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