I love using technology in my classroom to help reinforce musical concepts. There are so many great resources out there that make it easy for students to be creative with the help of technology such as iPads and Chromebooks.
When I started including technology in my classroom, I knew that I wanted to make sure anything I was including served a purpose in my classroom. I think it can be easy to insert technology into our lessons, but sometimes we miss the mark when it comes to making sure that we are using technology in a way that supports our curriculum rather than replacing it.
I'm not going to sit here and pretend that I have all of the answers, because I definitely don't. What I will do is share some of my favorite ways to implement meaningful technology in my music classroom.
Incredibox is a great web-based activity to explore looping and ostinato. Students drag a shirt with a different symbol onto a performer which determines what the performer will loop.
This is a great way to explore a capella singing too! I usually pull this out when I talk about a capella singing and groups like Pentatonix with my 5th and 6th graders, but this site could also be used for younger and older ages.
2. Staff Wars
I have students ask me to play Staff Wars almost every week! I use this game to help my students practice identifying the notes on the Treble Staff, although you can also set it for Bass and Alto Clefs!
One thing that is great about Staff Wars is that you can customize it to meet your students where they are. For instance, I turn off ledger lines when I use this game with my fourth graders, which helps them focus on what they really need to know now.
If you've never tried using Staff Wars before, I highly suggest it! You can download it for free on PC/Mac (I project mine onto my interactive white board) or you can download it on iPad for 99 cents!
Chrome Music Lab is my absolute favorite way to use technology in my classroom. There are so many great experiments (think of them more like individual Apps) on this free website!
Some of my favorite experiments are great for composition and musical exploration. One of my favorite ways to use the Chrome Music Lab is with Task Cards! These are great for centers rotations or group work, as it lets students explore at their own pace.
I also do a project each year with my fifth graders where they create compositions using the Songmaker experiment and then they practice and perform the compositions on color-coded instruments. I find this to be incredibly helpful at bridging the gap between music technology and some of the more 'traditional' musical modalities.
Similar to the Chrome Music Lab, Mario Sequencer is an incredibly fun way to allow students to compose on the treble staff.
Students are able to choose from a variety of sounds by choosing a different Mario-themed icon at the hop of the page. You can change between 3/4 and 4/4 time, and even have the opportunity to add a repeat sign.
I also use task cards to allow my students to explore this web-based composition application. I find these are a great thing to have as a center rotation to allow my students to compose while having
Implementing technology into our music curriculum can be a great way to bring 21st century skills into the music room. I doubt that many teachers would argue that we should exclude technology completely from our lessons.
However, I do believe it is important that we use technology in a way that is purposeful and not just for the sake of including technology. When I'm considering including technology into a lesson, I ask myself "why am I including this?" Does it help solve a problem? Does it engage a different learning modality? Or am I just including this for the sake of including a piece of technology?
Bryson Tarbet is the music educator and blogger behind That Music Teacher.