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