Lesson Three

Lesson Three: Exploring Effects

Strand: Listening and Responding Strand Units: Exploring Sounds Curriculum Objectives:

  • explore a range of sounds that the singing voice and the speaking voice can make

Linkage: Composing - Improvising and creating Concept Development: dynamics, timbre, texture Integration: ICT Additional Skills: Developing a familiarity with music technology; Exploring the creative potential of music technology

My Sound Your Sound: 10 min

This is a concentration game for the whole class, standing in a circle.

Think of a sound. Let one student make their sound first. The next student copies that sound and then adds one of their own. The next student copies those two sounds and also adds one of their own, and so on all around the circle. It might help students to remember all the sounds if they point at each person in the circle as they imitate their sounds in turn. Keep going until you reach the first student again. Can they remember every single sound?

Play a second or a third time and see if students can still remember which sounds belong in which game. After playing the third game, can they still remember the first?

Exploring Effects:30 min

In Lesson One we said that there is one more important way that musicians work with electronics, and that is to simply go exploring! A computer can do so many things with your sounds that the best thing to do is just try everything!

Record each student saying their name, one at a time, into the microphone. They may even want to add their favourite sound after their name. See our Quick Guide to Recording in the Classroom here.

When everyone has recorded something, highlight the first student’s recording and let them choose an effect from the ‘Effect’ list. How does it sound? Do they want to keep that effect or switch to a different one? Would they like to put more than one effect on the recording?

Ask the students to describe each effect in their own words and write down their descriptions. This will make it easier for them to find the effects they want to create later.

  • Your finished recording of all the children’s names with their special effects will make a very nice opening track for your class CD!
  • Download a ready-made template for recording with Reaper.

Did You Notice…

…how the music is arranged on the screen? We read it from left to right, just like a book, and many “tracks” can be placed one on top of the other, just like in a musical score.

…how the “waveforms” are larger when the sound is louder, and smaller when quieter. The students may well pick up on all of this intuitively. This is useful because most computer programmes like this will follow the same logic, whether making films or recording in a music studio.

Preparation for Next Lesson

In the next lesson the students are going to go hunting for “found sounds”. They may find these in the classroom, in the schoolyard or at home. Ask them to think of a really interesting sound they would like to record. If it’s something from home, they might need to ask their parents’ permission to bring it into class next time.

Lesson Three: Supplementary Notes

My Sound Your Sound

This warm up serves to focus the students’ attention on a musical memory challenge. It also allows everyone to feel at ease creating new and unpredictable vocal sounds which they can draw on again later.

Exploring Effects

Once you have recorded every student’s voice you can edit your recording much like you would edit documents in a word-processor. To select just a portion of the recording to edit in Audacity, you can simply click next to it and drag the mouse over it, holding down the button as you drag. (“Shift-clicking” will do the same thing). Now you can put different effects on that portion of your recording.

The purpose of this lesson is to familiarise the children with the creative potential of music technology. Encourage each child to explore a different effect, or combination of effects, from everyone else.

Place a list of effects at the head of the class and write the children’s descriptions of the effects next to them. This lesson can provide an opportunity to slowly introduce the children to the vocabulary of music technology. As they see the list of effects on the board they may pick up some of the technical terms. As you work more with Audacity, you might also start using words like “track” and “waveform”.

Time-Saving Tip: Some effects can be very subtle and you might waste class time by exploring effects that make little difference to a sound. To save you time, here is a list of some useful effects in Audacity:

Change Pitch: Change Speed Change Tempo: Phaser
Reverse: Wah-Wah
Delay: GVerb

ICT Skills

If the students have computer facilities in school, this exercise would be a good opportunity for them develop their ICT skills on their own or in small groups. Provide each student with a copy of their own recording and let them explore all the different effects. Later, you can gather up their finished work and turn it into a CD track.