Setting Up The Music Tech Lab pt. 3

Mike Lawson • Technology • April 1, 2006

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New Trends Testing software has become an important addition to computer- assisted instruction because it allows the teacher to customize instructional assessment and go beyond the individual software applications being used. Assessment has become a main stay in the academic education scene today with much emphasis on national testing in language arts, math and science.

In the electives, it can be just as important because even in electives, teachers should be able to evaluate and document student progress and proficiency. Assessment data, when analyzed and understood, can provide key information about student progress: Pre-testing at the beginning of the school year confirms what students know and what they need to review while periodic assessments indicate progress and identify where students need remediation.

To make signifi cant achievements in any subject, students need to know what learning targets they are responsbosible for mastering, and at what level. One of the strongest motivators is the opportunity to look back and see progress. In the Arts, documentation is often not collected and tabulated in order to be shared with administrators. Fortunately, there are a number of test generating products available that work well in a computer lab; allowing teachers to generate personalized tests that can include a variety of question and answer types such as multiple choice, matching, true/false, short answer, essay, and many more. School and district administrators value the ability to show proof of student learning in every subject.

For elective subjects, assessment results provide a way of validating teachers’ programs and showing results. There are a variety of products that you can use varying from crossword puzzle makers to teacher utility applications that can easily construct many kinds of tests for assessing your students beyond individual software applications. If you search on free crossword puzzle maker on, 25,000 crossword makers are displayed. My favorite crossword puzzle maker is Crossword Companion Deluxe by Vision Technology in Education. It even has a 17,5000 word dictionary and many graphics that you can insert in a split second and can even run on a network server.

For samples of their graphics, go to: And if you have Adobe Acrobat Standard or Professional, you can save the crossword puzzles as .PDF files and post to your web site in seconds. Test makers are really easy to use and powerful at the same time. Teacher Resource Companion Deluxe by Vision in Technology Education ( is an inexpensive product that creates activity sheets, tests, games, and curricular packages in minutes. You can change question type with a single click as well as insert image fi les and more graphics.

If you are looking for the Cadillac of test making software at a modest price, look no further than FSCreations’ ( suite of products: ExamView Assessment Suite, PuzzleView and StudyView among others. The ExamView Assessment Suite includes three companion applications: the ExamView Test Generator, Test Manager, and the Test Player. The Test Generator is used to create and manage assessment items and tests. The Test Manager allows you to build class rosters, capture scores, and analyze performance with valuable reports.

The Test Player enables students to access their ExamView assignments over the school network. ExamView is currently available for Windows but shortly will soon be available for Mac. ExamView can save you hours of work every week and signifi cantly improve how you create and administer tests. FSCreations also offers a Learning & Test Center web-hosting service that allows you to publish your ExamView assignments, homework, quizzes, study guides and tests to the Internet. This service, which enables auto-scoring, is available for an affordable annual subscription price.

PuzzleView, a free-ware application, gives you the power to create lessons in the form of exciting and motivating puzzles that teach vocabulary, comprehension, word defi nitions, spelling, history, etc. You can= adjust the size, type style or confi guration of your puzzles with ease. There are five puzzle formats: word search with words, with clues, cryptogram and jumble. One click is all it takes to switch among the puzzle types. There’s an upgrade to PuzzleView Plus for only $25.00 that even allows you to send web puzzles to your school or home web sites. Foreign language support includes Spanish,
French, German, and Haitian-Creole.

StudyView is a “flashcard” software application specifi cally designed to accelerate personal learning. It even runs on a PDA like a Pocket PC or Palm or on a laptop/desktop computer. The magic of StudyView is that students can study at home or on the go.. You can use existing ExamView-formatted questions or create your own material using the ExamView QuestionMaker which supports thirteen different question types and includes a fullfeatured word processor. With three mouse clicks, you import questions, select what to study and start studying.

In summary, test construction software should be apart of any computer lab, especially with its multiple uses: printouts, CD publishing for home use, school networks and web sites. It will save you time and voice fatigue. With the trend for 1 to 1 implementation, lap top computers are becoming popular along with mobile carts. Fixed space music technology labs may be on the wane. A music studio in a back pack is an interesting concept with space limitations and wireless technology is making this more feasible. Ultra small music controller keyboards with 37 keys is another plus in a small lab.

Another trend to consider is a media lab controller. Your music lab can be interactive between students and teacher via headsets with a microphone. Ultimately, no computer or keyboard lab should be without one. The lab controller allows aural communication between the teacher and individual students. This will enhance the effectiveness of your lab instruction and help your students work as teams or as individuals. It is important to choose a lab controller that is flexible enough to combine the sound from the computer and the keyboard simultaneously while also allowing two students at each station.

And if the number of students grows in your lab, you can expand. Four manufacturer’s to deal with for a music lab controller system: Lentine Music, Yamaha, Roland and Korg. Some software manufacturers are making the selection of software very easy to understand. Electronic Courseware Systems has an excellent table of their curriculum offerings in each software product that can be found at: pdf, on page 32.

V.I.P. Music Lab Configurations by the Leaders in Music Technology Sales:
Four companies – Kelly’s Music, Brook Mays, Sweetwater Music, and Lentine Music – who are at the top of the music technology industry, have provided input here about specific items essential to music educators trying to design a music lab in any of the following ten proprietary music lab configurations.

  1. Entry-Level Basic Music Lab Confi guration: soundcard, CPU, headphones, microphone, etc.
  2. Entry-Level Music Literacy Music Lab with emphasis in general music through high school
  3. Intermediate Level Music Lab with emphasis in music notation:
  4. Advanced Level Music Lab with emphasis in digital audio sequencing: reference speakers would be a must and high quality headphones!
  5. Advanced Level Music Lab with emphasis in video production/ editing
  6. Intermediate Level Music Lab with music scanning emphasis
  7. Entry-Level Music Lab with emphasis in keyboard instruction:
  8. Intermediate to Advanced Level Music Lab: “Live” Oriented Contemporary Music Instruction with Rock Bands: Garage Band and creative digital audio sequencing hardware/software that goes beyond traditional studio recording techniques.
  9. Advanced Level: Full Functioning Multiple Level music lab including media lab controller system, video projector and much more! Curriculum with model URL’s: asp?newsid=1681,,,
  10. Intermediate Level Performance Practicing: SmartMusic, iPAS, Band In-A-Box, Superscope PSD300 and 340 The format for these worksheets is based on the form at the top of page 61. To view the different web pages for each company for suggestions about budgeting for teach of the ten music lab types, go to: Each web worksheet has the company’s logo, name, address, phone number(s), web page links and contact people so that you can follow up discussion of how to best plan your music lab needs along with obtaining specifi c brands, model, prices and other options. This web site serves as a great starting part for planning your music lab acquisitions.

Closing Comments
You know you have students who can’t wait to get to work in your music tech lab? They’re ready and waiting to start this adventure with you. This is a great shoot-in-arm for your curriculum. For a quick and easy overview of workstations, check out the comprehensive descriptions in the online catalogs from some outstanding music store web sites, including Kelly’s Music (, Brook Mays (Brook Mays (, Sweetwater Music (, and Lentine Music (

All of these companies are reliable for both pricing discounts and sales associates who regularly deal with music education. These companies also have exemplary catalogs designed to give you a better understanding of music software and hardware. For example, Lentine Music’s current catalog has an outstanding discussion on page 4 on determining your goals with specific references to selecting the software. On page 5, you will find a detailed software comparison chart. Their software descriptions are particularly insightful for understanding what each software product offers music educators. Sweetwater Music has an incredible hardware catalog with a comprehensive presentation of hardware options for setting up a computer music lab.

If you are looking for performance oriented uses of your music lab, Sweetwater excels in this area with solid inventory and sales people to help you. Kelly’s Music has the most incredible web wizard search engine to help you pin point your search for products with razor sharp information available no place else in the industry. The wizard can search for software, hardware, brands and product guides.

Good luck budgeting wisely for your hardware and software needs and establishing a music lab for creative instruction.

V.I.P. Services Before Purchasing Installation Services

Some of you may opt to build their computer music lab by hiring a company to do the entire installation in a fraction of the time. All hardware and installed plus the computers are configured for maximum efficiency. With 8, 12 or even 16 workstations, all the wiring is neatly tucked so students can’t accidentally kick the wiring. There are two companies that regularly do installations across the country with certifi ed technicians: Lentine Music and SoundTree. Their prices are reasonable because the purchasing and installation is offered as a packaged deal.

Maintenance Plans
Keeping a multi-station music technology lab can be time consuming with software, hardware and operating system updates SoundTree offers several maintenance plans to service your music lab for maximum effi ciency. Their Gold Service Plan covers a oneyear period which includes a cost-free telephone consultation and written action plan, and one on-site service call to maintain all hardware and connecting cables/adapters, and a half-day training. Their Platinum Service Plan offers two-years of service plus additional features with extended warranties and loaner service on Korg products and more including one annual day of staff training. For more information about SoundTree services, go to:

All Lentine customers receive lifetime toll free telephone support for no additional charge. Lentine also offers customized maintenance plans for each client, based on a discussion of their unique needs. Some of their clients may want an annual staff training session, others may simply want to re-image their computers annually, while others may want us to do short notice call-outs. So Lentine Music customizes each service plan right from the start of the installation. Contact Lentine Music at (800) 822-6752.

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