Music Technology Lessons
Lessons © K. Garrett, www.musictechteacher.com
This is a very easy Retrograde lesson, which is a good starting point for the students to learn how to input music to the computer using a MIDI keyboard.
Lesson 003, DATES __________
The 2nd through 5th Grade students receive one 40 minute lesson per week.
Objectives: Students will complete a retrograde composition using CDEFG notes on the keyboard and a sequence of notes stated by the teacher. Students will use sequencing software and the computer to playback the song together, then expand the song individually.
Students should have prior knowledge of the definitions of MIDI, General MIDI, and other keyboard / tech terms. Follow this link to review brief definitions.
(See the Retrograde Lesson Plan and instructions at the bottom of this lesson page.)
After the students have successfully completed the Retrograde Lesson, they can extend the song using a song form, such as ABA or ABACA. This can be their first music composition to be recorded to an audio CD (CD-R) to send home to the parents. This will involve some work for the teacher. The teacher might wait to record the CD's until the end of each term (9 weeks at our school). Demonstrate the process of recording the MIDI (.MID) file as a Wave (.WAV) file to the students.
The student MIDI files will have to be played through the keyboard and recorded as a wave (.WAV) file into the computer. Sometimes having a small, inexpensive mixer (6 or 8 channel) connected to the computer will help with the volume control. A software program, such as Data Becker Music Center, or a similar program, will record the music as a .WAV file. Then the music may be compiled and recorded onto CD's using a CD-writing software program, such as Adaptec / Roxio, or a program that came with the CD-writer (burner).
Alternatively, the files can be recorded as MP3's or MIDI files on a floppy disk if the student has a computer at home. MIDI files will sound different on each computer system, depending on the sound card. Sometimes the student is surprised at how different MIDI files sound on various computers. "It doesn't sound like the instruments that I recorded..." is a popular comment from the students.
(2006 Update) - We now have the ability to transfer the students' MIDI files to a sound wave directly through the Sibelius 4 Notation program. We use Sony's Acid Music Studio to adjust the volume and other controls before saving the file in .wav and .MP3 formats.)
Ask students to notice the differences. ___________
Which format do they like best? _________________
Why do their songs sound different in various computer formats of music?______
What are some of the various types of computer music formats? i.e. CD audio, MIDI, WAV, MP3, formats from various music software publishing companies - Scorch (Sibelius).
What happens to the instrument sounds when compositions are recorded using a MIDI (not General MIDI) keyboard, then played back through a different source?
Work on musical skills through some of the quizzes and games on the Music Tech Teacher Quizzes
and Games pages. Choose games according to the skill level of the students.
Music Technology Retrograde Lesson Part 2
Retrograde = backward, i.e. beginning with the last note and ending with the first. The device is found in canons (some as early as the 14th and 15th centuries) and is central to twelve-tone music.
We will write this piece as a group and perform the piece with all of our computers at the same time. This will add variety to the instruments selected by each student. Students will also learn to use the shortcut commands for Music Time Deluxe.
1 on the number pad = a whole note
2 on the number pad = a half note
3 on the number pad = a quarter note
Control + S = save the composition
Control + ? = Staff Sheet to select instruments (128 General MIDI sounds)
Spacebar = start or stop the music
Add Measures = Click on Measures and Measure Numbers
Delete Measures = Click on Measures and Delete Measures
Students will use the shortcut keys learned to play 8 quarter notes and 4 half notes on the first staff. On the second staff, the students will copy the music from the first staff backwards. Students will learn to add measure numbers, delete any extra measures, and to save the music. Then the students will select instruments and perform the song together.
The Retrograde lesson is a lot of fun for the students. They like to choose their own songs for the music and to play the songs together. After they have learned the musical and technical concepts, they can make their songs much longer and experiment with further development of their songs.
As of 2004, we are using Sibelius software to do the lesson above and other composition projects.