I used to wish there was a way for me and my students to hear how the finished piece would sound whenever I taught a new arrangement. I would play each part myself and try to imagine how all of the parts sounded together. Fortunately, I found an app to help me. The one I use is called “Acapella” and it allows the user to record multiple videos and stitch them together. You’ve seen videos like this online in which one person has recorded themselves singing or playing multiple parts of a song. Now imagine what you could do with that in your classroom!
When you open the app you see videos created by other music makers. I usually skip right past that and hit the red button on the bottom. Once you press the red microphone button, you’ll decide the layout of your video and how long your video. The free version lets you record up to 1 minute of video. If you get the paid version you can record up to 10 minutes. You record each section of the video by tapping in the box you’d like to see that part in. One very handy feature of this app is the metronome. You can set the time signature and the tempo. This will help you make sure all of the videos are in sync. However, make sure you’re using a pair of headphones when you record. If you don’t, you’ll record yourself and the sound coming out of your iPad. When you’re all done you can save your creation to your device, or even upload it straight to YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. Just be careful to remember copyright issues when posting videos online.
As cool as it would be to let my students play with this app in my classroom, I don’t let them do it. The reason is the social media aspect. I cannot control which other videos they watch, and since anyone can post anything there’s a decent chance that they’d stumble upon something inappropriate. There may be other apps that don't have this function, if you find one let me know! However, as a teacher tool I’ve found Acapella to be invaluable. Below is an example of how I’ve used the app. This is a simple accompaniment for a German singing game I taught my students. I wanted them to see and hear how the parts went together. I also wanted them to have something to practice with at home. I should have recorded the singing separately since it's hard to hear, but since my students already knew the words I was more focused on the instrument parts. I’ve used this app for much more complex arrangements, but because of copyright issues I will only show them in my classroom. Come to our next workshop and I'd be happy to show you one of them!
- Alexis Kagel