2019 is fast approaching and we come to #4 and #3 on the list of Top Ten Reasons to Enhance Your Elementary Music Classroom with Technology. We define enhancement as something that technology can do that traditional methods could not or lacked. In addition, please remember that this list is like a dessert buffet. Please only try a couple of desserts. Do not eat them all because it will become overwhelming very quickly. Finally, when the series ends on New Year’s Day, it will have a free webinar where you can see the items in action!
Disclaimer: Composition in young elementary should be introduced when the music educator feels that the students are ready. I feel that this usually occurs when the music educator has taught the students for awhile and knows their abilities well.
Capstone Research Project With Elementary Students’ Compositions
When I was pursuing my Masters Degree of Science in Music Education, my Capstone Research Project was how composition in the elementary grades helped learn and master musical concepts better than just learning the concepts without composition. This included a control group learning musical concepts with traditional methods. It also had an experimental group one that learned musical concepts through traditional methods and traditional composition. Finally, it had a experimental group two that learned musical concepts through traditional methods and using technology to compose.
In the end, I found a significant increase in understanding of musical concepts from experimental group two. The experimental group one showed very little improvement in understanding musical concepts and the control group showed some improvement. The data was collected through pre- and post-tests.
One of the reasons I felt that experimental group two showed a significant improvement was because elementary students using technology to compose gave them more confidence due to many young students struggling to hold a pencil at ages severn and eight. In addition, when working with technology, if they tried to compose five beats into a common time measure, the computer stopped them. This made them reflect as to why. They also did not question the technology when this occurred. My assumption was that when they played games with technology and they could not achieve the next level, they just tried again as opposed to questioning the program.
However, when experimental group one wrote numerous beats in one measure, most of them told me that since they could write it to fit into a measure, then it was OK to do. This showed me that they were not mastering the concepts or did not know how to apply what they knew.
I have used Noteflight for years with my elementary students, grades 2 and higher. Noteflight is a cloud-based program that you can use to set up a free account and try. However, for using it in the classroom, I highly recommend using the subscription-based version that comes with more advantages when working in a classroom with students.
My students were given a template of four to eight measures to compose with notes that they have been studying. For example, in the ebook below we did not have 1:1 devices so the third graders were divided into small groups. They were given the following guidelines:
Noteflight works well on multiple devices and can be found on their website, as well as in great services like MusicFirst. Flat is an alternative to Noteflight, but I stick with Noteflight as my students have successfully composed using this tool for years and I know it well.
Cloning Music and Rhythm Patterns to Compose: Using Notebook or Google Slides with Young Elementary
One of the wonderful items about using the interactive whiteboard programs like Notebook, is that they have the ability to infinite clone. Within Notebook’s program, there are music notes that you can make into a rhythm pattern. Here is an example of one of my lessons using infinite cloning. I created the rhythm patterns with the notation found in the program, grouped the patterns, and turned on the infinite clone feature. This is a very successful way for young elementary to begin composition.
With many schools discontinuing their subscription to Notebook, Google Slides has become an alternative for digital, interactive manipulatives. However, Google Slides lacks the notation that you can find in Notebook. It also lacks the infinite cloning technique that makes the above composition activity possible. Through some research, I found a way to infinite clone in google slides, but you cannot be in presentation mode to do this.
Can you do this with traditional manipulatives? Yes, of course. I like to do this traditionally as well as digitally. Therefore, I know I am connecting with most of my learners, who all have various learning abilities.
Kindergarten Musical Creation for the Chinese New Year 2017 from Amy M Burns on Vimeo.
Check back tomorrow for the New Year’s Eve post of #2 on the list of Top Ten Reasons to Enhance Your Elementary Music Classroom with Technology. New Year’s Eve is one of my favorite days as my girls and I get fun items to celebrate the new year!