Digital Tools Enhance Music Class

I have always had a passion for music and teaching, so becoming a music teacher was a natural career path for me. One of the most surreal moments since becoming an educator 11 years ago was reconnecting with my high school music teacher recently.

We spent time catching up and trading teaching tips. Suddenly I was back in her music room doing vocal exercises. Many of my fondest memories were made in her music room and it is where I found a love for music. To relive those memories re-inspired me and reaffirmed that I was on the right career path – teaching students to love music.

As a K-5 grade teacher I am able to start with the students when they are young and foster a love of music from the beginning. Whether it is singing, playing instruments, or simply teaching them to have an appreciation of music at a young age, I try to plant some sort of musical seed. However, not every student ends up loving music naturally. Some need encouragement and variety, and that is where technology comes in.

I work with many students, normally 100 per day, but with digital tools I am able to teach music in a way that works for all students. Some of the digital enhancements in my classroom:

1:1 teaching

Every student is different and so is their learning. Digital tools in the music room have given me the ability to have more one on one teaching with my students. For example, if a student has performance anxiety you can use online applications that allow students to upload videos of themselves performing their assignment such as scales, playing the recorder, or singing a song. Giving feedback to recordings can help ease beginners into the performance aspect of music and focuses on skills first.

Music creation

Studies show that if made voluntary, only 20 percent of students would participate in some sort of music program at their school. I am looking to spark an interest in music in the other 80 percent. One way I have found to be successful with reaching students who wouldn’t otherwise be interested is with technology to create music.

Easy to use, fun digital tools like Soundtrap aide in music creation and are popular with students. Soundtrap is a digital application, similar to google docs, that enables collaborative music creation on the web. The application provides a collaboration environment that promotes creativity.

Cross-curricular alignment

When the material students are learning in different classes aligns, there is a greater chance of retention of it. A lot of the time a student will come up to me and tell me about the new vocabulary words they learned in English Language Arts when it is something they have heard before in music class. Terms such as tone, rhythm, and stanzas are some I get a lot. Although these terms are used in a different context in both classrooms, they are still being taught in both and there is a greater chance the students will absorb it.

The best classes in school are the ones where you learn a lot and also have fun. I strive to do both in my music room. By incorporating digital tools, I am able to reach more students and have a more open and collaborative classroom.