Tweaks and Tips: Planning for using mobile tech in the classroom, #mfpilot2013


Emile Holba

Integral to the development of the Musical Futures Vocal and Technology Approach is the voice of our pilot and co pilot teachers across the world and through the sharing of the experiences they and their students are having, we are tweaking and refining our resources AS THE PILOT HAPPENS! After a brilliant first half term, teachers are planning the next strand of the approach, allowing students to use mobile phones and tablets creatively in the music classroom. Drawing on feedback from teachers who have tried aspects of this, we have suggested a few tweaks and tips for teachers about to embark on this next step.

Emile Holba

“Once they found DubPad it was all over”

You can read some of the teachers’ own words by clicking HERE, but some of the issues that have been raised over the past few weeks have included:

  • Trying this in a school with a ‘no phones’ policy
  • How to stop them just fiddling with apps and stay on task
  • What to do if they don’t all have tech to use
  • What if they don’t prepare properly and don’t have the right apps

One suggestion to address these points would be to stage the introduction of the mobile tech throughout the process. That way, students could become familiar with/set their own ground rules and be guided through some of the many different ways in which phones and tablets could be used to enhance musical learning.

During Exploring Vocals 1 and Exploring Vocals 2

Using the voice recorders which are already on most phones and tablets, encourage students to record themselves during the whole class sessions where the group builds and explores the 4 chord riffs. If you decide to break out into groups perhaps for students to practice different riffs in small groups before coming back to perform together again, they will then have a built-in resource to support their learning aurally and to rehearse at home. They can also beatbox into the voice recorder to make their own rhythm track to hold together their group work. Think about how they can hear these back, maybe plug through an amp or use portable speakers.

During  Exploring Technology

Limit the apps you suggest that they download (we will provide a list). Set a prep or homework task for them to download just one or two apps that are based on a real musical instrument and if you want to give them more guidance, ask that each group has at least 1 guitar app, one bass app, one keyboard/synth app and one drum set. Give them access to the APPS LIST 1 (to follow) for some ideas. In groups they use these instruments to create a backing track which they play on their phones/tablets and then sing the melody from their chosen 4 chord song over the top. Teachers will need to make sure they give students the necessary information such as the chord sequence and names of bass notes they will need to be able to play the chord pattern. They can also refer back to their recorded voice memos to check the original sung lines then copy those if appropriate. Have a plan B ready in case they haven’t downloaded the apps as requested or they have problems. If they have only 1 phone or tablet per group, try using the voice recorders as basic multi trackers, get one student to record the bass line, play that back and get another to record the chords over the top, the finally record the drums part in before singing over the top. these are rough and ready suggestions, but may be worth having up your sleeve just in case!

During Creative Composition

Give students access to APPS LIST 2 (to follow) and again ask them to prepare by adding a few to their phones/tablets. They should then create a simple composition with a beginning, middle and ending trying their best to replicate bass, chord and melody lines this time that they have composed themselves using apps that don’t resemble a musical instrument so they do this entirely by how things sound. Ideally their experience of recreating the previous material vocally will have helped them to understand how music is constructed. To avoid this becoming just an opportunity to explore different apps, think about using while class warm ups at the start and perhaps workshop a simple piece together to give them an idea of how it might sound once they get going in groups.

As with everything remember:

  • This is your class and these are your students. Responsibility for their progress and attainment rests with the teacher! If you feel that any of the reccomended approaches aren’t working then you can adapt these within the core principles of Musical Futures, particularly that learning aurally should underpin the project
  • Share your experience with other teachers via Twitter live chat (Wednesdays 8.30pm using #mfpilot2013), our closed facebook group or by emailing one of the team via
  • Watch the video shared by other teachers on our wall and add your own as you start to explore the approaches


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2 responses to “Tweaks and Tips: Planning for using mobile tech in the classroom, #mfpilot2013

  1. Pingback: App suggstions for Apple platform that can play F-C-Dm-Bb and/or C-G-Am-F chord patterns | musicalfuturesblog

  2. Gillian Storey

    We are using the following on Nexus tablets (android) ASR recording app (free mp3 download so recording can go direct to NUMU!) ;Real drum, Real guitar, Solo light, Real Bass, Piano Perfect, My piano, Easyband Studio Lite, (for all 4 chord work); SphereTones,ButtonbeatsDub, Dubpad, Dubstep balls, Dubstep sounds, Groove Mixer, for creative stuff.
    Gillian Storey, Hirst Park Middle

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