You Are The Music Makers
Last month, Manuel Herrera and I were lucky enough to work with teachers in the Jackson R-2 School District. One of our workshops was designed specifically for the district’s elementary music teachers. Manuel and I are both big advocates for arts education – and work to integrate the arts and creation into core classes – so we were very excited to work with this team!
One of the tools we used with the music team was Song Maker. Song Maker is one of the many tools in Chrome Music Lab. The more we worked with this fun, user friendly tool, we started to see the many connections to core content areas. In the time since our work in Jackson, Manuel and I have continued to revisit Song Maker and develop some fun activities to get kids creating and collaborating around music.
Put Music to Writing. In Jackson, Manuel and I did a Paint Chip Poetry activity with the music teachers, where they created poetry from the names of paint chips. Then, that poetry turned into lyrics as it was put to music. Song Maker is a great tool to put any student poetry or writing to music, instantly transforming students’ words into lyrics and creating a whole new piece of art!
Songs About Science. What does the water cycle sound like? Does precipitation sound heavier or louder than evaporation? Pick any process in science, and ask students to first take notes on the different parts of the process – importance of each step, speed at which the process moves, and even how they feel about the process, etc. Then create a song that represents that process.
When students in early elementary collect weather data through the week, they typically graph their observations. Take that a step further and have them write a Weather Song for the week – rain and sun probably sound very different! Can you hear the different days and weather in this song?
Soundtrack a Story. Students retell a scene or chapter from a book through a song, or use music to represent a character’s feelings. Rising action likely sounds very different than falling action! In The Hunger Games, the scene when Katniss takes her sister’s place would have a very different tone than when Katniss is in the arena.
Imagine all the characters in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby – each of their personalities or feelings would sound very different when told through music – happy, angry, excited, in love, etc.
Musical Math. When younger students are learning about patterns, have them arrange a piece of music that follows a certain pattern. Give students this handout to create their pattern first, then build it in Song Maker. Once their pattern is created, encourage them to make changes by adding or deleting in order to make the song sound better – all while staying in a pattern!
For older students, ratios can be used to compose a song. Give students ratio requirements – for every 4 red beats, use 1 blue beat – and allow them to use those ratios however they like! Give students the handout to plan out how they’ll use the ratios first, then build it in Song Maker.
Collaborative Compositions. Working in pairs, students should discuss a song they will create. This song can be content related (maybe from one of the examples above!), or something just for fun. They should discuss beats, tempo, etc. Then, have each partner fill out these pages individually – one planning the beat and one planning the melody. When they come back together, they will each put their work into one Song Maker song. Have students reflect on their work – did it sound how they planned? How could they change it?
When students are finished creating their music, they can easily share it by clicking “Save” and copying the link. The link can be emailed, bookmarked, or posted to Google Classroom.
Manuel and I hope you can find ways to use Song Maker – and the other fun tools on Chrome Music Lab – to bring music into your classroom! Please share anything you or your students create with us on Twitter and Instagram – @sadieclorinda and @manuelherrera33 on both platforms.