When combined with internet technology and advanced mobile devices, music education has been enjoying a nice boost over the last few years. As long as an internet connection can be established on a relatively modern personal computing device, students, parents, and educators cannot complain about a lack of music education resources. Younger students cannot envision a music curriculum that does not require some level of online interaction; in most cases, they are able to find websites and apps that augment what they learn in the classroom on their own, but they will always appreciate recommendations from their instructors.
Music educators are fortunate to have quite a few internet resources at their disposal; some are didactic and technical while others are more in line with what younger students want, which is entertainment and interaction. We have listed a few websites ideal for music teachers and parents of children who are going through the homeschooling experience. You will notice that some of these resources focus on lesson planning and music theory while others deal with history and games. Even though our Prodigies Music program aims to instill the wonders of music theory in the minds of young learner, we acknowledge that music is a vast cultural dimension that deserves to be studied from various angles.
Classics for Kids
This project from Cincinnati Public Radio has been online for quite a few years, and it simply keeps getting better. The name of the website says it all: This is a place where children, parents, and teachers will find a treasure trove of resources about the classical music genre. The main sections of Classics for Kids are organized as follows:
If you are a music educator, you will find that the lesson plans provided by this site have been developed pedagogically and with a vision towards allowing children to learn important concepts such as melody, tone, timbre, tempo, and others. Depending on the topic, you may find lesson plans designed for various grades; for example, the Antonio Vivaldi spring lesson has versions for early learners all the way to students in the sixth grade. Younger students can listen, sing, and move to the music. More advanced learners can listen critically to snippets of melody that they can either tap on surfaces or perform on instruments.
Music Games by PBS
One item of political discussion that has made news headlines in recent years is related to funding of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting by the United States federal government. When you realize that CPB projects include Music Games by PBS, it becomes easier to side with those who wish to see funding continue. The games children can enjoy playing on this site are very well-designed; they are coded in HTML5 in order to make them compatible with just about all personal computing devices that are able to run reasonably modern browsers. Another advantage of Music Games by PBS is that children will recognize characters from CPB intellectual property such as:
- Sesame Street
- Clifford the Big Red Dog
- Curious George
- Dr. Seuss
Something else you will notice about PBS Kids games is that they all have positive messages such as respecting diversity and making education a priority.
This amazing website provides a plethora of lesson plans about the origins of music around the world. The high levels of meticulous research and didactic presentation that you can expect from the Smithsonian are clearly present in every lesson plan. Most of the lesson plans have been developed for students in the third grade and higher; however, there are some designed to early learners. One particular lesson plan that stands out is part of the "All Around This World" series, and it looks at the life of a Kurdish child who also happens to be a musician. Instruments that are mostly played in Kurdistan and the Levant are highlighted because of their unique timbre; furthermore, children get to learn about certain rhythms as well as melodic patterns from the Middle East that have been sampled by modern pop music artists. The lesson plans on the music of Ghana and West Africa are certainly eye-opening because this is where the American musical genre known as blues comes from.
Jazz in America
Music teachers who believe in the power of inspiration will appreciate the work of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz and its Jazz in America website. The lesson plans you can find here are for students in the fifth grade and higher. You will find a lot more than just music topics in these lesson plans; art, history, and social science are thoroughly discussed as they should be because jazz is one of the most important musical genres to have originated in the U.S. The music theory portions of Jazz in America are hard and fast; they jump right into the melodies that were performed by ragtime players and how legendary musicians such as Jelly Roll Morton subverted those melodies by affixing them to more physical rhythms. As for listening exercises, students get to learn from jazz greats such as Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, and Dave Brubeck.
This interactive score editing tool is perfect for students who have already learned musical notation and are starting to create their own composition. One of the most powerful features of Noteflight is that it allows students to upload digital audio recordings and watch them being turned into scores. Noteflight is easily one of the most powerful teaching tools for educators whose students are learning music theory.
If you are a music teacher who has been providing remote lessons via Zoom, Skype, or Microsoft Teams, you may want to migrate your platform to Google Classroom so that you can take full advantage of Noteflight. Students who practice on digital pianos or keyboards can export their sessions on MusicXML format so that they can be managed on Noteflight; the same goes for MIDI files. As can be imagined, Noteflight can make the lives of music teachers easier thanks to the performance assessment evaluation tool.
Other advantages of Noteflight is that it can be accessed from desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The intuitive user interface is very easy to learn; moreover, the developers of Noteflight have included a full library of scores, recordings, and lesson plans that teachers can access through an affordable subscription plan.
This website can be described as a repository of games, apps, and downloads developed for the purpose of making music lessons more fun and interesting. The apps offered by Music Interactive can be classified under two categories: Performance and Classroom. The Performance apps include a string tuner, a digital metronome, a track loop editing tool for budding recording engineers, and a couple of jazz-focused apps that teach melodies and harmonies from standards. The Classroom apps include games that present an entertaining approach to learning music theory.
Most of the Music Interactive Classroom Apps are free to download and install in their desktop versions. The iOS and Android apps are reasonably priced. Some of the Classroom games deal with music theory topics such as note recognition; for example, the Krank and Lucy app helps students when they are learning to read sheet music along with digital sound cues. To a certain extent, this kind of games are similar to the strategy applied by the Prodigies Music curriculum, which is centered on music theory instead of solely focusing on the social aspects of music learning. Prodigies Music starts with fun listening exercises for early learners, but it does not take long for students to start learning and assimilating music theory concepts through fun activities. By the time students get around to playing with desk bell instruments, they will be able to not only play melodies and harmonies but also understand the relation between notes, pitch, and measures.