We are in unprecedented times. Schools are being asked to go online as soon as possible due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Music is inherently social so learning online is not necessarily something that is overly intuitive for music-making. Here are some amazing apps, websites, and softwares to get you and your learners creating and performing music online together using these social music making platforms.
Flat is an online musical notation software that can be used in Google Docs if you are on Google classroom by downloading the add on. It has many of the capabilities of modern offline music notation software but is completely collaborative. Learners can invite others to collaborate on a particular project, export it to a DAW or import a MIDI file that was played on a MIDI device by a human performer.
Noteflight is another online music notation software. The free version is pretty versatile but teases with paid features that you can choose to purchase or not.
Soundtrap as a completely online Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) for mixing, recording, and creating audio tracks. The free version has many of the features of offline DAWs like ProTools, Cubase, or Ableton. The paid version is a fully functional DAW comparable to the industry standards. They even have a version for Education that creates a closed network within your school or classroom to collaborate with learners who belong to that network.
BandLab and BandLab for Education
BandLab is a completely free, completely online DAW comparable to Soundtrap. It has collaborative online capabilities and many looping options for learners. DAWs like this open up so many opportunities for creativity in music and can be used as a performance vehicle and as a compositional tool. Any sounds played into a MIDI device or drum machine can be imported as notation to any notation software, too.
Video and Video Conferencing
Zoom seems to have become the industry standard for video conferencing. There are lots of other options, too, like Skype and Google Meet. Within the Google Suite of apps there is Google Meet and Google Hangouts. In Google Meet, you can share your screen so you can share what you see on your computer screen with your audience, such as a Prezi or a PowerPoint.
You could also get a piece of music together and have your learners video record their parts on their own devices separately to a metronome and submit them to you a-la the Eric Whitacre Virtual Choir. This being said, this is not an easy task, and before you take this on you need audio and video editing skills that can take a long time to acquire. Please read this article before diving in.
Flipgrid is an online video platform that gets facilitators and learners interacting through video performances or presentations. The teacher on the account has learners sign up for the grid where the teacher posts challenges. The learners then complete the challenges by posting a video to that challenge. It is catered to learners in Pre-K to PhD according to their website.
If nothing else, I hope this gives you a place to start your planning for online learning. Have you used any of these platforms? If so, what have been your experiences? Do you plan to use any of these platforms in your online learning lesson development?