Music Education Viewlets

What are Viewlets?
Viewlets demonstrate how to operate software to carry out specific tasks. The programs covered here are recognised as having potential for music education but they are not the only ones that are useful; they are a sample of some of the more popular and free or low cost music applications that are currently available.

  Audacity     AudioMulch     CDex     PowerPoint     Sound Recorder     VanBasco     Word  

Operating skills in the context of education
Operating skills alone are no guarantee of sound educational practice. They need to be coupled with a knowledge of how to make use of software to aid learning. These viewlets are complementary to educational information and resources that can be found elsewhere, e.g. on Becta's ICT advice site. They were produced for NMMG (National Music Management Group), who have been contracted by DfES to assist with embedding ICT in the music curriculum.

Program Viewlet topic
Audacity

(freeware for Windows & MacOS)

Load existing file
You could make recordings using some other program, or maybe grab a track from a music CD, and then refine or combine these soundfiles within Audacity. You just need to make sure that any soundfiles have been saved in a suitable format (wav, aif, mp3, etc.) so that they can be loaded into Audacity.
 
downloads for offline use:

Windows

MacOS

Record something new
You can record into Audacity using a microphone plugged directly into the computer. Finished work can be recorded as evidence of pupil achievement. Recordings can later be saved and imported into other programs or burned to CD. Material can also be captured as a basis for creative manipulation using Audacity’s built-in effects and multi-track layering facilities.

downloads for offline use:

Windows

MacOS

Trim start and end
Live recordings rarely begin and end ideally. For example, to be certain of capturing the first note you often begin recording several seconds earlier. These extra seconds are usually irrelevant and you will generally want to trim them before the recording is played back to the target audience.
 
downloads for offline use:

Windows

MacOS

Cut audio region
Audacity’s editing functions can be used to refine sound files. For example, you can cut out any unwanted hesitations, false starts and audience noises, or perhaps cut out whole sections altogether as you explore different structural alternatives.
 
downloads for offline use:

Windows

MacOS

Silence audio region
It is sometimes helpful to be able to convert sound into silence. For example, you could eliminate an intrusive cough from a meaningful pause. Or you could maybe create a classroom resource by eliminating all answering phrases from a recording; pupils could then improvise their own musical answers in the gaps that are left.
 
downloads for offline use:

Windows

MacOS

Copy/paste audio region
Audacity’s editing functions can be used to refine sound files. You sometimes want to duplicate certain portions of a recording. For example, you might want to construct a specific number of clock chimes for a sound effect, or perhaps to explore the effect of turning binary (AB) into ternary (ABA) structure.
 
downloads for offline use:

Windows

MacOS

Zoom waveform view
The waveshape graphics in Audacity can be very helpful in keeping your place. But when trimming whole tracks you will usually want to see more of the wave than when making an edit to remove a cough. The zoom controls allow you to view the wave at the most suitable magnification for carrying out editing selections.
 
downloads for offline use:

Windows

MacOS

Add effects
Audacity allows you change sounds by processing them in several ways. The available effects range from those that can occur naturally (e.g. reverb, echo) to those that are entirely electronic (e.g. phasing, time-reverse). So these effects can either be used to apparently place sounds in specific performing spaces or for more experimental creative work.
 
downloads for offline use:

Windows

MacOS

Export to file
Audacity can be used to produce refined sound files for external purposes. For example, you may be preparing neatly trimmed tracks for a CD of pupil performances or extracting specific excerpts for use in a class presentation. In these situations you will need to export the file in a format that can be loaded into other computer programs.
 
downloads for offline use:

Windows

MacOS

AudioMulch

(shareware for Windows)

Building your own effect
AudioMulch is an advanced sound processing program that can also be used effectively in the classroom in very simple ways. For example, you can add adjustable echoes to a live microphone signal just by loading a mulch file. For anyone wanting to devise their own library of ‘mulch’ data files, this viewlet shows the key principles of building one from scratch.
 
downloads for offline use:

Windows

MacOS

CDex

(freeware for Windows)

Extracting a CD track as a wav file
When devising interactive resources for pupils you often need to extract (‘rip’) music tracks from a purchased CD onto your computer so that you can prepare and embed specific excerpts. In educational situations where copyright law allows you to do this (i.e. most), CDex is one of several programs that can be used.
 
downloads for offline use:

Windows

MacOS

PowerPoint

(part of Microsoft Office suite for Windows & MacOS)

Embedding a media clip
Music teachers are not always fully aware of PowerPoint’s potential to play back music and sound interactively during a presentation. This viewlet explains how to embed playback of a media clip (audio, MIDI or movie file) with on-screen controls that allow it to be paused and restarted. This will probably be most useful for teachers wanting to prepare stimulus class presentations.

downloads for offline use:

Windows

MacOS

Adding a sound file
Audio (wav) files can be played from PowerPoint slides in a way that does not allow them to be paused and restarted. For example, teachers might want to do this to offer several clickable examples within a single slide. Pupils might be given a template asking them to match particular musical excerpts to given sentences or pictures.

downloads for offline use:

Windows

MacOS

Adding sound from a music CD
Music teachers are not always fully aware of PowerPoint’s potential to play back music and sound interactively during a presentation. This viewlet explains how to include playback of music direct from a CD. This might be done by teachers preparing stimulus class presentations or by pupils using specially prepared CDs in a specifically defined presentation task.

downloads for offline use:

Windows

MacOS

Embedding a hyperlink
This viewlet explains how to embed a text link that will launch a separate program, ready loaded with the file of your choice. This strategy is useful for teachers preparing stimulus class presentations during which they wish to include the more versatile sound manipulation facilities of some other program.

downloads for offline use:

Windows

MacOS

Recording live
You can make live recordings directly into different PowerPoint slides and these will all be saved inside a single presentation file. In this way teachers could capture several groups’ work into a covering presentation. Alternatively, each group could be given a template file into which they record their own work along with their comments and observations.

downloads for offline use:

Windows

MacOS

Sound Recorder

(included with Windows)

crib-sheet (pdf)

Making a new recording
Sound Recorder is an elementary recording and editing program included with the Windows operating system. Some teachers have used it successfully at KS1. This viewlet describes how to go about capturing a new recording. Note that for continuous recordings lasting longer than 60 seconds a more advanced program such as Audacity is necessary.

downloads for offline use:

Windows

MacOS

Listening to a recording
Sound Recorder is an elementary recording and editing program included with the Windows operating system. Some teachers have used it successfully at KS1. This viewlet describes the simple operations needed to play back a recording for evaluation, or perhaps so that pupils can listen out for specific features.

downloads for offline use:

Windows

MacOS

Changing a recording
Sound Recorder is an elementary recording and editing program included with the Windows operating system. Some teachers have used it successfully at KS1. It has some potential for processing recordings, in ways described in this viewlet. To implement other types of changes, consider using a more advanced program such as Audacity.

downloads for offline use:

Windows

MacOS

Saving a recording
Sound Recorder is an elementary recording and editing program included with the Windows operating system. Some teachers have used it successfully at KS1. This viewlet describes the basic procedure for saving the current recording so that it can be used again with a different class or perhaps included in a presentation.

downloads for offline use:

Windows

MacOS

VanBasco player

(freeware for Windows)

crib-sheet (pdf)

Introduction
The vanBasco player is a free program for Windows computers. It plays Standard MIDI Files and will also display synchronised words in MIDI karaoke files. It has several educational advantages over some other media players. This viewlet gives a general introduction and shows how to ensure that it connects properly with your sound hardware.

downloads for offline use:

Windows

MacOS

Using the karaoke window
VanBasco’s dedicated Karaoke Window displays large synchronised song lyrics. It can be set to fill the whole screen. This is useful in any situation in which a group of pupils can view a single large projection screen or whiteboard. This viewlet shows how to operate this feature and customise the display of lyrics.

downloads for offline use:

Windows

MacOS

Using the control window
VanBasco’s dedicated Control Window allows the user to alter the tempo and key of playback independently. This means that you can slow something down for practice purposes or perhaps for focused listening. You can also adjust the key of a song so that it matches the comfortable vocal range of any class that you teach.

downloads for offline use:

Windows

MacOS

Using the output and piano windows
The vanBasco player includes optional windows that show exactly which notes are sounding, using keyboard diagrams. Individual strands of the musical texture can be muted or sounded solo. This is helpful in any educational situation concerning investigation of the makeup of a musical texture and the roles fulfilled by individual instrumental parts.

downloads for offline use:

Windows

MacOS

Using the playlist window
VanBasco’s dedicated Playlist Window is a useful feature for teachers who wish to organise their teaching resources efficiently. It allows chosen songs and MIDI files, along with any special settings, to be grouped into simple lists no matter where in the directory structure the source files lie. This minimises classroom fuss and delay during lessons.

downloads for offline use:

Windows

MacOS

Word

(part of Microsoft Office suite for Windows & MacOS)

The Forms toolbar
Microsoft Word is commonly found on school computers. Teachers can use this program to produce electronic worksheets for pupil use. These forms only allow users to respond in designated areas and any question text is protected. This viewlet gives information about the Forms toolbar, which is used extensively when making this kind of form.

downloads for offline use:

Windows

MacOS

Adding a drop-down answer field (combo box)
This viewlet explains how to add a drop-down menu offering a choice of predefined answers.

downloads for offline use:

Windows

MacOS

Adding tick-boxes (check boxes)
This viewlet explains how to add a series of tick-boxes that users can mark or leave blank as they think appropriate.

downloads for offline use:

Windows

MacOS

Adding free text areas
This viewlet explains how to add a free text area into which users can type answers freely.

downloads for offline use:

Windows

MacOS

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