The Story of the Digital Version of Be a Recorder Star
The concept of digital content can be pretty daunting particularly because it is so all encompassing. Just about everyone is involved with some form of digital content if they access the internet or download music. Digital content is important because students have been raised in a digital era and are used to interacting with material in digital mediums. The increasing use of whiteboards and one-to-one devices such as iPads and Chromebooks offer an added dimension.
As a music publisher, several years ago we were trying to figure out the best way for us to enter the digital arena. When we asked teachers about their interest in digital content, the interest was tremendous although some teachers had reservations about their technological proficiency.
In deciding how to move forward, we turned to two guiding principles espoused by Ed Sueta, Sr.- one is a question and one is a credo. The question was practical. “Will a digital version of Be A Recorder Star work?” Can the digital version be an educationally effective way to achieve our overarching goal of developing outstanding young musicians? The second principle is embodied in the philosophy “that if you are not having fun, you are not doing it right.” Could the transition to digital content make it more enjoyable for the students to learn?
We believed that we could create a digital version of Be A Recorder that would not only not compromise our goal of developing great music reading skills but would actually advance this goal. For us, another word for fun is engaging. Using a digital format to engage the students is an effective way to motivate them and maintain their interest.
In addition to our educational imperatives, we had to make the digital version affordable. Our goal was to set pricing which was similar to the printed version while offering much more value in the form of a variety of neat features.
This project has been an education. We wanted to make the digital version of Be A Recorder Star as student and teacher friendly as possible. Access to Be A Recorder Star is easy. Students and teachers receive randomly generated codes that enable them to access the website www.bearecorderstar.com. We were tickled to hear some students refer to them as their “secret codes.” They choose the device (or in the teacher’s case the devices), they wish to use and the website remembers them when they log on again.
We spent a lot of time asking “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could…..” We incorporated musically supportive animations, 50 play along accompaniments for the songs in the student method and four follow the bouncing star rhythm charts, both with tempo controls. Emailable Music Theory Pages are excellent for assessment and lesson plan metrics, fun long tone timers help develop tone control and tooltips provide background information for selected songs and composers.
Every teacher has their own unique teaching situation with different restrictions and demands. One interesting thing we have learned is that many teachers wish to still have the students receive a printed version of the method book even when they are also using the digital version. We have created a special package with both versions of the method book.
Digital content is a valuable tool for you to connect with your students and keep them engaged and motivated. The ultimate goals- developing strong music reading skills and superior musicianship- do not change but digital content provides you with another avenue to achieve those goals.