Incorporating Technology in the Orchestra Classroom
By NAfME Member Melissa Clark
I love to use technology in my orchestra class. This November 2016, I will be presenting on the use of technology in the orchestra classroom at the National Conference in Dallas, Texas. I hope this information will be useful to other music educators and their students.
I started incorporating video chats into my classes a few years ago. It helped bring connections with the outside world into my classroom. I have held video chat sessions with composers, professional musicians, and other schools through the years.
When I first started, I used Skype but then learned about the site “appear.in.” In only a few minutes, I was able to create my own appear.in link and have video chats with anyone who also has the links. Through the use of technology, we were able to remotely meet, work with, and learn from one another. Some were rehearsals, performances, lectures, or coaching-style, and I have even had snow-day lessons with students with their parents’ permission. Here is a picture of what appear.in looks like:
Smartmusic is an interactive music software program, used to facilitate existing instruction. Students receive instant feedback on their playing and learn about areas for improvement. I started using Smartmusic a few school years ago to help students learn scales, try sight-reading exercises, and study orchestra pieces. My orchestra classes are mixed instrumentation, so Smartmusic helps my students stay engaged in the learning process even when their part is not displayed.
I also have a practice room subscription so I can send students into a practice room to record themselves. After they record a piece, I listen to their recordings and provide feedback, and then they receive a recording of their playing test to practice along with at home. In particular, Smartmusic has done an outstanding job helping my students that learn more visually to watch the music unfold in real time, in concert with the audio component.
This past school year, I had the opportunity to Beta-test the new Smartmusic which is due to launch in August. The new version will now be web-based instead of downloaded. It will allow students the opportunity for instant feedback section-by-section, and many of the original excellent features that were in the previous version will be available in the new version. The student subscriptions will get a price reduction, allowing more students the opportunity to use it at home to help with their weekly practice.
If you are not familiar with Smartmusic, I would strongly suggest checking it out. My students love it, and my administrators love seeing how engaged students are using the program. Music teachers with whom I have spoken are able to work more closely with their players and provide feedback and recordings to help them improve their playing.
Websites, Tuning Devices and Metronomes
Here are a few of my favorite music websites that I use in orchestra and general music. Check them out when you get a chance. Each of the sites are free.
I started using Twitter for educational use in February 2011. At first I didn’t post that much, but then I really got into it again during the past two school years.
For me, Twitter was a way to showcase all the things I do in my classroom, school, and community. This past year, more teachers were encouraged to use Twitter in their classrooms in our district. I loved being able to see what my colleagues were doing in their classroom and to support them. I also enjoy following other music organizations and music educators to learn something from them as well. It has a positive influence. I do allow students and families to follow me, but don’t follow the students back. Feel free to follow me if you are on Twitter!
Google has a lot of wonderful free tools that educators can use with lesson planning, creating assignments, and tallying students’ assignments. My district has a Gmail address for teachers and students. Here is a list of different Google products that I use for school.
Share, create and save assignments that were created in google drive.
I use Google Classroom with my students so they can attach complete assignments that are then posted on the stream, as well as make announcements and provide copies of important letters posted to the stream.
Connect with Melissa on twitter at @ClarkLMSmusic
About the author:
NAfME Member Melissa Clark graduated from The College of NJ with a Bachelors of Music Education. She has been teaching in Lawrence Township Public Schools since 2005. Prior to Lawrence township she taught music in other school districts in NJ. Last year, Melissa was named Teacher of the year at Lawrence Middle School which is part of the Governor’s Educator program for the state of NJ. She is an active member of New Jersey Music Educators Association (NJMEA) and Central Jersey Music Educators Association (CJMEA). This fall, she will be presenting at the NAfME National In-Service Conference in Grapevine, TX, on suggestions for incorporating technology in the orchestra classroom. During her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband Chris and their two children Hayden and Aimee.
Melissa Clark presented on her topic “Suggestions on Incorporating Technology in the Music Classroom” at the 2016 NAfME National Conference this November in Dallas, Texas. Register today for the 2019 NAfME National Conference taking place in Orlando, Florida!
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