The iPad has increasingly become a more and more useful teaching and learning tool in the Music program at Irwin Park. Currently, we have eight iPads, one 2nd generation iPod Touch and one MacBook Pro for the Music program, with the iPad playing the largest role. This is a really exciting time for technology in music, as the iPad, with its built-in camera, microphone and touch capabilities can transform itself into any musical device, recorder or tool we desire.
PARENTS will find the following to be a useful guide as to which grades are using which apps, and therefore which ones are recommended for your children.
This app is arguably the most popular with the students at Irwin Park. This sequence-‐ based composition tool visualizes sound patterns as sections of concentrical circles, with each circle being a different colour according to the instrument family and timbre of the sound. Sounds complicated? Students in grades 1-‐3 are exploring and creating music within minutes. This highly accessible program teaches the most fundamental concepts of musicmaking.
MadPad is a unique program whereby students can record a short sound clip along with a video of how that sound was created. The result is a grid of sounds that you can touch to create a rhythmical musical composition. We have used MadPad with the primary grades to create mash-ups of student performances, and the grade 7 students have all created rhythm compositions all by themselves in small groups.
Young Music Genius
This app teaches students about classical instruments and composers. Students in grades 3 are currently using it to learn about instruments and students in grades 4 and 5 are learning about the famous classical composers. One of the wonderful features of this app is that students can take a quiz, which plays the sounds of the instruments - or a theme from one of the composers' famous works - and students tap the correct instrument - or composers - from four selections.
This Newly discovered free app is basically a video game. What makes it education is that all actions are controlled by notes played on the recorder. Only the correct notes will make your character move properly, and a graphic of a recorder is always displayed on the screen, indicating which not you are currently playing. All of the "action" is in time with music, and all of the notes you play go with the tunes and rhythms of the track. I see this as a wonderful motivation practice tool at home, and we will occasionally use it in the classroom as a reward.
Dr. Seuss Band is the perfect introduction to high and low pitches for primary students. Like playing on a xylphone, the notes appear from lowest to highest at the bottom of the screen, and students need to keep time and play along to simple and fun background music. More accuracy in regards to tempo and correct note results in a high score! Students continually work on their finger dexterity and hand-eye-coordination in order to achieve a better result than their previous attempt.
A simple and fun app featuring a cube of Jell-O that dances to selected music from your iPod library. The Jell-O shakes, twists, slides and taps to the beat and the students follow its every move. This semi-structured exercise in dancing to music allows students to explore the ways the body can move to the beat. While following the dance moves of an on-screen cube of Jell-O is not only plain fun, it makes students less self-conscious about dancing in a group, creating a positive, encouraging atmosphere and attitude towards dance.
An industry standard, GarageBand is the go-to program for creating backing tracks. In previous years, grade 6 students have gone on a field trip to the Apple Store at the Pacific Center Downtown to learn how to use GarageBand on the desktop and laptop versions of the software. This simplified version for iPad is perfect for the classroom, as we will be using it to create backing tracks in the grade 6 and 7 guitar classes. Especially useful is the "puzzle" feature, which emphasizes that songs are made up of sections which can be repeated.
YouTube Symphony Orchestra
Although this app is made or iPod and iPhone (therefore smaller screens), a web-based version can also be found at www.youtube.com/symphony. The feature that is most useful for us is the "winners" section, which features videos of musicians playing their instruments. We used this app in the grade 5 classes, both web-based and the iOS versions, to study how classical instruments sound.