Marine Biology and Music...What?

Have you ever considered using whales as a tool to teach music?

A few years ago, I was vacationing during whale migration season on Australia’s Gold Coast. I was at the beach with some friends, and we saw a few whales swimming past. There was a wonderful display of breaches and fin slapping. Then the most amazing thing happened. While taking a dip in the water, we heard whales communicating with one another. We were nowhere near the whales, but under water, we could hear their vocalizations as clearly as if we were right next to them. It was such a cool experience!

The patten of the vocalizations, called songs, are unique to each species of whale. It’s one of the ways that marine biologist identify them. And just like that, music and science collide. Making them a great tool to integrate STEAM into your music classroom. The sounds (moans, chirps, clicks, cries and whistles) that whales make range from low to high in frequency, are unique to the different species of whale, and are repeated in different patterns across different durations of time. Whales basically give you all the components of music composition in an engaging medium.

At MusicEDU, we are constantly thinking about ways to make the middle school music classroom engaging and relatable for students. One of our goals is to help kids fall in love with music and elect to learn more as they continue studying. We do this is by building programs that help you as teachers deliver technology-enhanced learning (TEL) experiences for your students. Our latest foray into this is the program AR Classroom™. In the program, we use whale songs to help students understand music composition. The program takes students through “a 4-step learning journey which encompasses learning the musical concept, experiencing the learning via Augmented Reality, re-creating the musical concept and then building their own interactive AR experience to house their project.”

You can learn more about the program here.

Imagine stepping away from Good, Boys, Deserve, Fruit, Always and emerging your students in an interactive, augmented reality experience using the chirps, clicks, echolocation, cries and wails of the largest sea creatures as they learn about music components like tone color, graphic notation and song structure.

Here is a quick educational video about whale songs and their unique sounds.

For all the whale lovers out there, I've included a video of a biologist swimming with singing Sperm Whales. Enjoy!

Comment Below: On the ways you have incorporated science into music.

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