A Music Educator’s
Rough Guide to the Internet
by James Frankel
Technology is a funny thing. The advances that have been made in the past five years have been astounding. Schools all across the country have been making huge investments in technology. Many now have elaborate computer labs, and President Clinton’s goal of having every classroom “wired” to the internet is coming closer and closer to reality. Teachers are being encouraged to use the internet in their classrooms. The funny thing is, there seems to be little attention paid as to how it should be used. Is there more to the internet than just using search engines to research a given topic? What’s more, how can a music teacher use the internet in their classroom?
Believe it or not, there are many web sites that are currently up and running that provide some wonderful learning opportunities for music students. The internet is becoming more and more interactive, and music seems to be the perfect vehicle for interactive exercises and games, some of which include opportunities for assessment of their work. There are also many web sites that can serve as valuable resources for music educators.
The following is a rough guide to the internet with music educators in mind. While not a complete list, it will hopefully make the internet a friendlier place.
A word to the wise...
Before logging on to any web site in front of your class, make sure to view it ahead of time. All of the following web sites are “kid friendly”, but just to avoid any potentially embarrassing and dangerous situations, check the site out for yourself before using it in class.
Interactive Educational Sites
These sites include interactive games and activities for music students.
This is an extremely well developed web site created by the American Symphony Orchestra League, and is geared towards elementary and middle school students. The site looks at the different sections of the symphony orchestra. It has many interactive games for students, as well as music and video clips encouraging students to make music. The animation and graphics are vibrant and fun. There are also links to other “kid friendly” music sites.
This music education launch site serves both as a valuable resource site for music educators and as an interactive game site for students. It includes a music symbol recognition game as well as the musical version of hangman, “Hang the Music Teacher”. While this site is not as colorful and graphics oriented as the previous site, it does include a links page to virtually every other interactive music game site on the web.
This web site is entitled “Music Net”. It has two interactive music games, neither of which are on the same level of sophistication as the previous sites, but they still provide a challenge. The first is a trivia game and the second is “Name that Tune”. Both games are geared for middle to high school students, both have only 5 questions. This site also has a music encyclopedia (limited) and chat rooms for students and teachers.
The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra has recently added an interactive kids page to their site. The activities are based around their Young People’s Concert Series, for students in grades 3 - 8, and are based on activities created by the Master Teacher’s Collaborative. There are quizzes and games based on Mozart and Dvorak, along with opportunities for students to have their work displayed in a student gallery. This site is one of the only where student work is showcased.
This site, Music Notes, is geared more for high school or college students. It contains music theory, history, and style lessons, as well as an interactive section where students can complete crossword puzzles, take ear training tests or complete theory quizzes. Graphically speaking, this site is not as appealing as other sites, and the theme music that plays throughout your visit is a little irritating, but it contains the many challenging and educational activities.
While this site does not include any online interactive games, it certainly deserves a mention in this category. There are four free downloadable ear training software titles that contain comprehensive exercise in interval identification, scale and mode recognition as well as seventh chord identification. The exercises vary in difficulty, so they can be used at virtually any grade level.
That’s right, “cyber-lessons” are here. This commercial web site allows the user to take actual piano lessons with a live teacher. A MIDI keyboard and sound card are required, as well as your credit card.
Just for fun...
This web site lets you play a virtual piano. The sound isn’t wonderful, but the response is immediate, making it possible to play a song in real time. The programming is amazing.
Non-Interactive Educational Sites
These sites are more multimedia oriented. While students do navigate through the presentation, there is no opportunity for them to input information.
The New York Philharmonic web site has recently added an educational area, where kids can learn about the various sections of the orchestra, famous composers and musicians, and even learn how to build their very own musical instrument. While there are no interactive features yet, the site is certainly worth a visit. The layout and graphics are exceptional.
PBS has created a wonderful web site, and their arts section needs to be mentioned.
Each month there are a number of different features to choose from, ranging from Live from Lincoln Center, to the songs of the Mississippi. There are also features on dance, visual arts and film. Even if you don’t use this site in class, you should check it out for your own enjoyment.
This is a wonderful site all about the life of W.A. Mozart. It was produced by the Strings in the Mountain Festival in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. There are many sound files of Mozart’s music, as well as pictures and animations. The story of Mozart’s life is told in storybook form, and students can learn all about different aspects of Mozart’s life simply by clicking on various links.
This site is truly extraordinary, and a little bit scary. It is called the “Classical MIDI Archives” and contains midi files of virtually every major piece of classical music ever written. Just click on the composer, and then the composition you’d like to hear, and it plays a fully orchestrated version for you. It is perfect when you don’t have a recording of a particular piece, and you’d like your students to hear it. The recordings are quite good as MIDI files go. And best of all, the service is absolutely free.
Resources for Teachers
The following is a partial list of web sites that contain useful resources for music educators.
American Computer Music:
American Music Conference:
Technology Institute for Music Educators:
Links & Resources
NJ Performing Arts Center:
New Jersey Symphony:
New York Philharmonic:
NJ Colleges & Universities:
For a complete listing of every college and university in New Jersey, go to:
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All of the preceding sites were viewed using Netscape Navigator 4.0 and MS Internet Explorer 4.0 with a 56K modem. Some of the older browsers will not support some of the sophisticated programming in the interactive sites. As a rule of thumb, always upgrade to the latest web browser. The speed of your modem will also make a big difference when using the site as part of a lesson.
This list is by no means a complete one. There are thousands of web sites dealing with music, and music education. Some are appropriate for use in the music classroom, and some aren’t. Try these sites out for yourself, bookmark the ones you can use, and search for sites that interest you and are not listed here. This rough guide will hopefully serve as a starting point for using the internet in your classroom.