Chapter 2 focuses on the basics of music and the remixing culture, how to apply this to an educational setting. This chapter was fascinating to me because I never thought of using remixes in a classroom, but there are a lot of benefits that were outlined in this section.
The first parts of the chapter focus more on defining remixes, are we talking about just adding a beat to music and calling it a dance remix, or are we changing and pushing it to the edge of recognizability. When I was younger, I used to do a lot of mashups of songs and mess in audacity to see what you could do to the music. You can shape it, create a new form however you like. I would pitch up the voices or speed up the tracks just to see what would happen. My favorite way of editing songs was to make them start out as normal songs, but keep picking up tempo and keep picking up tempo until I ran out of song, but the artist was singing at the speed of light.
For a very brief period of time, the internet was abuzz with ‘chipmunk’ remixes of songs, which basically speed up the track a bit, but up pitched all of the vocals to make them sound like little chipmunks were singing. It was entertainment mostly, and I don’t believe had any sort of political agenda, but the creation of music for pleasure is a very important part of the chapter as well.
I’ll leave this link to one such example that was created far more recently than it needed to be.
Talking about the educational benefits of pulling something like this into schools is definitely something I’m going to look at doing in the future. Any time you can add 21st century skills into the classroom, you help to curb the participation gap. A lot of my students until they got into middle school or high school didn’t have regular access to the internet or a personal laptop, so their whole experience was in the classroom. I couldn’t expect them to know how to use PowerPoint or even to navigate Google in an effective way without going over it with them, so that they weren’t behind the rest of the class. Being able to work with music and an audio editing program would be beneficial because it’s also bringing in the arts wherever I can in the classroom. Our music program budgets are nearly nothing, so it’d be a good thing to bring in some of this relevant editing experience for these kids.
As a social studies teacher, I also like to look at this generation’s ideas about politically driven discussions. I’m a generation above them, so we don’t normally clash too much, but it’s so interesting to speak with them about these kinds of ideas because the world is changing. We talked about Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams’ lawsuit about stealing Marvin Gaye’s music early last year. It lead to an interesting talk about intellectual property, as many of the students agreed that the songs sounded too similar to be an accident, but emphasized that they should have credited it and then they wouldn’t have cared. For the most part though, they respect intellectual property as important and that the original owner should be credited, but these students have no real qualms with torrenting a movie or similar actions. A lot of these kids wouldn’t be able to engage with many of their entertainment programs if the internet didn’t exist, if a pirating community didn’t exist.
The chapter brings this up, as well as the students, that Shakespeare was creating his stories out of popular characters, plots, and morales of the time. It doesn’t take away from the artistic nature of writing plays, because we all share a bank of plots and tropes. You can get lost in eternity looking at the Tv Tropes website. It’s a pop culture wiki that includes every character trope you could have heard of, and a list of characters or stories that also use it.
Chapter 3 talks about the educational uses of podcasts. I see podcasting as a individualized way of gathering information or entertainment. I subscribe to about 12 podcasts that update weekly and it ranges from Playstation news, to personal stories, to a Dungeons and Dragons campaign, to a historical review. For me, listening to podcasts is a very personal experience that wouldn’t translate well into the classroom. I listen to podcasts and audiobooks when I’m driving or walking around the supermarket. There are a lot of educational podcasts, and I mean a lot, but audio/video contrasts are more effective to me as an educator.
Creating podcasts is another story all together though. Media creation in general is always an interesting style of education that can be brought into classrooms. The list given in chapter 3 of media review, fictional dramatization, audio tours, historic interviews, dvd commentary, all of these things sound fantastic and they could be adapted into any subject.
If instead of having to write out papers on historical figures, I could have brought a friend of mine in and we have an interview in school, I record it and edit it into a podcast, that would have been so much more engaging for me. I also love the idea of audio tours. You could tour battlefields, houses, the deck of a ship, anything if you could put your imagination to it. It sounds like a fascinating and engaging idea, though it would certainly take up a lot of class time to teach them about copyright and audio editing, to get the hardware they would need, but if you had the time and resources, it would be a really great idea.