Smartphones and tablets usually come with some sort of voice recording app which may be suitable for your purpose. For general recordings of work in progress, I use an iPad and the Tascam PCM Recorder app. It is easy to set the recording level, something which many other apps don’t offer. The format of recorded files is WAV, which can be either transferred to your computer or sent to Soundcloud. My wish list for this app would be the ability to record as an mp3 and to share by e-mail, but it is very easy to use and delivers good results. Another app, which my pupils have enjoyed using is StudioMiniXL, This is an 8 track recorder, which I use in one-to-one lessons to get students to record a duet with them playing both parts. It is an interesting lesson for the student (and often a revalation) about the importance of playing in time. For formal recordings of concerts or work for summative assessment, I use a Zoom H2, The quality of recording is excellent and there are a range of different setting for format and microphone settings. It also makes a very good usb microphone. From my own experience working in schools, music departments often have recording equipment they are happy for you to use and will show you how to use it. For playback, the tiny XMI X-Mini II 2nd Generation Capsule Speaker is portable and a reasonable sound quality.
ideas for teaching with technology
This page looks at some of the ways we can use use audio recordings to support teaching, learning and assessment in instrumental and vocal music teaching.
Recording students is not a new idea, especially for final assessments, but with the growth of digital technologies what has changed is the ease with which recording incorporated regularly into lessons and shared with others. Many Smartphones, tablets, iPod Touch, iPads and laptops can make acceptable quality recordings to support progress. For higher quality recordings there are a variety of handheld devices.
Suggestions for using recordings in instrumental lessons
- Ask pupils to record scales as part of their exam preparation. It is amazing the difference this makes..
- Record a lesson (with permission) for your own self evaluation.
- Encourage pupils to introduce the piece developing their speaking skills.
- Make recordings a target for the pupils.
- Record pupils regularly (perhaps every half-term) as evidence of their progress and achievement. It can be very motivating looking at earlier work as they may not realise how much they have improved. Other benefits can include more thorough preparation for the recording and improved critical awareness when they hear themselves play.
- If a pupil is struggling to learn something ask them to record 2 minutes of their practice on the problem area to bring to the next lesson. Usually they have practised more thoroughly and improved, if not the recording can help identify how to develop practising strategies.
- Let a pupil record you playing on their mobile e.g. a difficult rhythm. They then have a copy to take home with them.
- Encourage the use of self-recording as a practice tool to improve musical awareness and practice strategies. It can be difficult to fully appraise your work when actually playing. From experience there are always surprises (good and bad) when listening to a recording.
- Use recordings to celebrate pupil achievement, share good work with parents.
- Record ensembles, this can help the group identify areas for improvement more easily and often avoid arguments.
- Get pupils to record a duet with them playing both parts. An excellent lesson on the importance of playing in time.
example of equipment
This is an example of how one flute teacher records pupils and the equipment used
One final thought, once you have a collection of recordings what do you do with them? One option is the social media platform Edmodo, which is designed for use in education. This allows the teacher to share recordings with the pupil (and parent if required), in a secure on-line space, This can also be used to share recordings of sections of lessons to help with practice at home.