A new pilot project with Soundtrap, an online music creation program under the parent company Spotify, has taken flight in the Louis Riel School Division (LRSD).
Warren Hart, teacher at the Learning from Home School (LFHS), Melissa Burns, music specialist at Archwood School, and Ingrid Pedersen, Coordinator of Arts Education, have been championing the project.
Hart and Pedersen approached Soundtrap in December to see what the platform could offer students and educators in LRSD. After an initial trial with Hart’s students, the pilot was expanded to all schools in the division, with Soundtrap providing professional learning opportunities, training sessions, licensing, online resources, certification courses and lesson plans.
"It’s not so much about the rules of music, but celebrating what sounds good to you, and creating musical expressions without any limitations," said Hart. “By discovering what ‘sounds good,’ students learn many music-theory concepts.”
A musical group known as the Cairo Bros, two brothers from different classes at the LFHS, have been creating original songs and working collaboratively on musical compositions.
“I like that you can create anything,” said Kristopher, a grade 6 student and one half of the Cairo Bros. “It is very easy to use, you get to work with other people, and it’s fun!”
Burns has been using the program with her students in grades 3 to 8. In one assignment, grade 7 and 8 students were given the audio file from Amanda Gorman’s performance of The Hill We Climb and were asked to create a music setting to accentuate the performance and highlight their personal interpretation of the poem.
“When I had assigned this project, I had simply hoped to introduce the topic of poetry and the power of music to accentuate and influence the interpretation of spoken word,” said Burns. “The result was profound work that led to a number of very deep and meaningful class conversations that still come up from time to time.”
By measuring the level of impact through data collection, educators across the division will be able to make informed decisions as the project continues to thrive. At the beginning of January, there were no student or staff users of Soundtrap in LRSD. The pilot project officially launched in January and LRSD staff and students were quickly onboarded to the learning platform. As of May 13, 2021, that number has grown to 1,968 users across the division with 329,974 minutes of recording in the sound studio. In a typical week, 776 projects are created, and students have participated in a total of 17,290 projects.
Moving forward, this pilot project shows no signs of slowing its tempo. Most recently, Pedersen joined educators from Berlin, Brazil, Los Angeles, and New York to share ideas and collaborate.
“Soundtrap has been especially helpful as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions on singing and wind instruments,” said Pedersen. “It’s been a great tool to teach musical theory and experiment with sound and creativity.”
This is just one example of how educators across LRSD continue to find innovative solutions and explore ways to ensure school communities have rich learning opportunities despite the unprecedented challenges presented by the pandemic.
Written in collaboration with Warren Hart, Ingrid Pedersen, Melissa Burns and Thaddeus Bourassa