Technology Tips for the Kodaly-inspired Classroom

Hi everyone, it's Aileen from Mrs. Miracle's Music Room. Last weekend, I presented a technology workshop for VOKE. I really enjoyed presenting the workshop, and as I was putting together materials for it, I was reminded of how anti-technology I used to be.

I admit it...years ago, when I heard the word "technology," I would shudder. It was starting to become a buzz word, something that would be hailed as the "next best thing." I had visions of active music making going out the window and being replaced by students sitting at computers using notation software. (Not that this is a bad practice all together, but I didn't want to lose the music making in my classroom!) I used to brag that I could teach only with a tuning fork. I've come to realize, though, that just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you should.

So I guess the question boils down to this: why use technology in your Kodaly-inspired classroom? I'm stubborn in that I refuse to do something just because everyone tells me I should, which is why I was initially anti-technology. Here is my list of reasons to implement technology in your classroom:

  • To create an exciting, interactive environment. So many of our students are very comfortable with technology, and there are so many great things you can do with it!
  • To save time. This, to me, is one of the biggest reasons I use technology. While initially, it may be time-consuming to learn and make resources for a specific technology (like the SMART board), it can eventually save you time.
  • To create unique experiences that wouldn't be possible otherwise.
  • To collaborate with other teachers from around the world.
  • To research.
Let's start with creating an exciting and interactive environment. One of my favorite types of SMART board files is the "sentence arranger." This is a great way to teach students a new song...simply have them listen to you sing, and then have them arrange the lyrics by dragging and dropping! You can download an example for "I've been to Haarlem" here:

This week I used the "Starry Night" app to have my students brainstorm words and phrases for a "Starry Night" haiku, which they then added solfa to, notated on the staff, then transferred to the dulcimer or a barred instrument. There were so many "ooohhh's" and "ahhh's" when I projected the app from my ipad to the TV screen, and then they got more creative with their brainstorming!

You can download the app here:

How can you save time with technology? One of my favorite ways to save time this year is to hyperlink all of my files on my agenda which I project onto my SMART board, so I don't have to open multiple files in the morning before my lessons begin. I got this great idea from another music blog and of course now I can't remember whose! Read this blog post about creating an agenda; here is a picture of a sample agenda:

In the above agenda, I had a SMART notebook file for "Star Light," so when we got to that part of the lesson, I just touched the words on the SMART board, and the file opened! To hyperlink in Powerpoint, select the text you want hyperlinked, right click, choose "hyperlink," and then choose the file to which you want to hyperlink. This has been a great time-saver, between the fact that I don't have to open up a bunch of new files every morning, AND I don't have to write and rewrite anything on the board as new classes come in; I can just close the file, hit "don't save" (unless there is something I need to save), and I'm good to go!

Another great way to save time is with the "Smart Seat" app.

One of the tasks I have always loathed is creating seating charts...and this makes it SO much easier. It allows you to create charts in several different layouts, take pictures of each child, print out the seating chart to yourself, and so much more!

GarageBand is a GREAT way to create musical experiences not otherwise possible. You can now download GarageBand for free with in-app purchases. See more by clicking below:

I'm not an expert at GarageBand, so here is a great tutorial from Music and Technology you can purchase:

This book has also been very helpful; click the picture to see it on Amazon.

Maybe you're thinking, "I can't have my students use GarageBand...I only have one ipad!" You might consider working in learning centers, and you can also use GarageBand to create accompaniments and songs for your students to listen to or play along with. I created this recorder song and accompaniment on GarageBand that you can download for free for your beginning recorder students learning B and A:

To collaborate with other music teachers, you can simply hop over to the "Kodaly Educators" group on Facebook and ask your question! I've also asked questions on the Organization of American Kodaly Educators page and Ipads in the Music Room page. There are so many great minds there who are willing to give advice and answer questions!

As far as research goes, I LOVE using the Holy Names Kodaly website to search for folk songs! It is like an index many of us had to complete for our levels...but it is online and free! Click here to check it out. You can also read Christopher Roberts' thoughtful blog post on the Kodaly Corner about using the Smithsonian Folkways website to research folk songs from around the world.

This is just a sampling of technology ideas for your classroom that could be added to your Kodaly-inspired lessons to make them even more magical. Have any other ideas? Please comment below (and check out some tips for using Twitter I recently posted at my blog!)

Thanks for reading!

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