Classroom Idol

The posts have been few and far between since the summer started, and for this I apologize. I’m not sure whether the lack of a need to reflect on the weeks teachings’ or just the laziness of Summer has overtaken me. Either way, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the semi-failed podcasting project I did with my students at the end of the school year. In an eager haste to cram as many “fun” projects in at the end of the year that we didn’t get a chance to do earlier, our podcasts about Cosmeo were only half completed by the ringing of the final bell. To be fair, the kids worked on it mostly during free time, and many of them weren’t completely invested in the work (I think some of them were put out when I actually wanted them to critique the website and not just do another sugary commercial for it).

While I’ll probably be playing with what the students did manage to finish and post what I can later this summer, podcasting is something I very much want to do next year, and I believe I’ve come up with an idea that should get the vast majority of them excited – Mr. Rimes’ Classroom Idol Contest. I must confess, I don’t watch American Idol on a regular basis, and the few times I have really make me wonder if Simon’s remarks are reinforcing children to be rude rather than helpful in their criticism of others when it comes to performing. After doing a quick search on the Internet one of the National Association for Music Education’s benchmarks is “composing and arranging music within specified guidelines” and I thought it might boost students’ confidence AND integrate some technology, music, and social studies benchmarks by having my kids write a rap or other song for one of our units on Ancient Cultures, they’re choice of course.

Once the lyrics have been written about Ancient Nubia, Greece, Rome, or any subject matter, I would give them a chance to tool around on a site like FreePlay Music to find some copyright free music to sing their song too. Or we could take it another step and bust out Garageband or purchase a copy of the Super Duper Music Looper and have the students create their own loops and beats to sing along with. After the music is taken care of, using Audacity we record the singing and/or rapping, import the loops, beats, or tunes, and then create an MP3 to post on the classroom website. From there it would be just a matter of getting all of the students’ work up, then holding a Classroom Idol Contest by letting everyone listen and vote on the songs. Students could listen on free time, during recess, or spend a couple of sessions in the computer lab. A ballot box by the door with slips of paper would be all that is needed to determine who the winner is, crowning him or her the Classroom Idol winner, and having their song posted either to the school website for a wider audience to enjoy, or possibly even contacting a local NPR or AM radio station to see if they would be interested in giving us some airtime to show off. I know the idea is a bit “pie in the sky” at the moment, but I think it would be a terrific project to team up on with the Music and/or Computer teacher in the building.


  1. Re: I would give them a chance to tool around on a site like FreePlay Music to find some copyright free music to sing their song too.

    A quick note about FreePlay: I just checked FreePlay’s licensing terms. It seems that if you want to use their music in a podcast, they require “a signed license agreement and a license fee payment as described in the Freeplay Music Rate Card.” Their Rate Card charges $100 per year (and that’s per 4 minutes of use). You might want to stick with Garageband, try Podsafe Music (, or one of the many royalty-free CDs that are available for purchase. It’s interesting that FreePlay wouldn’t charge a major motion picture company, but they would charge a school for an educational podcast.


  2. Wow, thanks for that rather helpful bit of information Jason. I must admit, I hadn’t used FreePlay Music for podcasts yet, although I have been using it for student presentations and background music in PowerPoint. I’ll have to give the Podsafe Music site you mentioned a look see. Thanks for the heads up.

  3. Ben – this project sounds great! You should add one more thing. When the students are done, they could present their raps to another classroom (in the county or around the world) via videoconferencing. Let me know if you want to do this and I can find you a partner!

    -Janine (Instructional Technology Consultant serving the county Ben teaches in…)

  4. Thanks for the offfer Janine. Performing for other classrooms would definitely add another layer of authenticity and see if other areas of the U.S. (or the world) might have different ideas of popular music.

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