Using technology in primary music education

Technologies useful in music education

Within the classroom, many generic technologies are already in use – for example, interactive whiteboards, online sources, cameras, audio and video recording devices – even technologies such as video-based professional development tools to capture our lessons and allow us to watch them back and critique our own teaching! Table 5.1 offers an overview of the range of technologies available for use in the primary classroom. 

This list has been compiled by Duncan Mackrill, Senior Lecturer in Music Education from the University of Sussex and is published in Teaching Primary Music (Daubney, 2017: 56-57).

Technology

Examples

Uses include

Electronic keyboards

Portable keyboards

Selecting from a wide range of instrumental sounds; use a chord and/or rhythmic backing; listen via headphones or out loud

MP3 music files

iPod or other MP3 player

Online/‘cloud’ music libraries – YouTube, Spotify or Google Play

Playing songs or backing tracks from a physical MP3 player to support whole-class singing, rhythm or ensemble work

Or accessing (via an internet connection) music from a comprehensive collection instantly

Recording devices

 

Tablet, mobile phone, portable digital video and/or audio recorder

Audio/video recording and playback of pupil work

Portable audio recording

Tascam DR or Roland R portable recorders

Making live stereo recordings in the classroom or in other locations

Video recording

Tablet, camcorder, Zoom, mobile phone

Videoing work in progress or final performances to build up a portfolio of pupil work; projecting on the board; sharing with pupils/parents via school network

Audio recording

Audacity (free), Wavelab

Recording sounds, editing (including pitch) and adding effects

ePortfolio

School or web-hosted Learning Platform, e.g. 2Build a profile, Edmodo

Pupils creating and accessing their own or a class portfolio, including audio and/or video of their work in music over time; and sharing these with parents/carers

Online music videos and ‘how to’ tutorials

YouTube, Ultimate Guitar

Teaching yourself using ‘how to’ tutorials and accessing a huge collection of online music videos, e.g. to support singing

For the more confident with music or technology:

Tablet or smartphone

Tablets, e.g. iPad, Galaxy, Nexus, Xperia

Most smartphones (iOS or Android); music apps, e.g. GarageBand, PocketBand, Nodebeat, Bebot, or virtual instruments and tools, such as Alchemy synth, metronome, guitar tuner

Arranging pre-created loops to make a backing; creating beats or loops using drag and drop; improvising over simple loops or rhythms/chords; using easy-to-play virtual instruments or tools as teacher tools

Loop-based sequencer

GarageBand, FL Studio, Acid, Music Maker

Auditioning and selecting ready-made loops from a pool (drag and drop) to build up a composition; ability (in some programs) to edit loops/instrumentation and record new tracks

Cloud-based software programs

Soundation, O-Generator

Online music programs for pupils to use both at home and school, to compose and create their own music

Live coding

Sonic Pi – software instrument for Raspberry Pi, Mac OS, Windows or Linux

Simple music-specific application for use in music to create loops and compositions easily, or for use in computing lessons

For experienced users:

Sequencer

 

Cubase, Logic, Sonar, Studio One, Mixcraft

Making MIDI or audio backings as a teacher tool to support instrumental, rhythm or singing work in the classroom; using virtual instruments and effects to playback sounds

Score and notation software

Sibelius, Finale, MuseScore

Producing scores and parts with the ability to play these back

Table 5.1 A broad overview of the range of technologies available and indications of their potential uses in relation to musical learning in the primary classroom.

You may find that your school has blocked the use of some potential online resources and sources; it is definitely worth asking the network administrator to allow teacher access as the internet has a wealth of music and musical learning opportunities available from all around the world.