Belkin TuneTalk + iPod: Recording Student Performance for Evaluation

Twenty-five years ago, I began a career as a music educator in 1983. Lean, green machine, naive, etc. I fantasized that I could be the next ROBERT SHAW — maybe not. But, I did have a passionate vision for becoming an inspiring teacher who loved to teach students to love singing. Today, that same passion exists. My perspective has changed some through the years.

Because of the capabilities that inheritant in D.A.W.’s, I’ve just seen, once again, the power of audio recording for singers. In my high school, a single A (smallest school size), my students competed in a local regional competition. End results were very positive. Here’s why…

OUR PHOTO SHOOT. Here’s the picture of my school. We have students who compete outside the school day yet are unable to actually take choral/vocal classes. Actually, only 2 students in the boys’ quartet actually were enrolled in my classes. One girl in the girl’s trio was enrolled. Our rehearsals were at best intermittent and fragmented. A pretty dismal scene actually in terms of “finding time” to rehearse.

DIGITAL AUDIO ON THE FLY! As the boys breezed in (usually for approximately 5-10 minutes during “break”), we found intonation issues to be a real problem. Very little vocalizing and warm-ups happened due to time constraints. The Trio experienced even less time to practice. We often squeezed in about 10-15 minutes approximately 12x prior to our first competition!

At times, we managed to utilize digital audio recording during rehearsals in order to evaluate our rehearsals. By audio recording REHEARSALS, we can predict adjudicator comments. An audio picture is worth… more than 1000 words. Recording and playback is often sufficient for students to hear their own “problems”. Once we all acknowledge (via analysis and synthesis) what needs to be corrected or what is being performed with excellence, the role of TEACHER-AS-FACILITATOR can work to foster excellence in student performance.

For the first time in my career, I was able to actually audio record student vocal and choral competitions using our own equipment! Here’s what happened. We attached the BELKIN TUNETALK to the base of an IPOD, then pressed the red RECORD button. Once the performance(s) were completed, I raced to my computer to SYNC the IPOD. The recordings appeared as VOICE MEMOS (date and time were default memo names). ITunes stored each of the recordings. The following class period, each of those students welcomed the opportunity to listen to their own performances using iTunes.

End result? Students have now evaluated their own performances on two separate venues. The usually ask for a CD copy for their own keeping to share with their family. As we read adjudicator comments, we are able to honestly evaluate our scores because we could HEAR our own performances firsthand.

All for a few hundred dollars. It’s worth the investment.


Italian Anyone?

So, what do the traditional singer and the non-traditional E Gtr dude have in common? Little you could say… and usually you’d be correct. Hold on!

Get this picture. “Big sis” just sang an ITALIAN AIR – Se Tu M’ami in a competition– at a Kiwanis competition tonight. Little brother — E gtr Christian band guy, presented his HOW TO RECORD IN PRO TOOLS podcast last week before the entire board of education. Talk about two worlds apart! Man.

Not TOO Faaaaaasttttt, buddy. Big sis actually started the ball rolling!

Her audition for competition team back in September was RECORDED in PRO TOOLS. I took her audition for soloist and for girls’ trio — which was also recorded “live” — to the N.S.M.I.T. Conference and to the TI:ME Conference in Grand Rapids!

Let me clarify. The genre, style of music to be recorded is irrelevant to the CONCEPT of using D.A.W. in the classroom! What’s dire is this.

These kids continually ASK to be recorded. The bottomline issue here isn’t the student. It isn’t the style of music. It’s the mindset of the TEACHER.

I’m not boasting. I’m saying to US. Let’s get relevant and socially on board with as many students as possible.

So, Italian anyone? If you can’t sing it… then let’s go EAT SOME ITALIAN. Both are excellent choices.

Whatz your thinkin’?

John Wilborn