Educators Highlight the Best Teaching Tools from the Winter NAMM Show

Mike Lawson • Best Tools for Schools • February 19, 2015

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2015 Tools for SchoolsCountless musical instruments, accessories, and related products are announced and shown each year at the Winter NAMM Show in Anaheim, California. For the fifth consecutive year, our team of music educators scoured exhibits at NAMM looking for the best products for music classroom use in an array of different categories and met to deliberate and bring you the 2015 Best Tools for Schools from the Winter NAMM Show. 

This year’s panelists again included the chair of the panel, Dr. Karen Childress-Evans of the San Diego Unified School District, Dr. Floyd Richmond of Valley Forge University, Jim Evans, retired music educator from La Mesa Spring Valley SD, Mark Nicholson interim VAPA director for San Diego unified school district, David Rouillard, elementary instrumental music teacher, San Diego USD and Richard Ciaverelli, instrumental music director at the San Diego USD School for the Creative, Performing, and Media Arts (CPMA) middle school.

Best Teaching Tool for Young/Elementary Students

Everyday Improvisation from Alfred MusicEveryday Improvisation from Alfred Music

Address the National Standards while using your interactive whiteboard! Integrate technology into your classroom with these well-constructed interactive lessons that provide a smooth and easy way to teach improvisation and composition to elementary students (grades 1-4). Each plan starts with a song, chant, or poem, then provides prompts for active listening, invites students to improvise as a group/individually, and concludes with a rubric-measured assessment.

Clarinéo in C from Nuvo Instrumental, Ltd.Clarinéo in C from Nuvo Instrumental, Ltd.

The Clarinéo is a clarinet in the key of C. It is made from lightweight polymer resins, which makes it easy to handle, extremely durable, and 100 percent waterproof. It is assembled from just three parts, which makes it quick and easy to set up and put away at the beginning and end of lessons. The bell has a simple bayonet fitting while the mouthpiece has O-ring seals. The Clarinéo uses traditional cane reeds (EH clarinet) as well as synthetic beginners reeds, both of which are provided with each instrument. The instrument requires little to no maintenance as it has durable silicone rubber pads and the springs are integral with the keys. The range is fully chromatic over three and a half octaves.

Augmented Sheet Music from Weezic, SAS

Augmented Sheet Music from Weezic, SAS

Augmented Sheet Music is an intelligent and interactive sheet music format, available on all connected devices. It motivates music students to practice more at home and have more fun while practicing. It is free for all teachers, with the possibility to upload Finale, Sibelius, or MusicXML files, convert them into Augmented Sheet Music, and share them with students.

Mixcraft from Acoustica, Inc.Mixcraft from Acoustica, Inc.

If you use a Windows-based computer in your music program and can’t use GarageBand, Acoustica has the solution. Mixcraft is a powerful music production and multi-track recording workstation with thousands of music loops and dozens of audio effects and virtual instruments. Record audio, arrange loops, remix tracks, score and edit video, and mix and master tracks to create polished, professional compositions. Free teacher’s home license is available along with a detailed, excellent curriculum for classroom use.

SmartMusic from Make Music, Inc.SmartMusic from Make Music, Inc.

SmartMusic transforms the way students practice and learn. This interactive tool provides a way to dramatically improve students’ skills. As students play along with music onscreen, SmartMusic gives them immediate feedback on their performance by showing correct pitches and rhythms in green and incorrect in red. They are also able to hear their part in context with SmartMusic’s background accompaniment of a full ensemble. Create and send assignments to each of your students. And since you can easily follow, document, and grade their progress, individualized instruction and evidence of student achievement all become a reality. The reward incentive given by SmartMusic is the grade. Students use the program to rehearse, and prepare their part over and over until they are ready to submit it for their grade.

Xkey37 from CME-ProXkey37 from CME-Pro

This keyboard is made of lightweight brushed aluminum chassis with piano-size velocity sensitive keys and it’s compatible with Apple iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac devices. T features enhanced MIDI functionality with the Xport feature. Xport enables the Xkey37 to connect directly to external MIDI controllers without connecting to a PC or tablet.

Heavy Hitter Quadropad Practice Pad from Vic FirthHeavy Hitter Quadropad Practice Pad from Vic Firth

The Heavy Hitter series of practice pads was designed to provide the most authentic feel possible. And with features that help the player maximize practice time and avoid developing bad drumming habits, the Heavy Hitter pads are a perfect choice for players of all levels and musical styles! The drum pads are laid out accurately and cut for all playing areas‚ both standard and scrape. Vic Firth Heavy Hitter Laminates can be added to the pad for a greater articulation and better simulation of the response and feel of a marching drum. Because of the easy peel and stick feature‚ the laminate can be added‚ replaced, or upgraded at anytime.

Play Along Series from Hal Leonard CorpPlay Along Series from Hal Leonard Corp

For use with all B-flat, E-flat, Bass Clef, and C instruments, the Jazz Play-Along Series is the ultimate learning tool for all jazz musicians. With musician-friendly lead sheets, melody cues, and other split-track choices on the included CD, these first-of-a-kind packages help you master improvisation while playing some of the greatest tunes of all time.
 For study, each tune includes a split track with: melody cue with proper style and inflection, professional rhythm tracks, choruses for soloing, removable bass part, removable piano part. 
For performance, each tune also has an additional full stereo accompaniment track (no melody) and additional choruses for soloing.

Sound Innovations Series for Concert Band or Orchestra from Alfred Music

Sound Innovations Series for Concert Band or Orchestra from Alfred Music

Sound Innovations for Concert Band or Orchestra is a revolutionary new method that combines time-tested educational concepts, input from thousands of teachers, and advances in modern technology. Using solid pedagogy that follows state and national music education standards, the methods can be customized by teachers to use their own experiences in creating the best approach for their unique classroom. Sound Innovations is available in two versions: Standard Edition and the custom Director’s Choice Edition.

ErgoSonic Marching Bass Drum, from ErgoSonic Percussion, LLCErgoSonic Marching Bass Drum, from ErgoSonic Percussion, LLC

This innovative design allows performers to face forward with the same body orientation as the rest of the percussion battery and eliminates the blind back up move for the bass drum section. It has a horizontal playing surface that you play like every other matched grip percussion instrument, on one head with a vertical stroke so all the traditional percussive strokes, hand dampening, and muting techniques can be used.

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