By Stefani Langol
Republished with permission from Artist House Music
The Internet has become an indispensable educational tool, but finding and evaluating safe, reliable, educational Web resources can sometimes be a daunting task. A search for “music education” using any search engine literally yields hundreds of thousands of links. Are you looking for teaching resources such as lesson plans, downloadable media materials such as MIDI and audio files, Web sites that can be used in the classroom to demonstrate musical concepts, or information on specific music-related topics? To get you started, here are 25 Web sites that represent some of the best music education resources online.
The following sites contain comprehensive collections of music education-related links, media files, and lesson plans.
K-12 Resources for Music Educators
This carefully researched and commercial-free site, created and maintained by public school teacher Cynthia Mazurkiewicz Shirk of Mankato, Minnesota, has been recognized as an outstanding site by many universities, school districts and music organizations throughout the world. In existence for over ten years, this site is a continually growing and updated collection of links, categorized by teaching focus: band teachers; vocal/choral teachers; orchestra teachers; classroom teachers; music research; general resources; and much more. If you are looking for something specific, check this collection of links first. You are bound to find useful materials here.
The Internet Resource for Music Educators
This site is maintained by the California Association for Music Education and is another comprehensive collection of links for music education. While some of the sites listed on this Web site duplicate what is found at the K-12 Resources for Music Educators site, there is plenty here to explore.
The mission of ARTSEDGE — the National Arts and Education Network — is to “advocate creative use of technology to enhance the K-12 educational experience.” This site offers free, standards-based teaching materials for use in and out of the classroom, as well as professional development resources, student materials, and guidelines for arts-based instruction and assessment.”
Classical Music Archives
Started in 1994, Classical Music Archives contains over 38,400 full-length classical music files by 2034 composers in MIDI, MP3, or WMA streaming file formats. This site is subscription-based, however you may join the site for free. To download files you must have a login and a password. Users with a free membership account may download up to five files per day. In addition, the site contains many illustrated biographies and an historical timeline. All the MIDI files are in Standard MIDI file format, and can be opened in any MIDI-based software program. It is certainly worth signing up for a free membership!
The Choral Public Domain Library
The Choral Public Domain Library is a free sheet music Web site which specializes in choral music. Started in December 1998, it is one of the largest free sheet music sites, with over 7,500 scores listed in the CPDL database. Most of the scores are in the public domain, but some scores are newly composed.
Home Practice Online
This excellent site was established in March 1998 by Dr. Scott Watson. Dr. Watson teaches music in the Parkland School District and is an adjunct professor at several universities in the Philadelphia area. This general resource is for young instrumentalists and their teachers, with online practice accompaniments to concert music and resources such as warm-ups and scale sheets, downloadable sheet music, and useful interactive activities and drills. A must site for elementary band teachers!
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The mission of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Summer Teacher Institute is to help educators use popular music to teach across the K-12 curriculum. This site contains about 80 lessons developed by participants in the program. In addition, you can find bios for all Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees.
Technology Institute for Music Educators (TI:ME)
Founded in 1995, the Technology Institute for Music Educators is a national organization dedicated to helping music teachers incorporate technology into their teaching. Since it’s inception, TI:ME has developed many educational programs and resources covering notation, sequencing, instructional software, digital media, and the Internet. While you need to be a member to receive full access to the Web site, there are numerous articles and a sampling of materials from the “Members Only” section of the site, as well as information about conferences, workshops, and membership. TI:ME membership is $40 annually.
Music Tech Teacher
This award-winning site contains myriad resources for music technology teachers as well as many samples of student projects. Creator of the site, Ms. Karen Garrett, of Central Park Elementary in Birmingham, Alabama, bills the site as an “extension” of the school’s music technology lab, where third-grade students learn to read, write, compose and publish their own music. In addition to student projects, the site also features numerous online quizzes, worksheets, games, sample music technology lesson plans, and much more. Ms. Garrett was the recipient of the 2006 TI:ME (Technology Institute for Music Educator’s) Teacher of the Year award.
Music Theory and Ear Training
There are several good instructional software products on the market for teaching music theory and ear training. However, if your budget is tight, or you want your students to be able to practice from their home computers (assuming they have a computer and are connected to the Internet), the following Web sites present effective alternatives to commercial software.
Ricci Adam’s musictheory.net
Ricci Adam’s music theory site focuses on beginning music fundamentals, from staff basics to major and minor scale construction. The site is well-designed, visually engaging, and very easy to use. In addition, if you don’t have Internet access on all the computers at school, the entire musictheory.net Web site is available for download in a free offline edition that allows the Web site content to be viewed without an Internet connection.
Music Theory Web
Jose Rodriguez Alvira’s Music Theory Web is another free music theory site with many interactive tutorials and exercises. The content of Music Theory Web is geared more toward intermediate music theory concepts and is available in English and Spanish. For a fee of $20.00, the site can be downloaded in its entirety and used offline.
This is a subscription-based site that is highly suitable for use in a music lab or the school library. The teacher can use pre-existing exercises or customize them to suit the needs of the students. The subscription also provides the ability to track student progress. Subscriptions are based on a low, monthly fee and may purchased up to 10 months at a time.
Music Theory Online
Music Theory Online is another fee-based music theory course designed to help high school students prepare for college theory placement exams. For a fee of $139, students have access to 70 lessons online. In addition, students accepted into affiliate college programs are eligible for a $50 scholarship toward the cost of the course.
Big Ears is a simple, easy to use ear training Web site that drills the user on intervals.
Musical Intervals Tutor
Like Big Ears, the Musical Intervals Tutor also focuses exclusively on ear training. In addition to interval training, the site also drills the user on modes and scales.
Good Ear Online Ear Training
Good Ear Online Ear Training is another easy to use ear training Web site. In addition to intervals, it also drills the user on chords, scales, cadences and jazz chords.
General Classroom Music Sites
The following Web sites are colorful and fun-to-use resources that are great for classroom research projects. These sites are filled with sound, animation, interactivity, and historical information. One caveat: because these sites use a lot of Flash animation, it is important to have the appropriate browser plug-ins and a fast connection to the Internet.
The New York Philharmonic KidZone!
Sponsored by the New York Philharmonic, this site is packed with games and activities, information about composers, performers, and instruments, and ideas for composition projects.
Built by the American Symphony Orchestra League and funded by New York State Council on the Arts, this Web site is a great place to learn about the instruments of the orchestra.
Dallas Symphony Orchestra Kids
The Dallas Symphony Orchestra Kids site gives students a great introduction to music history, the opportunity to hear and learn about the instruments of the orchestra, and tips on how to practice.
SFS Kids Fun with Music
The San Francisco Orchestra Kids site provides students with the opportunity to experiment with music composition. The basic elements of music (tempo, rhythm, pitch, harmony, and timbre) are introduced in a fun and interactive environment.
Nashville Symphony Orchestra
NSO Kids supports the mission of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra to provide a wide range of educational programming and resources that will support classroom instruction. This site provides students with information about the NSO and its musicians, as well many short biographies and musical examples of orchestral composers from the Baroque period through the 20th century.
PBS Kids Jazz
PSB Kids Jazz introduces students to the history of jazz. There are several biographies of important jazz artists, an informative historical timeline, and video clips of interviews with jazz musicians. The site is also linked to the PBS Ken Burn’s Jazz site that features a more in depth history of jazz, a timeline that includes social commentary, and more detailed biographies. While these sites do not include information on the history of jazz after the 1960’s, the material is extensive and informative.
Classics for Kids
Classics for Kids is the online component to the Public radio show with the same name. Listen to current or past shows, hear demonstrations of various instruments, visit the musical dictionary, and play musical games. In addition, the Classics for Kids® lesson plans and teaching resources give teachers practical, effective materials and activities that address the national and state standards.
Podcasts and Blogs
Podcasting and blogging is becoming commonplace in the wide world of education, offering teachers and students new and creative ways for interacting and sharing information and opinions on just about any topic. While the following sites are just a small sampling of the many podcasts and blogs posted on the Internet, they provide a glimpse into how these powerful technologies are impacting education.
Education Podcast Network
The Education Podcast Network is a centralized directory of podcasts that have been produced by teachers and students in many disciplines. If you are new to podcasting and are interested in how it can be used as an educational tool, this is an excellent place to start.
A Music Education Blog Collective
The Music Education Blog Collective was started by a group of music educators whose goal is to “stimulate, expand, provoke and revitalize discussion in [the] field [of music education].” The site also contains links to many other blogs and Web sites of like-minded musicians and educators.
There are numerous other sites that are valuable resources for music educators. If you know of a site that you would like to share, please submit it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will compile them and publish them in a future article. Happy surfing!
Stefani Langol is a music educator, clinician, author, and consultant. She is currently Assistant Professor of Music Education at Berklee College of Music and also serves as the technology coordinator for the department. In addition, Stefani is a member of the Technology Institute for Music Educators (TI:ME) National Advisory Board and served as editor-in-chief of the TI:MEs newsletter from 1997-2004.