Hi there! I'm just A LITTLE excited to be blogging today about Specdrums!!!  I first saw Specdrums on Katie Wonderly's Facebook page. I asked her about them and discovered that the inventor, Steven Dourmashkin, is a Phd. student at the University of Colorado at Boulder, a 20 minute drive from my home!!!
I quickly reached out to him and told him I'd LOVE to be a lab school and he responded, giving me two Specdrum rings to use in my classroom.    Right now we've just started using them as Specdrum is finishing up their Kickstarter. We're really hoping that Steven and his crew make it out to see us sometime!

I told my dear friend, Aileen Miracle about them, and she also reached out to Steven. So it is with GREAT EXCITEMENT that we're blogging about this new, cool piece of technology that you can get for your classrooms.

What is a Specdrum?!  Well, it's a ring that works in conjunction with a free app that you download from the app store.  The ring then can be programed to play pitches, based on the colors that it touches.  Don't be fooled by the word "programmed!"  It's super easy, and Aileen goes into more detail on her blog post about Specdrums. 

I've now had the Specdrum for a week and the very first use in my classroom was using it to practice mi-re-do patterns with third grade.  Here's the very first use of the Specdrum ring in my classroom:
The sound is being amplified by plugging my phone into the sound system in my room.  Through the Specdrums app I programed the colors to match the pitches B, A and G. The student then tracked the notes on the staff to play mi-re-do in the song "Hot Cross Buns" as the class sang the song.

Again, we've only had the rings for a week.  Since I see my kids on a 4 or 5 day rotation (depending on the grade level), this is the first time any of the children in these videos are using the rings. 

Here a student is tracking the melody of "We Are Dancing in the Forest" as the class sings the song. What I LOVE in listening to this is how they are responding vocally to the way the Specdrum is playing the melody. When the sound is shorter and choppier the students are vocally matching it!

Here's another example of using the ring to play the melody of "We Are Dancing in the Forest". I took a second in class to program the pitches I needed into the app, based on the color of the students' shirts.  (See Aileen's post. What I did was put the ring onto the shirt, dragged the color on the app to the pitch I needed and viola! The note was programed to play the pitch). Please forgive our excitement, we recorded this on a Friday... during the last 20 minutes of the day!

Fourth grade used the Specdrums to review low la, in the song Skin and Bones.  One student would play the pattern on the "ghosts" that I had printed out.  They passed it around as we sang, so that they took turns. This allowed me to check for individual tracking (and they thought they were just playing with the new technology!).  This one you'll hear that there were a couple times that they accidentally missed the color and the pitch in the pattern was off:

One final way that we've used Specdrums (SO FAR. . . . . ) is with tone ladders.  The third graders are reviewing mi-re-do.   We practiced echoing vocal patterns with solfa tone ladders.  All students had a tone ladder that they pointed to as they echoed the pattern.  This is an "easier" version as I sang the solfa and they echoed on solfa.  To make it harder I could sing on a neutral syllable and students would echo on solfa.  

In this lesson, two students would use the Specdrum rings to echo-play the pattern as everyone else sang. After they played they would pass the ring to their neighbor.  In one minute everyone in class got a chance to play the pattern and I got to assess who really understood the mi-re-do tone scale. You'll notice that some students don't track the pattern, they're a little distracted by our new "toy" (technology) and that I do take time to give them a second turn.  As they get more familiar with the rings some of the technical glitches should get worked out.

Right now Specdrums is finishing up their kickstarter. There is only ONE DAY left to donate to their kickstarter campaign! If you donate  $39 or more, you'll be sent one Specdrums ring, and if you donate $74 or more, you get two! If you'd like 10, you can get them by pledging $349 or more. The rings will be delivered to you in January of 2018.

I can't wait to get the additional Specdrums that I ordered. Not only are the kids having a GREAT time playing with them but I can see the uses in the music room as endless! As we "play" with the Specdrums I'll be posting more uses that my students and I come up with.  

If you already have a Specdrum, please comment below with some ideas, or if you have any questions, please comment below. Aileen and I have created this FB group for music educators with the rings to share ideas, so please join if you're interested. Have fun!

1 comment

  1. I saw these on Katie's Instagram, so I was thrilled when you wrote a post about it. Not only would this be an amazing tool for the classroom, but a budget-friendly musical tool for kids at home. I'm looking forward to seeing this project come to life!!


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