Working with Audio
Audio editing has become much simpler in the last few years, and simple tools are now within reach of any classroom. These tools can be used to create podcasts, audio reviews, audio dramas, sound installations, songs, and more.
Audio editing "baked in" with operating systems is generally fairly rudimentary at best. Most computers will have a simple recorder for capturing audio, but little capacity for mixing or working with multiple tracks. Fortunately, there are many good free options available for download or online use.
Audacity is a free audio editing tool that can be downloaded for use with Windows Mac or Linux. It is the best known of the free audio tools, and it offers advanced recording, remixing and editing capacities through a straightforward visual interface.
The development team run a wiki with help and tips:
Another tutorial is available here
Traverso is a feature rich recording and editing package with an interface that will suit advanced users.
More options and advanced tools for audio recording and editing are outlined here.
Once your track is finished, you will need to host it online so it can be shared with others. There are a range of services that provide space for storage and sharing of audio files online.
More upload services are listed here: Audiohostings
Online creative commons audio
If you need sound effects or music, it is best to work with material that falls in the Creative Commons – for details see our copyright page [link]. There are many sources available for copyright-free audio samples suitable for use in educational settings. These sites will get you started.
Creative Commons Search
A good first stop, providing access many other sites' search engines.
Copyright free music with a special section for Creative Commons tracks.
Advanced search function for audio and other media
An extensive library of copyright-free music.
Free music and sound effect library, they only ask that you link back to their site.
Sound effect specialists.
Audio book reviews
This is the most straightforward use for audio on insideadog. Allowing students to post their responses to a story in audio format has several advantages and opportunities that written responses do not. Many students with language disorders and other difficulties find a spoken response less confronting than a written one. A verbal response
The New York Times book review podcasts are hosted here.
Audio interviews are a great medium for exploring ideas about literature. Students can interview each other, teachers, parents, friends, or – when possible, even authors and illustrators. Interviews work best where each participant has their own microphone, but this is not strictly necessary. Editing in one of the packages listed above can remove any pauses or awkward phrasing. Students could even conduct interviews with characters from books!
This site collates book-related podcasts.
Music and song
Students may be moved to write a song or a piece of music inspired by their reading. As outlined above, there are a number of tools available online to assist them in recording, mixing and hosting their work. This particular activity will of course rely on the musical talents of the students involved.
There is a strong tradition of fan-made music, especially in the science fiction and fantasy genres. Fantasy and science fiction conventions have hosted "Filk" music since the 1950s.
Some Lord of the Rings fan music.
Harry Potter has birthed a musical genre: Wizard Rock. There is a yearly Wizard Rock music festival, and many bands post their music online. Here are a few of the more prominent ones:
Other works have their own fan music:
Freedom in Panem: Hunger Games fan music:
The Bella Cullen Project: Twilight fan music:
Following in the footsteps of creators like Orson Welles, Dylan Thomas, Rod Serling, Douglas Adams and the Goons, students can create and record audio plays. Now a genre largely fallen out of favour, at least in Australia, there is a long tradition of audio plays, comedies, drama, and many other genres, mostly produced for radio. The UK has a much longer tradition of audio plays, and indeed many are still produced there, both for radio, and for sale as CD or mp3. The great beauty of audio-only presentation is the scope for imaginative engagement, and the ability to circumvent budgetary constraints on settings and special effects. If the story is set on a spaceship or a schooner, you need only supply a description and possibly some sound effects.
Audio is also a great home for comedy, with Britain in particular having a strong tradition of sitcoms, sketch comedy, and comedy game shows produced for radio.
Orson Welles' War of the Worlds, perhaps the most famous audio drama ever, is archived here:
For the full story behind this broadcast, see this site.
Spoken word ideas
Many other spoken word activities are possible. Here are some ideas:
- Poetry – from the novel or original, inspired by their reading.
- Dramatic monologues – from the novel or original. Students can draw out internal monologues from a character at pivotal points in the book.
- Telephone conversations: Hamlet calls a suicide hotline? Holden Caulfield calls tech support?
Students can compile a music playlist for a book. These are songs that they feel represent the mood, characters and themes of the novel. Particular songs might be selected for particular scenes in the book, becoming something like a movie soundtrack. The playlist might be a simple listing of titles, or a collection of tracks.