Presentation Day

At long last, this project has come to a close. Belle and I feel really proud to have developed something that will continue to be useful to us, and hopefully many others, beyond the requirements of this course.

The feedback at the presentation has been phenomenal, and we were proud to have strangers, teachers, and peers alike commenting on the usefulness of this tool. For many, it gave them a place to start the hunt for engaging and valuable warm ups for their singers, no matter their choirs or their own experience level.

There were a few situations for using this tool that hadn’t crossed our minds, but were apparent to the people we spoke with, including;

  • As a training tool for new staff
  • As a tool for singers to warm themselves up should the conductor be late
  • As a tool for students to work on their leadership skills by leading the choir in a warm up
  • Using the site directly for warm ups, by watching the videos and listening to the audio in front of the students, and having them sing it back

These are avenues that Belle and I will continue to explore as we begin our careers, and our only regret is that we didn’t print out cards to hand out to people! We’re highly encouraged by the interest shown in the project, and the kind words of Jim Coyle (who has mentored us both), about the site revolutionising a typically aural tradition and bringing it into a contemporary sphere.

A Follow Up Session

Belle and I returned to the studios today for several hours of recording time, working both on our negotiated project and on the recording of her original composition, How Do You Say I Love You. We were lucky enough to run into Andrew, who gave us some tips for making excellent recordings after listening to our last batch.

One of these things was adjusting the gain on the microphone, which controls the input into the microphone. In the previous session, I had it turned down way too low, which is why you’ll hear a noticeable difference between the two recordings on this link:

Now that we knew how to bounce files (thanks, Remi!), as well as the ins and outs of the software and equipment, we were more effective with our time and managed to finish up with the audio recordings for both our combined projects and Belle’s. You can find our recordings below.

We then moved on to the visual elements of our assignment, including stretches, proper physical alignment, and breathing exercises. Having worked with the cameras in the session with Bree, it wasn’t difficult to operate the cameras. The major challenge came, again, with getting the files off of the hard drive bay. After a bit of fiddling with the VR app, mixer and hard drive (and a lot of patience!), we managed to get them onto a USB to be uploaded. You can find them at our website below (it’s not finished just yet, but you should be able to find those posts).

First Day in the Studio (dun dun dun!)

Today I began to record the warm ups that Belle and I have chosen to compile for our final assessment, including our original, Betty Bought A Bit of Butter. This first session was mostly about navigating the equipment and software, to make our combined session easier.

Fortunately, James was around to help with setting up the equipment, but it was difficult at first to navigate a lot of new technology that I didn’t have a lot of experience with. It even took asking someone for help to work out that I couldn’t hear anything from the headphones because I didn’t have the sound system switched on at the power… As I was just recording vocals, I used a RhodeNT2A condenser mic with a pop shield, which got a nice, clear sound (EDIT: In my second recording session, I learned more about adjusting the gain to get a louder sound than the one below).

Once it were up and running, though, it was all relatively smooth sailing. Using Logic was somewhat confusing, when most of my experience is in Garageband, and it took a lot of fiddling to work out how to get files from the desktop onto my MacBook (I was attempting to export the projects, instead of bouncing them as I should have).

Follow the link below to a couple of the things that eventuated from this first recording session.

Notation software and our classrooms; which one is best?

It’s a well known fact that high school musical education is hugely reliant on notation, and therefore great emphasis is placed on learning a common form of notation. One might argue this emphasis is too large in the case of western standard notation, but simply put, notation is how we communicate our musical intentions. It is no surprise then, that there’s no shortage of software options out there, many specifically targeted at our students. With Finale on it’s way out, Sibelius is taking centre stage in schools, which is no surprise really. With it’s easy-to-use interface, large online support network, and relatively wide range of midi’s, it’s a logical choice. More and more, however, there are online options that are free and pretty interchangeable, including MuseScore, Noteflight, and; my personal preference of these is Noteflight, as I find it is the most reliable and transfers the most easily into Sibelius.

Speaking of iOS devices, iPads can be a very useful tool in the music classroom, and the notation resources for these are equally extensive. Overall, Noteflight is extremely useful. It’s browser based, so although it relies on an internet connection, it means that students can access it from whatever device they have. This aligns with the rise of BYOD schools, and means that all students can access it. In addition, it doesn’t have to be installed onto the devices (always a win!) Another app worth mentioning is NotateMe (or NotateMe Now), which is built on the premise of handwritten scores. It translates your written notation into digital notation in real time, check out this video of a young boy using the software.

The benefit to using this kind of software is that it encourages students to use their inner ear to hear the pitches as they notate by hand, as well as getting used to writing out the notation and symbols.

The software you use in your classroom is highly dependent on the students you’re teaching and the resources available, but with so many options out there, you’ll be sure to find one that suits your needs.


First week back

Well, we’re back folks, and ready to dive into a new semester that’s filled to the brim with exciting ideas and opportunities. With just two short weeks to learn everything we can before we go on our second prac, there’s no time like the present to dive into the world of technology and it’s place in our classrooms.

Continue reading “First week back”