required

Bitmoji Classrooms:

Kahoot:

  • Free
  • No downloads or student information required
  • Digital gamification of assessment OF and FOR learning 

Padlet:

  • Free for 30 days
  • Teacher monthly plan ($12), teacher annual plan ($99), school annual plan ($1499). Check here for details on pricing
  • Can be embedded into your Learning Management System requiring no downloads or student information
  • Can be used as assessment FOR/OF/AS learning 
  • Various layouts (such as timelines, walls, maps, feeds, etc.) allow for unique lessons using the same application

EdPuzzle:

  • Check here for pricing details
  • Can be embedded into your Learning Management System requiring no downloads or student information
  • Take videos and add assessment FOR/OF learning questions into the video. The video pauses to ask the students a question.
  • Format of questions can be multiple choice or open ended questions
  • You can cut the videos length, add a voice over the video, and/or add note in the video for students to read (add links in the notes for students to have further readings)

Mentimeter:

  • Check here for pricing details
  • Can be embedded into your Learning Management System requiring no downloads or student information
  • Real-time poll generator that can be used as assessment FOR/OF Learning
  • Teacher poses a question on the board, students enter the class code and answer the question. The results are then shared live with the class

Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, JamBoard, etc.

  • Free
  • Web-based 
  • Collaborative documents all found under your Google Drive
  • No download required

MusicThoery.Net

  • Free
  • Web-based
  • Contains 39 lessons (including meter, scales, key signatures, note duration, clefs, time signatures, dots and ties, intervals, chords and more!)
  • One lesson even includes an analysis of “Oh Canada”
  • Contains 26 exercises (including theory, the keyboard and fret boards, ear training and more!)
  • Contains 11 tools (including PDF manuscript paper, a tempo tapper and theory calculators)

Google Cardboard:

  • Click here for pricing details
  • Does require the use of cell phones and downloading of applications to view the field trip
  • Includes step by step instructions on how to construct and use the product 

Chrome Music Lab:

  • Free
  • Web-based 
  • Contains various musical experiments that explore music and sound creation
  • Students can explore pitches, record a sound and reverse it, play with soundwaves, and create their own musical lines and beats 
  • While this application is widely used in K-6 music, it can be used for all ages and grades in unique ways 
  • Check out what other teachers have done with Chrome Music Lab here

Groove Pizza:

  • Free
  • Web-based
  • Students can create rhythmic tracks and explore altering tempos, dynamics, subdivisions, and various percussive timbres 
  • No accounts on the student or teacher’s part is required
  • Can be used to teach composition, sound creation and can even be used as a metronome 

Finale:

  • Click here for pricing details
  • Compose, arrange and transcribe music 
  • Playback feature available 
  • Teachers can create theory worksheets or unique playing test repertoire 

Garageband:

  • Free on Apple’s Macs and iPads
  • Students can record their instruments, add various audio tracks, master the tracks to add audio effects, layer tracks and more

Virtual Music:

  • Click here for pricing
  • Creating a virtual choir takes a lot of time and energy. This company takes all the work and does it for you for a fee.

Goodfeel:

  • Click here for pricing (bottom of their page)
  • Goodfeel is an application that translates sheet music in braille for students who may be visually impaired
  • Quickly transcribe to braille from Finale, Sibelius and other popular music notation software 
  • Output does have some flaws so a sighted musician needs to still proofread the music

Magic Flute:

  • Click here for pricing from one site
  • Magic Flute is a hands free instrument where students with minimal arm movement can play using their breath and neck movements
  • Teachers can select from a list of scales that the student can play from

Jamboxx:

  • Click here for pricing
  • Jamboxx, is a harmonica-like instrument that connects to a computer to transmit music
  • Teachers can select from a list of scales that the student can play from

Soundbeam:

  • Click here for pricing
  • Soundbeam is a device that uses sensor technology to translate subtle facial movements  into sounds and music.