Editor’s note: this is a sponsored post. You can grab a free 1-month Newzik trial below.
If there’s one thing music teachers will remember from the Covid crisis, it’s how useful technology is when we need to communicate with students remotely. Online classes have become the new normal, and while we’re all very excited to welcome students back to the classrooms soon, it makes no doubt that digital platforms for teaching and learning music will stick around.
If you don’t already use a dedicated platform to create and organise your music lessons, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to make your lessons more engaging and motivating for students, all the while saving you tons of time in lesson preparation, distribution and assessment.
Let’s explore 3 ways you can use Newzik Education, the only collaborative music reader designed for education, to come up with fun, interactive exercises that your students will love.
Sight-reading can be quite hard for students at first. Being able to listen to a score makes it incredibly easier for younger students to approach new music. Providing students with not only the score but also a backing track allows them to stimulate several senses at once when discovering new music.
This is where Newzik’s LiveScore technology comes in handy. It relies on artificial intelligence and deep learning to convert any picture or PDF of a score into a digital version that you can listen to, accelerate, transpose, and edit with any notation software or DAW.
With this technology, in just one click you can generate a multitrack MIDI accompaniment for any score – from a basic piano study to an orchestral arrangement. Students can not only listen to the music, but also remove their instrument from the accompaniment to become the concertmaster of their own virtual orchestra!
Sounds interesting? Click here to download the LiveScore of Mozart’s Adagio e Fuga in Newzik.
Another way you can create interactive material for your students is by adding vocal or video explanations of how to practice a specific exercise or play a given passage of a piece.
Doing this with Newzik is extremely straightforward. The platform gives you access to an integrated audio recorder with which you can grab audio notes and add those to the score to guide your students.
You can also paste any YouTube link to add any video to your score – even unlisted ones. All you need to do is use your laptop’s camera to record yourself as you go through an exercise, add this video to YouTube and paste the link in Newzik.
Of course, you don’t have to use YouTube videos: you can add any audio or video file to a score in Newzik. You can then speed up or slow down these media files without affecting pitch – or transpose them just as easily.
This way, in just a couple minutes you can create interactive guided exercises with a play-along that your students can practice at any tempo and in any given key. How cool is that?
(The following tip is perfect for group teaching or group week special activities!)
Rhythm is often the first thing we learn as young musicians, and arguably one of the most important ones. The ability to listen and react to other musicians’ rhythmic feel is crucial when we play in a band or ensemble. So let’s see how to teach rhythm with digital scores!
Divide your class in teams of 3 to 5 students: each group will record a collaborative rhythmic piece remotely by overdubbing each other with Newzik’s embedded audio recorder.
First, provide your students with a rhythm exercise. Start easy with a basic groove, or maybe something like Queen’s We Will Rock You. Depending on the level you teach, you can make this more advanced by incorporating swing or simple polyrhythms.
It’s important to spread the different rhythmic components across several staves – one for each team member. Have these elements join gradually to make up the complete rhythm, adding new ones after a couple of bars.
To demonstrate this idea, I have created various blueprints for you – from easy exercises to my more advanced “polyrhythm challenge”. Click here to download them!
Before we explain the rest of this exercise, we need to discuss another key feature of Newzik: the Projects.
Projects are shared spaces between different users of the platform, where you can add scores to share them in real-time with all the members. Anything you or your students do in these shared spaces is collaborative, meaning any annotation you make on a score, any media you add to an exercise or any score you add to the Project is accessible in real-time to all its members.
Projects make sharing lesson material and collecting assignment submissions incredibly easy: a drag and drop is all you need to share new material with all your students, and you can then review their submissions as soon as they’ve uploaded them.
And that’s exactly how this exercise works. The first student of each group will record the first part with the software’s audio recorder. Since everything is shared in real-time within the project, all the other students will receive the audio as soon as it has been recorded.
The second person can then play the track and overdub it with their own part. To do this, they start the recording, then play the first recorded track, and record their own part on top of it.
Warning: do not use headphones! Contrary to virtual choirs, you do want the original audio to bleed into the microphone.
Move on to the next person in the group, and so on. In under 15 minutes, you can review all submissions to provide feedback… and so can your students!
Pro tip: Make this more interesting by asking kids to find a funny-sounding object and use it as a percussion instrument. Each group will get their signature sound, and you can then challenge other groups to guess what objects produced which sound.
These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg: with such an intuitive and flexible platform as Newzik Education, sky’s the limit in terms of creative strategies you can adopt in your music lessons. There’s so much more to explore, from “serious” activities such as virtual choirs to fun, more creative ones like organizing a scavenger hunt inside a music score.
And with the platform’s extended free trial until August 30th, 2021, you can explore it as much as you want this summer to get ready for the next school year. The platform also offers free content selection so you can start using it immediately.
A trained drummer and electronic musician, Paul is passionate about music technology. Before taking over as Chief Marketing Officer of Newzik, he spent 3 years travelling the world to train prestigious orchestras and opera houses on using the software and playing with digital scores. A true Newzik expert, he now dedicates his time to help music teachers innovate in their teaching and save time by using digital score technology.