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Creating, Performing, Responding, and Connecting: Noteflight Learn revolutionizes music education technology

John Mylnczak • • April 4, 2016

Students are growing up in the most connected world ever, where technology makes communication, collaboration, and creativity possible at all levels of music education. How do we integrate intriguing and engaging lessons into our programs in the world of ever-changing technological tools? One answer is Noteflight, the world’s largest and most robust browser-based music notation community.

No matter what device currently exists or will be created, the internet will always be as ubiquitous to technology as notation is to learning music. Noteflight, a Hal Leonard Company, has now launched the next wave of standards-based music education technology: Noteflight Learn.

Noteflight Learn is a private website designed speci­cally for music education where all users have Noteflight Premium features, including performance and assessment tools. Every user can access their Noteflight account from any computer or device, including Chromebooks, iPads, and smartphones. All digital scores are interactive, customizable, and easily accessible, and sharing and collaboration are built directly into every aspect of Noteflight Learn.

The new National Core Arts Standards (NCAS) place an emphasis on creating, performing, responding, and connecting to music. Noteflight Learn is designed specifically to do just this.

Creating

Noteflight provides the only robust browser-based music notation tool with full editing capabilities and is accessible to students at anytime, any where. Other traditional music notation software requires downloading to a computer and therefore is not accessible to students at home, nor on their many different devices. Because of this, music creation projects have in the past required class time to complete which can be hard to manage for music educators with already limited schedules and rehearsal time.

Noteflight allows students to compose and arrange music using their own account which is accessible from any device with internet. Now teachers can assign composition and theory projects for students to complete outside of class, which only increases their musical knowledge and performance skills. Even if not part of a formal assignment, it is essential for students to have access to a music creation tool in order to express their musical ideas and creatively explore composing their own music.

Best of all, Noteflight is simple and intuitive. Students at all levels will be able to instantly compose music using the easy and customizable editing pallets. On an iPad, Noteflight uses an on-screen keyboard to make note entry efficient. All saved versions are archived, so students and teachers can always restore a previous version to see growth.

Performing

With the ability to display notation on any web-enabled device, Noteflight also serves as a music delivery and performance tool. Create or upload your scale sheets, original etudes, or custom exercises for students to access and perform. Noteflight Learn provides a custom URL for each school, so all scores are only accessible by students and teachers with logins to this site, therefore sharing is always private.

The key bene­fit to creating your library of music inside Noteflight is that the music exists as fully digital notation ­files, not as static PDFs. Any Noteflight score can be reformatted for any screen size, transposed, adapted, rearranged, and instantly played back with over 85 high-quality instruments. Digital music is both a performance and learning tool, because students can listen to the playback and play along with other parts in a score. Students can even play all parts of a score by transposing and adapting lines to ­t within their instrumental or voice range.

Responding and Connecting

The intent of creating music is to share and communicate with others, and Note- flight makes this easier than ever. Using Noteflight Learn, teachers and students can share scores by simply granting access to individuals or groups within the private school site. With a built-in commenting panel on every score, teachers and students in a school can interact and give feedback right in the musical score. No ­le downloads, saving as new versions, emailing, nor uploading is necessary. Simply log in, open a shared scored, then edit and comment away. Teachers can easily monitor all student accounts and work at anytime.

One key feature of Noteflight Learn is Activity Templates. Any score in Noteflight Learn can be saved as an Activity Template, which mean as soon as a student opens the score it creates a unique duplicate score accessible only to that student and the teacher who created the ­file. Now, in order to complete a theory or composition assignment a student simply needs to open the score, complete the exercise, then save it. Teachers can instantly see all Activity Template fi­le copies in one list to quickly assess student work. Activity Templates streamline assignments and assessments, eliminating the need to ever download, email, save new copies, upload ­files, or provide feedback using another platform. In Noteflight Learn, all communication and feedback is saved in a dialogue right next to the musical score.

Noteflight is also adding a revolutionary new feature in April: Browser-based recording. Now, users can audio record a performance along with the musical notation and have the audio track synched to the notation. Students can record their parts for assessment and listen back while viewing the notation. Teachers can record demonstration tracks so students can hear their notated music with real audio. All commenting, score collaboration features, and Activity Templates work along with recording, so now students can create, edit, perform, record, and share their music all in one platform.

Lesson Planning

Integrating music creation lessons into a music curriculum is essential for a well-rounded musical education and can be easily done when properly implemented. Traditional “composition units” required a break from rehearsal time and the completion of large projects in a school computer lab. Using Noteflight Learn, students can work on composition and theory assignments on any device, allowing for lessons that can be completed both at school and at home. Here are a few tips on integrating composition lessons using Noteflight Learn:

  1. Start with short lessons. A composition lesson does not have to be a large, time-consuming project; instead, it can be as simple as an 8-measure melody. Get started right away with easy and consistent assignments.
  2. Build off of what you have. Using the music you are already playing in class, have students write alternative melodies, counter melodies, re-harmonize current melodies, rearrange sections for small ensembles, or experiment with various keys and modes.
  3. Focus on a skill. Start by breaking down composition into elements and use assignments that just work on melodic shape, or harmony, or counter melody, or orchestration. You can gradually build up to larger composition assignments that include a combination of these elements.
  4. Create, Perform, Respond, and Connect in every lesson. Have students share their music, provide feedback, perform their pieces, and connect their ideas to the outside world in every lesson, no matter how big and small. It is important to include the whole process from creation to connection starting at the very first lesson.
  5. Build confidence. Remember that a student composition represents a creative idea which they are sharing with others, so always be sensitive in feedback and continuously build confidence.

Lesson Idea: “What are you composed of?”

Objective: Students will collaborate on composing and performing an 8-measure melody.

Procedure:

• Student will pair up in groups of different instruments or voices and interview each other using a given performer interview questionnaire.

• Each student will compose an 8-measure melody for their partner based in their interests identified in the interview.

• Students will make a recording each others’ compositions

• Each pair will discuss the compositional elements in their pieces and how their performances reflected these elements.

• Each pair will share the composition and recording with the class.

The lesson above covers all four NCAS artistic processes of Creating, Performing, Responding, and Connecting, and is a simple concept that can be implemented in parallel to ensemble learning.

Conclusion

Using the NCAS, Noteflight Learn provides a platform where every student and teacher can create music, perform and record music, and provide feedback, all in a private collaborative environment that is accessible on any device. Noteflight offers a free, 60-day demo of Noteflight Learn for 50 users. Sign up today at www.noteflight.com/learn.

 

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