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Chrome Music Lab

After over 15 years in education and with music as his speciality, Andrew Keegan, shares his thoughts on Google Chrome Music Lab.

A little while back, I stumbled upon a hidden gem of the Internet:
Chrome Music Lab

Works on: Chrome, iOS, Android

Google, for all of their all encompassing status, are great at many things. One of those things is creating quirky, innovative apps which just tick all of the right boxes. Chrome Music Lab is one of those apps, and boy does it deliver in the classroom!

In total, there are 13 “experiments” to teach and learn with. Each one has applications in music, science and mathematics. In this post, I will focus on three of the experiments: Song Maker, Kandinsky and Rhythm.

Song Maker

Song Maker is a really simple arrange screen setup which allows you to learn about and begin to create simple songs using some preset melodic and drum sounds. The entire operation is touch based; you touch a block to add sound, you touch it again to remove it. Each note on the top grid is colorized to match used note colors, and the bottom grid uses circles or triangles to represent bass or snare sounds.

The initial layout differs depending on the device being used, but you can change how many bars you work with, as well as tempo and sounds. It’s a fantastic way of getting children to work with grids when making musical patterns, and the application for sequencing and pattern in math’s is endless.

You can also save your work as a link, to share or revisit as you see fit. We’ve used it to create QR codes which are then stuck into books, or on displays, for people to interact with.

Kandinsky is gloriously simple! You start with a totally blank canvas, and simply stroke shapes onto the page. The system then plays your shapes, with certain shapes developing faces and different sounds. This is a fabulous app for FP/KS1/EYFS children as it is so easy to access. You can also change the sounds using the little color circle at the bottom.

If you’re quick enough, you can screenshot a child’s work like above and keep a record for both art and music, it being a perfect example of graphic scoring and shape drawing.

Rhythm is something I had actually thought about myself a while back, and I’m glad I found it in Google Music Lab. it’s is really simple – you tap the dots to add a musical “note” and the characters play the notes! They also have little personalities which are really quirky and fun to watch. The arrow on the right changes the style of the rhythms you work with, including how many beats per bar and instruments. It’s worth a play, and I love to use this in the background to give my pupils something to play along with.

This is by no means an in depth look at Chrome Music Lab. my advice would be to have a look yourself as each individual experiment is so simple that it takes just a few seconds to figure out. And that’s the glory of this app – there is so much simplicity, yet so much to explore and discover and really enjoy in the process! I hope you enjoy using it as much as I do in the classroom!

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The author

Andrew is a music specialist with over 15 years education experience. Previously a Head of Department in a large comprehensive school, he is now a primary teacher in Swansea. Alongside mainstream teaching, Andrew works on a range of projects, including most recently developing a set of literacy & numeracy and music resources to support teachers in Wales to create their own custom music curriculum for their schools. He mainly blogs about music in education, but sometimes comments on wider educational issues as well.

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