As part of my Action Plan this year, I asked my Grade 7 music students to write a rhythmic variation based on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star using multiple tools. Here is an overview of this process:
Students used Breezin’ Thru Theory (www.breezinthru.com) for audio examples and also to print out the original melody in its simplest form. From there, students explored different rhythms that would change the rhythm of the melody enough to make it sound different without losing the original tune. The variation still had to sound similar to the original.
Next, students used Noteflight, (www.noteflight.com), to compose and notate their variations. They had never used this tool before but quickly learned its capabilities through collaboration among other students and with some teacher assistance. Noteflight provided students with a visual sense of their rhythmic variations and also provided them with audio so they could hear what their compositions sounded like right away. This made editing easier and also helped reinforce understanding of beat and the relationship between notes and rests. When finished, the students saved their Noteflight piece as a MIDI file so that they could finish the last part of their project.
Each students’ original variation formed the basis of a GarageBand project. For this step, students imported their Noteflight file into GarageBand. Here they added beats, loops, and effects to further edit their Twinkle Twinkle in a musical style of their choice. Individual student choice helped shape the genres of their new Twinkle Twinkle pieces. From Hip Hop to Country, to dance – the students made their own Twinkle Twinkle take on a style and genre representative of their own musical taste.
For the final step, students presented their music in a mini concert that was held during class. Sharing their dynamic variations was an important last step for the students. All of their hard work was celebrated as a class. Since each students’ variation was also saved as an Mp3, the student work was easily shared with parents as well.
It was really neat to observe the effectiveness of using multiple technologies in music class. This experience kind of turned things upside down in the class. Many students discovered an interest in a music area that had been unexplored. This process provided students with an opportunity to expand their understanding and experience of music at school. Ultimately, through collaboration, problem solving, and creativity, the students achieved their individual goals and had some great music to share.