App Update and Happy New Year

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It is New Year’s Eve, and we have had a very mellow day, and we are also going to have a very mellow evening.  We’ll all be in bed long before the New Year arrives.  2018 was a year full of a number of major life moments for me, which I will write about later.  As 2018 closes, I am very thankful for family and friends and the role they have played in my life.

I wanted to post about an App Update to one of the tools that I use with my choirs early in the year.  The app is called “In Tune” and it is a game that asks you to determine whether a second pitch is sharp or flat compared to a first pitch, on an increasing level of difficulty.

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I use Dale Duncan’s “S-Cubed” method for sight singing (highly recommended), but I modify the content using other tools.  For example, I use Sight Reading Factory to generate exercises for my students (based on Dale’s exercises).  This way, I can make a version that plays along with students.  The Sight Reading Factory versions are great for exams, and for dropping online so that students can take a sight reading assessment if they miss an assessment.  I start assessing during this middle part of the year, making sure my students have all had exposure to the method before making it actually “count” towards their grade.

Early in his method, Dale asks teachers to sing sharp and flat notes to their students to help them develop sensitivity to pitch.  This is an area where I don’t follow Dale, because I strongly believe that we should never sing something wrong intentionally in an educational setting.  I substitute three or four days of playing “In Tune” with my choirs in place of demonstrating flat and sharp for my students, and at the end of every two pitches, I ask students to determine whether the notes were flat or sharp (they vote), and we enter the majority’s vote into the app.

The two negatives of the app have been that you can’t replay pitches (sometimes the choirs talk, as the next notes start immediately, and they can’t hear the new pitches and you can’t replay them), and the pure tone can rattle in your skull—finding a correct volume can be a challenge.

The app hasn’t been touched in three years, but was updated this week.  I’m very happy about this, as you will now have the option to buy other sounds as a reference pitch for the app.

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Incidentally, my choirs always improve significantly over three days with the app (we meet every other day), and I think they get the point of “sharp” or “flat” versus singing “on pitch” in a more effective way than if I sing sharp or flat for them.

In the future, I may have students vote online for sharp or flat, instead of raising their hands, using any number of apps or services—including SMART’s new web-based tools (which were demonstrated to us in October and look amazing).

If you haven’t tried In Tune, I recommend it, and if you use Dale Duncan’s S-Cubed method, I think it is a nice alteration to his methodology.

As a note, In Tune is an iPhone App, so it runs in that odd magnified size on an iPad, and if you want to buy it on an iPad, you have to search for iPhone apps.

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Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope 2019 is stellar for you!

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