Monday, February 20, 2012

Melody Street

Melody Street has been around for a couple of years now, but I just came across this fun site about a month ago.  When you enter the site, you are immediately introduced to Val Violin, one of the main characters who live on Melody Street.  As you walk around exploring Melody Street, you can meet more instrument friends who will let you to play games, watch videos, and listen to music.  It is very kid friendly, and does a great job of introducing music to kids.  I will let you explore the main website and all it has to offer on your own.  I want to make sure you are aware of a few other things this great site has to offer.  Read on to learn all about this great interactive website!

The Story
Melody Street is not only a website, but also a cute story about the instrument families.  Each family has a mom, dad, and a couple siblings.  Young students connect to this immediately.  The story is available in three formats: website book, YouTube videos, and iOS app.

1. Website Book

The website book provides the most chapters (for now) but can be restrictive with your pacing. There is a narration that reads all of the words, and there is also a wonderful musical score that plays each instrument as it plays a part in the story.  The problem is that there is no pause button for the narration or soundtrack, and you have to be willing to go at its pace.  If you want, you can mute your computer and read at your own pace.  The downside is that your students will not get to hear the instruments, and that's really the point of the whole lesson.

2. iPad App

The book is also available as an iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch app.  Right now only the first chapter is available, but it is incredibly well done!  You have the option of auto-play or interactive.  The auto-play version is very similar to the website book above, and is identical to the YouTube video below.  There is narration, accompaniment, and animation.  The interactive version allows for your own pacing, and lets students manipulate objects on the pages.  It is a lot of fun!  The app is currently $0.99 on the iTunes app store.  One downside to using this method is accessibility.  You can hold it up like a regular book to a class, but it would be hard for an entire class to see or hear it.  If you have access to a classroom set of iPads or iPods, you are still looking at spending money to get the app on each devise.

3. YouTube Video

Finally, the first two chapters of the book are available on the Melody Street YouTube channel.  I used this method for introducing the story to my young students.  The first chapter is only a few minutes long and does a beautiful job of introducing each family and each instrument.  It is identical to the auto-play version of the application above, but I can always press pause or rewind to make comments.  I also love that I can project it onto my Interactive Whiteboard for all of my students to see and hear clearly.

Interactive Mozart

Melody Street very recently introduced their Interactive Mozart site to their already long list of interactive tools.  This site allows students to choose which instrument (Trumpet, Flute, or Horn) will interrupt Val Violin and Ethan's rendition of Mozart's Rondo Alla Turca.  You can let students create their own version individually at a computer lab, or you can take turns using an interactive whiteboard.  You can instruct and guide students each time to help make the performance different each time.  When you are finished, you can replay the version you made, create a new version, or share the version you made via E-mail, Facebook, or Twitter.  You can use the Interactive Mozart site to teach about instrument families, tone color and timbre, form, and music history.

Final Thoughts

Melody Street is a beautifully designed and very kid friendly site.  I recommend it mostly for younger students, but I'm sure even some of your older students will like this site.  I am a little disappointed by the lack of updates for the iPad app, but it's still great.  From the looks of it, Melody Street is nowhere near done with developing their site, and I look forward to seeing what they have to offer in the future!

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