J.P. Case Middle School (Flemington, NJ)

  • Instructors:  Daniel Schultz, Rose Nagy, Heather Faherty
  • Location: Flemington, NJ
  • School Profile: Public Middle School, Grades 7-8, 900 students
  • Class Title(s): General Music
  • Grades Levels Included: 7-8
  • Structure of NTM Class(es): Students cycle through a related arts cohort, and we see them every other day for a 30 day trimester, 78 minutes. Classes vary from 22-26 students, and will have this class once in 7th or 8th grade. We are on block schedule, A/B days. Students may or may not be participating in elective band, chorus, or orchestra.
  • Software Used: NoteFlight, Inside Music, Soundation, GarageBand, iPhoto, iTunes, MusicTheory.net, Screenflow-teacher created piano instruction video (multi screen), based on Alfred Adult Piano
  • Hardware Used: 27 iMac, Axiom 61 keyboards, iPad 2, students may bring their own device, guitars, Mackie Onyx soundboard, Apple TV and projector.
  • Class NTM Activities:  Three music teachers share the music tech lab (not at the same time), teaching general music through technology and active experiences. It has been a labor of love, trying to maintain some sense of cultural relevance with our non-traditional music students. We are constantly changing up activities to keep kids engaged. We use unit studies, spending 5-6 classes on units in notation reading, piano performance, guitar performance, a historical unit including some kind of digital project, either a podcast or PowerPoint presentation, and several creative projects. We teach piano through teacher created, multi-screen videos, based on a curricular scope and sequence from Alfred's published materials. GarageBand is very helpful in teaching piano, providing rhythmic backgrounds using many of the loops. In addition, we use GB to create mash ups, create percussive compositions, podcast interview projects, and pop form projects. We also use many of the instructional videos published on the Piano Podcast by Dr. Mario Ajera, especially with students who have a piano background. Students work at their own pace. 
  • History: We went to block scheduling in 2001, and this music technology class evolved from a piano lab experience in 2008. We installed the iMac computers ourselves, with our tech department. Funds were raised to make the majority of the purchases. Many computers were refurbished, lowering the cost. We have experienced every conceivable technical hang up and understand computer networking far more than we should, and it is true that whatever doesn't kill you will make you stronger. Our Principal has supported us throughout the process, and the room is often the first room shown to visitors and people new to our community. Cloud based applications are now available, and we can't begin to explain how helpful this is to us going forward.
  • Success Stories with NTMs:  Many students go on to study piano in our high school general music program. Our most significant student work comes from creative projects, including mash ups, and podcast mock interviews, showing great care in recording, as well as the communications skills in speaking like a radio host.  Many students like to create loop compositions, and often design complex masterworks. It's always rewarding when the non-traditional music student gets hooked in the tech lab.
  • Advice to Others Starting NTM Project: Cloud based software is the the future of computing, even though the network will still crash. Have a backup plan, and have a location to get away from the technology and experience hands on time with guitars or percussion instruments. It's very helpful to use Googledrive to eliminate paper assignments, and Edmodo works well for writing based work on historical units. We do a historical unit on the Beatles, and it seems to be very relevant to kids. 
  • Additional Comments: It will soon be time to replace the computers with tablets, most tablets can use some form of USB adapter, but remember to hold on to the power adapters to power your pianos.
  • Date Submitted: August 2013
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