As a primary school teacher and music specialist, I have seen how technology has enhanced music education in schools.
Once the UK went into lockdown and I had to teach music from home, it seemed quite a daunting prospect. When you are in front of children, the lessons evolve organically, and you bounce off their energy and ideas. Sitting down to record a lesson and finding myself staring into the camera on my phone didn’t quite bring the same feeling!
Nevertheless, I learnt so much from the experience and part of my work now is virtual teaching. I also discovered along the way some more incredible audio apps. They really have opened a whole new world of possibility in the classroom and for children and young people. I thought I’d share some of my personal favourites.
Using audio apps to power up music lessons
I remember using GarageBand at secondary school and thought it was amazing! It’s an app released by Apple and usually automatically downloaded onto devices. The interface looks a bit different on iPads and iPhones than it does on MacBooks so this can take a bit of getting used to as you navigate the different parts of it.
Nevertheless, it’s a fantastic music technology app which is full of instrumental/vocal loops and samples that students can layer, edit, cut, and duplicate to suit their composition. I really like how it enables users to be creative – you don’t need to read music or even play an instrument. When opening the app, you can choose to make a new ‘song’ (iPad/iPhone) or ‘project’ (MacBook) and a specific set of tracks and loops (orchestral strings, rock, or world, for example), or you can choose the audio recorder option to record your own voice and/or other sounds. It’s a super tool for both primary and secondary schools.
soundOscope is another Apple app. There is a free version to download, or you can pay for it to edit more tracks.
It works as a starting point for Early Years and Key Stage 1 as children can record their voices and then edit the pitch (high and low sounds) and tempo (speed). The use of soundOscope nurtures creative thinking, while building skills like listening, independence, collaboration, fine motor and problem-solving – all essential in the development of young children.
Google Doodles have released several different music apps, including Birth of Hip Hop where you can try out some virtual turntables and learn about key features and context about Hip Hop. There is also the Theremin/Clara Rockmore release which is a great tool for building pitch awareness. Blob Opera (Google Arts & Culture) allows children and young people to play around with four voices in real time and record opera. You can also now move the voices to different venues and hear examples of opera singing. They all allow lots of creative exploration for children and young people (and for me too).
I also really like Audacity, which is another free app that you can download onto your laptop. You can record your own audio or input tracks from elsewhere (e.g., from another music tech app that you’ve used to record something). The audio/tracks can be edited in numerous ways, e.g., changing the tempo and editing the pitch. You can also cut track lengths, add effects, and reduce background noise in recordings. Audacity lends itself well to Upper Key Stage 2 (Year 5-6) and beyond.
There are so many more apps there that are supporting music technology and creativity in education. I’m always adding new ones to my list. Go and see for yourself!
At Hook, we’re experts in kids’ lives – both in and out of the classroom. That’s why we regularly work with teachers around the country to get their takes on the big trends they see in their classrooms everyday (and what brands can learn from these developments).
Enjoy this read? You might also enjoy our interview with Tumble Science podcast creator, Lindsay Patterson or our research into the kids audio landscape. Don’t miss out on any more posts like this: sign up for Hook’s monthly kids newsletter today!