Boombox to Bluetooth
Updated: Jan 11, 2019
When I started teaching music to kids twenty years ago, my only piece of technology was a boombox to play music. It was a big resource for me because I could play listening games with the students, analyze instrumentation and do dance games. Its hard to imagine that there was music class before iTunes and easy access to the internet, when a music teacher looking for new music would have to pour through CD bins at Tower Records and spend a fortune trying to find new material.
Well, this old dog has learned many new tricks over the last twenty years, and integrating technology into my classroom has been one of them. With the new ISTE standards, the effort to make every class a technology literacy class, is codified. One of the most accessible and easy ways to satisfy an ISTE standard is by having your music students compose their own melodies on Noteflight.com It is free and relatively simple to use, and satisfies ISTE standard 1d: Empowered Learner. On noteflight, your students can create songs with lyrics about a topic in music class, or one they are studying in another class, satisfying another ISTE standard 6b: Creative Communicator. Another great resource for the music classroom is garage band, where students can compose full arrangements with instrumentation, perhaps as the score for a music video they create as a research project on a historical piece of music, or to prove proficiency with a musical concept. This would satisfy ISTE standard 6a and 6c, as well as the Universal Design for Learning. Here is an article about many more ways to use garage band in the music and choir classroom:
The ISTE standards themselves are the subject of this amazing music video by Flocabulary, an educators group who create rap music videos about everything from science to literacy to anti-bullying, enjoy!
And finally, as astounding as all of the music technology that has been created in the last twenty years is, (for example, this piece of technology is called BrickTable and is a surface that can take any two-dimensional pieces of information such as maps or weather data, and turn them into music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45p_TPtQjR0&t=32s) and as accessible technology has made music creation, there will never be a better feeling than banging on a drum, strumming a guitar with all your passion, or belting out your swan song into the mic. So music teachers don't ever need to worry that technology is making them obsolete. To the contrary, if we embrace it and keep up, the technology-literate music classroom can be the most relevant classroom in the school!