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Welcome back to the second installment of the Podcasting Project for Middle School. If you haven't yet read the first installment, you should probably do that. It's like watching The Godfather Part II before seeing The Godfather Part I. One just doesn't do that! Off topic, but if you haven't seen the The Godfather Saga, it's The Godfather Parts I, and II re-cut in chronological order. It's quite interesting. Back to the project! To recap, I discussed with you the beginning groundwork of the scope of the project, and how the goal of this project is for students to get practice in recording, and editing audio files, arranging those files with other music files, such as intro/outro music, background music, and sound effects. I've also discussed the economics component of this project, making this a truly complex cross-curricular activity.


Lesson 3: Recording and Editing Audio Files


Now for the fun part! This project has a ton of prep work before actually getting to record and have fun with it.


Since I'm writing this blog post, and executing this project in real-time with you all, and my students, I am able to share with you what works and doesn't work, at least for me. I'll tell you what I won't do next time I do this project. I put way too much emphasis on introducing the topic of podcasting, and I didn't use enough relevant material. I used what was familiar with me in terms of consistency of quality. That being said, the next part of the project gets my students back on SoundTrap to practice recording and editing techniques that podcast producers use.


We should also talk about what kind of recording gear to use. In a perfect world, we'd all have access to the fully-stocked Mac Pro, all the best recording consoles, and outboard gear, and every single plug-in that money can buy. We don't, so I'm not even going to link to those items. But what I will link to (all are affiliate links, which will not cost you any more money but helps support the blog) is a few fine choices of USB microphones, as well as some other pieces of gear in case you have the budget. I'm a big gear-head.

I use the Blue Snowball microphone, as do my two colleagues when we record our podcast, and my students (we have a class set of these). They are extremely versatile microphones, and easy to use. I've used the Blue Yeti, but I do not own one, and I covet the Shure MV7, because I've heard nothing but great reviews. I also know that there are two methods of input on the microphone - USB and XLR - making it extremely versatile. The Audio Technica ATH-M20X are also excellent headphones. I have a pair myself. My students do not use those, only because we can't afford it at my school...yet. The Kensington headphones are inexpensive, durable, but at the same time, not the greatest quality in the world. For the price, and for the availability in my case (having to deal with Shop DOE...my NYC teacher colleagues might feel my pain) they are the best I could get. You also might want to invest in an external hard drive because audio files are going to eat up all of the available space in a computer. Your students can store their files in Google Drive, buy you might want to hold on to their finished versions and not have to use your computer. I recommend a 1 TB (1 terabyte = 1000 MB) external hard drive. My favorite is Western Digital. I think they're a great company, with great prices. With this gear, your students will be able to create great quality podcasts. On to the third lesson!


Objective:

Students will record proper audio files using a microphone, and edit them using SoundTrap.


Tasks:

  • Arrange a story in chronological order on SoundTrap using multiple un-arranged files.

  • Record a conversation with Mr. Licari, only Mr. Licari’s voice is pre-recorded.

  • Make Me Sound Good!

Arranging audio files: Choose a very short story, or even a famous speech from history, like Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech "I Have A Dream" or Lou Gehrig's "Luckiest Man" speech. You can even try a song! Break up the files into smaller ones, and deliver them out of order. Provide your students with a script, and have them assemble the audio recordings in the proper order. For my project, because it is Black History Month, it was a perfect opportunity to use Langston Hughes' poem I, Too. I try my very best to be the cross-curricular guy. So many times in my teaching career, and I'm sure your career too, I've received the following statement from a student: "You're a music teacher. You're not a real teacher." That's what motivates me to take this route. I know more than just music!



Recording a conversation with your teacher: Pre-record generic statements that your students have to respond to in the form of a conversation as if they were on the telephone with you. You can record things "Did she really say that?" or "I thought he was going to be late..." Be creative here! The responses your students come up with will be of the highest caliber of entertainment, because they're going to actually try to sound like grownups.


Make Me Sound Good!

Record yourself reciting a poem or a speech, just like Arranging Audio Files, but make sure you have really awkward "uh" and "umm" sounds, coughs, burps, and extra long pauses so that they can learn how to split the audio region and delete the offending sounds and silence. They would then arrange the audio stems so that the file sounds cohesive.


I hope this helped you! Stay tuned for the final part - podcast production. Don't forget to subscribe to the newsletter at the bottom of the homepage to receive news about special deals on my Teachers Pay Teachers page. Also, please support us music teachers and subscribe to my podcast Not Your Average Music Classroom (Listen on: Apple Podcasts, Spotify).


Have fun!






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Welcome to the Biggy’s Music Room blog! This is my first post and I am really excited to be sharing information about music education with you.


If you’re reading this blog, you are most likely a music teacher, so in case you haven’t done so already, please subscribe to the podcast for which I am one third a member called Not Your Average Music Classroom (Listen on: Apple Podcasts, Spotify).

Together with my two other colleagues, we have and will discuss various topics related to the discipline of music education. We started this podcast in the spring of 2020, when we were bored out of our minds at home and not going into our school building. We recorded about five episodes, and then had to go on a hiatus, but we are now back with a brand new episode coming out sometime next week.




"The People's revolution is gonna be a podcast" - NOFX

Our first topic I want to cover in the blog is about a massive project I am working on with my middle school students - Podcasting! Before I begin, there’s something you need to know about me. I’m not shy to be the weirdest guy that my students have ever met. It's sort of a badge of honor for me. Keep this in mind; you’ll see in a few minutes.


Up until this point in their school year, they’ve learned how to navigate around Soundtrap, and Noteflight, as well as arrange pre-recorded loops, and input musical information into Noteflight. Then, I had this grand idea to teach my students who are focusing on computer music in their general music classes about recording audio, and incorporate elements of music business and economics along with the recording of audio files. Below is exactly the steps I have taken and plan to take in order to execute this project.


Objectives: Students will be able to record and arrange audio files in a cohesive manner. Students will participate in a multi-grade virtual economy by buying and selling musical services in three areas - podcast production, audio/music production, advertising production.


So basically, my students have been tasked with naming their own prices for these services, and in doing so, will compete to make the most money they can producing the best quality podcast they can. I know what you're thinking...what money are they going to use to spend. See below, then you will realize that the level of weirdness that my students have come to expect and accept from me is way beyond what you were thinking in your head. I made this very disturbing currency on Canva, and I will link to you a free template so that you could use it to your liking.


Lesson 1: Anatomy of a Podcast


I am the guy that listens to podcasts. If you read my bio in the About section of this website, you would have found out that I live in Poughkeepsie, New York, and I commute 85 miles one-way to work in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY. I wake up at 4:00 AM, and I am out the door at 4:45 AM, 20 oz. of coffee in tow in my Descendents Yeti (not an affiliate link). The only thing I look forward to this early in the morning are my coffee and my podcast rotation.


When I introduced podcasts to my students, my goal was to get them familiar with the many different styles out there. One problem that I ran into was that my podcasts were a little...ahem...inappropriate for children's ears. So, when introducing them to certain podcasts, use caution and preview everything beforehand. That being said, I think it's important for them to know that producing a podcast is a series of choices one has to make.


What I would do is give them a brief history of podcasts. Who were some of the first people to pioneer


Some of those choices are as follows (try to have listening examples ready for them):

  • Choosing whether or not to have intro/outro music, sound effects, background music

  • Choosing to go solo, have a co-host, or more than one co-host

  • Choosing between a point on the scripted-unscripted continuum

  • Choosing to have sponsors

  • Reading ads yourself, or having commercials produced

  • Having sound effects, background music, or nothing.

  • Choosing your format type

One big choice they have to make is what kind of format would their podcast take (again, have some examples ready so that they can hear what it sounds like):

  • One-on-one Interviews

  • Solo commentary

  • Panel

  • Non-fiction narrative storytelling

  • Fictional storytelling

  • Hybrid (mix-and-match)

  • Repurposed content

Discussion Ideas:

  • What elements of making a good podcast resonated with you the most?

  • What are some different podcast formats, and of which would you prefer to listen?

  • Talk about what you would like to do for this project (topics for the podcast, format ideas, advertising ideas, types of background music, or creating intro/outro music)

Lesson 2: Advertising


This was a separate project that I had done in the before-times. I had purchased this project from the Teachers Pay Teachers store Jooya Teaching Resources. I was planning on doing this project with my students this year, but in my planning, I figured I would go big or go home. So, I combined these two projects. It's a great resource to have in your arsenal, so I would highly recommend giving it a shot, but I definitely had to tailor it to my needs, and cut out a few things.


I would also, ahead of time, figure out a way to find a lot of different ads that are relevant to your students now. This is one issue I ran into - some of the greatest ads of all time that demonstrate the musical concepts perfectly were SO completely outdated. Go ahead and let that stinging comment simmer for a bit...I'll go grab a cup of coffee...Are you all better now? Yes, that one stung hard. I would suggest finding newer ads, like YouTube or TikTok ads. It may be a little more difficult with the latter because it's a little more difficult to find suitable ads that align with the concepts put forth in the resource.


Discussion ideas: If you didn't want to make this a huge project like I'm doing where it's almost impossible to plan, I'd suggest maybe coming up with something at the end of this lesson for a quick assessment, perhaps have the kids try to come up with a fake product (or maybe you can even give them a fake product), for which they write a short jingle melody.


Lesson 3: Planning


This was their first time interacting in a group setting for this project. I made some worksheets templates that I will post here for free that will help students plan for their own podcast, music creation session, or advertising session. I am treating every single group as if they were a business, and I am taking it very seriously - almost to a detriment. Look, this isn't a Licaribuck stimuli. This is the Bank of Licari. You must apply, and I will comb through your application! Fortunately, the application is really simple. I clearly didn't take the time to make this document pop with color. It's a simple page. Not everything is pretty. Life isn't pretty! This is how real Mr. Licari gets.

Podcast Project Planning Document 1
.docx
Download DOCX • 14KB



Once they have completed the initial application to the Bank of Licari, I literally make them wait 5-7 business days to see if they were approved (it works out that the next class was day five. I'm not THAT mean!). Once they are officially approved, they start planning their first production. I have them use the following planning documents, depending on which venture they are going into (podcasting, music making, or advertising):


Podcast Project Planning Document 2
.docx
Download DOCX • 14KB
Podcast Project Planning Document 3
.docx
Download DOCX • 14KB
Podcast Project Planning Document 4
.docx
Download DOCX • 14KB

Stay tuned in the next week or so for the last few lessons about this Podcasting Project for Middle School. Don't forget to subscribe to the newsletter at the bottom of the homepage to receive news about special deals on my Teachers Pay Teachers page. Also, please support us music teachers and subscribe to my podcast Not Your Average Music Classroom (Listen on: Apple Podcasts, Spotify).


Have fun!

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