Freeplaymusic is a website that has been around for a while, but its functionality and applicability to the classroom is, I think, definitely worth expanding upon here, mainly because this offers some simple but interesting ways of developing the quality of students’ learning.
The concept is simple enough: everything on the website is free and and available to all. When greeted with music, you can either listen to a preview or download the file as an MP3.
What kind of music do you find on the site then?
For some time now, freeplay has been adding what is quickly developing into an excellent library of free, classical music (and no need to stream either, you just download it). There is fantastic stuff here, ranging from the whole suite of Holst’s ‘The Planets‘, to ‘Swan Lake‘. Although classical music might always have allusions of stuffiness and incompatability with the general crop of today’s students, as an English teacher I would argue that pieces of music like ‘Mars’ from ‘The Planets’ can provide interesting ways into a lesson, and not just in English. Talking about the planets in Science? Use one of the pieces of music as a plenary but don’t tell the students which planet it is; they have to write down reasons as you’re playing it for which planet they think it is.
Then there’s the eternal, slightly trendy idea that playing classical music in lessons helps students focus and concentrate. I’m not going to completely side with it; but as a musician who also happens to be an English teacher, I have frequently noticed that bringing in a musical instrument to use to play an idea or demonstrate something (always fun doing the Jaws theme on a Melodica), just helps you approach variety in lessons from a slightly fresh, engaging perspective.
Music for multimedia
The other big strength of the website is its search facility, as evidenced by the homepage below.
There are a variety of ways of searching, but my favourite is ‘feel’. Say students are working on a multimedia presentation of some kind – maybe a movie of their E-Portfolio – they could find ‘reflective’ and then be drawn to a page where free pieces of music are available. There are also no issues with copyright in using this site, which is a welcome relief. Its also good for:
- Scoring dramatic readings of poems (e.g. having a student reading out ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ with this in the background)
- Producing authentic sounding newscasts (lots of cheesy/over-dramatic ‘NEWS!’ type cues available)
- Providing ambient but not over-distracting backgrounds for podcasts.
- Scoring short narrative films students have produced.
If anyone else is doing interesting things with it, please let me know!
In other news, school is slowing down now; we have that mid-june malaise that means its time to start getting ready for September. Am very much looking forward to continuing to add to this blog and would like to take a quick opportunity (don’t worry, no curtain-call) for those people who have been leaving really interesting comments. Ta!