Music Ed Tech Tools: Free Music Composition and Notation Software

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One day, I was driving while thinking about a composition that I’m working on. It struck me amazing that composers in the old days were able to churn ensemble hits since the 1600s. All the symphonies from Mozart, Beethoven etc. were composed with music in their minds. Today, we have a luxury of listening to our originals on the fly by just clicking a play button. In some philosophical sense, our brain capacity has greatly deteriorate over time. We simply became lazy.

On the bright side, technology advancement means we have the ability to do more and be greater right?

That’s fruit for thought.

I deal with music arrangement a lot in my free time and some occasions where I’m commissioned to do so. Sibelius is my go to software for publishing music. It would be really nice to share the same enthusiasm and spread it to my students.

Over the past year while using the iMac, I discovered the use of Noteflight, Musescore and most recently, Flat.

Each site interface has their plus points.

Noteflight is available for free online with most common tools available for publishing. It even has a midi component but stuff like that are only available on premium subscription. I was to use it on the iMac and iPad. Both used on browsers like Chrome or Safari. However, Noteflight has a limitation to its number of working titles per account in its free version. The free version also does not allow you to share the score publicly. It does have a collaboration feature but as expected, only in the premium version.

Musescore is more complete than Noteflight whereby being it is an app of its own and you can download it on Mac and Windows. It’s almost like a free version of Sibelius. I have yet to push the limits of Musescore but I’m quite impressed that there are some useful plugins available to use such as the one that allows you to insert note names into note heads. Musescore has quite a large public user library too and quite often you will find pop sheet music originating from Musescore.

Flat is the most basic of them all but it has a very unique collaboration feature. It allows you to invite other users to compose or work on a composition. I also like it’s clean looking interface. It’s still a growing site but with lots of potential. Flat also has its own user public library and very easily accessible. You can also download it on your iPad as an app. The interface is a little different from its site version but it’s good to use when you’re on the go.

The winner for me is Flat as a very simple, clean start for students to try music publishing. What appeals to me the most is it’s free collaboration feature that does not affect the number of working titles you can have in your account (Flat allows free 17 working titles for each account user). I have no problems using it across my nearly 50 secondary school students and I was able to check their work seamlessly and provide feedback in due time.

Online music publishing has made composition class an interesting one as students quickly realize how theory rules like time signature are very essential. Students get to connect their understanding of music theory very quickly through application on such a platform.

Do you have other applications or methods to share? Will be glad to hear about them in the comment section.

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In the face of little time: Teaching and learning BAG notes on the Recorder instrument

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I’ve been teaching the recorder instrument for a couple of years now and every time I conduct the lessons, there’ always something new to learn.

Recently, I had a situation where I needed to prepare a short performance for our Malaysia Day celebration. It was really short notice and I was wondering how I could possibly get a group of students to sing a patriotic song. It was a little daunting too as I had only less than 5 days to do so.

After much thought, I decided that I would put my beginner recorder students on fast track. They would learn to play their first 3 notes on the recorder by accompanying a patriotic song.

As fast I possibly could, I created the following video in hopes of helping my students learn faster. I have to admit that I did not like the subtitle layout on iMovie. It’s quite frustrating because of the way it appears and I have no control of it.

I used my phone to record the video while the sound is recorded into the iPad GarageBand app. After much transferring of files, I created the iMovie project on the Mac with a split screen. I did not make the lyrics video and took it for somewhere else. Note that I credit the use of the video in the Youtube info box. The result is quite satisfying if not for the subtitle.

The name of the patriotic song is Keranamu Malaysia and it’s a very old but popular song back in year 2000 and it was frequently used until year 2006. Til today, it’s still a classic and it’s easy for beginners to follow along.

This is the score sheet that I use for my beginners: https://www.dropbox.com/s/mvxct82apev03gr/keranamu%20pdf%202.pdf?dl=0

 

Kahoot! – Recognizing notes on the Piano Keyboard

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I’ve been feeling under the weather lately with a wisdom toothache and it is most unpleasant as I find it hard to concentrate and eat. That’s why I haven’t been posting up anything new lately.

Thank God for his blessings, I am feeling much better. So, I would like to share about what I’m doing to improve my students’ knowledge on recognising notes on the piano keyboard. Since the beginning of the semester, I have been quite limited by the time and materials that I can use for my Secondary Music lessons. I knew that Kahoot was a good platform to use as an interactive lesson strategy but in the past month, I realised it’s full potential when I explored more. You can create lessons with your Kahoot by putting in videos or flip classroom style. I have so much good things to tell about Kahoot and I felt that the only downside of it is that you need two devices at a time to use Kahoot. I guess that can be easily overcome as most people have more than one device nowadays. It works well on computers, Androids and even Apple devices.

My Year 7s have trouble learning about the piano keyboard and staff lately. I partially blame myself for it but they really liked Kahoot when I first introduced it. So I tried my hand on creating a Kahoot lesson on this topic.

Kahoot link: Recognizing notes on the piano Keyboard

Below is a preview of how my Kahoot looks like.

Please give it a try! Feedbacks are always great!

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