Music today goes beyond the piano, saxophone and glee club, and Radica’s Ucreate Music machine can turn loops and samples into beautiful music. The small device sells for $35 and lets kids (and music teachers) mix and match various pieces of digital music, distort it, mix it and add a voice track. It can create final works that are up to 85 seconds long that can be saved to a PC via a USB cable, and the company offers a good assortment of samples online.
I’ve found that the music classes that veer off from traditional orchestral and band pieces are the most successful these days. Beat Kangz Electronics Beat Thang Virtual can help provide a steady background to a variety of music projects. The system comes with 3,000 professionally recorded samples, the ability to add your own and high-end electronics for editing and customizing the sound. For example, a project can start with a snare drum that you add reverb and delay to, followed by changing the pitch and adding the scratchy sound of an old record. Anything created can be saved as a .wav file for playing for the class or later use. The software works on either a PC or Mac and costs $149.
Tascam has come up with the perfect replacement for a music room’s worth of gear. The PT-7 not only can put out a variety of perfect pitch tones for tuning and getting the choir or glee club on the right note, but is a precise metronome as well. As if that weren’t enough, the PT-7 is a high quality recorder that can capture up to 20 minutes of performances with its own built-in microphone. It costs $100.
If Apple sells an iPod stocked with nursery rhymes and kids songs, I haven’t heard about it, but Califone’s MP3 player now has these items already loaded on them. The digital music player includes material from Twin Sisters Productions, including songs about phonics, speech, nursery rhymes and an album about sea life. The device costs $161 or $273 with four headphones and a hard case.
It may have something to do with the new TV shoe “Glee,” but a recent study by Chorus America shows that members of a school singing group do better in school and have better social skills. According to the survey, 70 percent of choral parents say their child has greater self control and discipline as well as improved memory. Meanwhile, 9 out of 10 teachers add that chorus can help at-risk students stay in school and keep them engaged. The study was paid for by the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, The McKnight Foundation and The National Endowment for the Arts.