Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Music Educators Coding With Scratch

Coding. Did I ever think I would be teaching myself how to code? Nope. But, here I am jumping down the rabbit hole. Who knew it would be something that would expand my skills as a music educator?

I elected to be a cloud teacher for the district through December. I am the sole elementary music educator for 1400 cloud students. So, all of my teaching must be delivered asynchronously. With this large amount of students, creating instrument kits was out of the question. So, I started searching the web for interactive music instruments to include in my virtual classroom. That is when I discovered Scratch.

Scratch is a website where anyone can program interactive games, stories, and animations. This is completely free and you do not have to log on to access the games. I first found interactive instruments that were created by others.  I featured them in my Virtual Classroom. You may click the image below to visit and take a peek.

I started including these instruments in lessons. I provided a link for the students to go to the virtual xylophone and try to play a song using their number keys. That seemed to be successful, but I wanted the students to be able to see the notation of the song and also play along to a track. So, I learned how to remix a Scratch project.

Scratch is also an interactive community where you can view projects created by others and also remix them. Remixing is a process of using someone else's project as a starting point and altering things to make a new project. For my first remix, I used a xylophone created by another user and added a new background and playing track. I have embedded it below. Click the space bar to begin the audio track. You can use the numbers or the letters to play the pitches, but it is easiest to use the numbers since they are in chromatic order. Our kindergarten through 2nd grade have touch screen Chromebooks. They would be able to touch the bars to play. The touch aspect would also work well on tablets or iPads.

After I got a taste of remixing, I had to learn more. My next projects used a guitar and strumming chord patterns. I used "Monster Mash" to get students in the mood for Halloween. For those students who do not celebrate, I offered an alternative-"Don't Worry Be Happy".  I learned how to animate using motion. The bat and bird fly over the correct chords. The characters also have speech bubbles which tell the strumming patterns and the upcoming chord. Both projects are embedded below. Click the green flags to begin. You can use your letter keys to strum the chords or you could click the letters with your mouse or touch screen.


For the next project, I decided to combine the two options to play harmony and melody. I used the song "Skin and Bones". Students can play the Dm chord by clicking the guitar or using their space bar. The glockenspiel can be used to play the "Oo-Oo-Oo-Ooo" phrase. They can click the bars or use the number keys. Click the green flag to begin the audio track.

I'm sure I'm not done creating Scratch projects. I'll try to keep you updated. If you click the link below, you can view all the projects I have created in Scratch.

Music With Mrs. Dennis on Scratch

If you are interested in learning how to code with Scratch, you can follow these Facebook Groups.

Teaching With Scratch

Scratch For Music Educators

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Using Google Forms To Submit Photo/Video

I would like to share how I use Google Forms for my students to submit photos and videos of their work. It has been a wonderful feature to manage responses and media from such a large amount of students. 

I have two videos below. The first video shows you how to create your Google Form. The second video shows how to view and organized the responses. If you have any questions, comment below and I'll try to provide guidance.

Creating Your Google Form

Viewing Your Google Form Responses

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Nontraditional Instruction: Family Music Interview

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, schools nationwide are forced to close and implement instruction from home. My district is calling this NTI (Nontraditional Instruction). The lessons I create must be accessible for all students, even those without access to technology. We are creating packets each week that get dropped off and collected by the bus drivers. I will be sharing all my lesson ideas for free for those of you who are in this same desperate situation.

This NTI lesson is titled "Family Music Interview". I wanted the students to connect with an older relative and compare/contrast their school music experiences. Students have the option to respond on a Google Form or with paper and pencil. Below are screenshots of the paper that was sent home.

I have this available for you as an editable download. Click the link below. It will open as a Google Slide. Make sure you edit the portion for digital submission. You could share a url link to the platform of your choice. You could include your email, but your inbox may fill up very quickly. If you choose, you can delete the digital portion all together. If you are curious about using Google Form for submission, I will be sharing a tutorial very soon. Check back by the end of the week.

Click to Download an Editable Copy

Click here for other NTI Lesson Ideas

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Recorder Play-Along Video Tutorial

This year, I started creating recorder play-along videos so my students could practice more efficiently at home. They have also been great for centers when I am assessing. Students who need some extra practice time or review can use these videos to practice before coming to me to play for their string test.
 In each video, I sing the lyrics, sing the letters while fingering, and then actually play the recorder.
Here is one example video.   You can view all these videos here on my classroom webpage.

With most of us forced to teach remotely due to spread of COVID-19, I thought it would a great time to share these videos, as well as a tutorial, in case you would like to use them or create your own.

Recorder Play-Along Video Tutorial

For this tutorial, I use Powerpoint on a Windows laptop and an iPhone/iPad with iMovie. 
You can use a macbook or Droid Phone, but the steps may need to be modified slightly.

Part 1: Create Your Backgrounds

1) Use Powerpoint to create a solid black background. 
2) Use the Snipping Tool to get screenshots of your music and fingering chart. 
3) Save a black space on the side for the video to be inserted later. 
4) Save the Powerpoint as jpg so each slide is an individual image. 
5) Save those images in Google Drive so they can be opened on an Apple Device phone or ipad and save them to the camera roll.

View this video for a more detailed tutorial.

Part 2: Creating Your Movie

1) Record your video (I use my iPhone). 
2) Resize the video to have a square frame. Do this by clicking edit, crop, then the square frame.
3) Open Google Drive to retrieve your backgrounds and save them to your camera roll. Select the file, then select the 3 dots, click "Send a copy", and click "Save image". It should now be on your camera roll.
4) Open iMovie and insert your background. 
5) Disable Ken Burns Effect on the image.
6) Reposition the background using pinch, zoom, or one finger move.
7) Click the plus sign in the upper right corner, click on your video, click the 3 dots, and select "Picture In Picture"
8) Click your video in the bottom window to select it. Then click in the top box to reposition your video. You may also pinch to zoom if needed.
9) Click your video in the bottom window and unmute the audio.
10) Click your background image in the bottom window and stretch your image to play the entire length of your video.
11) Save video to camera roll and share your video on your desired platform (Youtube, email, webpage, Facebook, etc.)

View this video for a more detailed tutorial.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Nontraditional Music Instruction: Environmental Percussion

My district is starting Nontraditional Instruction starting Monday due to the rapid spread of COVID-19. Teachers will be asked to report to school everyday, but students will remain home. I will be sharing any materials I create for assignments for free and will be available to answer any questions you also have.

Here is the basics of how this process will work. We surveyed families to find out who has internet access and devices at home. Families without internet or devices will be given paper assignments. Those papers will be shuttled by bus drivers, who will also be delivering breakfasts and lunches to families who qualified for free and reduced lunch. Teachers will report to work as usual. We will be working on new assignments and making daily contact with families offering assistance and checking in to see what work has been completed. Special area teachers will not have to contact every family. We will be assisting homeroom teachers that have the most students.

My special area team has agreed that each day, all grade levels will be given an assignment in only one special. It will be easier for families with multiple children of varying ages to work together on the same type of assignment.

Here is a sample of the first assignment I am sending home. I am sharing this via Google and it will force you to make a copy. You will be free to edit without to suit your needs without changing the original. I will share more assignments and information as this rolls out and we are learning more about this process.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Mallet Wrapping Update

Four years ago, I searched YouTube for tutorials on mallet wrapping. Here is my first post on that journey.

Below is a picture of  mallets that I rewrapped four years, They are starting to fray. 

I also have several pairs that were still factory-wrapped that are in rough shape.

I spent the weekend rewrapping over 17 pairs of mallets and I have made a tutorial video for you. I hope you will be brave and attempt to save some of your old tattered mallets. If you have any questions after watching the video, I'd be glad to answer them.  Happy wrapping!

Orff Visual Update

My second year teaching, I created an Orff visual aid with removable Velcro bars. More details about that instrument can be found on this post.

After 14 years of teaching, the foam board is severely worn. The F was ripped and replaced by folded paper and a paperclip. Many of the labels have multiple layers of scotch tape holding them on.  I decided it was time for an upgrade.

If I was going to create a new Orff visual, I wanted it to last until my retirement. So, I decided to make it out of wood. I had some scraps of utility plywood from an art project. I measured and cut my pieces, sanded the edges, and painted with acrylic craft paint.

I have a friend with a Cricut which could custom cut vinyl for the letters. I created white letters for the bars and black letters for underneath the bars. I bought new velcro dots and then sprayed the bars and base with a Mod Podge clear coat.

Here is a picture with the extra sharps and flats.

The students were so excited to see the new "fake instrument". It is functional and aesthetically pleasing. I'm certain this will last for many years to come. I may even get to pass it along to a new teacher when it is finally time for me to retire.