We’re always excited to hear from music educators that have discovered Yousician, but we were particularly in awe when Natasha reached out to us with the wonderful video she made together with her students. Naturally, we could not wait to hear more and soon had a great call learning about all the wonderful things happening in the Music Class at Deal School. Since Yousician is a big community of learners, we care very much about educators helping each other with tips & tricks. We’re delighted that Natasha agreed to write up her experience and share with them with all of us.
By Natasha Bloomquist, Music Teacher, Deal School, NJ, United States.
As a general music teacher I hope my students leave my class with a deeper appreciation of music. However, contact time with the students is inevitably limited for a general music class. Two years ago I was able to purchase a set of guitars for my 6th, 7th and 8th grade classes and one year later I also purchased Ukuleles for my 4th and 5th grade classes.
Before the guitars and ukuleles arrived, the students had access to percussion instruments, a few xylophones, boomwhackers, recorders and a handful of keyboards. These are great tools for many activities but they do not inspire music literacy and they are not instruments that students can truly utilize beyond their experience in my class. Guitar instruction began in the classroom and students enjoyed playing, but I felt their progress was limited due to the nature of the class. With one teacher and 21 students it is difficult to personalize the learning for every student.
In short, the higher ability students were left unchallenged and the lower ability students struggled. So I started looking for a solution and that is when I discovered Yousician.
The guitar and now ukulele programs in Yousician instantly transformed my classroom. The scrolling tab format makes reading the notation simple with visually appealing graphics. The step by step format of the missions slowly introduces students to new material and technique challenges. My students love it! It is simple to display the program on the classroom Smartboard or to use with other devices such as laptops or tablets.
The gaming nature of Yousician appeals to this age group and they appreciate the simplicity of the interface. With every song and exercise they are eager to see how many points or stars they received. We track the points as individuals, small groups and as an entire class. My students cannot take their guitars home, but many were so invested in Yousician that they started to use it at home with their own guitars. I was thrilled when Yousician released the piano and ukulele version of their program in recent months. We have just begun to explore the ukulele missions and my students and I are excited to move through the missions.
Part of the reason that Yousician has been so successful in my classroom is the ease in which I am able to track student progress, skill and ability. Before Yousician if you walked into one of my guitar classes you would generally find all 17-21 students sitting as a whole group playing songs and chords together. With Yousician students can now work in partners or small groups with the use of the iPads. This allows them to work at a pace that is comfortable for them. I am free to give individual attention and assistance to students as I walk around to monitor and evaluate their progress.
Another benefit is the ability to assess students according to their individual learning goals and needs based on their progress in Yousician. There are so many instructional tools that allow students to be more independent in their learning. As students gain basic skills and become more familiar with the program, they are able to start a new song or mission without my help. Before every song there is a fret map and chord diagram to assist students in preparing for the upcoming challenges.
There have been many times that I have watched small groups work together to learn a new skill. Often I have witnessed one student in the group demonstrating a new technique for the rest of the group before moving on to play the song. This is why Yousician is revolutionizing my class instruction. With these results my goal of music literacy for all of my students is now easily accomplished. Even some of my students with learning disabilities have improved greatly with Yousician. Students have developed confidence in their ability and mastered skills that will hopefully inspire some students a desire to continue in what could be a lifelong passion.
Yousician is free to use for iOS, Android, Mac, PC and Linux. If you’re a music teacher, you can signup for Yousician for Teachers. View your students’ progress. Motivate them with fun homework. Boost their practice between lessons. See them get better faster. Your students and their parents will thank you for it.
If you have any tips or tricks how you use Yousician with your students that you’d like to share with others, let us know @YousicianEdu – music education tech for teachers by teachers.