Digital audio company Soundtrap for Education has made the most of lockdown by learning from customers how they use Soundtrap’s systems to improve teaching online.
Music teachers from across New York have been feeding the company their experiences of using Soundtrap through the lockdown to keep their students engaged. The range of responses creates an interesting picture of the differences between schools in different neighbourhoods.
Students at schools in poorer areas are often unable to buy their own instruments so have been without the ability to practice for many months. But the free software licences for educators on Soundtrap systems allows teachers to give their students tuition online in digital instruments, multi-track recording and audio production.
Aaron Bazzell, a high school music teacher at the Brooklyn Institute for Liberal Arts, used Soundtrap’s free licences to develop a film scoring unit and a music production unit to broaden his students’ musical skillset.
‘Many students utilise their music classes as their means of expression,’ he says. ‘It’s important that they continue to have this outlet in these trying times.’
Other teachers are using the system to teach arranging by providing a cappella vocal tracks for their students to create multi-tracked arrangements around.
Kelley Cuevas at Wagner Middle School used the first recordings her class had made, uploading them to a shared project for the students to align and edit. She then took the same excerpt from a recording made a few years later and showed them how they had evolved as musicians.
‘The project came about from an idea a student had when back in the physical school building,’ she says. ‘In addition to our 8th grade digital projects, some of our students have enjoyed exploring and taking on their own creative projects just for fun, which has been great to see.’
For school bands who haven’t been able to play in the same space for most of the year, Soundtrap collaboration has given them a sense of togetherness, according to Stuyvesant High School music teacher Dr Gregor Winkel. ‘Instrument section leaders are recording and synchronising their parts with their section members,’ he says. ‘Student monitors are eventually synchronising and combining the elements from different sections. It requires well-thought-out and thorough logistics that the students follow. So far, I have done this with bands of about one hundred students.’
‘The greatest difficulty of distance learning is revamping an engaging and integrated curriculum for all learners of different cognitive levels,’ adds Bayside High School music teacher John Curcio. ‘Soundtrap has helped me give musically enriching exercises to students at a wide range of levels in the general music environment.’