Arnold Memorial Elementary students in Siema Swartzel’s music class honed their composition chops on iPads provided through the Bradley Cleveland Public Education Foundation.
Two iPads were purchased with the money provided through a mini-grant. The remaining tablets came from the school’s supply. The 2-to-1 ratio of students to iPads allowed pairs to critique each other’s work.
Students created melodies on the piano as their first hurdle to being a composer. Each melody had to match the five objectives highlighted by Swartzel. All approved tunes were then uploaded onto the iPads.
Swartzel explained the process while her students worked on their pieces. She said most of the young boys and girls were in the final stages of the project. As she continued her explanation, students brought their tunes over for an inspection.
“See, you don’t want it that high,” Swartzel told one of her students as they listened to the iPad play back the piece. “You can bring it down. If you have it real loud, it kind of takes over.”
She adds sounds as the student takes in the information.
“So what you want to do is kind of pull it back a little,” Swartzel continued. “Do you see what I mean? It doesn’t sound the same, does it?”
A drum beat was next on
the list of objectives. The music application on the iPad allows users to create a new beat or choose one from the “smart drum” lineup. Students then incorporated multiple instruments and sounds to the melody and rhythm of the song.
Every student brought their own level of expertise and interest to the assignment.
DeAndrez Briggs explained his favorite genre is hip-hop. He went into the project with influence from various singers and rappers like Future and 2 Chainz. He employed various instruments and rhythmic beats to get the desired effect.
“I just tried out all of the instruments first,” DeAndrez said. “Then I added some.”
He said the assignment sounded hard when he first started, but he caught on as he experimented with the application.
Swartzel said the project allowed the students’ personalities to shine through the music.
She also enjoyed how students were able to work at their own pace. The overall timeline was not changed, either for students with disabilities or those who worked at a more advanced level. The flexibility of the assignment allowed all students to feel pride in their work.
Added Swartzel, “I really work hard in my classroom to make sure every student I have will have a measure of success.”
Every student will have the opportunity to play their composition for the class at the end of the project.
This is not the first time Swartzel has utilized the BCPEF mini-grants to broaden her students’ musical abilities.
Three years ago, students learned how to play the lap dulcimer.
Two years ago, it became cool to join the trash can band.
Last year, a mini-grant purchased six user-friendly Orff music instruction instruments.
“When I go into a grant, my attitude is to see where it will take me. I have a plan, and I have all the layers set up,” Swartzel said. “I played with the [application] enough to know what would and would not work. It exceeded my expectations. Students who are not normally involved took an interest.”
She thanked BCPEF for the grant.
“They consistently have honored my grants over the last four years,” she said. “They have made some really cool things possible for my kids that would not have happened otherwise.”