My name is Diane Ader. I teach chorus for grades 9 – 12 at Ringgold High School. I also teach a theory based music in the theatre class. I have just been moved up to the High School from the middle school where I taught chorus, band, orchestra and 6th & 7th grade general music. My goal as a teacher is to help my students to become self-reliant learners.
I have a lovely family, my husband, Steve and I have been married for 19 years. We have 3 children. My family helps make my shows a success. When I am not in school, I like to garden & landscape my yard with my family. We have a great vegetable garden every year. I like to read, fish, camp, hike and canoe. I usually try to read while my family fishes, but I usually spend more time passing out snacks, bait and helping to remove hooked fish.


This is what I have come up with; my question for my part of our wondering.

In my choral rehearsals, I have already used technology to engage and equalize students of diverse backgrounds & learning styles.
I would like to use technology not just to help students learn to read and follow music, while learning their parts, but I would like to use it to teach healthy vocal technique, theory and sight reading/singing.

Here are some of my thoughts and goals. These are not necessarily in the order I will accomplish them.
1. Researching appropriate and meaningful websites & programs, allowing for meaningful lessons with classes. Once identified; I will take the proper steps to gain access to them.

I researched appropriate and meaningful websites & programs, allowing for meaningful lessons in my classes. Here are several of the websites that I really like and have used in my classroom. I only have my laptop, projector and movie screen in my room. I have taken my classes online and played at a couple of the sights only one person can do something at a time so we designate one person to run the mouse and everyone took turns answering. On I had students in one choir, take turns & see how fast each student could identify pitches as given on a staff, without error. We timed ourselves and then tried to beat our time while scoring better than the last time.

2. Researching what it takes to get proper technology in my classroom. (music is often overlooked) Then making the requests or purchases where appropriate.
a. I have a cart with my laptop, bose speaker & projector.
b. I can sometimes interface with the internet wireless laptop to reach sites, still waiting to have some sites unblocked through school.
c. I use a program called voice print when working on vocal health, placement & sound quality.
The example below shows a gradual asperate onset using e au & o


d. I play my concert songs into a program called Finale & then project the song on a screen.
i. Students are guided & can see & hear their part & follow the musical line.
ii. Students can see & hear their part(s) with accompaniment
iii. I am free to walk amongst my students to listen &/or sing a part with a weak section (students pick up parts better when they hear a strong singer singing with them.)


* Journal Compilation
I tried an experiment in my choirs. For 1 week I taught parts for choral pieces the traditional way. (playing each part on the piano and students follow along and sing from their music) I monitored learning as we went. Each day I would review parts learned the day before. 1 week was spent learning 2 pages of a song in my Barber Shop mens chorus. (Monday) the next week, I reviewed these same parts and found only 50% retention. I played the parts from Finale and the students sang their parts. They watched a screen that had the music on it and a green line that guided them on their line through the piece. There were not any questions about what page, line or measure we were on. I could restart many times and not have to re-explain where we were starting. It was easy to monitor student engagement because they were all looking to the front and center of the room. (It is easy for inexperienced choir students to become distracted or frustrated when looking at a piece of music. Each piece is somewhat different in how it is laid out. Learning time became shorter and my students were able to put parts together sooner. Also because I was able to play the accompaniment at the same time as all parts; there was no transition period from parts to accompaniment.
Using Finale I tried several ideas
1. Teach parts first then add accompaniment with parts – gradually reducing the volume of the parts until there is only the accompaniment.
2. Teach each part with the accompaniment playing softer – gradually reducing the volume of the parts until there is only the accompaniment.
I tried both ways and found them equally successful. The first way worked better with 4- part harmony and the second way seemed to work better when there were only two parts to be learned as in Corner of the Sky. (Basically a 2 part piece but breaks into 4 parts in a couple places.)
I did find that my students could sing parts together sooner with the Finale program and I was free to walk amongst my students and listen to them, sing with them, or play a weaker part on the piano.

Video of my womens chorus - singing song with accompaniment

choir training from diane ader on Vimeo.

I created a game with my students which came in handy teach a cappella pieces. I would give pitches and start the piece then mute the sound. Students were still watching the screen and the guide line was still moving which helped students stay together and at the correct tempo. I would un-mute periodically to check pitch or to guide students.
1. This worked particularly well with my Barber Shop men’s Choir.
2. My women’s choirs had mixed reviews about the success of the muted song game. Several of the girls declared that they could not watch the screen when it was muted because they would become confused as they weren’t always steady with the tempos.
I noticed more significant ease in learning for less experienced choir students in all classes. (Using the Finale program seemed to level the playing/learning field)

You can listen to my combined womens chorus at the Heritage Festival Competition.
The Women's Chorus received the rank of Silver, 1st place.
The recording includes songs performed (Over the Rainbow, Schertzo for Spring & Corner of the Sky) as well as time with the Adjudicator.
Over the Rainbow & work session clip

Schertzo for Spring and work session

Corner of the Sky and work session

3. Arrange my classroom to be technology friendly.
a. Still working on- I have been able to clean the space at the front-center of the room. Now I am able to push a small cart that holds; my laptop, projector, and Bose speaker, to the center for easy access. I can still get around to the pianos quickly as well as conduct.

4. Find and bring in technology that will connect my keyboard so that it interfaces with my technology.
Found a keyboard (M-Audio Keystation 49e) to connect to my laptop to make music entry into Finale easier
Microphone & program called Audacity for recording students sings for class evaluation.

5. Develop Lessons & Curriculum that utilizes technology hardware and software.
Developed a curriculum calendar based on performances, competitions, & festivals

b. Curriculum lessons were developed to build a basic repertoire, as well as teach pieces for school & public performances, competitions & festivals
Identify what works and what can be improved upon in lessons and curriculum based on in-class research.
a. I have and continue to work on rewriting lessons to make more effective for me - I has been great for me to create worksheets and tests that I then make into powerpoint presentations and students can participate in a class discussion focused on the powerpoint, or students can practice theory, correct homework and review for tests.

b. Working to build separate theory packets for each level of music (beginning, intermediate, advanced, college prep)
This is still a work in progress, I currently have 3 ruff packets that I am working to refine. They are in paper form but I hope to get them entered so that I have clean packets and can incorporate them into great review presentations in power point. Power point seems to be the best media for me to use at this time. I can scan a part of a song and the class can analyse the piece together.

6. Identify what works and what can be improved upon in lessons and curriculum based on in-class research.
This is only evident if you have seen my lesson plans when I first wrote them and then compare them to what I have currently. I have made changes to my lessons as I go. I am sure that this will be ongoing during my teaching career.

7. Check out copy right laws involving music writing programs with copy righted music for educational purposes. With the help of my facilitator Cory Wilkerson I was able to find out about fair use laws. My concern was that even though I purchas enough music for my students, I still input the music to Finale and then use that to teach the music. I still have my students return to the music, but the program has helped me to teach following a music line and pitch direction. I can also make mp3s of parts or accompaniment an place on my web page for students to access from home for personal study. Cory has included the website on our wiki page index (left side column).