Just over a month ago I came across Myna from Aviary (click here for the article) an amazing web based audio looper and recorder that really looked and operated much the same as Apples Garageband straight from the browser. This month's gem is Jamstudio which is more focussed on actual music creation in the form a more traditional approach of chords and instruments. I came across this excellent review from Philly Teacher and I highly recommned her site
What is it?
JamStudio is a free music-making tool created by Dave Edwards, a musician and software engineer who wanted to offer a music-making tool for people wanting to make their own music. Users can create music for free without an account, or they can create an account to save and share the songs they create. It is based on Guitar chords, which are simply laid out by letter. Even a user who is not comfortable with Guitar chords can, after fiddling around a bit, figure out how to make a melody using the simple click-to-add method this site uses for creating a song. Users can also choose a Guitar effect and change the time signature.
JamStudio is FREE! You can still play around with it, even if you don't create an account. It starts off immediately with an animated tutorial that can be repeated as well as a YouTube instructional video for extra help. It also loads fairly quickly for immediate user satisfaction.
To be honest, there aren't many. The only one I can forsee is that many of the outside links are to YouTube, which, as we teachers all know, is usually unavailable. Also, you can't save your work without creating an account, which can cause problems with younger students who are under 18 and/or may not meet the age requirements for an account (I couldn't find the age requirement anywhere on the home page).
JamStudio offers a grant for teachers who want to use the All Access option (normally $10/month) with their students. This allows students to save their mp3's and send them to their teacher.
This online software could easily be used in the classroom with the simple posting of a link to a del.icio.us page or wiki for students to access right away. It could be used by music teachers or by teachers who may want their students to create an original song for a presentation (possibly to avoid copyright issues). Since the grants are available, it's a great resource for teachers/schools/districts who don't have enough funds for programs like GarageBand or want something easily accessible anywhere as an alternative to Audacity.
I may try this with my students after we use GarageBand and ask them how the two compare and what they liked/disliked about each.
Jam Studio in Action
I used Jam Studio with a 3rd grade class today and they LOVED it! It actually taught them about music since I had to explain that the # sign meant 'sharp.' They quickly picked up the basics. I find that a class needs to use a program like this at least 2 times to become really comfortable with it and get the full value of it.