Have a go at this!


The beginnings of my Orff project

The first assignment for Composition in Music Education is as follows:

Use the Orff “formula” to create a short piece of music for stage 2 or 3 students: you nominate the stage. Choose from:

  • Arrange traditional children’s or folk songs (some will be provided).
  • Arrange music in the minimalist style/of minimalist derivation
  • Compose your own piece, in your own style.

I chose to use a folk song as they are manipulable and can sound quite effective when arranged in a new style. The things that I was looking for in the folk song I would choose is

  1. In pentatonic/minor/a mode that is unusual to the Western ear
  2. Interesting melody
  3. Text content that is appropriate for stage 2 or 3.

The songs that were in my final list are

  • Shalom Chaverim, a Hebrew folk song
  • Blind Man, traditional blues
  • Ghost of John, traditional
  • Barb’ra Allen, traditional

I ended up choosing Barb’ra Allen because it was a pentatonic melody (which lends itself nicely to improvising over and performing as a round) and it has the potential to be arranged interestingly. I am currently tossing up whether or not to change the lyrics to something more accessible for stages 2 or 3.

The melody and first verse

The melody and first verse

The making of Super

The original plan:

To arrange and record a familiar nursery rhyme which showcases different genres. It would be used in the classroom to highlight what aspects of music change when the genre changes. We tossed up between making it a primary resource (where changes in genre would be smaller and might include baroque, classical, romantic and modern) or an infant’s (more obvious genre changes which might include tango, Celtic, classical and country). We ended up deciding to make an infant’s resource as using a nursery rhyme as a basis is better suited to younger children.

We decided to mix the song in GarageBand as we had limited resources and musicians so the loops pre-provided in the program would be very helpful. Neither Anna or I had much experience in using GarageBand so the skills learned in doing this project will help us when we are responsible for teaching composition to primary or secondary school.

We ended up using the song Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious as I had the sheet music to it and it is a very recognisable tune.

Our first action in making this project was to play on GarageBand and find some loops that would work for out chosen genres (country, classical and tango). There were many options for tango and the best instrument that illustrates this genre is the bandoneon.

We started out by dragging and dropping bandoneon loops that were on different chords into the workspace. We chopped and changed them to fit the chords in the song (in the parallel minor) by splitting the loop and dragging them around into the right order. We knew there must be a quicker way to change the chords and so started looing around the program for ways we might do this. The best we found was in the keyboard analysis of the midi instrument where you could see and change each note that the bandoneon played in semi-tones. This interface was very easy to use and when you hovered over a note it would tell you what it is. If students were to change the chords of a loop like this, without knowing what notes the chord should be, all they would need to do is read the sheet music, and just by knowing the names of the staff, they could easily change the chord.

After finishing our backing track of bandoneon, we needed to get the track into a form that we could take it with us to improvise over. The best way to do that was in a CD player (something we both had access to.) Just by simply searching within the program’s options in the drop-down tabs, I found “Burn song to CD”. It is as simple as inserting a blank CD into the drive and clicking “burn”. In this same list was an option to share the song with iTunes. This would come in handy later in our publishing phase.

We borrowed a  Zoom recorder from the Con to record ourselves playing our own parts on the violin to the backing track. I already knew how to use this technology after doing the subject Music Technology at university last year.

To record our parts over the top of our backing track we needed to be able to hear the track without it playing out loud. Putting earphones into the CD player easily solved this problem. We recorded each violin part separately so we could have separate stems when moving it into GarageBand later on.

Here is one of the stems we recorded:



Moving on to the country genre, we wanted to find a way that we could make a backing track without using the fiddly GarageBand loops. The best we could do was by recording a keyboard’s loops where the chords could be altered instantly by playing them on the keys. Though this was a much quicker way to make a track, it was also not at the same quality as the tango loops.

Our final genre, classical, didn’t need any loops as we had enough instruments just by ourselves to make it sound authentic (i.e. 2 voices and 2 violins). There are 2 stems in this song, the violins and the voices. We found that the more stems we created the harder it was to sync up when putting them into GarageBand, even when using a  metronome.

When mixing the songs together we had to sync up all the stems, recorded and GarageBand loops alike.

Creative Digital Task: Super!

So, Anna and I finished our task last Friday and I am now only just getting around to posting about it.

These three tracks are all Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, but in three different genres, tango, country and classical. They are designed to illustrate to infants aged children what changes when a genre is different and also what different genres sound like.

See here for Tango and Classical


and here for Country



In an effort to create myself a PLN (Personal Learning Network), I created myself a LinkedIn account. I have found it fantastic in creating a network of musicians from AROUND THE WORLD that are keen on education. I have had many people from the US and Aus asking to LinkIn with me and have also had a few people asking for opinions on their educational work.

A representative of The Pascale Method for beginner violins messaged me through this site asking for my opinion and feedback on the method. I also had the owner from Things4Strings message me in regard to their products.

It is great to find new people who are keen in the same area as you. The endorsement of skills is another way of linking with people who have the same interests and skills as you.

Week Six: Teaching with technology

In this lecture, we learned about flipped learning. This is where instead of sending students home from school with home-work that is based on what they learned that day, you instead ask students to prepare for a lesson by doing work before they learn about it in the formal sense. By doing this, they already have background knowledge on the content for the lesson and they can become engaged quicker. It is useful to use YouTube videos or websites for this flipped learning content as it is more engaging for students to use and they are more likely to do the work and be prepared for the lesson.

MOOC! Massively Open Online Courses. University courses that are only online and usually free. Though a small percentage of the people that begin the course actually finish, there is still quite a large amount of students that can do a course that would not have been able to do so otherwise.

We also had a video conference with Peter Lee who is a creator of Auralia. It is an ear training program that can be used in high school and universities. Content can be customised and tailored for the levels in curriculum that you want to use in the school. It is amazing and can be very helpful in teaching aural skills to senior students!

The Cup Song iBook

A few months ago, I created an iBook for Music Technology class. This iBook is based around The Cup Song and teaches students how first to play it on a cup and then to improvise and compose using the song as their basis. A quiz at the end of the book tests student’s listening skills. It is designed for stage 4 but parts may be useful for stage 3 or 5.

You can check it out here:


Music Prac

This video was used for my primary school prac to teach year one a unit on Healthy Bodies. I find this blog space very helpful when teaching with an Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) as there are no distractions around the page which can be a problem when showing videos straight from YouTube.

Waltzing Matilda

On the 2nd September I planned to use this video as a backing track to teach my prac Year one class the chorus of Waltzing Matilda. My plan was to first ‘sing’ them a picture book of Waltzing Matilda and explain the story to them. This went smoothly without a hitch. After we read the book I would teach them a dance to go along with the song. This dance highlighted the chorus as being the same each time while the verses were different. To play this video, I wanted to use the Interactive white-board. Unfortunately, my limited knowledge of the whiteboard meant that I didn’t set it up correctly, making the video un-usable and half the lesson needed to be changed to accomodate not having the music. I now understand why my lecturers at uni tell us to check and double-check that our technology is working. Pretty tough to decide what best to do when you have 20 small children waiting! Definitely learned my lesson!