What a great app! Not only an app, but web based too. We were shown it in staff training last year, but its use in Music classes is limited. However, certain topics do allow for some good plenary/recap quizzes and I made a few quizzes for this purpose.

Again, the novelty of new ways of interacting with the teacher has had an effect on the students.
The class test results are consistently higher than previously. Students have revised and enjoy the whole experience; from logging in, to the various question formats.
It encourages accuracy as they are unable to go back and revisit a question. They know the answer or they don’t.
Then, exporting a report to open in ‘numbers’ is a fabulous way of collating the answers, seeing who has achieved correct answers and monitoring the types of variety in answers is so straightforward. All the information is on screen, without any need for tweaking.
Students again benefit from instant feedback, giving a sense of empowerment in their answering.
Sharing a quiz across the departmental staff is equally straightforward.

Today was a test on ‘Blues’ but it was equally successful with ‘ Elements of music’ tests. There’s no doubt, the students are more engaged.


A great class yesterday. The topic is Blues music, specifically 12 bar blues. Keeping it simple, we’d already individually created a 5 track GarageBand song; guitar , bass, organ ( using blues minor scale setting) rock drums for the fill in bar 12 and the cymbal crash in bar 1, and smart drums for the rest. This was so much better than trying to get each student to learn basic triadic chords on keyboards. While it has its place, the acquisition of keyboard skills in a 35 minute weekly group lesson is unlikely. The sense of achievement for a ‘less experienced’ music student at completing a 12 bar tracked recording is far, far greater. Not only have they managed to input the correct chords, improvise above it and understand drum principles, they have also managed to mix levels and to structure a song.
Yesterday was a great experience. With one class group we used the Jam facility in GarageBand. While there were initial Bluetooth teething difficulties, the kids grasped the concept quickly, took an instrument each and tried to record a 12 bar blues pattern, playing in time with each other.
Using the alesis io dock it s easy to add live guitar or keyboard, or even drums by mic. The potential to allow the more advanced musicians to plug their instrument directly in is another huge advantage. Yesterday, we only had one ‘live’ guitarist using a griffin adapter. The performance experience is just another facet of classroom music enhanced by the iPad. We ‘ll get 176 12 year olds doing it next week.

I ve done a rough draft of the survey, found some glitches already. It s easy to benchmark iPad skills and to monitor their development. The use of GarageBand as a sequencer, multitrack studio and composition tool is straightforward to evidence. But how do I quantify the musical skill acquisition in a manner that the students grasp? For example, the student could be perfectly able to edit midi, mix tracks and copy, duplicate and select but have combined 6 loops that are a musical nightmare. That shows iPad skill but musical insensitivity. The students learn to compose by creating an idea, developing it and organising it with harmonic support and good textural / timbal choices. They need to be confident in their self assessment in order to answer honestly. Is it acceptable that the musical principles underpinning the iPad activities are taken as read?
My feeling is that continued socrative assessment on musical skills will also inform the research. The students love those quiz formats, and answer honestly.
I have bench marked the incoming standards and hope to poll 176 students. I will then divide the cohort into 4 or 5 groups from musically very able to musically weak. My scientist colleagues say that a study group of 40 will be sufficient out of a 176 total, the 10 random s will be selected from each grade boundary so to speak.
My expectations are that the students already well versed in music theory will make great advances. Let s see.

Although the main focus of the IPad in music is a three year observation of my own teaching and the students ‘ learning, we are already using iPads in years 9 and 10. Year 10 marks the end of the key stage, a time when music is no longer statutory and becomes an elective. The same objectives of Listening, performing and composing are the focus of the elected course.
What is interesting is that there is no requirement for students in the statutory years to learn notation. This safe guards the subject from becoming entirely centred on theory with little practical experience. However, in a learning environment where the students are at the top of the academic intake, this may be selling them short. Given the time constraints, it is simply impossible to include elements of Listen, Compose, Perform and also give a lesson in staff notation and note values. Students may play a walking bass line, but it is meaningless if it cannot develop into something beyond mechanics.
With iPad access and server apps such as my big campus, it has been possible to set lessons and exercises on Ricci Adam’s Musictheory.net. With a minimum training, students can undertake differentiated exercises and get instant feed back on their answers. A homework challenge of ’email me a screen shot of your 100% result or 20/20′ ensures that the topic is grasped. The response from the students is excellent. Firstly the use of a website or app to learn and assess independently of the teacher appeals to those who like to work at their own pace. Secondly, the sense of achievement is instant, with increased challenges also readily available. Thirdly, most students have had very poor experiences of music at primary level. They approach second level with a built in feeling of inadequacy and disinterest. The lack of specialism in music at primary level often leaves issues inadequately explained or, in some cases, presented incorrectly. The high achieving student quickly sees that he is very capable of grasping and scoring well in basic music theory.
A homework can thus be set, where a lesson is studied followed by a related exercise. In a subject where the primary aim is a skill acquisition, this serves as a very tenable method for students to ‘see’ their own progress.
I have provided the Tenuto app for the elective students in year 11. It is an excellent app if used daily as part of a learning regime. It s excellent for teachers to firm up their own skills at the upper level, particularly in the chord and scale identification sections.
The picture therefore is of a learning community, motivated to learn a potentially dull topic, through the means of technology. This same idea, presented to incoming year 8 s may actually reel them in at an even earlier stage.

Having thought about the coming three years, I have several questions that I need to answer.
Firstly, I need to find out how much musical knowledge the students presently have, and also, how much IPad knowledge.
My intention is to create a questionnaire which can be used over the coming three years. This survey, completed individually, will assess both these benchmarks.
Positive sentences such as;
‘I can use GarageBand to play a primary chord sequence’ will not be answered positively by many right now, but they will , by receiving the same questionnaire, over three years be able to chart their progress. They need to know musically how to use primary chords, and technically how to achieve this in GarageBand.

iPad knowledge is one thing, but individual app knowledge is quite another. Should a 13 year old be fully familiar with all the possibilities of GarageBand? Given that certain Key skills are assessed at level 4 and 5 at the same age, how will this tie in with their learning?. Will the emphasis have to steer away from music and move towards ICT?

So, enough musing, I will design an all purpose but quite specific questionnaire which will allow me to benchmark the present standard and allow the students to chart their progress.

With a new intake of first years, all from differing musical backgrounds, and all with their new IPad 3s, the best approach is probably to follow these students over the next three years. Their iPads will be equipped with GarageBand, keyz and some other free apps as well.
The students become very adept at mastering the basics of iPads, iTunes and the communication skills that come inherent in these devices. But the challenge for me is: can we help them to use these fantastic devices to gain a better understanding of music and its relevant place in our contemporary culture? This must be a meaningful understanding, not a superficial, appreciative overview.
Then, for the more advanced first year, how can they further progress their skills using iPads and apps?
Having taught already for a year using 1:1 iPad 2, I am coming to this with some experience, but these wide and often novel experiences need to be further honed to meet the needs of a statutory curriculum.
Before beginning to look at teaching through the iPad medium, there must firstly be a very clear picture of the expected outcomes. How do the statutory requirements actually produce musicians? Do they actually produce musicians? I think not.
What valuable experiences do the students take from curricular music? What mindset do we, as music teachers, need to adopt to create a fulfilling and formative music course?
Over the course of the next three years, I hope to address this issues with my own classroom experiences and my own thoughts and reflections.
I have no need to be followed, I am keeping a written account for myself. However, this technology works best when ideas are shared, and if we can work collaboratively, in a digital hub, then we can only benefit as teachers.

This is the very first blog. My area for discussion is the use of IPads in music teaching, with particular emphasis on curricular music. My three areas of potential are; music classes for the general age group 11-14, curricular music classes for the more experienced student within the same age group, and finally, music classes for the student who has chosen to take music to a further level.