Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Importing Garageband Creations into iMovie

The 4th graders that I have been working with are ready to import their Garageband poetry creations into iMove, which will feature their own artwork!  This tutorial will show you how to send your Garageband song to iMovie, and how to add pictures from the iPad's camera roll into your movie.

Step 1: Select Song in Garageband
We have to choose which project we want to send to iMovie. This has several steps, and I got lots of pictures to help guide you through the process.

In the "My Songs" section of Garageband, touch SELECT in the upper right hand corner, as depicted above.

A new set of icons appears in the top left.  Touch the song that you want to send to iMovie to select it.

After you have selected your movie, touch the share icon (the box with the arrow point up, out of the box) and you will see the menu picture above. Click on Open In...  

After selecting Open In...  

You will see the above window, where you are able to customize any of the information about your song before it imports into iMovie. You do not have to change anything, but the option is there. 
Click on SHARE.

After you click on Share you will see the above menu. Click on iMovie to import your song.

iMovie opens, and you need to choose where your song should go. For this project, we will choose Create New Movie

You can see your song in the movie -- depicted by the green. To start adding your images from the iPad camera library, select the word Photos, circled in yellow in the picture above. Then choose Camera Roll from the resulting list.

On the upper right of the above picture you can see the pictures in your camera roll. Simply touch on a picture and watch it drop into your movie!

Put all of the pictures that you wish to use into the movie in the order you wish them to appear.  Once there are multiple photos in the movie, the length the picture will be shown in the movie can be edited.  Do not try to change the size of the image until there are multiple images in the movie!

When you have your images in the movie, to adjust the length of time they are shown, highlight the image you wish to shorten or lengthen. When it is highlighted yellow, as in the above picture, touch the right side thick line and drag it closer to the left (to make it shorter) or further away (to make it longer).  Adjust the other photos in a similar manner until they are exactly the way you with to see them.

When you are finished, touch the back arrow at the top left of the screen.

This takes you to the above screen. You can do several things at this screen. Play the movie, as indicated by the triangle button with the box around it; Share the movie, as indicated by the share button - the box with the arrow pointing up and out; or Trash the movie, as indicated by the trash can.

Also from this screen you can change the name of your project. See below:

Press and hold on the title to bring up the keyboard to change the name of the movie.

At this point, your movie is finished! Congratulations!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Beyond the notes on the page

Image Credit: Angela Thomas

Whenever new music is handed out there is a palpable sense of excitement in the air. I love hearing the students practicing the new passages as I make my way around the band room with the large stack of music. The room fills with new sounds as they test out their parts.

When I take the podium for the first time with these new songs, the attention level is high. They are tuned in to every detail. We sight read music much better than we practice it.  All of our senses and emotions are involved in sight reading as an ensemble-- there is so much on the line.

The next rehearsal, having experienced such success the first time we played the song, the students have let their guard down a little bit. They aren't sitting on the edge of their seats anymore, aren't counting as carefully, aren't listening as intently. It has become the notes on the page and not an experience.

So -- we go back to basics. I sing the melody in the trumpet line, as if I were a robot, merely singing the correct notes at the correct time. I sing the part again, this time using breath support, phrasing, forward motion, dynamics. Everything that the part requires of one person playing a part. We discuss the difference between notes on a page and a phrase -- we compare that to words in a paragraph that have no connection to one another as opposed to a story, where each word is vitally linked to the one before and the one yet to come. We start the song again. While there are still imperfection and kinks to be worked out, the story is beginning to unfold.

The mechanics of playing a wind instrument are mind-boggling. The articulation, the air support, the air speed, the tension and shape of the mouth and lip muscles, the tension in the fingers, hands, and neck, the posture-- so many different elements have to line up perfectly to achieve the appropriate sound. And it has to happen for every student individually at the same time!

That is just the production of sound, and people playing at the same time. When you remember that the students are reading music -- a universal language that transcends language and cultural barriers -- while executing all of the steps in the previous paragraph? Well, it makes me tired just thinking about it. But when we are simply doing it, magic happens.

Magic happens every single day in my classroom. Students exceed their own expectations. Students fail at something and try again. Students learn to have patience with one another, and to support each other. Students learn a different definition of "playing together." In this definition, there are no cool kids, there are no bullies. No one is last picked, or sitting alone on a bench.

A school instrumental music program is about so much more than the notes on the page. It is the absolute perfect marriage of individual practice and improvement and corporate learning and performance.  The value cannot be easily quantified or even defined. Studying instrumental music is learning how to communicate in the language of the heart-- a language without words.

One of the Broad Content Standards in my district is to help students become Effective Communicator(s). I love that the pursuit of musical excellence helps students become better communicators.

After all, when words fail, the music remains.

Monday, March 3, 2014 --A resource that EVERY TEACHER (or human) should know of (and use!)

I got an email over the weekend from my assistant superintendent. He frequently alerts his "tech guinea pigs" when he finds something particularly exciting. When I had the chance to look at, the incredibly awesome resource that he had shared, I got lost.  I was lost in videos of amazing string quartets that I found by searching Jazz Music. I got lost learning about playing and soloing with the pentatonic scale on guitar.

Oh -- let me show you!

This is the  Quartet San Francisco playing one of my favorite Chick Corea songs: Spain. (On an unrelated (but totally awesome) note, I KNOW one of the violinists! He is originally from Maine, and  we played The Music Man together at a performance in Portland. A long time ago.)

I have never seen such a comprehensive list of music resources-- and they have videos, project ideas, for every subject you might imagine!

I now have playlists to use with my 7th grade Guitar Class:
As well as for Jazz music, for general music education, and for myself -- because there are so many things that I love!

Please-- do yourself a favor and check out -- you won't regret it. You may lose a few hours in a time vortex - but it will be time well spent. If you do check it out, let me know what you find?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Transference of Knowledge in action in High School Band Midterm

I have had the great benefit of being on the team of educators and administrators that is helping lead the rest of the district through the lengthy, challenging and exhaustive (and/or exhausting) process of getting our curriculum up into the Rubicon Atlas format and servers. I have learned so much about content, delivery, knowledge and assessment through the conversations we've shared through this journey.

It is so exciting when we dig into concepts and I can see how I am already doing many of the recommended strategies. Recently we have been tackling the concept of Depth of Knowledge (DOK), in an effort to truly capture student engagement in all areas. Being able to recite facts does not always demonstrate true understanding.  See this chart that explains the different levels of DOK.

Chart by Dr. Norman Webb

DOK is different than Bloom's Taxonomy in that the verb is not the end result, as it is in Bloom's. In DOK it is how the verb interacts with the content, and the complexity of the thinking that is involved that determines the DOK.

An excellent resource that I found makes the observation that students involved in Career and Technical Education statistically perform better on state standardized test benchmarks, like the NECAP, or the MEA's of old. I can easily see this correlation because students in the technical learning classes, and those in the arts classes, are always transferring their learning into doing. It is never the simple recall of facts. It is learning facts, and then applying them. Every single day, over and over again. 

When planning for the mid-year exam for my high school band students, I was very interested in trying to capture the transferred learning that happens all the time in the ensemble. Therefore I gave students time to select one etudes in the warm-up book -- a sadly neglected section, which therefore ensured that all students would be sight-reading and preparing a completely unknown piece of music for the the mid-term. I gave them several class periods to practice in class before the winter break, as well as the rubric that I would be scoring them against, and reminded them to be practicing on their own when we returned to school after the new year. 

On the day of the mid-term, the students were given time to prepare, and then when they felt ready, they recorded themselves on their iPads, using the Moxtra App.  This app is my absolute favorite for use in music classes. The students imported the digital copies of the music into their Moxtra Portfolio, and then while reading the music from the iPad, they are also able to record their audio on the incredible microphones the iPads are equipped with.  The students then shared the link of their file with the sound file attached to me via email.

It was very exciting to see the level of detail the students used in preparing their selections. Dynamics, articulations and phrasing were all evident -- without any formal coaching from me on these pieces. They transferred their accumulated knowledge of musical concepts to this assignment! <insert fist bumps and high fives all around>

Here is a video that explains DOK a little more.

Depth of Knowledge from NYC DOE Promising Pract on Vimeo.

I really enjoy looking at DOK and trying to incorporate all four levels into my teaching at different times -- depending on which grade level I am working with. It is common sense, in many ways, but a very thoughtful and accessible resource that helps educators to use the common language, and speak to goals with precision and specificity. I am excited to continue exploring other ways of demonstrating what students actually know!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Amazing article that I HAD to share, and my thoughts on Music Education

This easily distracted band teacher just loves to laugh. Some of the best moments in any of my rehearsals happen as a result of hilarity that only happens when students are involved. Encouraging a culture of fun, yet being able to get right back to work, is a vital part of who I am as an educator.

When I student taught at at 4th-8th grade school, I learned a valuable lesson that has shaped me into the educator that I am today. I learned that I could be myself.  My cooperating teaching was loud, excitable and very easily distracted. But his heart was bigger than our whole state, and the students knew that they were important. It was in the safety of his tutelage that I realized that I didn't have to pretend to be the "all-knowing educator." I could be myself. Quirky, excitable and fun.

This article by AJ Juliani is an insightful and inspiring read that left me excited to get back on the podium-- but even more important, excited to take a look at my teaching style and see how I can incorporate more of the methods that encourage learning. In the article, Juliani states the three emotions that get the most traction in learning and education. They are Awe, Excitement and Amusement (or Humor). I think that anyway who remembers being a student will absolutely relate to this idea and agree. The best classes were the ones you were excited to be part of every day. The classes where the teacher made you laugh and the learning was memorable because it was fun.

Student teaching also taught me that being a music teacher is about so much more than just your philosophy of the importance of music. The value of music didn't change for me -- if anything, it became even more important through my career as I have begun to understand students as people who are experiencing life for the first time. It is critical that students learn how to be a beginner at something. In younger grades, children aren't so aware of the concept of failure. They just keep trying. But as they get older, they begin to associate inability to do something immediately with failure --- which is NOT the truth. In ability to do something is merely feedback. Feedback provides information. Failure produces judgement. Performing ensembles give students a chance to fail, to learn from what went wrong and try again, and to master. And the medium is fun, and social -- while using many different parts of their brain at one time.

In the band room the culture of the school changes. The students are no longer grouped by sport, by intelligence, by peer group, by socioeconomic status. They are simply Flutes, Clarinets, Saxes, Trumpets, Low Brass or Percussion. They learn how to work together with all different types of people, and no-one has to sit on the bench.

I knew that I would love being a teacher the day that I wandered the hallways in awe the first day of student teaching. Thirteen years later, I know without a doubt that I am in the right profession, and am excited every day to keep learning, and refining the process.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Using iOS GarageBand with 4th Graders Discovering Poetry

Our district is integrating iPads for all grade levels, and I have the good fortune of teaming up with one of our wonderful 4th grade teachers in using iPads to bring poetry to life!

The following is a basic tutorial for the concepts we will be using in the unit.

Getting Started with GarageBand on the iPad

When the program opens, it will create a new song, and take you to the instrument choosing screen. To select different instruments, swipe across the screen horizontally in either direction.

I recommend starting with SMART GUITAR.

When Smart Guitar opens, you can see several different chords in tabs across the front of a picture of a guitar.  The strings are interactive. You can play individual strings, strum across all six, or even bend the strings!

Touching the letter names of the chord plays full chord.  

The circular dial above the Bb is the "auto play" dial.  Setting the dial at either 1, 2, 3 or 4 and then touching one of the chord tabs starts a strumming or picking pattern that is repeated. It will keep playing until you touch the same chord again to stop.  You can easily change chords while auto play is going -- it is a very cool way to get an idea of what different song styles would sound like.

Before we start to record, there are some settings we have to change!

1st- We need to turn the metronome off.

To turn the metronome off, touch the WRENCH icon, and you will see the menu pictured.  In that menu, touch the blue and white area next to Metronome that show it as ON. When you touch that, it will slide to the left and turn gray, which indicates that it is off.

Next we need to adjust how long GarageBand will record for.  It automatically starts with 8 measure sections. It is easy to change, and best to do it before we do any recording.

In the top right hand corner, you will see a plus sign.  Tap the plus sign and you will see this menu.

Tap on the words SECTION A  and you will see:

Touch the grayed out toggle next to Automatic and you will see:

Which is what we want.  We have told GarageBand to keep recording until we tell it to stop.

Now --- for RECORDING!!

To record the cool sounds that you have created, simply touch the red circle at the top, and wait for the count in, and start playing. 

Make sure that the cursor (small tab that follows the music along the measure indicator) is where you want it to be before you hit record, or you may end up recording over something that you already recorded.

When you are finished recording, simply press the stop button. (The white square -- it only shows up during recording or playback.)

Now -- let's add another instrument!

To the left of the playback controls, you can see two buttons.  One that looks like a guitar, and is blue, and a tab with a bunch of lines.   The guitar is blue, because we are using the guitar right now.

Touch the tab with the lines and you will see:

This is the TRACK VIEW.

To add another instrument, click on the plus sign in the bottom left hand corner.  It will bring you to the instrument selection screen. Swipe across the screen until you find the microphone, for the audio recorder. This is what we will use to capture the student reading their poems.

When you select the microphone, this is the the screen you will see:

Start and stop the recording in the same way you did with the smart guitar.  This time, when you tap record, the guitar music you recorded will play in the background.

When you are finished recording, press stop again, and then tap the TRACK button -- the one next to the blue microphone.

Now you can see that your song has a guitar track, and your vocal track.

If either the guitar or voice are too loud, tap on the picture of the instrument you want to adjust the volume of, and then click on the "mixer" button.  (It is between the loop and the wrench.)

In this menu, you can adjust the track volume, or how loud the selected track (or instrument) is.

When you are finished with your recording, click on "My Songs" in the upper left hand corner.  It will save the project, and bring you back to the screen where all of your projects are.

Garageband doesn't force you to choose a name for your project right away -- it creates a temporary title "My Song #."  To change the title of the song, simply TAP AND HOLD the current title of the song until a keyboard pops up giving you the chance to create a new title for the song.

Next time we will discuss how to get these creations into iMovie, to create a movie using the students music to accompany pictures of the students artwork.

This is fun and exciting!

Friday, November 15, 2013

The 2013 A.C.T.E.M. (Association of Computer and Technology Educators of Maine) Conference

My friend and colleague, Barbara Greenstone, is a well-respected technology teacher throughout the state. She suggested that I submit a proposal for consideration to the board of the ACTEM conference. I was so excited by her suggestion, that I immediately began working on my proposal for my "iPads in Band and Chorus: Great for Portfolio AND Assessments!" session.

I nearly missed the opportunity, however, when I didn't receive the email that told me that my proposal had been accepted! Thank goodness I am one of those gmail nerds that have every account (of many) forwarded to one primary account, because I was then able to find the email on the original email server. Relief! Disaster averted!

I am happy to share with you the video from my session at the 2013 ACTEM conference, where I share my best practices using the iPad for assessments, and instruction.

Watch the video here.

The conference took place on Friday, October 11th, in Augusta, Maine.