Teacher Tip: Creating a Holiday CD for Parents

Teacher Jim Schulz shares how he creates a CD using SmartMusic.

Creating a Holiday CD for parents using SmartMusic is a project I have used in some variation over many years. I am currently doing this project with my 6th grade string players.  If you don’t wish to create a holiday CD, you could use this template for other projects such as a portfolio of your students’ progress.

Since the students choose the songs, they work really hard on them and we make it a goal to record at least one song per week in their lesson, depending on the number of students you see at one time and the length of the lesson. I keep the MP3 files in folders and let the students redo songs as time permits.

Recording the greeting track

  • At the beginning of the CD, students record a greeting to their parents.
  • Write out a short script in advance for students to read for the recording
  • It’s a good idea to include student’s name, grade, school and current date in the greeting
  • I choose a song with a cool accompaniment part. (Some songs give you 2 or 3 styles of accompaniments from which to choose.)
  • Add the melody line along with the accompaniment track
  • I start the song and let it play for a couple of measures
  • Use a SmartMusic vocal mic to record the greeting
  • Then cue the student to begin reading the script over the music – it makes the recording sound professional

Picture 1

Setting the reverb

Next, set your reverb level (in the SmartMusic Settings menu). I use the “Large Hall” setting.

Picture 25

Setting up the recording

  • Turn off the “click” sound & use only the visual count-off
  • Record your performance.
  • CLICK THE LISTEN BUTTON: balance the soloist and the accompaniment volume by moving the “my part/accompaniment” volume slider.
  • Save your takes.

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Making the CD

  • Save your performance MP3 to your computer
  • Burn the CD. I use iTunes
  • I use white inkjet printable CDs
  • Students use markers to personalize their CDs with decorations
  • Remember to include the date on the CD
  • I put the CDs in red paper CD covers to be festive

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We all know that the holiday season can get pretty hectic so maybe the best suggestions for a successful project would be:

  • Start the project early!
  • Use short easy songs.

I hope your students and their parents enjoy this project as much as mine have!

 Jim Schulz

Jim Schulz

In Jim’s 38 years of teaching, he has taught all levels of instrumental music from 4th grade to adults, including bands, jazz bands and orchestras. His current part-time teaching assignment is teaching strings: grades 4-6 in the Lincoln Public Schools, Lincoln, NE. He received his BME in 1977 and his MM in 1986, both from University Nebraska Lincoln. He has participated in International Music Workshops in Lausanne, Switzerland and Graz, Austria, and is a Past President of NSBA and ASTA.


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