Music & Technology

The internet is a veritable treasure trove of resources that music teachers can use to help them do their job better. During my most recent treasure hunting, I found a site that allows you to create online newsletters, an article search engine that finds and lets you read articles online, and a way to help your students find the music that you use in your studio.

Looking for an article to share with your students? You can look online at findarticles.com. Find Articles is a site that allows you to search magazine archives for words. Many of the articles are free and available to be read online. American Music Teacher Magazine and Music Educators National Conference have several helpful articles listed there.

If you’ve always wanted to create a monthly studio newsletter, but don’t have a lot of technical expertise or money to spend on postage, LetterPop is for you. It is a website that allows you to create your newsletter and distribute it entirely online. You can also print it out and give it to your students in person.

This website is well organized and easy to use. You create a basic account and login to create your newsletter. Then all you have to do is select your template, enter text and upload and insert pictures. There are a lot of great templates that you can use to create your newsletter. They are organized by category, so you can choose one to fit the occasion. It even has holiday specific templates. Basic Membership allows you to have 25 contacts for free. You can upgrade your account to allow you to have more features and send the newsletter to more people. If your students do not wish to receive the email there is an opt out link included in each email. You can store your newsletters online as well. They will be adding an invite feature soon, so you can email all of the music directors in your area and invite them to join your newsletter mailing list.

Many teachers have a list of books that they use in their studio, but how about an online list that students can simply click on to order the music? Sheet Music Plus has an affiliate program for teachers that allows you to create your own store online. (As a plus you earn a percentage of the sales that occur through your store.) You create a list of music that you use in your studio using their store creator page and select the type of links that you would like. You can create multiple pages for different instruments or levels that you teach. Then simply paste the html code that is created for you into your website. You can paste it onto a separate page and link to it from your Music Teachers Helper Links page.

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For a while now notebooks or binders (that a student brings with them) have been the best way to plan and track lessons. The one problem with this system is that the student has to remember to bring the notebook with them to the lesson. If they forget, then there is no back-up. However, it takes extra time to update both your notes and their notebook. That is until now.

nFinity has created an inexpensive program called Quick Voice which allows the user to record voice memos on their computer. The voice memos can then be sent as emails, mp3 files or saved on the desktop as a sticky. It is available for both Mac and PC users for about $25. For private lesson teachers this is a great tool! Simply hit the record button at the end of the lesson when you recap the lesson for your student and you will have a file that can be saved as an audio sticky in a file. You can then review or type lesson notes from the recording later. You can enter the lesson notes on Music Teachers Helper and automatically email the notes to the student or parent. The files can also be saved as a Quick Time movie or MP3 file that can then be saved on your file area on Music Teachers Helper for the student to access when the log in or emailed to the student as a reminder of what they need to work on… in case their notebook comes up missing.

For more information about this software visit
http://www.quick-voice.com/

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Of the many educational music games out there, some are free online games that kids and adults can enjoy.  Some help with eartraining, some teach about instruments, rhythms and more.

One page I ran across recently was on About.com’s Classics for Kids site, offering 4 simple games, including one to name notes, one to imitate rhythms, another to teach information about the lives and works of composers, and one to allow kids to compose a simple tune.  (Links from this page will lead you to many other music education sites of interest, quite apart from games.)

The New York Philharmonic has some fun and sophisticated music games and learning sites, including a game room with about a dozen games, a chance to compose, learn about instruments, and even make your own.

Less sophisticated but well worth a visit is a Flash Music Games site which offers a large array of ear training games, piano and guitar games.  For example, one ear training game called Noteshooter sounds a note each time a treble clef floats from the bottom of the screen towards the top; the player uses arrow keys to identify the name of the note, by maneuvering the clef so it passes over the right letter.  After you get one note correct (by luck, or by matching the note on an instrument–or if you have perfect pitch!), you can then listen and identify the relative pitches of subsequent notes as they come through.

Another game is called Trichords, a memory game where you match two cards, but in this case, clicking a card plays a triad of some kind, and you have to match the sounds of pairs of triads to win the game.

How you might use these games in working with students is up to you (and perhaps you could add a comment to share with us any suggestions you have for using computer music games in teaching), but games like these are certainly food for thought.

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