Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Philharmonia Orchestra Instrument Guides



I recently came across the website for the Philharmonia Orchestra, and discovered that they have a wonderful set of Instrument Video Guides featuring many of the instruments of the orchestra.  All of the standard instruments of the orchestra are included, and they also feature some fun ones like the contrabass clarinet or the celeste.  Learn more after the jump!


The videos vary greatly in length.  Some are as short as a couple of minutes while others are over fifteen minutes long.  Here is an example of one of their videos featuring Katy Woolley on horn:


If you use their Instrument Guide website you have the option to watch the videos in their entirety, or you can jump from chapter to chapter, which is great is you want to show your students something very specific.  This also helps teach specific concepts to specific grade levels.  Here is an example of the chapters for the horn:


Another great thing about these videos is that they feature the musicians from the orchestra.  Because they are masters of their instrument, they provide lots of great information.  It's also great for students to learn from people who are passionate about their music!
I love the look of these videos and that there is a continuity from video to video.  Everyone is wearing black against a black background which helps the instruments pop out.  The sound quality is beautiful, and the close ups of the instruments and parts of the instruments are the best I've seen!  Bravo!

The videos from the Philharmonia website are presented through Vimeo.  Unfortunately, my school district has blocked students from accessing Vimeo videos, but it does allow YouTube.  (I'm not entirely sure why, but I make it work...)  The Philharmonia has a YouTube channel with tons of great videos of performances, interviews, and lessons.  They also have a playlist dedicated to their instrument guides.


How I'm Using it in Class: Google Drive + YPGO

Some of you may have read a few of my other blog posts about the Carnegie Hall Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra Website.  This year I have been given access to use our school's computer lab, and I have been letting my 4th grade students go through that series at their own computers.  This is great because each student gets to read about the instruments at their own pace, listen to the instruments as many times as they want, and they get to play every game!  The "problem" is that some of the students are flying through the information.  These students are getting the information, too, which is awesome!

I designed a Google Form that features each of the videos available from the Philharmonia Orchestra's Instrument Guide playlist.  If a student gets done with his work early, he can choose an instrument family he wants to learn more about, and then watch one of the videos.  I provide a simple paragraph text box for students to write their thoughts.  If you click this link, you should be able go to "File" and "Make a copy..." to your own Google Drive account.  Here is what the students will actually see:

The way my instruments unit is going, I know that most of my student won't get a chance to use the form during class, but I am encouraging them to check it out at home if they are interested in learning more.  I just created it last night, so right now I don't have a lot of feedback back from my students, but I'm sure it work well as another resource!


The Orchestra App

The Philharmonia Orchestra is featured in the beautiful app called "The Orchestra."  It costs $13.99, takes up a lot of space on your iDevice (1.8GB!), but is beautifully made.  I personally think the app works better for older students or adults who are interested in learning more about the orchestra and classical music.  As an elementary music teacher, it doesn't quite work for me.


Final Thoughts

I have fallen in love with these instrument videos!  Go check them out when you get a chance.  Feel free to make save a copy of the form I created an embed it into your own classroom website.  Let me know what you think by commenting below or on one (or all) of my pages.  Add me to your Google+ circles +IWB Music, follow me on Twitter @IWBMusic, and like me on Facebook