“Can I Fix That?”
By Nathan Cahill - The Tech Fairy
If you don’t use Audacity to record your students performing in class, then take this Tech Tip: it will boost your class performance to ‘the next level’ by allowing the kids to hear and critique themselves. Perhaps, though, you’ve tried recording only to find that the students just can’t keep in time – either with each other or with your tempo. You can’t just stick a metronome on… that will come through in the recording… or will it? This tip will even allow hearing-impaired students to feel involved in the music creation process. (Are the cogs turning yet??)
First, let’s set the tempo of the song to be eventually recorded… Do you have a student that you would love to just be still for one minute? Here’s how in
10 11 steps: (almost made it in 10…)
1. Open up Audacity and choose the “recording device” input from the Edit – Preferences
i. This Tech Tip assumes the webcam mic as the most common ‘default’ input…
2. Find the mic! (This may seem obvious, but it can be hidden well on some laptops!)
3. Give the student a stopwatch
4. Instruct the student that when recording begins, they are to tap close to the mic (quite hard…) every second for 1 minute (or choose a suitable timeframe…)
5. Press the record button and get tapping OR pressing ‘R’ will begin and ‘SPACE’ will stop.
6. The finished product should look like this: (It’s harder than it seems to begin – try it yourself!)
7. Don’t worry – you can always undo or select dodgy regions to delete (I had to!)
8. Press the Audio Track ‘Mute’ button - the recording will turn grey, but… Voilà! You have a (reasonably) accurate silent metronome! (You can even rename the track to “Tempo” by clicking on the triangle next to “Audio Track” to the left…)
9. Just press Record again, and the new track will begin recording while the red scrolling marker keeps time visually with the Tempo track!
What’s that? You don’t want everything to be recorded at 60 beats per minute? Ah, Audacity has thought of that, too!
10. Before recording the accompanying track, select all of the existing audio with Ctrl+A, then select Effects – Change Tempo – Beats per Minute (BPM) from… to…
11. And voilà again! You can now record your second track at whatever tempo you wish – just remember to ‘Mute’ the Tempo before going again…
Consider the handiness of this not only in classroom, but also in choir, a cappela, instrumental teaching etc contexts… All we have to do is think outside the box with what we have!
See more tips from the Tech Fairy here.