Technology in Music Education: New Possibilities and Pedagogies Symposium

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I am presenting two sessions at the Music Education Symposium today.  The first is a session on using iPads in General Music.  The second (presented twice) is a session all about apps.

The PDF from the session in General Music appears below in PDF format.  As a disclaimer, I am not an elementary teacher–and as a result, I have made sure to examine the work of other prominent music educators who use technology at the elementary level.  My favorite part of this presentation occurs towards the end where I refer to some of the strategies currently being employed by six elementary music teachers across the country.

iPads in General Music 1 (PDF)

I think we are going to have to go with PiaScore in our 1:1 iPad Deployment–for now

In our 1:1 iPad initiative, I have been trying to use Chromatik with my middle school students.  Chromatik has a lot of potential over other apps because you can put music into a controlled playlist, and have students register for that playlist with a code.  Once the music is on their iPad, they can write on it, highlight it, add text, use whiteout, and erase their markings.  They can add a hotspot to jump in their music.  And if I delete a song from a playlist, it also disappears from their devices the next time we update.  My students are becoming very creative “doodling” while they are singing (sometimes in place of singing); but once we actually rehearse music (versus warm-ups and theory practice), they at are locking into the app and settling down.  Remember…this is choir.  Some of the kids are there because they want to sing; but most are there because they can’t play an instrument in band and orchestra.  My job is to make sure they learn how to act in a choral setting, that they have fun, and that they improve their singing.  So far…just three weeks in…so good.

But Chromatik in its current form is letting us down.  My middle school students created accounts using their own passwords; and many are forgetting what those passwords were.  The app leaves you logged into your account; but if I add songs, they need to refresh their playlists, and then log out of Chromatik and back in again to make new songs appear.  It’s a programming bug combined with middle school forgetfulness that is making Chromatik a misery to use.  And yes…I did tell them to write down their passwords.  And yes, like most middle school students, they decided not to (or lost the thing where the password was written down).

We are also seeing occasional crashes with the app; it freezes, doesn’t allow typing, and so on.  Sometimes only a complete delete solves the problem.

And I think our district has turned outside e-mail OFF for our student Google Apps accounts, meaning that they cannot request a password reset for their Chromatik account.  I would have to put together a list of student e-mail addresses who are locked out, send that list to Chromatik, and then ask them to send me the passwords for those students.   That isn’t a good solution, either.

So, the individual account piece really isn’t working well with middle school students.

There is a big update coming to Chromatik in the future, and I will certainly keep my mind open.  But for now, we need a better solution that doesn’t require a password, and that is going to be PiaScore.

PiaScore is also free (if we had funds, we would buy forScore or unrealBook), and it allows you to “Open In.”  Therefore, I can share a Google Drive folder of songs to students, and they can open those songs, one by one, in PiaScore.

There will be challenges in PiaScore, too.  There is no “hot spot” feature, students will have a youtube video option directly in the app, and there is a metronome that can be turned on or off.  I could do without the distraction of the last two items, and we will have to add classroom expectations about those features.

I will pilot this potential change with my 8th grade students 1st hour tomorrow morning.

Going 1:1 without funding for apps is a challenge; and it will require some creating problem solving to reach my desired level of technology integration in choir.  We’ll make it.