New Adventures Teaching Music Technology – BTEC Music

So, this academic year 2012/13 I have started to design a Music Technology GCSE/BTEC course. We are following either the NCFE extended certificate for Music Technology or the Edexcel Pearson BTEC for Music (and chose the Music Technology options). Currently we are awaiting news from Edexcel/Ofqual to see whether the BTEC will be accredited for assessment in 2015……..

My course is for Year 9 students who have opted for Music Technology. We currently teach 40 students on this course. Here’s what we have done so far.

All About Audio – an introduction to audacity and how to edit and manipulate audio

Halloween Soundscape – using the skills gained in all About Audio to create a piece of creative composition

Drum Sequencing – the basics of drum performance and how to sequence a basic drum beat in cubase

Sequenced Performance of “Heaven” – Emeli Sande using midi maps and tutorial video files

HEAVEN Emeli Sande Midi Maps

Sequenced Performance of “Bounce” – Calvin Harris ft Kelis

BOUNCE Calvin Harris Midi Maps

Sequenced Performance of “The Zephyr Song” – The Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Zephyr Song Red Hot Chilli Peppers Midi Maps

So far… good?

EyDy Looper –  I really like using this app although has taken a while to get used to the gestures, particularly trying to get to the main help page (dragging the first track onto the third track!).

I have shown students in Year 8 how to use the app and they seem more than happy to get around the app HOWEVER the first attempts went down a slightly different direction than I had intended

  • I needed to ensure the students understood what looping meant
  • I needed to give the students try-out time before they started creating their own loops
  • I had intended that students would create pitch based melodic loops – they were happier with rhythmic loops to start with

Students have used this app to help them develop their composition and improvisation skills over a set chord progression – I vi IV V (1950′s doo-wap songs) and to begin to experiment with texture and pitch.

I have used this app to demonstrate what it means to “be in a key” – useful for putting major scale/tone and semitone work into context.

I have demonstrated this by layering patterns (playing clarinet or sax or anything else I can get my hands on) live with one student engineering the recording).

The individual patterns are using the notes from one major scale (keeping a static chord or pedal) and then once the texture has built up and everyone is happy in G major for example, the students can really hear a conflict of tonality when a pattern in a different scale is used. I have found this really helps to contextualise work on scales, construction of scales and different types of scales.

At the moment – I have done the playing on this – but next week I have a year 7 student who wants to have a go on his sax. I have also had students wanting to come along during social time to have a go = MOTIVATION!

Here are a couple of quick examples

30 days with an iPad in key stage 3 music lessons

As an AST for Performing Arts and (hopefully) a forward thinking Head of Music at a secondary school, I am really interested in finding out how I can use (or more importantly) how my students can use hand held devices to develop their performance and composition skills. At this stage I have an ipad and an iphone – I haven’t really explored apps on my iphone yet, but I have had a quick go with a LOOPING APP called EyDy Looper and now I am thinking about ways to use it in my classroom.

The possibilities are endless – but as our year 8 classes are currently working on 1950′s rock and roll – and in particular Doo-Wap songs I thought I could ask 2 students to compose/improvise/record a typical doo-wap backing.

I spent 2 minutes showing them how to get around the touch screen commands and left them to play and create!