Using technology in primary music education

Tablets

Tablets are increasingly popular in primary classrooms, with many schools investing in a whole-class set that can be booked for use across year groups and subjects. Even with only one or two tablets available for use, there is a lot you can do. Some examples are given in table 5.2 (with thanks to Duncan Mackrill and published in Teaching Primary Music, page 57). 


Concept/use

Possible uses

Provides a computer in our hand – sound, screen, microphone, etc. are all in one portable unit

Teachers or pupils can easily make video or audio recordings of completed work or their work in progress; this can then be replayed via a projector for the whole class, or on the tablet itself in a future lesson to remind pupils of their previous work (useful for on-going composing or performing activities)

 

Key evidence of pupil work can be saved and collated and notes made on pupils ‘on the hoof’ in the class; this can also be saved to a pupil or class ePortfolio, replayed, shared and accessed at a later date

Portability

Allows easy internet access anywhere with a WiFi connection, so tablets can be used in different locations as a recording device or to support musicians as they work, e.g. in displaying lyrics, playing backings or simple loops to support improvising or performance work

Support tool for teachers

Enables teachers to play MP3 files, play backings, set quizzes, etc. and create their own loops or backings to support singing or instrumental work, e.g. using GarageBand (iOS) or PocketBand (Android)

 

The tablet can be easily connected to a data projector to model, share work or present ideas to pupils

Table 5.2 Benefits of using tablets for musical learning and assessment

There are so many Applications (Apps) available for almost any conceivable use – there are bound to be some you would find beneficial in your classroom. A list of useful Apps in primary music education has been put together by Kelly-Jo Peters at Great Oaks Special School. This excellent resource also gives suggestions of how the Apps might be used in Key Stage 1 and special educational needs settings. The list is fairly extensive and, whilst written for a SEN audience, has a much wider reach and applicability in mainstream schools and with both older and younger children.

If you have tablets for use in your classroom, take a look at some of the amazing and powerful technologies available, many of which are free. A very versatile and often pre-loaded iOS app on technologies such as the iPhone and iPad is ‘GarageBand’. It is likely that many children will already have used this outside of the classroom. Amongst other things, it is useful as a loop-based software and for recording – the downloadable interactive book GarageBand for Schools by Phil Heeley and David Ashworth is a good starting place for taking teachers through a step-by-step guide to creating a song.