May 31 2007

Creating Podcasts

Tap into your students' creativity by showing them one of the Web's hottest trends.

Tap into your students' creativity by showing them one of the Web's hottest trends.

By Wayne Splettstoeszer

One of the fastest-growing Web 2.0 tools is podcasting, and the good news is that it's easy to get your students started creating their own basic podcast. Students love this lesson because it's new, it's cool and the topic possibilities are endless.

Lesson Description:

Students will create a one- to two-minute podcast on a topic of their choice. The podcast must include the following:

*Introductory music (five to 10 seconds)

*Must state the student's name and the topic/title of podcast

*Must create an outline of and ending music (five to 10 seconds)

*Narration or interview must be recorded into ACID Pro and edited as needed. Effects and music can be added by using Sound Forge Audio Editing Software.


*The musical bed (or background music) can be ACID loops, or original loops, the student creates using the M-Audio MIDI controllers, online drum machine, USB microphones, and so forth. Music from CDs can only be used if the topic of your podcast is a musical group, movie soundtrack and the like. The music must enhance the podcast and not overpower.


*Final product must be a rendered as an MP3 file and saved to a CD. Projects will be uploaded to the school Web site,

Subject Area:

This lesson is for a high school music technology class but may be used for any grade level with modification. You will need audio sequencing software or loop-based creation software, such as ACID or GarageBand. Other necessary equipment includes MIDI/audio keyboards for creating music and microphones for voiceovers and script recording. Internet access is optional.

Curriculum Standards:

This lesson includes many of the National Standards for Music Education at, as well as for the Technology Institute for Music Educators at


For student research about podcasts, use the following sites:,


Students need Internet-connected computers equipped with Microsoft Word, ACID Pro or GarageBand. And use a plug-and-play model for a microphone.

Grading Rubric:

Student grades are based on the quality of the production, including the narration/interview, music composed, and such. The students work individually to create one- to two-minute podcasts. The completed assignment must include volume and pan envelope changes and it must also show that it was edited with at least two loops using the chopper function in ACID.

Teaching Tips:

*Depending on the grade level, teachers may want to limit the criteria by selecting the topic for the podcast or working on it as a class project.

*Students may work in groups on the selection of music, recording, interviewing people, and so forth. Students in upper grades (depending on classroom resources) may work individually.

*Requiring students to evaluate various podcasts before they begin this assignment will help them understand what makes a good podcast.

*Completed projects may be used as a schoolwide promotional tool or a way to enhance student activities within the school.

Wayne Splettstoeszer is director of instrumental music and music technology at Torrington High School in Torrington, Conn. For more information, go to the school's music department Web site at


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