Friday, January 29, 2010

I'm Yours

One of the challenges of teaching is trying to balance the difficulty level of the assignments. You want the work to be challenging but not too difficult for the students. I crossed the line with my most recent music assignment. Most of the students were unable to successfully complete the task.

I wanted the students to practice using Audacity. I wanted them to practice manipulating different tracks and to apply different effects to different tracks in a song. With these goals in mind, I thought it would be a good exercise for them to compose a song.

I knew that the students, at this point, would be unable to compose their own song from scratch. So, I decided to have them remix an existing song. The song I chose was, "I'm Yours," by Jason Mraz. This is a good tune because it repeats the same four chords throughout the song.

Unfortunately, Audacity does not have any built-in sounds or instruments. I figured the simplest way for the students go get the music into Audacity would be to use Jamstudio. So, the students entered the chords for "I'm Yours" (C, G, Am, F) into Jamstudio, and then selected some instruments. I instructed them to use different instruments for the verses and the chorus. So far, so good.

I knew that the students would not be inclined to sing, so we used AT&T's text to speech website to convert the lyrics to speech.

Most of the students were able to get as far as this. But the process of importing chunks of spoken lyrics into Audacity and then synchronizing them with the verse and chorus of the song was very challenging. It required the students to use Audacity effects to change the speed of the lyrics, repeatedly, until the length was correct. Many of the students got frustrated by this process and were unable to successfully complete the task.

These two students came pretty close:


Post a Comment