Thursday, April 26, 2018

Integrate Music with Soundtrap

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Soundtrap is a great tool for exploring and creating music in your classroom. Visit to create a free account and start exploring!

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If you have ever used GarageBand on an iPad or Mac, and wished that it worked on Chromebooks, you are in for a treat today. During one of my earlier episodes, I mentioned briefly that I created the introduction segment for this podcast using a service called Soundtrap. Soundtrap is a free web app that you can access through almost any browser. Soundtrap allows a user to create music on almost any device, including Chromebooks, very much like GarageBand does on an iPad or Mac. Just visit and create an account for yourself to get started.

Once your account is created, you can start making music. Follow the tutorial prompts in the sound trap Studio or click the musical note button in the upper-right hand corner. This will open a sidebar containing a number of loops, or pre-recorded bits of music that can play over and over again during your song. click the purple play button next to each to preview them. You'll notice that several are part of the Premium or Supreme packages but a lot of them are free. Just use the search bar at the top of the purple Side Bar to filter to search for just the free loops. you can click and drag the loops on to your studio workspace. to add more loops click the add new track button on the left two layer loops and start creating music. you can drag the loops to start at different times during your song and shorten or lengthen the loops to fit your needs by simply cooking and holding the end of the loop as it appears on the studio workspace. You'll notice at the bottom of the screen you have Play, Forward, Rewind,  Stop and Record options. You can also increase or decrease the  tempo, and turn the metronome on or off.

Please understand, I have absolutely no prior training in composing music. I played in the school band in junior high and high school, and that's it.  I learned how to use soundtrap I watching a few of their excellent tutorials, which you will find in the menu bar in the studio, and then I just started playing around with it.

To create my intro I  started by finding a bass line that I liked. I chose Retro Funk 1,  which I thought was kind of cool. Then I stretched it to take up the length of time that I wanted for my introduction, which was about 18 to 20 seconds. Next I added a new track, and then found a drum beat to make it a little more interesting.  I chose Champion 1. Last I added a new track, plugged in a microphone, and recorded my voice over. I adjusted the volume of the three tracks independently, and then I experimented with the Fade In and Fade Out features using the button on each track that looks sort of like an N or Z with little circles at each vertex. It did take quite a bit of time just to create that 18 to 20 second intro as I was learning how to use soundtrap. However it is somewhat intuitive, and if you have ever used GarageBand or audacity you will find this to be a very familiar interface. Don't be afraid, just get in there and give it a try.

I use the free version of soundtrap connected to my personal Gmail account to get started. Teachers can use free accounts for individual projects. You are limited to 5 songs when using the free trial account. You also have fairly Limited pre-recorded music Loops to choose from. By fairly Limited, I mean you only have access to several hundred of the four to five thousand Loops that are available with paid accounts. With free accounts you can still invite other users to collaborate with you on projects. Simply click the blue green button in the upper-right hand corner when you're in the studio and invite users by email. However, at this time our teachers would not be able to invite students to collaborate on their projects because the email comes from soundtrap outside of our organization. To invite student users, it would be best and safest 2 ask your principal about purchasing an EDU account for your school.  EDU users can invite students by sharing a code. EDU users can also use Google classroom as a bridge between soundtrap and student users.

Soundtrap would be a great tool for almost any music class, but I can see it being used in a number of different ways. English language arts teachers could challenge students at the end of a poetry unit to use Soundtrap to put their words to music.  Students in English, Public Speaking, Journalism, Broadcasting, and Newspaper classes or clubs could use Soundtrap for podcasting.  There are endless possibilities for using Soundtrap to reinforce concepts in Math classes, like number sense, fractions, and more. Soundtrap is an official partner with Microsoft for Education, Google for Education, and the National Association for music education. Soundtrap could be a great way to help students explore music concepts and unleash their creativity in exciting new ways.

That's it for today, but I hope you'll join me again for my next episode. Don't forget to visit Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or anywhere you listen to podcasts to give me a rating and throw a few stars my way. You can also use the Anchor app to review this podcast and offer  verbal feedback and suggestions for topics that I can cover in future episodes. Thanks for listening.

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