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Sound Stuff

August 16, 2011

Today, day 2 of the teacher training programme on “music performance through interactive technology”… more software to see, and some instruments to play.

Let's hit the right notes.

Paul (the guy behind Simply Music, who in turn run this course) and a big Apple fan, showed us  Garageband, a digital sound studio that comes with Apple computers. Amazing what you can do with this software – we watch in awe as he inputs piano tracks using the keyboard (you could also use a Midi keyboard, he says), as he changes speed, pitch, signature, adds echo, amplifies the sound, mutes others….

There is a PC equivalent, Mixcraft 5 – and at home, I downloaded the free trial version. In two weeks’ time, I’ll have to decide whether being able to turn my qwerty keyboard into a piano, seeing what I played in score notation, changing it around easily, as well as doing all the sound recording, mixing, and other studio stuff,  is worth the $74.95.   I do admit I’m tempted…

Even a free piece of software like Audacity, easily downloaded onto your PC and not all that difficult to use, can do lots, and we’re getting a demonstration of that, too. We see Paul paste and copy slivers of music, slow it all down, make it louder, put different tracks in synch with each other and lots more. Once more, Paul ably demonstrates.

After a while, it gets a little difficult to focus, and I wish I had a PC in front of me to try this out. Maybe a great stand-alone training course in a place where there are enough PCs, or in a bring-your-own-laptop scenario in a location with good free WiFi?

Some of our group have tried Audacity with children, and feel that from maybe 4th class on, they can use it independently e.g. to make podcasts with added sound effects, to record music, to record themselves reading poetry to which they then can add music or sounds.

I start thinking of all the different ways this could be linked to the primary curriculum, English and Irish of course, History (‘reporting’ from historical events by podcast), Geography (making soundscapes for countries, or cities), Drama of course…. I’m sure if I gave it time, I could come up with something interesting for Maths, Science, and P.E., too!

Violins handed out to those who had not played violins before.

In the afternoon, we got to use the Boomwhackers again, also to build up some sound textures over a simple children’s rhyme using violins (plucked by people who haven’t played violins before), a cello, a piano, drums, chime bells. For me, that was the fun part of the day, and I’m happy to say that we’ll continue this tomorrow. Watch this space, as they say!

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