Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Summer "Best of Series" #6

Have you been in the position where you have created an end of the year picture slide show presentation of your students and wanted to put some music in the background so they would enjoy the show even more? Were you then struggling with the dilemma of using all the top hits of the year because it would be so much more exciting for the students? Hopefully, your copyright conscience kicked in to remind you that you just can’t use popular music in your presentations without breaking copyright laws. The real problem arises when one of your students just loves the presentation SO much that they have to have a copy for themselves.  In your moment of “oh, they really loved what I made” you become a distributor! No! No! No!  In this week’s “tuesdays,” I would like to introduce you to yet another FREE way to create your own original music so that you never fall prey to the temptation of using someone else’s intellectual property again.

A creative website

At FETC, I watch two of my favorite presenters; Steve Dembo and Cindy Lane work with UJAM and the audience.  This incredible FREE music creator, editor and mixer has features that are totally new.  I watched them bring a gentlemen come up and ask him to read a script into UJAM and then tweek the voice narration with a melody to create an original song in minutes.  What fun!  I tried it tonight and made five little mp3 files in no time at all.  I have them on my website if you’d like to hear a sample.  As I work with teachers and students on digital projects, they are always looking for background music that really helps engage the message of the video or presentation.  UJAM is definitely the answer! With very little skills, a novice like me can create a song in minutes, but the best news is that the students, who have a lot more time and energy than we do, will inevitably create some incredible compositions.  There is so much more to UJAM, but what impresses me the most is that you may even be turning on your students to a future in music.  With each song you create, you can change keys and understand exactly each note that you have sung or created because UJAM generates the notation.  It’s amazing.  It’s ONLINE, FREE and available to everyone.  Go for it.  Make your own JAM!

An image to share

Piano.  Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License.

A proverb
Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and cannot remain silent.”  Victor Hugo

An encouragement
Probably the scariest part of creating music is thinking that you have no musical talent. That’s the best part about UJAM.  I have never created anything musical in my life until Apple’s GarageBand came along (free on every Mac).  Once I learned a few techniques, I showed my students the little I knew and they just took off. Most people do not have GarageBand so the creation of UJAM levels the playing field.  Since it’s totally online, access to the interface is a website away. Songs and recordings are easily downloaded as mp3 files and inserted into presentations, videos and mp3 players.  Check out this You Tube video of the progression of two artists who started with a simple song recording and converted into a composition using UJAM.  It’s just unreal what our students have at their fingertips today.

How do you do that?

How do you use UJAM? You will need to create an account that is FREE. You can choose to just go right to the application and start playing or click the Full Menu for Song Creation.  I recommend that you just start playing because they have made their interface brilliantly simple, yet complex enough for real musicians. Not only can you create background music for your presentations and videos, but you can also record your voice and put it to music! UJAM will allow you to record right on their site through your computer’s mic or upload a file that you have already prepared. It automatically figures out what tones you did or didn’t sing and aligns your voice with the most logical chord. You then have the option to customize it in categories like: happy, sad, blues and many more. Try it and if you don’t have the time, share it with your students.  This is my favorite pick of 2011 so far!

As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,

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