It’s been a hectic final few weeks of term as we’ve been trying to get around to meeting with all of our link schools to discuss programmes for next year. In the midst of this, we’ve had several requests from schools wanting recommendations for inexpensive apps and software to support music teaching. Having done the work collating our top favourites – we thought we should publish it to the wider world.
Audacity is our all time favourite as it works on macs and pcs and is a great audio editor. It’s pretty powerful and allows you to record/manipulate/edit etc. You can convert your finished compositions to pretty much any format from MP3 to Ogg Vorbis. It’s great for soundscapes, radio broadcasts or for doing a quick, high quality recording of your class music- making.
Sound plant: Another piece of freeware which allows you to record sounds and allocate them to keys on your keyboard. There are editing tools – limited to the basics, but once you’ve trimmed and pasted you can turn your keyboard into an musical instrument. It’s good for creating sound montages or for cueing up effects for the school show etc. If you want to record your creations you will need an external device although we’ve read that this feature may be included in one of the next updates.
Free Sound Effects & Samples
For sound effects and jingles try Soundjay (great if you want a few off the wall sounds for using with Sound Plant or Audacity.
If you’d like to turn your keyboard into a symphony orchestra, then make use of the Philharmonia’s free sound bank featuring every instrument of the orchestra and more…
LGFL also provide access to a large selection of copyright sample music, through the Audio Network. Use your LGFL login to search music that could be used as inspiration for your compositions, or could be remixed using some of the other tools listed in this article.
Free Web based Applications
Isle of Tunes is a web based application and there is also an App for use with iPads. It introduces composition through graphic notation. Trees, shrubs, etc represent various sounds – with some limited editing options – which can be placed around a road which is the equivalent of the stave. This freeware/app is a fun introduction to graphic scores and children love it.
iPad Apps – Free and paid for
So, apart from Isle of Tunes which would definitely get a high rating on favourites list, we also recommend;
This can be used as a good introduction to rhythm work. You can record your creations and them import them into other applications eg audacity for the children to then work them into larger scale compositions/sound scapes.
This app has that addictive quality. It allows children to do live mixes of preset effects and sounds. There are some very limited editing options on the sound effects. There is no inbuilt recording facility on the free version although this is available at additional cost as is the facility to upload your own effects.
Mad Pad – (£1.99)
Mad Pad is a lovely app that allows you to combine images and sound. You can then play your pallet of images – so great for ‘playing the school’ etc and creating soundscapes linking image and audio.
This is the most expensive app on the list but it is an incredibly powerful music tool. Based on the software that comes as part of the iLife suite, Garageband can turn your classroom into a giant recording studio. It’s also fabulous for getting children creating loop based compositions with guaranteed quality results every time.
…and for Mac Users
Garageband again. This comes as part of the iLife suite and is a more sophisticated version of the App. As mac software seamlessly integrates, you can drag your children’s filmmaking into the software enabling them to create their own film scores and soundscapes. The software comes with free loops, jingles, effects etc so radio programmes, news broadcasts and audio plays can all be created with relative ease.
Broadcasting to the World
And finally – do consider setting up an school Audioboo account. Audioboo allows your school to create its own internet radio station. You can design your own area – use your school logo and link it to your website. Once set up – download the app if you have mobile devices to capture audio on the move – and then record all of your school’s music making. Capture class singing, assemblies, choir concerts, productions, rehearsals, instrumental performances etc and broadcast them to parents and the world.
Or, if you prefer to use LGFL, you could try their Podcast Central service. You can create your own podcast channel, upload your audio and share your work with the world using LGFL’s school friendly system. You can even record directly into the website (just like you can in Audioboo) to save time and hassle. The site also includes help sheets for other podcasting tools.
Happy Music Making!