Young composers connect to apps

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) — A Grafton teacher has struck a chord with students by teaching them how to compose music using apps on their Chromebooks.

“I teach them a lot about Beethoven and Mozart,” says Jennifer Andrews, music teacher at Woodview Elementary School. “We talk about what they would think of all these [modern] ways to create songs because they would go crazy.”

When the pandemic prevented students from having an after-school choir, Andrews found new ways to engage her students through a mix of music and technology.

“During the stoppage we had to see things differently,” says Andrews.

This winter, Andrews launched the Composer Club, inviting third, fourth and fifth graders to join her for weekly lessons before school. 25 students signed up and started organizing music using apps like Kandinskywhich is part of Chrome Music Lab, and Incrediboxfrom a French developer.

But it wasn’t just music lessons. Andrews says she started teaching the kids about email so they could share their compositions, and they also taught her new things.

“The more students are on something, they figure it out as they go,” says Andrews. “A student discovered how to add more sounds just by watching a video.”

In the fall, Andrews organized a club for students interested in acting. There were no auditions, no need to memorize lines. Andrews says she wanted to be inclusive and have fun with the kids performing “Fractured Fairy Tales,” which tells classic stories.

“Looking at our program and looking at stuff for kids, I wanted to be able to offer stuff for all types of kids,” Andrews says.

After spring break, Andrews says she will be hosting another club called Melody. Students will learn about music and performance using percussion instruments called Boomwhackers.

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