By Kelly Surette
As an adaptive music teacher, it can be extremely challenging to find ways to make music accessible to all students. When you find something that actually works and gets kids excited about music, you want to shout about it from the rooftops!
This is why I love Chrome Music Lab for my students with special needs. This free application...let me repeat...FREE application, is described as a website that makes music learning accessible through hands-on activities. It definitely does this...but for students with special needs, it does so much more!
By providing multisensory access to music through visual elements, Chrome Music Lab is the perfect solution for my Deaf and Hard of Hearing students with multiple disabilities. By displaying the application on the smart board in my classroom, a tactile element is added as students touch the board to make rhythms, write songs, and explore a variety of musical elements.
Hearing students with special needs also benefit from this differentiated learning experience. By providing multiple modes of access, Chrome Music Lab is an engaging, fun way to get students involved in the music making process while learning successfully.
The Songmaker: Write a song via piano, strings, woodwinds, synth, or marimba and combine it with a variety of percussion instruments using multi-colored blocks. Play your creation back and marvel at your creativity!
Rhythm: Using a variety of percussion instruments, create a rhythm that can be repeated as a background track to any music video, rap, or educational endeavor.
Spectrogram: A spectrogram is an image of the way a sound changes over time. Use your own voice, a harp, a flute, a trombone, a drum machine, and more to explore the visual nature of sound.
Chords: Learn chords by striking a piano key and watch as the notes light up in color, illuminating in a major or minor key.
Sound waves: Press any note on the piano and watch as blue dots dazzle the eyes with a matching sound wave.
Arpeggios: Select any note on a color wheel and press play. The coordinating arpeggio will play auditorily while multi-colored steps demonstrate the arpeggio pattern visually.
Kandinsky: Draw a line or shape and press play. Chrome Music Lab will assign pitches to your lines and create a melody. Watch as the lines vibrate right off the screen!
Melody Maker: Create your own melody by placing different colored squares on a musical template. Adjust tempo to play faster or slower and add harmony boxes to make the melody more complicated.
Voice Spinner: Record your voice into the application and watch as the recording spins and vibrates.
Harmonics: Hold you finger over a string and watch as it vibrates. Harmonize the strings with each other by pressing more than one string at a time.
Piano Roll: Watch a piano roll song visualization in legato or staccato mode. Colored boxes and rectangles represent different notes and note lengths. Students can watch the song play from beginning to end.
Oscillators: This is such a fun, silly experiment in the application that students are sure to love. Choose from four different oscillator types: “squares,” “sawtooth,” “triangle,” and “sine,” and place your finger on different parts of the screen. Watch as the characters change shape based on sound frequencies. Higher sounds will stretch the characters head to the top of the screen and lower sounds will stretch the character wide.
Strings: Strum the strings of a string instrument and watch as they vibrate from the action.
Where to Find It
Chrome Music Lab can be found by clicking HERE.
How To Use It
Of course, there are a myriad of ways Chrome Music Lab can be used in the adaptive music classroom...really, the possibilities are endless! If you are interested in looking at how others are using the application, there is a twitter feed collection of ideas you can click on HERE.
I hope you and your students have fun exploring this application! Remember, if your students are engaged in music in a way that is novel and exciting, they will be much more likely to retain the information and deepen their relationship with music as a whole. Share your Chrome Music Lab success stories in the comments below!
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Kelly Surette is the author of Creative Miracles: A Practitioner’s Guide to Adaptive Music Instruction (coming soon.) She is a speaker and adaptive music educator in the New England area. Kelly is dedicated to enhancing the lives of those with special needs and those who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing with multiple disabilities through music. Connect with Kelly at www.kellysurette.com.