One of the most difficult parts about being quarantined (aside from the crippling anxiety and isolation) is being unable to meet up with your ensemble. For teachers dealing with school closings, remote education brings its own distinct set of challenges. However, just because you’re not allowed to gather in-person, doesn’t mean you have to forget about rehearsal and learning all together.
Below are a few online resources music educators and directors can use to stay engaged with their students and groups.
Zoom – www.zoom.us
Zoom is a free remote conferencing program that allows one person to host up to 100 participants for up to 40 minutes at a time. For comparison, Skype only allows a maximum of 50 people on a call. If you’re dealing with a large ensemble or classroom, those extra slots are essential.
Users can also utilize the gallery view to see all ensemble members on screen simultaneously, and the sound quality is superior to other free remote conferencing software. Features like screen sharing are great if you have prepared a PowerPoint presentation for your class, and breakout rooms are ideal if you’re trying to separate the various sections of your ensemble. You can also easily record the meeting and make it accessible for anybody who was unable to attend the virtual rehearsal.
SmartMusic – www.smartmusic.com
SmartMusic is a music learning website for students and teachers that features a number of practice tools, musical accompaniment, and an expansive music library. They also recently introduced a sight-reading builder, which can be tailored for all types of ensembles and instruments. Teachers can track student progress (including practice time), collect assignments, and provide feedback.
SmartMusic recently announced that due to the number of coronavirus related school closures, any school that does not already have a subscription can receive free access through the end of June. They are also holding free webinars to help educators with onboarding as they begin teaching music remotely.
MusicFirst – www.musicfirst.com
MusicFirst is a cloud-based learning software designed for K-12 Music Education. It is available to students and teachers on any internet-connected device and is compatible with Windows, OS X, Chrome, Android and iOS devices.
MusicFirst Classroom allows teachers to monitor students’ progress in music knowledge and performance proficiency, make lesson plans and create assignments. Students can record and submit playing samples for an evaluation straight from a computer, phone or tablet. Individual state and national standards are included in the platform, helping educators to ensure that their students are meeting recognized benchmarks.
Once a student submits a subject-matter assessment, a score is automatically generated and recorded in the Digital Gradebook. Performance proficiency assessments are scored manually, and then automatically recorded in the gradebook. Packages are available for Band, Chorus & Orchestra, Secondary General Music or Music Theory.
Noteflight Learn – www.noteflight.com/learn
With Noteflight Learn, students and teachers can collaborate on their own private website which can be integrated with Google Classroom or other popular learning management systems such as Canvas, Schoology or Moodle, Blackboard. Users can create and share music, record audio for performance tests, or playing assessments, practice tracks, etc… and teachers can record feedback. Noteflight also has a Content Library with scales. chorales, melodies, theory and composition exercises.
BandLab for Education – www.edu.bandlab.com
BandLab for Education is a free online-based music production software that allows students and educators to create music and collaborate together. The software works on Windows, Mac, Chromebook, Android tablets, and iPads and teachers can create their own classrooms and also invite other classrooms for collaborative projects.
With BandLab students can create original music using their own tracks and/or loops available in the software.
BandLab was named Best Classroom Technology by a panel of music educators at NAMM 2018.
Here are some other online resources that might be useful to music directors and educators:
- Save The Music Foundation
- Conn-Selmer Division of Education
- Yamaha Music Educator Community
- Cornerstone Confessions
- Educational App Store
- NafME Academy
- Metropolitan Opera
- Philadelphia Orchestra (YouTube)
- Royal Albert Hall performances (YouTube)
- Berliner Philharmoniker
- Vic Firth
At Encore, we are committed to supporting music education both at home and abroad.